Graywolf. Oct. 2018. 88p. ISBN 9781556595448. pap. $16. POETRY
As always, the multi-award-winning Hicok (Sex & Love) manages to be both freshly whimsical and knife-sharp insightful in his latest collection: "The point of love/ is to lie consistently and with an eye/ toward the better world that will never exist." Life's rough patches, its sheer averageness, our inevitably not being that attentive—all are Hicok specialties handled with finesse. Discussing retirement, Hicok starts by observing that his brother was "[worried] about how expensive it is/ to get to the finish line, let alone die," then pulls out that knife and says half-plaintively, half-caustically, "This is not the life we wanted, is it?" There are personal meditations (e.g., on inadvertently killing a bat) and perhaps a stronger look at social issues than previously: "he accepted/ the orthodoxy of your cop// fist," says one poem; another muses tartly, "It's interesting to me there's a minimum/ but no maximum wage."
VERDICT Hicok pours forth his incisive observations rat-a-tat, and occasionally one falls down, but he remains good company for most readers.

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