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Bob Hicok

(1960 - / Michigan)

Dropping The Euphemism


He has five children, I’m papa
to a hundred pencils.
I bought the chair he sat in

from a book of chairs,
staplers and spikes
that let me play Vlad the Impaler

with invading memos. When I said
I have to lay you off
a parallel universe was born

in his face, one where flesh
is a loose shirt
taken to the river and beaten

against rocks. Just
by opening my mouth I destroyed
his faith he’s a man

who can think honey-glazed ham
and act out the thought
with plastic or bills. We sat.

I stared at my hands, he stared
at the wall staring at my hands.
I said other things

about the excellent work he’d done
and the cycles of business
which are like

the roller-coaster thoughts
of an oscilloscope. All this time
I saw the eyes of his wife

which had always been brown
like almonds but were now brown
like the crust of bread. We walked

to the door, I shook his hand,
felt the bones pretending
to be strong. On his way home

there was a happy song
because de Sade invented radio,
the window was open, he saw

delphinium but couldn’t remember
the name. I can only guess.
Maybe at each exit

that could have led his body
to Tempe, to Mars, he was tempted
to forget his basketball team

of sons, or that he ever liked
helping his wife clean carrots,
the silver sink turning orange.

Running’s natural to most animals
who aren’t part
of a lecture series on Nature’s

Dead Ends. When I told him,
I saw he was looking for a place
in his brain to hide

his brain. I tried that later
with beer, it worked until I stood
at the toilet to make my little

waterfall, and thought of him
pushing back from a bar
to go make the same noise.

Submitted: Monday, January 23, 2012

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