JAPAN, 2011 March 11 05:46:24 UTC

My house floated –

like a laysan albatross, Kyoko.             

All above the world, it seemed,

and just for two minutes.

I know it sounds impossible.

If I had thought fast,

I’d first have given you

everything I owned in it – 

the photo of me with Akeno

at father’s fish market.

If you still could use it,

I’d offer you everything

I planned to cook

for family dinner Sunday.

But what a mess this is.

Imagine.  Mud and water

with chocolate and baking soda.

I will be okay, I think,

even though I see

my house sliding and sliding

like a baseball runner,

into the Hirosegawa river.

And now, I should probably rest.

I might need your help later

to pick up all the broken sticks.

There are more than all

the drops in the great ocean.

I’ll wait for you by the pagoda,

Kyoko, until your house

comes home from its sailing.

Paul Dickey's first full length poetry manuscript They Say This is How Death Came Into the World was published by Mayapple Press in January, 2011. His poetry has appeared recently or is forthcoming in Verse Daily, The Laurel Review, The Bellevue Literary Review, Rattle, Sentence: A Journal of Prose Poetics, Mid-American Review, Midwest Quarterly, Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, Crab Orchard Review and online at LineBreak, among several other online and print publications. Biographical information and notes on previous publishing activity can be found at

"Sliding House” was written when Elizabeth Bradfield at the online site Broadsided requested poems on the topic of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The poems were to be based on a work by the artist Ira Joel Haber for the production of a collaborative broadside.  My poem did not win the competition (see the winner here along with Mr. Haber’s art) but I was happy to have written the poem.  Subsequently, Mr. Haber and I collaborated on a volume of poetry and art entitled Wires Over the Homeplace in which we associated this poem with another art piece from Mr. Haber.  A poetry only release of Wires Over the Homeplace is forthcoming this fall from Pinyon Publishing. Some of the original Wires collaborations with Mr. Haber have appeared both online and in print.




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