Bob Hicok

Loss conflates without thought of scale

or decorum: eleven Jews shot dead in a temple

in Pittsburgh; songbirds pushed up a mountain

by rising temperatures in Peru

until there’s nowhere to go, an escalator

of extinction; Trick or Treating

forbidden in a neighborhood in town

where the only danger is fear of the dark;

a cow shot in the eye across from our mailbox

because a motorist had a gun that could;

two people shot in the head in a Kroger

for being black; a season of dull leaves

falling, junkyard oranges and reds;

growing difficulty retrieving my name

from memory; tiny bits of plastic

in everyone’s feces; tiny fits of crying

as I walk through the dairy section. Yesterday

I saw roses walking away from a hothouse.

Heard clarinets singing goodbye.

Watched my house write a suicide note

and begin striking matches. Today

someone told me about a Jew

who wasn’t killed in Pittsburgh

or the concentration camp he was sent to

as a child. Who was late

for service and warned not to go inside.

Who should have been gassed, hung, shot,

bayoneted, had his head smashed

against a wall, been driven over

by a truck, a car, history, been impaled

on a fork, on lust, been eaten

by lice, inmates, rain, snow, or just

thrown from the edge of the world,

but is alive right now in Pittsburgh

and getting ready for a funeral today. And instead

of pinning a piece of cloth to his chest,

is ripping the pocket of a favorite suit,

I hope, hard and fast, so a wound hangs

from his standing, his walking, his shadow,

the tatter of a flapping tongue

that belongs to his heart, that tells you

a beast has clawed at this life, and devoured,

and failed to kill the sun.


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