I was a block of ore until I was poured
into the mold of my mother. I am iron cast and cold.
I inhale and the oxygen makes me rust.

I am seventeen years old.  I tell unimportant lies
about myself because it makes me feel guilty,
and guilt makes the days last longer.
I am afraid of dying.  I am seventeen and my girlfriend used to be
a prostitute, but I am seventeen and I don’t care,
I love her and how she is a cup that holds me.
She has hair that fills my hands like a fountain
of root beer and laughs
when I tell her I love her.

I am eighteen and the surface of my mother cracks.
The flood of beer that pours from her shattered mouth washes me
into the street, and it makes me rust more.
I am homeless and a prostitute wears me around her neck
like a knife on a chain;  I shelter between her breasts.
It is all i know of warmth.

Nineteen and she has eyes made of honey.
They stick to me.  Our apartment is an anthill.
I am nineteen and my muscles march under my skin.
I pour kerosene into my hollow guts.
I tell myself that I will be a candle,
or a lamp, but I keep starting fires
when my cup overflows.

I am twenty years old.
I am only full of rust and when the flood in me moves
it is not breathing, it is my sewerpipe bones
telling lies to make the day longer.  I am twenty years old.
I love her and we carry the same secret home at night.
I know she still fucks for money.
I am leaving her because she looks at me
with my mother’s eyes.  The guilt sticks to my pipes.
I wash it down with gasoline, I am slick with gasoline,
I am burning down our house with my mouth.

TAGS: , , , ,

ROSS HICKERSON is a full-time caretaker for an ailing parent, a part-time poet, and wants to be an electrician when he grows up. He currently lives in a log house, on a farm somewhere in central Nebraska. No, really. Ross is a two time National Poetry Slam competitor and Lincoln, NE City Champion slam poet. This only impresses people from Lincoln, NE. His poems have appeared in Paddlefish Review, Thieves Jargon, half a dozen chapbooks and his friends' nightmares. Ross has performed in fifteen states and is embarking on a cross country tour in June, 2010, kicking off in Massachusetts, and will also be breaking doors down at Hampshire College in April, where he hopes to find at least ten people who either give two tugs of a dead dog's cock about truth and beauty, or actually read entire biographies. An early supporter and organizer of the Nebraska Writers Collective, Ross has been promoting and supporting the arts in Nebraska since 2006.

Ross Hickerson's photo is courtesy Mike McGee.

11 responses to “a succession of birthdays”

  1. Jude says:

    Oh you got me with the first sentence. “I was a block of ore until I was poured into the mold of my mother.”

    The anguish of youth – such sad but powerful words.

    • Ross Hickerson says:

      Jude, thank you. You never know until someone reads it whether or not you’ve struck quite the right chords. I’m glad this worked for you.

  2. Zara Potts says:

    Fantastic. So evocative…

  3. Gloria says:

    I give two tugs of a dead dog’s cock about truth and beauty and I actually read entire biographies.

    This is incredible.

  4. Bad Alice says:

    You have created something beautiful. The images are vivid and scary.

  5. sheree says:

    Two thumbs up. It’s got a punk beat that makes me wanna slam dance.

  6. Simon Smithson says:

    Yep, I’m with the above commenters, Ross. There was meat and gristle in this, but also, something above and beyond.

  7. Carl D'Agostino says:

    Such pain in those years. Sometimes I think I’d trade 3 years at Auschwitz for junior high.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *