Local History

Bob Hicok Click to

bhicokBorn in Michigan, Bob Hicok teaches at Virginia Tech and is the recipient of a Felix Pollak Prize for Poetry, a Guggenheim Fellowship, two NEA Fellowships in Literature. In 2013 his collection Elegy Owed (Copper Canyon Press) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Hicok is the author of seven other collections of poetry and is widely published and anthologized. He has received six Pushcart Prizes.  “Local History” first appeared in Shenandoah 56/3.

On Halloween I met a neighbor from across the valley.
We drank beer and ate candy corn.
He said there are bullet holes in his living room.
Only the east side of his mouth talked;
two peas in a pod, I thought of his unparted
western lips. We stood on the porch
of a white house that needs to be painted,
where the road jerks hard like suddenly
it woke up. The pumpkin behind him
had had a face lift. The candle of its brain
sputtered jumpy shadow thoughts. He seemed happy,
not because the hand is the original cup holder
but in the mysticism of his belief
that his ceiling wasn’t executed but opened
to the possibility of stars. I smelled cedar
and manure and remembered the last time
I was in a gun fight with the night.
We should shoot the sky, I said without feeling violent.
To keep in practice, I didn’t say out loud,
picturing a trembling man in a corner, rifle
aimed smack-dab at nothing, bullseye after bullseye
as his wife in her flapping housecoat
ran to the road and stuck out her thumb
into new life.