— Dennis Richardson
“You suck,” Bob Hicok said, at the Dodge Poetry Festival,
to the woman moderating his presentation.
She laughed, the audience laughed, he even laughed.
I sat there not knowing what to think,
feeling somewhere between Billy Collins and Sharon Olds.
It’s a poet’s duty to investigate these kinds of quips.
I know they would, even Kay Ryan would.
But they have a kind of poetic stature
that allows that while I’m just starting out.
I mean, as a kid, I associated that word
with our vacuum cleaner, as opposed to
our carpet sweeper, the one you pushed to rotate the brush.
And I was afraid of the ocean with its under-toe
because I was told it could suck me under.
But if I were Billy Collins I might say:
The first time I heard it, in a different context,
Was in the Navy, in boot-camp,
And then again, aboard ship, at sea,
And then, still later, in port, in Japanese.
There is no way I can forget it
Or if I were Sharon Olds:
I know that some people like it,
Both men and women.
How it smiles at you
With it’s little vertical mouth.
For myself I know that others,
Upon hearing it, might begin to gag,
Run from the room afraid they’re going to vomit.
That’s the woman I used to date.