‘Hold’ by Bob Hicok – “Who can explain lonely to ants?”


‘Hold’, poems by Bob Hicok (2019) – 104 pages


Words are Bob Hicok’s playthings, and he loves to play. This is the second of Hicok’s lively poetry collections which I have read.

Will you appreciate Hicok’s humor? I suppose it depends if you think the following lines are funny.

“My Way” should only be sung underwater,

so the narcissism is softened a bit by drowning.”

I am going to quote you the first sentence of the poem “Waiting is the Hardest Part of Waiting” which is in this ‘Hold’ collection, and it will give you some more indication whether or not you will like these poems:

“I like the way your nose wrinkles

when you confuse a coping saw

for a coping mechanism and cut a duck

out of balsa to float on the lake and keep

the mallard with one wing company

badly, in that your duck has the shape

and soul of a potato.”

And then there is this great line in the poem “Baby Steps” about Bob Hicok’s father:

Joy isn’t a hat I ever saw him wear”

Hicok’s mind moves so fast from one thing to another it is difficult to keep up with him. Many of the poems I did not fully appreciate until multiple readings. However then I really did appreciate them, and that is saying a lot for any poems.

Sometimes he goes completely off the rails, but that is partly the fun of this poem collection.

In a few of his more political poems, I missed some of his usual whimsy and they seem somewhat pedestrian and overly polemic although I agree with most of his positions. Hicok is plenty aware of the problems of putting politics into poems:

Now I’m stuck, as politics

and poetry get along about as well as lips

and soldering irons, hawks and wet cement;”

Sometimes the playfulness of the words doesn’t match the seriousness of the poem’s intent, but that’s OK. Bob Hicok takes chances.

What is it about poetry that it refuses to die no matter how often TV shoots it in the head?”


Grade:    A-



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