Totem
by Mary Hickman

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Having been given a name, let’s say.

Bêtise. Our simple things have been

too simple altogether.

(As if man did not also receive his name

and names.)

The desert eye of God is missing and it’s whole. Dogs

of the corpse. Corpse

of the face. Every living thing a hinge

and, at the heart of this, our analogy.




A shimmer in breeze picks us up, our scent a peal that calls us

outside rooms. Ecce animot. Unavoidable.

I see symptoms in words. I see the birds the trees the heavy grasses been beaten,

his growl in the desert. I see Name of a dog. Name of a dog.

I intend an utterance.




This meatless a morning,

I laid the cherished dog in camp.

There was no doubt of man.


Dark dirt to make her cant into a bark.


A sticky scent responds a fatherland

remakes a first son from the silt.

The son is a dog. The dog is that face and money talks.

The monkey talk of internment, machine that won’t speak.

Lacking hostages, what can we shut up in sun, in morning?

An animal without response. Make tracks.




A false start. Lovemaking—dansité—a lure to war. The hen-pigeon

pretends a capture—to leave a trace and to track.

To awake in vital situations, in lawn and sky. Isn’t it

obvious? What’s done and not done to hunt

a warp in the root. We’ve found that cracked tomb,

gone down to reach the living creature. Ahuman, she’s the one

to whom evil is foreign. Her cruel innocence infects. My love

a living danger wrought in sun, her tomb of skin. No tracks.

Only traces sweeping anterior to good

anterior to evil. Oh God oh man oh man a chill

that sun can’t crease, our northern ball. The men in jeans.

The men in Yeats. The girl in boy. The boy on boy. The me front me.




Sky-burnt sea, beleaguered thing, wrapped in bandages of fog, we heal.

Our breast to the sand, we hear. Pigeons in the awning, rapture

in the offing—a sanding belt to skin. He’s on screen, lowing.

Were our eyes to meet, thou shall not kill. Were we. To meet. Thou shall

not. Nothing like. Dying. Not having. Anything to do.




Cling to the men

to their song of wild bees

which is a song of her waist, spirit

out among splendor, song engraved

in what were waves.

It is no longer autumn

it is not yet spring

but a bright night.

Trees set ablaze in the west send up

a golden and fetid signal. Animaux.