John Hicks

John Hicks is a New Mexico poet; has been published by:  I-70 Review, SoFloPoJo, Blue Nib, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Sheila-Na-Gig, and others.  He writes in the thin air of the southern Rockies. 

Choices

Left Bank Books
St. Louis, MO

We’ll arrive today between the hours 
of 12:00 and 6:00 PM.  You must be there 
to let our technician in for your installation.  
He will call when he’s on the way.  . 

My choices: unpack boxes, or hunt for free WIFI; 
catch up on two days of email.  Up the street, 
next block, big plate glass windows.  
A book store.  Maybe coffee.

Clerk gives me the Wi-Fi password.  Coffee 
brewing.  I take over a nearby table; 
buy a paper from my dwindling cash.   
New city.  New paper.  New bookstore.

My phone rings as I hit the seat.  
Sprint already?  Not quite.  
A Sprint salesman wants to upsell me  
from my basic package before the installer.  

I sympathize, I’ve done phone work.  
He needs someone to hear him out.  
His boss wants him to make a sale.  
He’s in the middle.  I’m polite, 

but no, I’m staying with what I ordered—
no cable channels—just internet.  He’s 
on to the next page in his phone script.  
I can understand and appreciate how you feel.”

Did you know we have a special this week
on our top-tier programming that you qualify for?  
He turns the page.  I can set you up for—.  
I cut in, explain I don’t watch TV.  I read.  

I can understand and appreciate that—
his voice starting to rise.  I break in again, 
In fact, I’m in a bookstore right now—
the line goes dead.  Supervisor’s ended it.  

Behind the register, the clerks do high-fives,
then one does a little dance, hand on her heart, 
twirling the other overhead.  
Phone again.  Installer has arrived.  

Big smile for me as I leave, 
stands hands together on the counter, 
her hips and feet still dancing.  
I’ll be back for the coffee.

Endurance

the red racer watches my face 
     vanishes into a leaf rustling 
          as above me, a scrub jay weights
               a juniper branch shrieking
                    others relay alarm

on solo flight a crow 
     alters course      
          investigates
               a fly-by 
                    without interest 

beneath lilies I planted in April 
     scorpions hatch
          from gravel 
               where willows will 
                    shelter from sun coming north 

and virga drag ragged 
     skirt promises of rain 
          in exchange 
               I have nothing 
                    but breath 

for this sand spilling reach 
     ridging from high desert 
          slopes to a faint track 
               fills in 
                    my passing

When You Pull Your Rope Up

Up the road from here, 
beyond where it crosses 
the mountain’s shoulder—
the stretch the county grader scrapes
if there’s enough in the budget—
are caves with petroglyphs 
made by unknown ancients. 

They sit half-way up the cliff face 
behind a screen of pines 
growing in sand tumbled 
from the cliff face by centuries. 
Dark entrances are inaccessible 
when you pull your rope up.  

I keep an eye on them—
in case of need.

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