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  • The life-and-death world of carpentry, and: To speak somewhat figuratively for S., and: Some math, some words, and: Ode to (fear of) desire
  • Bob Hicok (bio)

The life-and-death world of carpentry

So much sawdust on my glasses, I stare at the wind

with the eyes of a cedar, one I cut down when it grewtoo tall and took the far field away from mewhere I want to be a horse, severed it into boardsfor a dresser I dragged to the spot where the tree

had thrived and said to myself, can you imaginebeing as innocent as water, drawers full of rainand rusted keys on top from cars I never owned, collectedfrom the mechanic whose son died last winter, two years old

and wandered to the river, the ice gave, then sealedlike a window above the open question of his mouth,there was already a rocker from an oak that alsogot in the way of my vision, I will populate these woods

with an absence of woods if someone doesn't stop me,a sleigh bed sleep-deep in snow, a bassinetfull of crows, I have wanted to drag my wristacross the scream of the table saw

for no other reason than I could, there I'd be,different, evolved, a self-made thingfor the first time in my life, I am afraidyou formed the world for the same reason, Lord, [End Page 468]

can you imagine something as dangerousas desire: language, I guess, that cuts one thingfrom another and breeds the distemperof comparison, a man looking at the crooked horizon

and thinking, I could do better [End Page 469]

To speak somewhat figuratively for S.

We went to the top of a building to jump off.She could no longer deal with having been raped.I was tired of falling asleep by looking forwardto never waking again. It was a perfect dayto watch a documentary on famous parachute-folding mistakes. Then we had a final meal, final smoke,final shower with the window open and pigeons watching.Are you sure you wouldn't rather shoot the manwho did this, I asked, adding that guns are easier to buythan "get well soon or whenever you want cards." Of courseI knew her mother would never forgive herif she shot her father. She'd have to shoot her mother too,which would anger her sister, also raped, who'd wonder whyshe didn't think of that herself. The only timethey talked about it, they were drunk on the stepsof our brownstone and throwing peanuts at cabsuntil one cab backed up and a man got outwho was three feet tall but his arms were eight feet longand it was the arms that did the talking. They ran.A three-foot-tall man dragging eight-foot-long armsis an interesting nightmare to watch run. They ran the whole nighttogether, all the way to Brooklyn and bloody feetand crying most of the way out and laughingmost of the way back, I think what's known as a bondwas formed. Still she wanted to die and I wantedto be with her, so we went up into the windspeople don't realize are in love with tall buildingsand debated a long time the virtues of taking turnsor going as one by holding hands and not shoutingGeronimo. I've often wondered why people shout thatwhen they jump and not Ulysses or Grover Cleveland,I'm sure there's a reason like I'm sure her father [End Page 470]

could explain himself if she held a knife to his dick.We didn't jump—this is a poem—but she's still rapedand I still wish I could articulate the pointof breathing and her sister's still fun to have aroundbecause she juggles really well and they leanagainst each other in doorways without knowingthey're the only two trees of a very small forest,in which I think of myself as a...


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