Poems by Martin Hickel

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Going Back

by Martin Hickel

From Canary Spring 2010

Martin lives between the watersheds of San Pablo Bay and Tomales-Drake Bay near the Pacific Coast.

we wondered that summer
on our uncle’s ranch
if the revolver in the hallway
silver on its angled nail
was really loaded

he looked at us
with nothing like pity
and asked without asking
what is more useless
than an empty gun

while a friend who knew
said it's best to be ready
like a baited hook
once guns are drawn
there is no going back

but that day down the river
on a paddle long after
rowed with our daughter
in a ridiculous yellow raft
we were not ready

only happy and gentle
from the warm lap of summer
salmon eggs skewered
on simple light tackle
as she balanced the rod

at a bend in the current
under deep cool towers
alive and emerald
trees reaching down
massive brown paws

the line flicked in the water
jumped from her grasp
barely she caught it
startled we shouted...
hold on -- hold on

sharp flash from darkness
like a knife cut below
darted and turned
she braced with both knees
its pull from the shadows

leapt clear and splashed
stalled barely struggled
while the net of our hands
slipping quietly beneath
lifted its brilliance

twisting in thin air
barb swallowed deep
refused our release
we proved to her tears
there is no going back

oh -- brave trout
green beautiful fierce
what is more useless
a foolish hunger sated
an endless blind regret

Originally published in Blue Earth Review

Just So

by Martin Hickel

From Canary February/March 2009

we started out the same -- as children
there is no reason and no reason to expect change

look at you and me  -- where was it anyway
we thought the wind would carry us

confused at birth we crashed the surf
baby boomed from strangers

whose eyes met swam together and quivered
there is much more water in this world

more urge than plan we fly to it -- fight the drift
both far and wide towards all kinds of loss

looking for what a place to land
a place to spend the night -- just so

the way each and every bubble of life
marries the air -- before bursting

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