Feeling the draft

By Bob Hicok b. 1960 Bob Hicok
We were young and it was an accomplishment
to have a body. No one said this. No one
said much beyond “throw me that sky” or
“can the lake sleep over?” The lake could not.
The lake was sent home and I ate too many
beets, went around with beet-blood tongue
worrying about my draft card-burning brother
going to war. Other brothers became holes
at first base at war, then a few holes
Harleying back from war in their always
it seemed green jackets with pockets galore
and flaps for I wondered bullets, I wondered
how to worship these giants. None of them
wanted to talk to me or anyone it seemed
but the river or certain un-helmeted curves
at high speed, I had my body
and flung it over branches and fences
toward my coming sullenness as the gravity
of girls’ hips began and my brother
marched off to march against the war.
I watched different masses of bodies on tv,
people saying no to the jungle with grenades
and people saying no to the grenades with signs
and my father saying no to all of them
with the grinding of his teeth he spoke with.
I’d pedal after the nos up and down a hill
like it was somehow a rosary, somehow my body
was a prayer I could chant by letting it loose
with others like me milling around
the everything below five feet tall
that was ours, the everything below
the adult line of sight that was ours
to hold as long as we could: a year,
a summer. Until the quarterback came back
without . . . well, without. When the next Adonis
stepped up to throw the bomb.

Source: Poetry (October 2010).

MORE FROM THIS ISSUE

This poem originally appeared in the October 2010 issue of Poetry magazine

October 2010
 Bob  Hicok

Biography

Bob Hicok was born in 1960 in Michigan and worked for many years in the automotive die industry. A published poet long before he earned his MFA, Hicok is the author of several collections of poems, including The Legend of Light, winner of the Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry in 1995 and named a 1997 ALA Booklist Notable Book of the Year; Plus Shipping (1998); Animal Soul (2001), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Youth, Coming of Age, Sorrow & Grieving, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, War & Conflict

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem


Your results will be limited to content that appeared in Poetry magazine.

Search Every Issue of Poetry

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.