Bob Hicok

The dream and Useless is as useless doesn’t
June 24, 2022 Hicok Bob

The dream


For awhile I had a drawer full of electronic stuff,
relays and resistors, small solar cells and alarms
and wire wire wire I’d found or pulled from old houses
and dead bodies in case I ever needed to wire a day
or broken window to the sun, and this gizmo —
I didn’t know what it was or how I came to have it
or why I thought of it as the seance of my heart —
that if I applied the right amount of current to,
would open its little doors and hum like a stream
rolling pebbles over pebbles toward a world
made of the pieces of this one but shaped
like a second chance. Then I woke up,
the creaking of the sea under my ear as I lay in a boat
I’d untied to see where sleep would take me,
the drawer, the wire, the gizmo gone
and a tern looking down at me from the oarlock
as if I were a French fry on the beach. I went back, I think,
to shore, to this life and not another one,
to the fearful sound of the eyes of deer,
the lowing of clouds crossing sky’s blue pasture,
Eve’s shoulder and her other shoulder
being sanded smooth by the air, the always lean
of her body toward mine, only now with the feeling
that everything was something made out of nothing,
that dawn was the clean driving of a nail into a tree
that dissolves the nail and absolves the driver
of the nail with shade, and nightfall the chewing
of hummingbird bones, and poetry the clearing
of my throat of crows to confess to a priest
that I have coveted the crisp demise of one ear
of corn and a hundred-piece orchestra in my bed,
that I want to fuck most of Beethoven and go down
on anything a cello cares to say to me, a priest
who condemns me to one hundred thousand
immeasurable shudderings of my spine, to wanting
to walk across the sky to ask a star to dance
but falling down the well of my fear that I am human
every time I clear my throat of dirt and dare to speak
of heaven.



Useless is as useless doesn’t


Have you ever had the eyes of a cat
removed? I’m about to agree to this.
The cat’s already blind and in pain
according to the vet, and would be blind
differently is all, with ghosts of eyes
instead of his current milky orbs,
but the thought of my yes
still crushes my tender bits,
the origami at the center of my breath.


My father saw this coming. Years ago,
he set me on his knee
and told me that everyone dies
in pieces, an elbow or head at a time,
then set me on his other knee
and told me that wisteria
can’t be killed, and roses, rust,
that a smart man
ignores the construction code
and builds on a foundation
of love and cumulus.


I’m sorry that he ran out of knees
so quickly, that I’ve killed everyone
I care about for years, imagined them dying
or dead, and that I can’t actually
hitchhike on starlight. I stick my thumb out
but nothing, I’m still here and unable
to lift the darkness of Wednesdays
and Januaries off of Eve
or operate on my mother’s heart
with a firefly or go to Spain
this minute and free bulls
from men about to stab them
beautifully, erotically,
for the art of a terror so deep,
only blood can speak its name.

Bob Hicok is an associate professor of creative writing at Virginia Tech and of English at Purdue. His first book, The Legend of Light, was published by the University of Wisconsin Press and chosen as an ALA Booklist Notable Book of the Year. His books include Elegy Owed (2013) and Sex & Love & (2016), both from Copper Canyon Press.