cover image Elegy Owed

Elegy Owed

Bob Hicok. Copper Canyon (Consortium, dist.), $22 (128p) ISBN 978-1-55659-436-6

Hicok’s poems are like boomerangs; they jut out in wild, associative directions, yet find their way back to the root of the matter, often in sincere and heartbreaking ways. His seventh book is hefty, containing poems in which a man can chop down wind, or “feel up” silence, though mostly this book explores death, the “lit fuse trailing each of us.” Yet Hicok’s poems about mortality and loss take on a vibrancy of their own, with a rhythm and humor that seems to fall into place by mere, desperate momentum. Language and memory haunt him, they “never/ let the living let the dead die.” His title poem opens with the statement, “in other languages/ you are beautiful— mort, muerto— I wish/ I spoke moon, I wish the bottom of the ocean/ were sitting in that chair playing cards/ and noticing how famous you are/ on my cell phone.” The next poem, “Missing,” acknowledges his tendency to spiral into a random, nonsensical whimsy that at times feels forced: “Imagination says things like that/ without knowing what they mean.” “The dark is my favorite suit to wear,” Hicok says, and he means it. It’s with a bitter humor that he observes how “God does these things like send us halfway out/ on a rope-bridge before telling us/ He’s changed His mind about rope,/ it shouldn’t exist, it’s not going to exist.” (Apr.)