Literary Yard

Search for meaning

‘Almost Infidelity’ and other poems

By: Paul Dickey

Almost Infidelity

Josie and I want to walk to the lake.
Maybe a little fishing in the moonlight.
Josie is Don’s new wife. Don says doesn’t want to go.
This is in spite of the fact that he and Betty, my wife,
stayed up what seemed like all night in the cabin,
playing strip poker while Josie and I gasped,
absolutely mortified. I say to Don,
“A little fishing never hurt anybody,”
and Don reminds me, in his irritating voice,
that some hometown guy drowned just last year
taking a whiz in the lake and it was said
by all the local knowledge, he might have
been fishing, drinking, and spooning.
Don is nasty sometimes and Josie knows it.
“She says, come on, Jack.” (Jack is me.)
“She suggests that maybe, just maybe,
there is room for compromise.
If Don and Betty want to play games, we can
handle that, and if Josie and Jack play fishes,
then maybe we can handle that too.”
Suddenly Don stares at Josie –
a little like he has been looking at my Betty,
and none of us wanted the lake to go there.

Sometimes a Dream, Sometimes a Mind,
Sometimes a House

We know what we know about the world not because our mental activity independently and objectively correlates what we experience with some reality totally outside of our experience, but rather because the world we know itself through our understanding is organized according to certain fixed patterns that our mind and our mental experience impose upon it.
Immanuel Kant in The Critique of Pure Reason

This Old House would not know
my real wife who is my third wife
and became a star
long after my episode aired.
She appears through the courtesy
of Twentieth Century Fox.
I have not gone home to Indiana
for thirty years where I suppose
Kent Benson and Quinn Buckner
still win the NCAA every year.
No doubt the house has changed –
a family room walked on,
substitutes for the original
garage that has four fouls.
We are now in the final seconds
and playing out the clock.
The living room expands
to auditorium size with hundreds
of cots lining the North wall
to sleep a regiment. I calculate
the cannon smoke and steel
it takes to defend our dream
from divisions of Kentucky
and North Carolina rebels.
I look to the horizon from a window
for badly needed reinforcements
from Pennsylvania that Lincoln
promised us months ago.
I consider anything approaching –
even the Monroe County police car
late that March Madness night
in 1976 after hours of beer
and the Doors. Jim Fetzer studied
under Carl Hempel at UCLA.
Jim titled his dissertation
On Probability and Explanation.
Jim explained we had the best
damn party Bloomington ever saw.
Probably. He believes now in JFK
and 9/11 conspiracy theories
and was interviewed on Fox news.
In an apartment across the street
from Assembly Hall, my son
watches three basketball games
at once on a 55-inch screen,
still alone and unknowable
as sense data. I sort of knew
all this would happen.
One graduate school afternoon
I stared out the window
from a chalk classroom,
heard the ten-second sound bite
promo for the afternoon rain
and the Kentucky game
on CBS this coming Saturday,
before they cut to commercial,
and Immanuel Kant casually
turned to me from the front row
and whispered something I did not
at the time fully understand.

The Wedding Night Three Months Before The Wedding

Was it really the beginning of humankind?
Or only what he did with her and she did
with him that hot, cool summer night —
as simple as first taking off their clothes
in any one of Liebniz’s possible worlds?
Four months later, married, they woke to find
a snake crawling from under their bed.
He was prepared to do anything. Afterwards,
she asked: Did it really happen? And she meant
all of it – the rose, the blood, the words,
the footsteps in the garden, the everything.
He admitted he did not know how to mean.
It had taken days to get their story straight:
they had gone to a ballgame and it had gone
into extra innings. It was a concert.
Dad, you wouldn’t believe the number of encores.
It was Mahler, I think. They confessed
to studying Psych and falling asleep,
but dads know first exams are in Biology.
Years later, they told themselves
they got a jump start on life that night.
When awaken, she said she still had felt
naked and alone, but not that alone.

Coming Out

The soul of the term Turing came home
from the grocery store with a bottle of tourism.
He was just trying to find himself,
like any soldier coming home from a World War,
a war that Turing had, according to Churchill,
won almost by himself, on his own terms.
But no one yet knew anything about his world.
He made a right turn at the tern,
not the one at the terrarium, but the one
sleeping almost turquoise with a turtle.
The soul of the word Turing came home
then all concerned with the turbo
and turbulent machines as much
like humans as you can determine.
He suffered the terms of their turpitude
regarding his sexual determination,
and offered us buttered turnips
and terse turnovers afterwards.

The Wedding II

Don’t speak, I think
we are safe.
I was here once,

nothing looked
to ever seemed
to happen.

Dead branches
now crackle under
my feet like chipmunk sticks.

It is like I have never
been here before.
I have seven

a thousand
of chipmunks
in my chest.

The first time,
the birds were so quiet,
they gave me away.


Paul Dickey lives in Omaha, NE but he wrote poetry in Wichita, Kansas in the 1970’s. He published then in Kansas Quarterly, Mikrokomos, Nimrod, Karamu, and Quartet. Now in 2024 after many years, Dickey has now published for his early poems with a new book, I Forget I Live Alone.

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