Picture by the sea


In a flash, the sea would find
her sentences clipped:

yes, there,

her breath a ragged current
that dips beyond the deep
where the seabed rolls,

awake in her discovery
of the smallest orbs of light.


Here there are tiny fish
keeping her capilliaries
full, and one

or two escape.


It is the kind of silence you can
drink, salt and all.


The ocean’s shallow breath
settles into sea foam,

pretending a quiet rhythm,
but you can feel her exhale

in the crash of the waves
that land  at your feet,
poised deliberately


The water pulls back
to reveal what it leaves
and what it keeps in kind.

There is only the sound of the water,
the push of the ocean,

and the rhythmic, heady pull
of a ship’s mooring, mooring, mooring.


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 grew
too tall and took the far field away from me
where I want to be a horse, severed it into boards
for a dresser I dragged to the spot where the tree

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

and wandered to the river, the ice gave, then sealed
like a window above the open question of his mouth,
there was already a rocker from an oak that also
got 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 bassinet
full of crows, I have wanted to drag my wrist
across the scream of the table saw

for no other reason than I could, there I’d be,
different, evolved, a self-made thing
for the first time in my life, I am afraid
you formed the world for the same reason, Lord,

can you imagine something as dangerous
as desire: language, I guess, that cuts one thing
from another and breeds the distemper
of comparison, a man looking at the crooked horizon

and thinking, I could do better

Bob Hicok


Translator’s Confession, 3 a.m.

Dear C, I dropped

your sentence in hot water.
I talked to the boil. I said Here

is my thumb for you to burn.

Here is the soft heart
of my hand and my arm and

the nape of my wreck.

I said vapor, just take me.
I’m done burning

with these pages. Being invisible
doesn’t mean a person

won’t blister, doesn’t mean

the blisters won’t fill
with pockets of water

or when lanced the rawest flesh

won’t emerge. First the word
then the murky leak

begins—what another mind
may scrape against

but never skin.

Idra Novey