If Lightning Loved Me: 3 Poems by Bob Hicok



……………………………………My heart is cold,
it should wear a mitten. My heart
is whatever temperature a heart is
in a man who doesn’t believe in heaven.
………………………….I found half
an old Barbie in a field
and bathed her torso
in a coffee can of rain, put a deer skull
with antlers in a window
to watch with empty sockets
deer go by, these are souls
given the best care
I can manage, a pigeon died
and I gave it to the river.

………………..If lightning
loved me, it would be sewn
with tongues, it would open
my mind to the sky
within the sky.

………..I put birds
in most poems and rivers, put rivers
in most birds and thinking, put the dead
in many sentences
blinking quietly, put missing
into bed with having, put wolves
in my mouth hunting whispers, put faith
in making, each poem a breath
nailed to nothing.




“Once again the world has dreamed me”

A cloud smokes a cloud shaped like Florida
out of its mouth, a cloud that was a manatee
for the longest time on my back
not wanting to bother the ants crossing the mountain
of my body with bits of monarch
going home, Florida slides away from the manatee
as more of an arm wrestler’s arm
and it’s no longer a manatee that gave birth
to a state, they’re dying, the manatee
and the composition, they’re born, the ants
and the clouds, the monarchs come every year,
flutter orange in the rose-of-sharon
on their way to Mexico, which is shaped
like Mexico according to the testimony of maps,
there’s a trail through the south
of broken monarch bits, a sad song
is called for, a dirge of looking pensively
out the window, or we could have affairs
with clouds, every one of them
mated to every one of us, it was never
a manatee it was my fear of the dark,
think of the changeable children we’d have,
my son the unicorn my son the giraffe,
my daughter the angel my daughter the wing,
what an honest artist, the sky in its blue beret,
to draw a thing that’s never the thing
it’s drawing by the time we’re older
and supper’s on the table, masterpiece
the one word dusk would never use
if you interviewed it and asked
how it feels to be everyone’s favorite painter




“The middle class: a fairy tale”

You could get a tenure track job off a few poems
back then, or walk into a factory, say hello
and stand at a punch press the next day,
but why tell kids this, anymore than you’d inform Jesus,
the Roman gods were better dancers, what’s a savior
to do about it on the cross, take up the watusi?
I didn’t even look at want ads, just tooled around
in my Pinto with the carpeted dash and applied, I was white,
it was the seventies, jobs were pollen. I agree: some of this
is nostalgia. Like when you pull a bullet
out of your thigh, don’t you cherish the good old days
before gunpowder & screaming, or this morning
when I performed the inventory — forehead,
cerebellum, samovar — I was taken
wistfully back to all the other dawns
I was intact. Love was the problem when I was young,
not money, the radio horny with guitar solos
jacking-off the air, and even the rage of that solitude
was mostly ritual, how alone could you honestly worry
you’d be in the married suburbs, designed
on the green principles of Eden? I inherited
a sense of faith and that’s the rope I wish
I could throw, a belief that the GDP would want me,
that the dervish of atoms corralled in my name
deserved a well-stocked pantry and clear passage
to eulogy. I’m sorry, I see now how my life
and this poem should have begun: once upon a time.



More Books by Bob Hicok


photo: pennuja / flickr

About Bob Hicok

Bob Hicok’s seventh book, Elegy Owed, will be published by Copper Canyon Press in 2013.


  1. Richard Jeffrey Newman says:

    These are marvelous. Wonderful to wake up to and read before I go to work. Thanks!


  1. […] we have three stellar poems by Bob Hicok from the Good Men Project, edited by Gregory Sherl. These poems are fucking wonderful, really. If […]

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