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Authors: Bob Hicok

Elegy Owed

BOOK: Elegy Owed
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For Eve

  1. Pilgrimage
  2. Elegy with lies
  3. The days are getting longer
  4. O
  5. The story of 5:33
  6. Knockturn
  7. Good-bye, topspin
  8. Elegy to hunger
  9. Coming to life
  10. Ode to magic
  11. Pre-planning
  12. l ah g
  13. Sound scape
  14. You name this one
  15. A request
  16. One of those things we say
  17. Making do
  18. The gift
  19. Listen
  20. A country mapped with invisible ink
  21. Elegy to unnamed sources
  22. The missing
  23. Some recent weather
  24. Born again
  25. Scarecrow overhears himself thinking
  26. Elegy's
  27. Desire
  28. Take care
  29. Obituary for the middle class
  30. Song of the recital
  31. Leave a message
  32. Blue prints
  33. What the great apes refer to as a philosophy of life
  34. The order of things
  35. How we came to live where we live
  36. The heart of the soul of the gist of the matter
  37. To speak somewhat figuratively for S.
  38. Absence makes the heart. That's it: absence makes the heart.
  39. A very small bible
  40. Notes for a time capsule
  41. Another holiday has come and gone
  42. Ink
  43. Shed and dream
  44. You can never step into the same not going home again twice
  45. A poem that wanted to be a letter but didn't know how
  46. Owe is to ode as whatever is to I don't know
  47. Ode to ongoing
  48. Elegy to the time it takes to realize the futility of elegies
  49. Love
  50. Elegy ode
  51. Confessions of a nature lover
  52. Circles in the sky
  53. Something like an oath
  54. Elegy owed
  55. Missing
  56. As I was saying
  57. Speaking American
  58. Moving day
  59. Excerpts from mourning
  60. Life
  61. Sunny, infinite chance of rain
  62. In lieu of building a crib
  63. Equine aubade
  64. I tell myself the future
  65. Good-bye

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.

Elegy with lies

This lost person I loved. Loved for a hundred years.

When I find her. Find her in a forest. In a cabin

under smoke and clouds shaped like smoke. When I find her

and call her name (nothing) and knock (nothing)

and build a machine that believes it's God and the machine

calls her name (nothing) and knocks (nothing).

When I tear the machine down and she runs from the cabin

pointing a gun at my memories and telling me

to leave, stranger, leave, man of hammers.

When I can't finish that story. When I get to the gun

pointed at my head. When I want it to go off.

When everything I say to anyone all day long

is bang. That would be today. When I can't use her name.

All day long. Soft as cotton, tender as kiss. Bang.

The days are getting longer

The birds I feed seed every morning

never thank me, I tell on them

to my mother, who I assume

raised them and everything

from pups. She's begun to forget

why my voice shows up in her ear

each week, let alone

what the real name of the ruby-

throated-whatsit is, it's hard

to help the dead be dead

before they are. Mourning

doves, cardinals, chickadees

strip the cupboard bare

in a matter of hours,

as tiny guillotines cut each leaf

from every tree, the leaves

fall orange & brown, a muted rainbow

arting-up the forgiveness

of October air, which smells naked,

new, and accepts the shape

of everything in its mouth. She asked

the other day how my day was,

I told her, she asked again,

as if I hadn't answered

or slept in the rumpus-room

of her womb. Do you ever look

at a crust of bread and wonder

if that's God, if the quiet

that lives there is the same hush

we become? I never do too,

but is it, and why are we dragging

these anvils behind us?


I'm thinking I watched a man and his son holding hands as they crossed a parking lot

last night, thinking I was moved by the root or lifeboat or ladder of the father's arm

into the life of the son, the root or labyrinth of his arm as they moved at the pace

of the child, whose walking still bore signs of the womb, of being wobbly water and I wanted

to reverse my vasectomy on the spot and have a child with the moon, I wish there were a word

that was the thing it was the word of, that when I said
I could be sun, all of it in my mouth,

burning, you might think and be so marvelously right about praise that you open your door

one day and the day walks in and stays for years

The story of 5:33

The sense of someone turning in what wasn't exactly

a dream or wakefulness. She would be leaving soon and I

couldn't sleep and wouldn't get up. Like someone was there

or to say, someone was there, puts them there, which is

a place in the sense that any name derived from a place

or region is a place, as in, these thoughts are their own

pants or favorite drinks, if we are talking about people.

She would be leaving soon for her mother's for a week,

someone turning on the other side of a door after saying

something like,
we should slap the shit out of morning

so it leaves us alone in bed.
It could be argued

that any change from a steady state is violent, as now,

I hear a cat in what had been an absence of cat,

a breaking of a truce between the levels

of crow-chatter and the background hissing of the universe,

if we are talking about people. The sense of someone

turning to look back in the most casual way

someone might look back, not to ask the day to follow,

or with anchored gaze, or to distend the shape of time,

though as an object, I am full

of these brushings of drums, these paintings

hung on air until the walls arrive. Almost as if I am

a voyeur of my thoughts, in the sense that boats don't ask

permission of water to float or drown, though water

reflects these choices while going about its business.

Had I time, and pins, and thread, I would poke myself

all over and connect the sovereign drops of blood

in a map for a lost child who realizes she had wanted

since she was born to run away. The sense of someone turning

toward the magnetism of wild flowers, if we are talking

about people. Then I was here, looking back through an opening

that is vined or bricked or flesh-hewn, the dress of it

changing as someone turned toward their sense

of someone turning, a wave the gesture that comes to mind

now, if it's not too late to rub the day and make a wish.


Tiptoeing through the grass

not to wake the grass, sheet music

for the laments all over the field

like wings of moonlight, crickets

hushing their banter around my ankles,

then remembering they're an ocean

once I've passed, I enjoy thinking of solitude

when I'm alone as the spouse of living

with others, who are often sharp

in my experience and pointy, people

are like scissors, you shouldn't run with them,

I should go back and tell my wife

my skin is a photograph, a slow exposure

of stars she can touch

with the swirls, the galaxies

of her fingerprints when she wakes

and gives me the dream report,

decades she's been late for a test

or taken it naked, I would go

to that school, I would major

in Yes, the dark is my favorite suit to wear

where bear are also

sometimes, and coyote, and the dead

get to be whatever they want as far

as I can tell, the less I can see,

the more personally I take the little

I can make out with,

holding what I am held by, the night

and I almost the same smudge

of whatever this is, it is seductive

to wade into and slip away and not drown,

my life the only thing that has been with me

my whole life

Good-bye, topspin

Life has taken my cartilage and left me a biography of André Breton.

I will limp persuasively and write you a letter sprinkled with French surrealism.

This doesn't feel like but is truly my good-bye to youth as I practiced it when I was young.

What a lovely time you showed me, cartilage, heart, elbows, pineal gland.

There was a party and I was invited.

There was sprinting and wind looked at me like a brother.

There was yee-hah and it was me injecting complacency with that hoedown.

But nostalgia:

go to hell.

Not going to do that.

Not going to be a lamprey on the side of the past, sucking for dear life, since I have had

and am having a dear life.

Thank you sweat glands, shin splints, kidney stones, proprioception for telling me where I am in space in relation to sunlight, breasts, saffron, life.


Here is where I am in space.

Here is where space is in me.

BOOK: Elegy Owed
13.68Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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