Bob Hicok has new poems forthcoming in PANK 4 (order it!), one coming out on the website (as Roxane keeps the queue I’ll just say presently), and if you don’t read Hicok, well, you should. Begin anywhere, or here, or begin with this very blog, to which I post this Monday morning with pure childlike joy.
PANK YOU VERY MUCH
by Bob Hicok
There came a point when I knew I hadn’t known
the word pank existed. Spank clank drank tank shank
wank (er) thank (her for the roses) shrank (the t-shirt
in the dryer then the dryer then the universe
if you stick around) but not “to pack snow for purposes
of walking on packed snow.” Now to use it in a sentence.
Remember that from school? It was never the interesting
words: “now children, please use the word gonorrhea
in a sentence; After much panking, the mayor expired
of gonorrhea.” I’m larger now by pank as measured
in angstroms. My brain is physically altered. My psyche
feels more prepared for jargon emergencies. And to those
who say life is predictable, I say I didn’t see
pank coming. In that, it’s a shooting star. It’s the vagina
as described to me when I was nine as an opening and I saw
hairy door. It’s a black president of the United States.
My ignorance of pank had kept my ignorance of the word
for the space that closes behind crowsong or a bullet
or me as I move unknowing through time
company: how to apologize to the void
for diminishing it of the nothings it holds? On whispered knees,
certainly, in a suit, a black suit, a black-light
suit, while thinking: isn’t the night every shadow
packed into a long moment of shadow
around our shoulders, around our sleep, around the depth
from which all feeling rises and to which it returns?
And what is the word for knowing your bones are made
of midnight? The dictionary that knows the answer
is a poet and she’s not talking. She’s moody
and not talking. She’s hungry and her heel is broken
and it’s snowing and she’s looking up and trying
to follow a single flake all the way to the ground.
Where she watches it die. Where her watching it die
is a funeral, a celebration, a shiver
as she stands in mostly skin, mostly feeling
this doesn’t end anything, for look how thirsty
concrete is, look how sunflower taxis are, listen how hubbub
53rd is with the tapping of a blind man’s cane.
Who touches his face where snow has touched
his face and smiles and she smiles
in her invisibility back at his smile, completing
a circle of sorts. The circle
of the honor system. The circle of yes. The circle
of believing everything is broadcast, everything
is listening, everything has a word, and even
the things that don’t have us wanting them
to have words. Have us saying, how do you say,
and expecting the air to confess what it knows.