“Things Rich and Multiple and Alone” by Bob Hicok

Bob Hicok


The litany goes on. First your hair
in the toilet bowl casts a shadow on the bottom
that resembles bacteria under the microscope
at Livonia Stevenson, then there’s mice in the wall.
These are pearls, he says to me, meaning the days
I think, that I have them at all, I just want concrete
from him, not a lecture on the no-armed man,
how he doesn’t complain under the underpass
where he lives. I say finally, how would we know,
it’s not like we hang under the underpass,
not as if the no-armed man could write you a letter,
“Dear Seller of Concrete, This is wonderful,
not having a grip on things.” I’ve been running
very fast up a hill. At the top, I stand and feel
for a moment how I’m at the top, it’s a sensation
all its own, as is turning to run back down,
as is spinning the Lazy Susan to watch flour
come into view and leave me again. Drinks
at five, dinner at seven: now you believe
in structure, little slices of beef on red plates,
her explanation at your elbow
of why the granting agency said no
to the man “you both know causally.” It sounds
like there’s a game of catch in that phrase,
or wearing familiar pants, or looking at cards
in your hand without any intent to win the game.
It’s more about the conversation around the table,
how we need these excuses with Kings on them
to pull up chairs to the moment and let it be
inclusive of us. I’ve always read monads
moan-ads, I don’t know why. Everything with a shell
around it, even the moments when nothing
seems to have a shell around it. One is left
with the sense that romanticism was a response
to the hooks people saw on every bird and lament
but had no thread to connect, or had vast spools
of thread but no feeling for the various eyes
of the various needles, and everything was lost
in full view of everything else. A vortex, if you will,
or a closet with no discipline, or a discipline
one order of magnitude above our understanding of it,
such that, when we’re being shown a face,
we see static. You didn’t know, at the exhibition,
that you were looking at a spiderweb full of pubic hairs
until you were told. Most of us thought it beautiful,
then the fact of the matter went around the room,
then we were disgusted by life and turned
against the artist, saying to people the next day,
it wasn’t much of a show, then looking at the bill,
trying to decide who had the calamari.

from Rattle #30, Winter 2008


Bob Hicok: “I think of myself as a failed writer. There are periods of time when I’ll be happy with a given poem or a group of poems, but I, for the most part, detest my poems. I like writing. I love writing, and I believe in myself while I am writing; I feel limitless while I’m writing.”


Bob Hicok was the guest on episode #19 of the Rattlecast! Click here to watch …

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