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.
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.
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.