Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

12 September 2011

Words for Empty and Words for Full

The poem on the back of Bob Hicok's amazing Words for Empty and Words for Full misses the whole point of the book. The poem on the back has the words groom and pillow and bride and sea salt. But for me Words for Empty and Words for Full is a book of poems about ethics. Hicok writes these poems as a way of figuring out how to wake up in the morning. Many of the poems are direct responses to the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, and many more are about global warming and globalization and terrorism and how to wake up in the world and keep going.

I know I have been posting a lot of poetry here lately, but I've also been needing it just a little more, and as I teach this class on violence, I find myself trying constantly to think about reasons to go on living, ways to live in the world responsibly. I don't want to post a full poem from Words for Empty and Words for Full because I don't really think that's okay, but I'll post some pieces that really moved me. And, anyway, you should check out this book, because it's great:

This is the end of "Meditation on a False Spring":

hope, I have hope, somehow
hope. Maybe it's just bloodbreathrhythm, the physical
optimism of the heart, sys-
and diastole, maybe it's that I haven't
shot myself / in the fucking head yet, as we / have almost
not. Maybe hope's
what I've long thought, a choice, a decision
I have to make as often / as my heart decides
yes, until my heart decides / no, and I mean
the actual heart, the actual world, the actual / gun I touch to ask myself
to prove this is a day / I want in on.

And I love this bit from "Minutes of the Minutes":

... Do you ever wonder
about the last thing you'll do, the thing
you won't get to think about, go over and over
until it's worn to a shine or spent, how good
that would feel or if it would feel good, a gift
or an amputation? I noticed then how far
Orion moved without asking me, telling me,
and turned for Cassiopeia, which is almost
what I know of heaven: that it's hushed
and I'm not in it.

Last selection. From "So I Know":

Come with me from being over here to being over there,
from this second to that second. What countries
they are, the seconds, what rooms of people
being alive in them and then dead in them.

This book is amazing. I'm telling you.