“I Am Wanting” by Bob Hicok

Bob Hicok


After I missed a week of class exploring the o
in opium, my World Cultures prof
gave me the chance to make up ground
by writing a paper on why European explorers
didn’t knock first on Asia or Africa
and ask, Is anyone home,
before claiming scads of real estate
as their own. I knew two things:
it’s boring to read history
if you’re American, given how deeply
we believe the saying,
Those who don’t remember the past are doomed
to be us, and I could spend years
prowling the Hubris section of the library
only to end up here: Because no one stopped them.
Instead, I flew to Spain
and as soon as I got off the plane, exclaimed,
I claim thee for Zug Island, Detroit.
While there, I figured I might as well take in
the running of people away
from the running of bulls
and try to find where the ravenous shadows
of Goya were born. My prof was impressed
by my ambition, if not my footnotes
being seven times longer
than the paper itself. But why
opium, you ask? To answer that question,
I’d have to tell you a story of crying,
which was a story of love, which was a story
of trying to hold a woman as an answer
to the question, Why is heaven so far away
when I am so short, and not as a cloud of atoms
trying to discover their own shape.
Just like England, I got busted
for possession and kicked out of bed.
To this day, I have to fight the impulse
to say of my wife or America
or the sky, That’s mine,
as if possession is nine-tenths
of the law, that desire is one hundred
percent of the battle.

from Rattle #59, Spring 2018


Bob Hicok: “I like starting poems. After I start a poem, I like getting to the middle, and after the middle, an end seems a good thing to reach. When the end is reached, I like doing everything that isn’t writing poems, until the next day, when my desk is exactly where I left it, though I am a slightly different person than the last time we met.” (web)

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