Two Poems | Bob Hicok | Granta

Two Poems

Bob Hicok


But enough about me. Have you ever noticed
that your mind is everywhere and nowhere
you look or grope, and that it’s odd how clearly
you can see yourself not seeing yourself at all?

This raises the inevitable question: What’s your policy
on fog? When it gets in bed with you, who’s on top?
Dances with you, who leads? And if I admit
that it’s my doppelgänger, that I aspire
to its humid spiritualism of touching entire skies
and horizons at once, that I am transparent
in my lack of clarity vis à vis the faces of likewise
apparently solid but actually silkily composed
and wispy beings, will you, as a fellow wisp,
recognize that fog is the truest biography
of the species, and cling to me and get lost
in my embrace as I cling to your diffuse
and unbearable yearning?

I’m sorry. We just met. Interrogation
isn’t the way to get to know someone. Sometimes
I simply want us all to meld together, and fog
has more magic up its sleeves than I have magic
or sleeves, is unified and glorified and uncuttable
with a knife or remark and reminds me
that I am a constant presence in my life
sometimes, since I am elsewhere now
and somewhere often and usually everywhere
missing a screw or faith, for though I want to believe
in life after death, I struggle to believe
in spring after winter, roses after tulips,
and that stuffing my pockets with fire and dried leaves
to burn myself down and start over with ashes
to fashion a new day will lead to anything
more lasting than bones made of smoke
that know better than to stay.






Dress for success

If not for me, scarecrow thinks, the birds would eat it all,
then the fog would open its mouth, the oceans, the sky,
the stars, and we would be devoured by the force
that turns the volume of crickets and waterfalls
all the way up, that makes baby planets and galaxies from dust
and dust from us. Only then he remembered that he’s not us,
he’s him, that he could never audition to be the person
who says, Isn’t it weird that you can’t actually go spelunking
in your own mind no matter the ropes you buy from REI?
He looks at the straw escaping his shoulders, his waist,
and wants a cigarette more than ever, to tell someone, anyone,
a person or coyote, what he’s learned, that hanging out
is like ninety percent of the job. Wind teases him again
for being stuck, the smell of rain and lightning
on its breath, and he wants to go to Spain more than ever.
If I could only watch two women tango, he thinks,
taking turns leading, sharing the center stage
of stamping feet and breath, I’d be able to hold their hearts
in my mouth, and from twenty feet away, taste their pulses,
solely because they’d lost themselves to being lost
in wanting to be what they’re not: music. After that,
all he could think about was how much he’d like a crow
to scratch where it itches. Everywhere.


Image © Richard P J Lambert


These poems are included in Bob Hicok’s collection Water Look Away, published by Copper Canyon Press.

Bob Hicok

Bob Hicok’s Water Look Away will be published by Copper Canyon Press in 2023.

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