Bill Hickok





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Bill HickokBill Hickok began writing humor several years ago as a defense against his children’s tyranny.  His articles have appeared on the Op-Ed pages of The Kansas City Star, Kansas City Times, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Newsday, Philadelphia Enquirer, and others, as well as in periodicals,
notably Uncle (the magazine for those who have given up).

In addition to being a cousin of Wild Bill Hickok, he is an ornithologist, wildlife photographer, environmentalist, and a poet.  He was a founder of the Kansas Chapter of the Nature Conservancy, a founder of Kansas City’s first Hospice; chair and board member for ten years of Johnson County Parks and Recreation, and co-founder with his wife, Gloria Vando, of The Writers Place, a literary center in the heart of Kansas City.








Prairie Fire

A screech and plaintive cry
dive after dive as they
circle the pre-dawn light.
Two thousand feet above
the tall grass they lock.
Wings, feathers, talons
interlocked like silken bands
of barbed wire.  Now
the free fall begins
past clouds, fog, and
swift currents rising
from the prairie below.
Holding fast, yet soft, as
they begin the journey
through the clutch of
stars, sperm and egg
invoking the chance of breath.
Avian acrobats exhale
the murmur of life in their
primordial embrace.
Six feet above the turf
they break with a fierce
suddenness that sweeps
the prairie like a dust-devil.
They soar again above
the clouds screaming at
the disconnect
that connects us all.


No Help Wanted

This morning between
the honey dew and the Bartletts:
What can I do for you, young man?
At lunch between
the water and the silverware:
What can I do for you, young man?
At the gas pump between
Slide your card and remove nozzle:
What can I do for you, young man?
At the bank between
PIN number and ENTER:
What can I do for you, young man?
At dinner between a squeezed
silent prayer and Pinot Noir:
What can I do for you, young man?
I am not young.
I sag like a bag of Great Northerns.
I’m not vigorous, although I once
ran the ball back for a touchdown.
My youth follows me
with the wisp of time. So here’s
what you can do for me, dear boy:
Know that your silly sarcasm
is not well taken and
shut the hell up.

Originally published in: The Same



Prisoner of the prairie,
pride of the Helios:
tilt your head toward the red ball of fire
that nurtures us all.
The strength of your colors—
yellow brown and green—
waves across the sunspots of the world.

A field of gold sustains colors
to salute the seeds that feed
our voracious hunger.
Your oil fuels a thousand human engines,
beauty to turn an artist’s head.

Stay forever, princess of the plain.
The bees may forsake you
but never my unerring eye.




Listening to Mahler
I hear the summer’s rolling
thunder. My old man
used to say thunder was
angels bowling.
Mahler was a great composer
and I wouldn’t mind having
him on my bowling team.
Ball at eye level he would
knock down the piccolos
with their chirps of cheer,
next the flutes and their
high-pitched reverie.
Down go the violins,
so spicy sweet.
Tall stand the bassoons
and oboes of woe.
Bass fiddles, French horns,
keep the ball rolling
with the dirge of shallow
thunder. The lane echoes
the maple tree’s heart,
somber notes cling
to the sadness
of the chilling winds.
The cymbals come crashing
as lightning startles the air.
At last the tiny triangle
pings of salvation. And now
comes the rain, harsh.

Originally published in: The Kansas City Star




All poetry on this page
© b
y Bill Hickok2007 


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