Though I'm sure I will reference this again and again and will probably find myself posting it on multiple occasions, here it is in its full glory for the first time. Thank you, Bob Hicok. Thank you.
I introduced John Adams to the Pacific
and likewise I am sure. The book
by McCullough, not the book
by Chinard. Carried it
in December from Michigan
where it's cold to California
where it's not Michigan. America
did not include Point Lobos
when he was alive. America
included horses and bloodletting
and Jefferson, who died
with Adams on the same Fourth of July.
The Pacific is wide and deep
and Adams was wide and deep,
was fat and obstinate
and wrote tender letters to his wife.
Not the letters but the words
were tender, not the words
but their meaning, which was always
that he missed her, always that he wanted
nothing more than home in her arms. So I
have made him travel again,
as with Holland, as with France,
years out of country but never
out of hope. Brought him to hear
the calliope of seals, to smell cypress
and salt where the world's cracked open,
is not ashamed to reveal its faults.
And raised there the book
with his face on the cover—
powdered hair and pink cheeks, a chin
hiding behind other chins—
to be kissed by an ocean
he never saw from this, the prow
of the ship he dreamed.
Bob Hicok, from The Southern Review