A Pause in the Action

By BOB HICOK 


Everyone should be given a bucket of roaches

and a bucket of air, one for company, one to pay the bills. 

Be made to clean a grease trap for a year 
with his or her fingers, with his or her nose 
infected for life.   

To take government cheese as their lover.  

 Everyone who wants to be President, Senator, Supreme.  

 The Supremes just made it harder for unions to exist.  

Supremes study law, study Harvard, 
but who studies cleaning hotel rooms in a city 
where you cant pay the rent, or choosing between prayer 
and denial as your doctor, or pawning your arm 
to get your leg out of hock?  

Stop in the name of love
before you break my heart — I liked the Supremes better
when they were black women singing that, 
not white men singing the hell 
with collective bargaining.  

Its too late. My heart is broken. 
I am born of anvils and mules. 
Breakers of rocks, emptiers of septic tanks. 
Born of the broom, the axe, the plow 
that opened the earth for rain
to rise as bread, and unions 
are pretty much dead in a land 
where people died for unions.  

If this is a eulogy, its a terrible eulogy,
if a rant, where are the shattered windows,
if a treatise, more footnotes, please.  

If this is a white flag, a little blood 
will take care of that.  

 

Bob Hicok‘s most recent book is Hold (2018). 

[Purchase Issue 17 here.]

A Pause in the Action

Related Posts

Image of dental floss on red background

September 2020 Poetry Feature

BRUCE BOND
What you have heard is half true, half forgotten. / It’s what we have, a rubric written in old / blood whose spirit of inclusion admits / the occasional invention, the apocryphal / goat at midnight, for one, who has broken / down the gate again, and wandered through...

The book cover for Ricardo Maldonado's "The Life Assignment"

Poems From The Life Assignment

RICARDO ALBERTO MALDONADO
I feel from dignity and calm. I, / anxiety grabbed me // with sciatica, although I recited poems / at a stone’s throw, inside the machine // elevator. The clattering of the empire / its capital / an arsenal of pain, it made for a rough // odor. Now can you see the monument?

Golden Eagle Michael Eastman

Ghost Town

SALLY BALL & MICHAEL EASTMAN 
St. Louis is the center of this series: middle-class (or once middle-class) St. Louis, and the layers of depletion and reinvigoration and depletion-again-anyway-despite that are visible in the facades boarded over, or enlivened (once) with murals, or not painted going on 30-40 years.