Kate Greenstreet and Bob Hicok Poems




Thoughts interrupted by other thoughts


There were those hands in windows as a child.

Mother told me, if you need help, look for a hand

in the window and knock on the door, you will be safe.

I knocked one day on one of those doors, stood inside

with mittens attached to my coat by strings,

as if I were the beginning of a banjo, and to the woman

asking my sniffles what was wrong, said, can I touch it,

pointing at the hand.


[A strand of music that began

with a look to the left, balled

and thrown at the garbage, hits the rim

and rolls to the corner,

where the mice turd from last night

has cooled.]


[In a circle, we shoot arrows

at each other.

Those who duck

are asked to leave the circle

and all future circles,

including echoes. No echoes

if you duck when the arrow

comes looking for your eye.]


[They each had an affair the same night.

They each told the other right away.

They each forgave.

Neither wanted to be forgiven.

They talked about this,

not wanting to be forgiven,

which became their new bond,

the pain of being denied resistance.]


[You were off flaying the self,

whittling it down to nonexistence.

I was eager to send you parsnips

or chocolate, it sounds like hungry work,

using the blade of the self

to eradicate the self, like chopping

a tree down with the tree.

But who, if the self does not exist,

do I address my kumquats to, the tangerines

in a lymphatic reduction? I've been watching

cooking shows. You seem so real

when I kiss you, I apologize

if this isn't scientific on my part.

I should measure how alive your crotch smells

to me and that I don't fall through it

as I fall through language when I try

to lick language and that the sounds

you make during this not falling through

seem to come from the cave of your mouth

and not Plato's cave of shadows

and philosophy class. That sentence

is not right in the head.

Here is my love poem to you: the sky

is never finished but always sky.]


[She has just recovered

enough from heart surgery to run

a little on the quad, which is open

and covered on Sundays

by so many quick moving

colors on bikes and with strollers

that she is happiest there

to not have died, when they find

the lump. A book says,

visualize the tumor now visualize

the tumor going away.

She sees it as it these

as she runs: lump of coal, hair-ball,

poo. Her three year old's

been saying poo. "I will shit

this poo from my body."

Silly word, poo, making cancer

foolish. Smiling, running,

crying woman, thinking poo.]


The object is to not wince when the person

you're becoming stands up inside you.

The woman who answered the door said yes;

I touched it; then pressed my hand to the cold glass

beside the paper hand. I expected to see myself

walking by as she asked me where I lived.

There was so much light inside the snow

it hurt to look at the day. I felt vague as a child,

like everything wanted to absorb me. I never see

those hands anymore in windows, though I believe

there is more danger now than ever. The past

is always quaint and the future never arrives.

So what.






Hicok Poem translated by Kate Greenstreet, Version 1


We wake and find ourselves on a stair


You told me that I would be lost.


I draw a cloud while thinking

If you are separate from me…


Dear second,

we share a discovery



in secret) courage

must be built in the mind


but if the mind


and who, if the self does not exist?


man is a prisoner



as courage is a bullet in the mind


bright as blindness, brightness as escape



as a mode of travel


Even bad advice, you can tell about it later


Give me your hand.


(our guard gone)






Hicok Poem translated by Kate Greenstreet, Version 2


Lift Me


As a child I knew what to look for. Music might come from me later.


I lay down outside and when I opened my eyes


I rested for a minute.


I’m not finished now in a new way because you are inside me.



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