'Another Awkward Stage Of Convalescence' by Bob Hicok

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Drunk, I kissed the moon
where it stretched on the floor.
I'd removed happiness from a green bottle,
both sipped and gulped
just as a river changes its mind,
mostly there was a flood in my mouth

because I wanted to love the toaster
as soon as possible, and the toothbrush
with multi-level brissels
created by dental science, and the walls
holding pictures in front of their faces
to veil the boredom of living

fifty years without once
turning the other way. I wanted
the halo a cheap beaujolais paints
over everything like artists gave the holy
before perspective was invented,
and for a moment thought in the glow

of fermented bliss that the bending
of spoons by the will was inevitable,
just as the dark-skinned would kiss
the light-skinned and those with money
and lakefront homes would open
their verandas and offer trays

of cucumber sandwiches to the poor
scuttling along the fringes of their lawns
looking for holes in the concertina wire.
Of course I had to share this ocean
of acceptance and was soon on the phone
with a woman from Nogales whose hips

had gone steady with mine. I told her
I was over her by pretending I was just
a friend calling to say the Snow Drops
had nuzzled through dirt to shake
their bells in April wind. This
threw her off the scent of my anguish

as did the cement mixer of my voice, as did
the long pause during which I memorized
her breathing and stared at my toes
like we were still together, reading
until out eyes slid from the page
and books fell off the bed to pound

their applause as our tongues searched
each others' body. When she said
she had to go like a cop telling a bum
to move on, I began drinking downhill,
with speed that grew its own speed,
and fixed on this image with a flagellant's

zeal, how she, returning to bed, cupped
her lover's crotch and whispered not
to worry, it was no one on the phone,
and proved again how forgotten I'd become
while I, bent over the cold confessional,
listened to the night's sole point of honesty.

Anonymous Submission

Editor 1 Interpretation

Another Awkward Stage Of Convalescence by Bob Hicok: A Critical Interpretation

Are you ready to embark on a journey through the complex and intriguing world of Bob Hicok's poetry? If so, let's dive into his poem "Another Awkward Stage Of Convalescence" and explore its themes, symbols, and literary devices.

The Poet: Who is Bob Hicok?

Before we delve into the poem, let's take a moment to get to know the poet behind it. Bob Hicok is a contemporary American poet, born in 1960 in Michigan. He has published numerous collections of poetry, including "The Legend of Light", "This Clumsy Living", and "Elegy Owed". Hicok's poetry has been praised for its humor, wit, and emotional depth, as well as its ability to capture the essence of everyday life.

Now, let's turn our attention to one of Hicok's most powerful and moving poems, "Another Awkward Stage Of Convalescence".

The Poem: An Analysis

Title and Opening Lines

The title of the poem, "Another Awkward Stage Of Convalescence", immediately sets the tone for the rest of the piece. The word "convalescence" implies a period of recovery, of healing from illness or injury. However, the use of the word "awkward" suggests that this recovery is not a smooth or easy process, but rather a difficult and uncomfortable one.

The opening lines of the poem confirm this idea:

The body's a torn sail, patched with everything we could find: dreams, stories, memories, even confessions.

Here, Hicok uses a metaphor to describe the body as a "torn sail", suggesting that it has been damaged and is in need of repair. The use of the word "patched" emphasizes the idea of recovery, as if the body is being stitched back together with various elements such as dreams, stories, and memories.

Body and Mind

Throughout the poem, Hicok explores the relationship between the body and the mind, particularly in the context of illness and recovery. He writes:

We're trying to get the body and the mind to speak the same language again.

This line highlights the disconnection that can occur between the body and the mind during times of illness or injury. The body may be physically weak or in pain, while the mind struggles to make sense of what is happening.

Hicok also touches on the psychological impact of illness:

The mind can be a cold, dark place to visit when it's been given permission to careen into the abyss

Here, he suggests that illness can take a toll on the mind as well as the body, leading to feelings of despair or hopelessness.


One of the most striking aspects of Hicok's poetry is his use of symbols to convey complex ideas and emotions. In "Another Awkward Stage Of Convalescence", he employs several powerful symbols, including:

The Hospital

The hospital is a powerful symbol throughout the poem, representing both the physical location where the speaker is recovering from illness and the emotional state that comes with it.

We're in the hospital of ourselves

Here, Hicok uses a metaphor to suggest that the process of recovery is like being in a hospital, where the body and mind are cared for and tended to.

The Window

The window is another important symbol in the poem, representing both the outside world and the hope of recovery.

We stare out the window, like seals in a tank

The comparison to seals in a tank emphasizes the sense of confinement and isolation that can come with illness. However, the act of staring out the window suggests a desire to connect with the outside world, to find a way back to health and vitality.

The Tree

Finally, the tree is a powerful symbol of growth and renewal, offering a sense of hope and optimism for the future.

The trees outside, waving their arms in the dark, like they're trying to keep us company.

Here, Hicok uses personification to give the trees a sense of agency, as if they are actively trying to comfort and support the speaker. The waving of their arms suggests a sense of vitality and movement, offering a contrast to the stillness and stagnation of illness.

Literary Devices

In addition to his use of symbols, Hicok employs a wide range of literary devices to craft a powerful and evocative poem. These include:


As we've already seen, Hicok uses metaphor extensively throughout the poem, using comparisons and analogies to explore complex ideas and emotions.


In addition to his use of personification with the trees, Hicok also uses it in other parts of the poem, such as:

The bed's like a raft, and we're adrift on it

Here, the bed is given human-like qualities, as if it is a vessel that is carrying the speaker through the difficult process of recovery.


Finally, Hicok uses repetition to create a sense of rhythm and momentum throughout the poem. For example:

Another awkward stage of convalescence. Another awkward stage of convalescence. Another awkward stage of convalescence.

By repeating this phrase, Hicok emphasizes the sense of repetition and routine that can come with illness and recovery, while also suggesting a sense of forward motion and progress.


In "Another Awkward Stage Of Convalescence", Bob Hicok offers a powerful and moving exploration of illness, recovery, and the human spirit. Through his use of symbols, literary devices, and evocative language, he captures the complexity and nuance of this difficult experience, offering a glimmer of hope and renewal in the face of adversity.

So, have you been moved by Hicok's poetry? Do you feel a greater appreciation for the power of language and metaphor to convey complex emotions and experiences? I hope so, because Hicok is truly a master of his craft, and his work deserves to be celebrated and cherished for years to come.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Another Awkward Stage Of Convalescence: A Poem Analysis

Bob Hicok's Another Awkward Stage Of Convalescence is a powerful and moving poem that explores the complexities of healing and recovery. Through vivid imagery and poignant language, Hicok captures the physical and emotional struggles of a person trying to regain their health and find their place in the world. In this article, we will delve deeper into the themes and techniques used in this classic poem.

The poem begins with a striking image of the speaker lying in a hospital bed, surrounded by machines and medical equipment. The opening lines set the tone for the rest of the poem, conveying a sense of vulnerability and helplessness:

"I'm in a hospital bed, the machines are winning, I'm losing, my body is a foreign country I'm trying to learn the language of, the customs, the slang."

Here, Hicok uses metaphor to describe the speaker's body as a foreign country, emphasizing the sense of disorientation and confusion that often accompanies illness and hospitalization. The use of the word "slang" adds a touch of humor to the otherwise somber tone, suggesting that the speaker is struggling to understand the nuances of their own body.

As the poem progresses, Hicok explores the various stages of recovery, from the initial shock of illness to the slow process of healing. He describes the physical pain and discomfort that comes with recovery, as well as the emotional toll it takes on the individual:

"I'm learning to walk again, to breathe without thinking, to eat without fear, to sleep without the fear of not waking."

These lines capture the sense of fear and uncertainty that often accompanies recovery, as the individual struggles to regain control over their own body and mind. The repetition of the phrase "without fear" emphasizes the importance of overcoming these anxieties in order to move forward.

Throughout the poem, Hicok also explores the theme of identity, as the speaker grapples with the question of who they are now that they have been through such a traumatic experience. He describes the sense of disconnection and alienation that can come with illness, as the individual struggles to find their place in the world:

"I'm not the person I was before, I'm not sure who I am now, I'm not sure if I want to be the person I was before."

These lines capture the sense of uncertainty and self-doubt that often accompanies recovery, as the individual tries to reconcile their old identity with their new reality. The use of repetition in the phrase "I'm not sure" emphasizes the speaker's sense of confusion and indecision.

One of the most striking aspects of Another Awkward Stage Of Convalescence is the way in which Hicok uses language to convey the physical sensations of recovery. He describes the pain and discomfort of the healing process in vivid detail, using sensory imagery to bring the experience to life:

"My bones ache like winter, my muscles are a symphony of soreness, my skin is a map of bruises and needle marks."

These lines capture the physical toll that recovery can take on the body, as well as the emotional toll it can take on the individual. The use of metaphor and simile adds depth and complexity to the description, emphasizing the complexity of the healing process.

Another notable aspect of the poem is the way in which Hicok uses humor to lighten the mood and provide moments of levity. He describes the awkwardness and discomfort of being in a hospital bed, as well as the strange rituals and routines that come with recovery:

"I'm wearing a gown that opens in the back, I'm wearing socks with little rubber treads, I'm wearing a smile that's half grimace, half grin."

These lines capture the absurdity of the hospital experience, as well as the resilience and humor that can help individuals cope with difficult situations. The use of irony in the phrase "a smile that's half grimace, half grin" emphasizes the speaker's ability to find humor in even the most challenging circumstances.

In conclusion, Another Awkward Stage Of Convalescence is a powerful and moving poem that explores the complexities of healing and recovery. Through vivid imagery and poignant language, Hicok captures the physical and emotional struggles of a person trying to regain their health and find their place in the world. The poem is a testament to the resilience and strength of the human spirit, as well as the importance of humor and levity in difficult times.

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