Poetry | June 01, 2003
Poetry Feature: Bob Hicok
Featuring the Poems:
- Into the Breach
- Her My Body
- Love Song
- My Walk
Into the Breach
I want to tell them we can hear
what they say. With coffee
in hand or a hot fudge cream puff
Tell them while offering
blue sky on a plate
or a river for their living room.
Something to break the ice, that says
I’m a man who wishes you nothing
but opulence, but long days
of wind in the leaves. I’ll always
be surprised we’re not equipped
with fingers more telepathic,
I want skin that brushing skin
transmits my true dream, making
trust and the handshake,
making faith and the kiss
one in the same. I would touch him
on the shoulder as he waxes his car,
would slip my hand under hers
as she lifts a tray
of nasturtiums, and they’d believe me
when I say it’s more than silence
I’m after, more than a night’s
sleep made of ocean, deep ocean
with me on top. They’d know
in our house there have been
blood hours when biting each other
with words we’ve stopped
just short of bone. Yet alway
with windows closed because someone
like us might be listening,
elbows on sills, faces
just beyond the reach of the moon.
As last night, when he threw
the punch of slut, we pushed closer
and today just waved
across the lawn at their shame
as they stood on opposite side
of their car, while trying to be
anywhere but inside their faces.
Her My Body
The dog licks my hand as I worry
about the left nipple
of the woman in the bathroom.
She is drying her hair, the woman
whose left nipple is sore.
We looked this evening
for diagonal cuts
or bite marks from small insects
that may be in our bed.
It is a good bed, a faithful bed.
A bed that won’t be hurt
by the consideration we gave
to the possibility of small
strong insects in our bed.
The blow dryer sounds like a jet
taking off. The first time
I flew to Brussels, people began
the journey happy but ended
with drool on their shirts.
She is drying her hair
though she has never been to Brussels.
Drying her hair
though she could be petting a dog.
Drying her hair
while having red thoughts
about what the pain in her nipple means.
I would not dry my hair
in such a moment but I am bald.
The body of the woman
has many ways to cease
being the body of the woman.
I have one way
to be happy
and she is that way.
I would like to fly with her to Brussels.
We would not be put off by the drool.
This is what happens when people sleep.
We would buy postcards of the little boy
who saved Brussels when he peed on a fire.
We would be romantic in public places.
For the moment
these desires can best be furthered
by petting a dog.
I’m also working on this theory.
That sometimes a part of the body
That the purpose of prayer
is to make the part of the body
that sometimes just hurts
the little toe or appendix.
Something vestigial or redundant.
Something that can be jettisoned.
I have no reason
to use the word cancer
while petting a dog.
There is a piece of a second
during which a jet is not flying
nor is it on the ground.
I’m working on a theory
that no one can die
inside that piece of a second.
If you are comforted
by this thought you are welcome
to keep it.
I am misunderstanding a song
in Spanish. The song
not my confusion, though one day
I hope to be confused
in many tongues,
to botch my days
with polyglot savoir-faire.
On my CD he’s kissing her
under a peanut butter sky.
He’s already asked the sea
for permission to marry
her pubic hair.
The sea said first
you must solve
proving true lovers
paid attention during algebra.
I have no idea
what these sounds mean
but I’ve never asked
a dictionary to dance.
If the guitars
invited me to join the army
The singer says, from afar
I’ve admired the jumping jacks
of your navel, I promise
to make you salads
the rest of your days. Who hasn’t
been brought to tears
or wouldn’t be by the music
of these words,
which sound like you
calling me on the first
of too many
February today. The first r in February
is silent in my country. Some of us
also say orn juice for orange juice.
There’s a linguistic term for this kind
of elision, the dropping of a sound
because it is followed by a similar sound.
Last night’s snow makes whispers
of my feet. There’s no window
in the custard thick clouds. If I
could hang maples from the sky, up
would equal down. It feels
like I’m walking inside a prayer,
between the folded hands of Earth
and dream. Someone’s
been decapitating snow men
and women and children. The heads
are carefully removed and placed
at what would be the feet
of their circular souls.
I pass a dozen of these reminders
of the French Revolution. How often
the idea of freedom is the practice
of death. I enter the woods
beside other footprints, boot and paw.
Time here is the sense after years
that a stone has got up and moved.
But what kind of clock is a mosquito
in winter? More falling than flying,
it lands in the snow. I scoop it
on my finger. It doesn’t move, has
no sense it rests on a meal of blood.
I blow, it sputters away, drops.
Is this the world having a dream?
Would this day not survive
without a fantasy of summer?
I’ll forget this visitation
for months or years. A little drunk,
I won’t know how to attach words
to my feeling that I’m lucky
there are stars. I’ll remember
the mosquito then, and mention it
across the open mouths of glasses
on a table. At the far end, someone
will accept my astonishment,
will wonder aloud if we’ve seen
half of what exists. We’ll both
look away then, our ardor exposed.
I am cold now and back at my door.
As it opens, it sounds like my house
draws a breath to speak.
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