Spotlight Poem #3: “Standing together against ourselves” by Bob Hicok


When an apple starts to form on the mountain
behind my back or you cross the street
to my left and we nod or a bird stops singing,
takes out a notebook and writes, What is this idea
of color, tears out the page, folds it
into a smaller bird the wind picks up and carries
to my shoulder, my face is the same neighborhood,
the same gathering of lips and blue eyes
and white cheeks as when the bird unfolds
and I can’t answer the question any better
than the last time a body wasn’t cherished
enough for me or ten thousand three hundred
and thirty-three people like me to stand
outside of congress and strip down
to the shield of invisibility we have worn
since we were born, hold our faces in unison,
as a single shape or continent of flesh,
and in a voice as clear and morning-loved,
morning-lifted as every and any bird, as each
and all the trills of song seeking song,
seeking life, seeking more, say,
Murder is not the shelter our sleep
has sought, A gun is not a principle
of democratic thought, A club is not an imprint
of civility, and offer our bodies, which are light
moving through time, stars come to rest
in a blue harbor, in defense of those who are like us
in every way a clock understands, in every respect
a scalpel might save a life, in every instinct
the moon has to pull the water of our hearts
closer to its dreaming, and be with
rather than without, among and not apart,
and love such that we can be loved.

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By Bob Hicok

BOB HICOK’S tenth collection, Red Rover Red Rover, will be published by Copper Canyon Press in 2020. A two-time finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and recipient of the Bobbitt Prize from the Library of Congress, he’s also been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, and eight Pushcart Prizes. His poems have been selected for inclusion in nine volumes of The Best American Poetry.