One Interpretation of Your Silence by Bob Hicok

It’s been almost four years since I first read a Hicok poem, and I still don’t have any book by him on my shelf. Sometime in August of 2005, I wrote this note to myself: “Discovered Bob Hicok today and felt my world unravel.” Sometime in that moment, I got lost in a poem and it took a whole week before I was able to bring myself back.

Sometimes I wish I was living elsewhere, so I can go through bookstores hoarding paperbacks of poets I love. And then sometimes I wish we have more people who are not afraid (and just a tiny bit ashamed? embarrassed?) to say that they write poetry for a living (myself included), here in my lovely, sad city, so I won’t have to go far.

One Interpretation of Your Silence
Bob Hicok

Probably I hurt your aesthetic feelings.
How I said a thing, how I held a lamp
to the night. These should walk without us—
words, the dark—is perhaps your view
of existence. I can’t know,

you provide no puppet theater,
no tumbling routine for me to engage
in spirited discourse. That a face
comes with every body, and a body
with every name, makes it seem

like we’re the same species,
when a cursory kissing shows how multiform
any one puckerer is. I’m sorry
I’m not the Wednesday or club sandwich
you expected, imagine my surprise

that you’re not the world peace
I really do want, it’s not just a thing
I say to the judges inspecting my cleavage.
If you’ll try again I’ll try again,
however trying we are. “To the puppies” is a phrase

I carry around in search of the context
in which shouting it will change everything.
If you have no such rip-chord, we really
shouldn’t be seen together in public,
for you are the matter for which I

am the anti-matter, and as “Lost in Space”
showed us if it showed us nothing else,
it’s not good for life when they meet,
and I want to do what is good for life,
because I want life to return the favor.

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