Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Words For Empty And Words For Full by Bob Hicok

I stormed through this book, or is it two books, stacking up at nearly 120 pages. Still, I was stomped and stirring and laughing and sighing on buses, in between classes, on my couchbed over the past week, doing all I could not to stop and copy this voice this man these poems.

Some people might say the title is lame or something bad, but I like it, as it feels appropriate tabbing through all the stored parts of these poems in my head.

One thing that struck me: the control, even in his quirky wildness, that Hicok shows with really chewy topics, like the Virginia Tech shooting (ADD IT TO MY MFA LIST) and global warming. These poems make shapes like humans, so I'm not all GOSH ANOTHER KILLING IS DUMB POEM.

"Man to man" is definitely not my favorite poem in this book, but I keep thinking about it. Repetition, one of Hicok's go to tactics, gets smacked around here.

Thirteen killed by a man in Germany
and then himself.

Ten killed by a man in Alabama
and then himself.

I have killed no one, I am behind.

How do I take this? I am not sure, but I'm intrigued.

Are they out there
and we just don't hear them, stories
of men who go crazy
and mow the lawns of strangers?

What we he like, the interviewer would ask
a neighbor.

Kind of quiet, she would say.
You know: kept to himself.
A nice man, really.
And then he was just like, you know, mowing.
Mowing and mowing and mowing
and mowing. There were grass clippings
everywhere. It was horrible.

So here is Hicok, the Hicok I like, that makes me open this book instead of do my homework or watch Patrick Swayze surf again. He is serious, but not a stooge. He is funny, but not a jerk. He feels like a person here on the page.

Skipping ahead a little in the poem (COPYRIGHTS; ALSO I GOTTA WORK SOON):

A man gathers all the men in the world
and asks why rock paper scissors
won't do, why rock paper scissors
fire won't do, why rock paper scissors fire
atom bomb won't do.

The sound of all men shrugging
sounds like the sound of all crows
taking off from all trees, like the day
flying away from itself.

I'm digging how this poem unfolds. I don't think these excerpts do that justice.

But yes, I think the reason this poem keeps coming up in my head is the fact that it writes about some important (and often overwritten/poorly written/blahly written). Often, I write and read things that are cool or interesting, but why does it matter? It's just me whining or about a t-shirt, and yeah those things are okay, but the world's got big stuff going.

I like this book; it isn't afraid to be wild with touchy/important things.

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