Bob Hicok




Doc day


I touch her cheek
on the couch, TV on
to news, smiling death
and touchdowns. As I do,
I think of his prostate
and pull away, not wanting
to touch her
with what touched
I think cancer today,
start of the end
maybe for him: nice man,
two kids, bad knee.
I sit on the rug
and look at her
for awhile,
the woman behind me
going through the chances
of rain, sun. They are good,
the chances of rain
or sun, one hundred percent,
the chance of weather.
My wife's sleep
is innocent
for the most part
of her life, of knowing
me. I get up, wash my hands
again and again, a soap
that smells like roses,
like the lie
that I can touch everyone
with summer.


Putting on speed


She doesn't see me, see. I'm on the porch
heading round back to check the meter. It's January
something or other, some snow but not too much,
the soft kind so my feet don't crunch or squeak,
you know, like sometimes when it's really cold
your feet'll make that noise like you're stepping
on rubber ducks or something. I don't see her
at first either, I don't ever really see her,
just the her that's in the mirror next to the window.
She's sitting on the edge of the tub, her robe
or whatever it is open I can tell with some kind of birds
on it I think, maybe flowers but I'm pretty sure birds.
She's looking down the whole time I'm walking
over to the meter and not seeing her at first,
but then I do and I jump a little like this is wrong
or I should wave my arms or stomp or just, fuck,
I don't know, sing a goddamned song
so she don't think I'm sneaking up on her
like some pervert and I'd get fired.
They'll shitcan you for anything these days.
Guy I know dropped some piss off at his doc
and somehow they found out about it and zip,
that was it. I mean it just took a sec he said,
in and out, but it don't matter. So anyways
I don't, I mean, sing or some shit, I could of
but I notice her arm's moving real fast
and then I see it's between her legs, she's sitting
on the edge of the tub going at it, you know,
whacking off or whatever you say for chicks. That
don't make sense, does it? Whacking off
for a woman? They got nothing to whack. Yeah yeah yeah.
I know we don't either but it's closer, you know?
The sound of it, kind of like slapping.
This is some weird shit to think about. Anyway.
She's going at it and I just stand there.
She's not bad looking, near as I can tell in the mirror
from the side. I don't really see anything, you know,
tits or nothing, but she's pretty and I just watch her
and get excited myself but, hell,
what am I going to do about it? Then she's done.
She arches her back and seems to freeze for a while,
holds her arm real still and then wraps
the robe around and gets up and looks straight in the mirror.
I don't know why she didn't see me. I'm like
five feet away. She stands there looking at herself
and starts crying. The full deal. Just flat out
gushing and heaving, I could hear it through the window.
She does this for a couple minutes and then
just leaves the room. I don't know if she saw me
or not. It's so fucking hard to believe she didn't,
but who'd whack off or whatever and then cry
in front of a goddamned stranger? But you know,
the more I thought about it, the surer I was
she did see me, which got to me, you know. Not just
that it's fucking strange but that it's fucking lonely.
So I go around to the side and read the meter
and...look, I'll kill you if you ever repeat this to anyone,
got it? I mean it. Don't sip your fucking drink. Look at me
and tell me you're never going to tell this to anyone.
Yeah I mean it. Anyway. You think I'd be thrilled. Shit.
That's the fantasy, you know? You do what I do
or go around fixing dishwashers or some shit,
everyone thinks you see these hot women doing shit
or they want to fuck you and that's, like, the perk,
you know? But I'm standing there with my little gizmo
that takes the readings and I start crying too,
I mean hard like when I was a kid and didn't get
the right piece of crap for Christmas or whatever.
I'm balling and got not clue why and I look over
and this deer is staring at me. A doe. A fucking doe
is watching me cry with those eyes you can't understand.
I mean, I can't. There's nothing to read in those eyes.
It's like these shiny rocks have come to life
and they're checking you out, asking you things
you don't want to be asked. They give me the fucking creeps.
If I had a gun I'd have shot the fucker. I mean it.
I'd have unloaded the goddamn clip into Bambi's
fucking head and gone inside and killed the woman too.
I would have, I could feel it standing there,
holding the gizmo. I told you, don't ever say this shit
to anyone, I mean, how fucked up is this?
Where does this shit come from? Then it was gone.
It just, you know how they do, kind of boinged away
and I wiped my face and tiptoed off that porch
and drove out of there fast as I could,
like I didn't even exist. Pedal to the metal, man.
Pedal to the metal.



Scarecrow overhears himself thinking


I love crows, so midnight at noon. Me,
a suit stuck on sticks
that no longer suits your life. As if this aways
who you are, your self-imposed
supposes: suppose this is it -- this field,
this light? What does, anyway, fill you
if not sun up or down, if not harvest,
yield? We should switch, I'll hop off
and gimp around, you'll hang
among scavengers for company,
for keeps, your straw-thoughts pecked
by wind. Are you me alive or am I you
dead? I lied: I hold my arms wide
not to shoo but greet, to say
to plunder, "feel free, dig in."



Bob Hicok is the author of five full-length collections of poetry: Plus Shipping, The Legend of Light, Animal Soul, Insomnia Diary, and most recently, This Clumsy Living.