Nora Hickey



Someone puked in the stainless sink
and I thought of a red firework frozen

in a sky above a Great Lake,
and negotiating the muscle off bones.

I was talking to America
because it was the 4th of July and I was in love

with the idea of freedom—how saliva
sung in my mouth. I wanted to loosen

all the flesh from Milwaukee
by my own young tongue, a muscle

run over roofs. A shape of a skeleton
licked free. I liberated the ancient

urine from my body. I released the debris
from my mind. If the trees by the car

erupted in pinwheels of the whitest wood, I could
leave clean—proclaim the naked horizon.


I had forgotten to put on clean underwear before we left for a walk. Just to look over the bridge into the Rio Grande. My friend was visiting from California and we saw how low the sun was and the red cotton of the sky. I felt badly that the only streets I seemed to know were three lane’d and assaulted with traffic. The cars and pick-ups and busses were tiring and took away some from the beauty of the night. But my friend and I pressed on; we were noticing how things had to be in symphony to really shatter you. The bleed of the sun was pretty enough, but then some flight of birds would unfold and scatter over the river. We were good friends but still had to keep some feelings to ourselves. It was the sorest part of the day. A small black dog noticed us. I had seen him a few seconds before he made his way onto the street. Time didn’t slow down or anything, it was nothing as mystical as that, but suddenly the time could be marked by when the dog was alive, and when it wasn’t. There was violence in the sound of contact—a rock cutting water. I remembered sitting in the kitchen earlier with my shirt off; my friend was in the shower. The nearness of my blood. And the dog did not ask to be called terrible, but he was.
NORA HICKEY is originally from Milwaukee but now lives in Albuquerque, NM. Her work has been published in DIAGRAM, the Massachusetts Review, Willow Springs, Court Green, Puerto del Sol, Booth and the Mid-American Review.

Read more by Nora Hickey:

Poem in Massachusetts Review
Poem at Booth