Poetry: Bob Hicok

Around here

Down at the beach.
The lake trying to wash the moon off its back.
The moon trying to ride the horse of the lake.
Me lighting a candle and sticking it in sand.
Another. Making a circle for the wind
to burn its fingers on. For the moon
to read a flickering elegy to itself.
The infinite same syllable of the surf.
Is it whoosh? Swish? Wish?
Me in the center of the circle.
Me down at the water drowning my feet.
I am trespassing here and in my breath.
I am waiting for a boat to reach the shore.
For the boat to step out of itself
and turn into a tree again
up the hill, to be shade by morning,
to be loved by birds. All travel
across the Earth is round, whether escape
or coming home, whether full moon,
new moon, no moon, sun up or sun down.
It's late. The poem has to go
but I can stay. My life has to go
and I have no complaint.


Yet more data acquisition

Why am I here?
Because Why am I there Lord requires a map.

What is an atom?
A tiny mouth that wants to make out with the sun.

Why doesn't the circulatory system have a counter
so we know how many laps our blood has done?
The clicking would keep you awake,
you'd get strung out, steal a car, fall asleep,
drive off the road and run over a hat.

Why don't spoons ever get to eat what they hold?
Maybe they do.
My spoons spend a lot of time on their own.

What's the best way to kill a man?
Let a man be a man. Statistically
he'll start a war with himself or other men
or the garage door opener when it breaks
and he interrogates it with a hammer.
Blood will be spilled and cleaned up by ants.
The stars will say, I'm sorry, did you ask me a question?
And none of the marches will be good: can anyone boogie
to Sousa? And all of the weapons
will make someone rich. And all of the crying
will disappear up the chimney of existence. Poof
is the most accurate word philosophy ever came up with.
Not even the stop watches can argue
with its sense of timing.

What's the best way to love a woman?
I'll refrain from giving your tongue the obvious advice:
dwell. Maybe sew a third ear
beside your third eye. Maybe don't wear your shadow
so high on your waist. I guess my theory is
you're asking the wrong man. The best man to ask
is a woman. A woman is a better man
at loving a woman than a man is and vice versa,
which is to say, if you want to know where a river
is going, ask the Earth, not the rain.

Will I know peace?
Of course I have to say that you'll know peas.
And carrots. Screaming. I hope you know peace. If you do,
I'll come over and live beneath your hammock and joy
to see how it's done.
I suppose we could work together on this
as if we're building a bridge. Have you noticed
the Olympics dropped solo bridge building years ago?
No one showed up, which means no one won,
which made competition cry. My advice
is to take a moment every morning
to remind yourself to take a moment
each afternoon to remind yourself
to sit quietly in the evening
wanting nothing from anyone or anything
while listening to your breath flap its wings.
Is it a butterfly? Is it a hawk?
Yes. And yes. And which is the lead singer, and which
the guitar hero, no one knows.


Lockdown, day waytoomany

Her adult coloring book is mostly mandalas,
she has three boxes of Crayolas,
she colors for the motions, the dwelling on orange
or blue. I watch her color
for the meditative quality of loving her face
when she doesn't know I'm looking,
when she's not worried we're all going to die
from a virus.

People say we're all going to die
but a good scientist remains skeptical
until all the facts are in: not everyone looks good
in culottes, rainbows like to be alone, I like
to be alone, I am not a rainbow,
I did not have to drag a piano
around the bases in grade school, leading to scores
like 1/2 to 1/4, but what if baseball
had more Chopin and Satie in it, wouldn't that
be nice?

I'm not sure anyone looks good in culottes.
I'm pretty sure we all want to believe in god.
I suspect my wife will start coloring in trees,
my face, the sky to keep busy
and not a single rabbit will mind.
I know for a fact
that I don't care if the rest of you die
but she has to live forever.
Sixty-four times three
is one hundred and ninety-two crayons.
Have you ever had one hundred and ninety two crayons
at the same time?
My wife, the crayon baron.
The Rockefeller of barely hanging on.




Finishing a book yesterday, I was sure
I'll run out of melancholy at the rate I'm missing people
I never knew. The book was about a horse and everyone
who ever gave that horse a carrot is dead and maybe
in a dress or suit they never cared for much. The horse
came back from injury to race again despite the belief of many
that there is no God. The horse and owner took a chance
that staring at the sun too little blinds us
to the value of danger. I try to once a second or more
when it's raining and at night. It's also not good
if the sun stares at you too long, you get cancer
for the wrong reason and hurt the feelings of cigarettes.
There are many gods and many suits of armor in museums
worry me that I am defensive and hollow and would rust
if the sea ever got it hands on me. Between too little
and too much living, I'm trying to find the right
kind of Monday and soup and skydiving makes no splash
unless whoever packed the chute was thinking of roses
as they did, beauty distracts us and soon we are old
and falling through a sky that writes our screams down
but immediately forgets where. You could read
about Seabiscuit while watching the movie of the book
and ask yourself which is better, going too fast
or going too fast around a curve while forgetting
that you are not actually speed but a disciple
of its progressive views. I want nothing more
than to forget myself while doing things that make people
remember me. There's no way to sort out that crossed wiring,
is there, so on to breakfast I will go, praying
the whole time I have chosen the right way to pray.


Bob Hicok's most recent book is Red Rover Red Rover (Copper Canyon, 2021). His most recent wish is to stand naked in Grand Central Terminal with the rest of the world.