A visit to my pantheon reveals a hole in the sky

Bob Hicok

My body's been traveling fifty-eight yearsto look at the light of as many starsas I can devour on the same night I learnMaggie Roche died last year and I didn't cryor lay a white dress on the snowto commemorate her shyness. Even if you don't know who she wasor can't hold a tune or started usingmeth again after promising yourself no more falling down the stairs,I hope you're kissed tonightfor real, not like people at midnight on TVpretending time is a dogwe've taught to sit. I think I meanwe scream Happy New Yearas if we can tell the futurewhat to do, trying hard to look as if we feel the way champagne tastes,and I don't believe for a second we've got such beautifully litchandeliers inside us. My resolution'sto leave Roche sister albumsand turntables lying around the universefor people to hear a more reasonable versionof joy, harmonies congregatingaround the language of insurmountable distance,people who'll come homeand gather a child or man or ukuleleor mountain in their armsand hold tighter to knowing everything we get now is a giveon the other end, for I am indeeda wistful motherfucker, as predictedby the sky of my birth and noted by Denis Johnson after I read poemsdecades ago in Kalamazoo, when he was still what the living call incredible and I said I'm sorry, I couldn't hear you,just to make him say againthat little thing we ask of life,that a god or anyone notice us at all.

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Bob Hicok

Bob Hicok is the author of ten collections, including Animal Soul, This Clumsy Living, Elegy Owed, Sex & Love &, and Hold. He is the recipient of two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and a Guggenheim. Currently, Hicok teaches at Virginia Tech University.

Bob Hicok's tenth collection of poetry, Hold, moves nimbly between childlike revelry and serious introspection. While confronting the rampant hypocrisies of the American collective unconscious, Hicok is guided by his deep and tender sense of whimsy and humility. Pointing to the natural world as a mirror through which to rediscover human beauty, he pauses to unapologetically celebrate the wonder of living at all.

"Hold… urges readers to consider our faults as a nation—environmental destruction, gross financial inequities, police brutality. By turns wry and witty, Hicok's plain-spoken writing highlights some of the pleasures and pains in this world, and humanity's need for reflection."
—Washington Post

"In Bob Hicok's Hold… the poet's humor, punning, wit, wisdom, and humility lead to small revelations, introspections, and musings on the human condition—all in the face of danger and atrocity. If Hold asks many questions throughout, they are not rhetorical, nor are they theoretical—instead, they're practical questions about our world. In a unique blend of punchline and sincerity, Hicok confesses, 'I'm scared, but not shitless.' As its title might suggest, this book yearns for and struggles to hold strong to self and to community, to hold to the body, to hold to the world, to hold—yes—to optimism, to hope."
—Arkansas International

"Bob Hicok is a spectrum... I'd love to see an MRI of his brain while he's writing, as the neurons show us what's possible, how a human can be a thought leader, taking us into the future… Hicok interrogates the world with mercy and wit and style and intelligence and modest swag. He's one of America's favorites—and to make the reader want to share the poet's reality fulfills poetry's finest aspiration."
—Washington Independent Review of Books

"As always, the multi-award-winning Hicok manages to be both freshly whimsical and knife-sharp insightful in his latest collection."
—Library Journal

"Bob Hicok is that rarity, a cheerful contemporary poet—if not completely happy, still hopeful and celebrative."
—Los Angeles Review of Books

"Yet ultimately the most potent ingredient in virtually every one of Bob Hicok's compact, well-turned poems is a laughter as old as humanity itself, a sweet waggery that suggests there's almost no problem that can't be solved by this poet's gentle humor."
—The New York Times Book Review

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