“Redundancy Is Only a Problem When It Gets Repetitious:” by Bob Hicok

Bob Hicok


a poem of patriotism

A kid was killed the other night in America
running from cops in America without a gun,
knife, egg timer or thermonuclear warhead in his hands
in America, his fault in America for not being made
of stone in America, shame on him. Statistically

I don’t have to tell you in America what color
his jeans were, you’ll assume blue in America
and be right in America ninety six percent of the time. King too,

had he been stone in America as he is now in DC,
wouldn’t have been shot in America, same for Lincoln
a short walk away in America, amid cherry blossoms
in America if I go when there are too many people
for my taste, I prefer Christmas
and having these men to myself in America
waiting for their statues to blink. Half a century

after King was popped in America, it’s still hazardous
in America for a lot of kids to bother being flesh
in America, they need to go straight to stone or steel
in America, the stuff we turn our dead heroes into
in America, need to be cold before their time
in America to survive being Americans in America,
and how many more times in America will I
and every other poet in America who’d rather
be writing about trees or the sadness
inherent to American expressionism in America
or love love love in America and maybe Amsterdam too
have to write as an American this god damn
bang bang another kid is dead for no reason
in America other than melanin in America poem?

from Poets Respond


Bob Hicok: “I love Pittsburgh, have felt connected to it since I helped one of my sisters move there when she went to Pitt decades ago. For a couple years, my wife and I have swung around to Pittsburgh on our way back to Virginia from Michigan, mostly because there’s a pop and vitality to the city that’s rare and fun to be around, to walk within. Pittsburgh feels young to me, juiced about existence in the way kids often are, so the killing of Antwon Rose seems doubly cruel, not just a murder, an attack on an individual’s right to exist, but also an attack on a way of being in the world. When I think about what I want America to be, these murders by police are the least American thing we do. When I think about what America is and has been, these killings are America at its most honest: we do not value all lives equally, and prove this over and over, as if no one is watching and no collective loss accrues. To have a democracy, all people have to believe their bodies are equally valued and shepherded within the public space. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Step one is life.” (web)

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