Jacket 19 — October 2002   |   # 19  Contents   |   Homepage   |  Catalog   |
This issue of Jacket is a collaboration with Verse magazine



Bob Hicok

Three poems


Bars poetica

This is the story I’ve tried to tell. Guy
exists. Father mother sister brother.
Oh pretty stars, oh bastard moon
I see you watching me. The trembling
years leading to sex, the trembling sex.
Death as garnish. Death as male lead,
female lead, death as a cast
of thousands. God in, on, as, with,
to, around, because who knows
because. All the while feeling air’s
a quilt of tongues, that spaces
between words are more articulate
than words. It’s not like you’d hope,
that anyone can make sense.
Look around you, let your ears
breathe deep — almost no one does.
Have another drink. When they throw us out
there’s a place down the street
that never closes, after that
we’ll climb a fire escape and praise
the genealogy of light. The Big Bang
sounds like what it was, the fucking
that got everything under way.
That love was there from the start
is all I’ve been trying to say.


Self reliance

I have a picture of Earth on my wall.
Would lice keep a photo of me?
I am their world after all.
The green parts are trees
or where Leprechauns blew up.
The offices of squid are blue.
A satellite took this photo
as it jogged around the world.
Beside Earth I’ve hung Mars.
They look like testicles
keeping each other company.
The red planet’s really brown,
you could color it in
with crayons made of dirt.
It’s Earth minus the recipe
for everglades and cows.
Scientists are interrogating Mars.
They slap it around and deny it
the famous phone call.
They want to know if anything
ever lived there, small or large.
So far it’s held its tongue.
Not long ago we were afraid
that Martians would come
and destroy the Earth
with bad breath and ray guns.
Have you kissed a river lately?
We can kill the world fine
on our own.


The invisible man

He is my manta ray. The Degas
that got away from me.
Any shoe you choose
or the pause in war
when men apologize
to each other’s wounds.
I make him up as I go.
Nearly see him each week.
Blur dashing curb to door,
shadow in daylight
and cataract to the moon,
relfex of the ineffable
wisp. His skin hides
from eyes, lips refuse
the brand of words.
Twelve years and I don’t know
how many noses he owns,
if feet by two or is he a horse,
sea of course, or made
of cheese to the knees.
His quick silver speed
never fails. Though once
I saw an ear clear, nautilus
shaped, that’s it
for biography. He is
my summer, always leaving,
my hero in sprint
& embrace of the neural twitch
that counsels no, stay low.
Avoid life, the sun and chafe.
Sociophobe means afraid
of people, he is
blank page, void, the dot
the TV swallows when power
sleeps. The hummingbird
no living person’s seen,
blue unless red until green.



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