Michael Dhyne

We pull to the side of the roadso I can take a piss. In the pouring rain,at the edge of the field, I look backand see Jesús in the lightof the passenger's seat mirror.I remember what my mother saidall summer, as we cleaned out the basement.I want to feel what it's liketo have openness.Yet I picture her down thereholding my father's bodyon an empty bed frame.I remember when she told me I'd find love againeven though she might not. Just imagineyou're moving toward it.My mother, whose face flooded with tears,standing in the doorway my last nightin California, whose pale eyeshadow lit upradiant with desperation. I want to say,before everything happens,I owe her everything.Two hours from the state lineand the light, when the rain falls,falls on the field opening before me.

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Headshot of Michael Dhyne

Michael Dhyne is the author of Afterlife, selected by Eduardo C. Corral for the 2023 Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry. His poems have appeared in The Cincinnati ReviewDenver QuarterlyGulf CoastThe Iowa Review, and elsewhere. He has received support from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Community of Writers, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the University of Virginia’s MFA program. He lives in Oakland, California, and is pursuing his Master’s in Social Welfare at the University of California, Berkeley.

Cover of Afterlife

Madison, Wisconsin

“Singing his way back into a childhood devastated by the violent, accidental death of his father, the poet channels the voices of all the victims: his mother, his father, and himself. In poem after poem, Dhyne creates that urgent space only the best poets can—a space of anguished compassion where the dead and living gather to haunt and inspirit each other’s being.”
—Gregory Orr

“Heartbreaking and brilliant in its delicacy and its depths, and in the many ways it reaches from interior drama to range far out into the wider world. The spell cast by this book ties our adult ways of moving through our lives to the primitive child-need for magic and reassurance: the longing we all know for order amid the terrors of random events, and the search, in the welter of our days, for the place or person or state of mind in which self can feel held.”
—Debra Nystrom

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