Bob Hicok was born in 1960 in Michigan and worked for many years in the automotive die industry. A published poet long before he earned his MFA, Hicok is the author of several collections of poems, including The Legend of Light, winner of the Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry in 1995 and named a 1997 ALA Booklist Notable Book of the Year; Plus Shipping (1998); Animal Soul (2001), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; Insomnia Diary (2004); This Clumsy Living (2007), which received the Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry from the Library of Congress; Words for Empty, Words for Full (2010); Elegy Owed (2013), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; and Sex & Love (2016). His work has been selected numerous times for the Best American Poetry series. Hicok has won Pushcart Prizes and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, and has taught creative writing at Western Michigan University and Virginia Tech.
Anas and I had Oreos this morning, as we do
once a week, on the bench outside his store,
sharing them so we don't get fat
(ter). Now and then, for a change,
Nutter Butters. Anas keeps a picture
of his mother above the register.
Right before he was shot three years ago
by a thief, he focused on her face.
Asked weeks later by a cop
what the man looked like, Anas thought
but didn't say, Home. He told me that.
I told my wife, who told her mother,
who told her mother, who said, How lovely.
Even in her senility, her eyes sparked
to the word home. Anas' wife is dead,
his mother, grandmother, but I've leant him
three generations of women
admiring his thoughts. Below
being a man, he's Anas. Beneath
being Syrian, he prefers Paris.
Under wanting to get even, he doesn't.
Retribution is like playing catch
with an egg. How far would we get with war
if every man first asked his mother,
Can I kill? Most of whom would say,
"It's may I kill. And no, you may not."
A boy's love for his mother's love of politics
My mother won't die
in the next fifteen months. She has trouble
breathing, trouble making it from the table
to the counter, but she won't die
in the next fifteen months. She has
bad knees, lungs, heart. She weighs
way more than she should. Her blood pressure
and cholesterol are high. She can't
levitate. Can't change from a solid to a gas
and back. Seven kids have passed through her,
four of us C-sections, all of us
treating her body like rugby, and one
may have been or still be a very large cat.
But she won't die. She'll have doctors
implant Julianne Moore in her if need be,
who seems happy and optimistic in interviews.
Or sew her to a dirigible. She'll ask my father
to wire her to a light switch and read
by her eyes if he has to, but she's not
going to die in the next fifteen months. A woman
is about to be president. Half the country's
about to feel wanted by or despite
The Constitution. Half the world's
about to see themselves in TV's unblinking mirror.
There will soon be a vagina in the Oval Office.
Leading to the obvious question:
why oval? Fifteen months. Four hundred
and fifty days. A countdown to fairness.
And after that? You know what happens
after that -- democracy will still be an idea
that makes me cry in movies, the only place
really attractive people can figure out
how to make it work. And yes, my mother will die
eventually and probably badly, but how many of us
die well, even though it's among
the easiest things we'll ever do, requiring
no knowledge, training, or experience,
no ropes or wrenches, no water or lightning
or guitars? All bodies know how to die,
just as everybody knows you've got to be nuts
to want to be president. Which means equality
is the right of women to be crazy too.
A boy's love for his mother's love of politics: the sad sequel