Poetry 365

Poet Bob Hicok

Another National Poetry Month has come and gone but that doesn’t mean the fun is over.  Breathe easy, poetry friends, because here on Off the Shelf we like to celebrate year round with Poetry 365, a monthly-minus-April feature that highlights a contemporary poet’s most recent work.  This month we pick back up with Bob Hicok’s absorbing new book Elegy Owed.  A fluid, funny, and darkly irreverent exploration of mortality and mourning, this eighth collection from the National Book Critics Circle Award finalist offers offbeat variations on the elegy that “jut out in wild, associative directions, yet find their way back to the root of the matter, often in sincere and heartbreaking ways.”  So while you reminisce about another National Poetry Month, check out this excellent new collection, sample a poem below, and make sure to stop back next month for Poetry 365.

Obituary for the middle class

This whole thing, this way of living beside a can opener
beside a microwave beside a son beside a daughter
beside a river going to college, you get up
and kiss the mortgage and go go go with coffee-veins
and burger-fries and pack your soul on ice
till sixty-five, when you sit down with a lake
and have a long talk with your breath
and cast your mind far away from shore, fish nibbling
the mosquitoes of your thoughts: they will whisper of this life
a hundred years from now to children before sleep
who will call them liars, “Once upon a time,
they had two and a half bathrooms and tiny houses
for their cars and doctors who listened
through tubes to their fat hearts, they named
their endeavors and beliefs four-wheel drive,
twenty-percent-off sale, summer vacation, colonoscopy,
variable-rate loan, inheritance,” and we will be
as gods to them in that they won’t believe in us,
and we will be spared the eternity of their worship
as they will be spared money, the counting
and the having and the memory of the middle share
of what gets harder and harder to call a pie

elegy owed

Russell J. (Readers’ Services)

Poetry Copyright Notice

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