Michael G. Hickey

The Cage Door
(for Stephanie Hallgren 5/21/11)


Know this:
for every phony from Catcher in the Rye
revered by applauding saguaros, player pianos,
& accolades standing in line,
there is an antidote in a long white dress with strawberry hair.

I know ballyhoo & people famous with a small “f”
whose peanut is more like a shell
or the two rodent parts per million
allowed in canned chili. I’m ashamed to admit
I sometimes beg them to tattoo my scars

with their approval. But it is a lucky sleep indeed
to dream of you, or at least the idea of you:
the leap second to correct atomic clocks,
blue mountains in love,
the whisper of hands praying in supplication.

On the day the world is scheduled to end,
the only revelation I see is a river running with hope.
Because haven’t you heard?
The eye of the storm is myopic.
The door of my cage has been lifted.


Michael G. Hickey is a tenured creative writing professor at South Seattle Community College. In addition to being an award-winning teacher, labor leader, and political activist, he has volunteered as a creative writing instructor for children at bereavement camps, prisoners at the Monroe Correctional Complex, and juveniles at King County Youth Detention. In 2009, Hickey was inaugurated as Seattle’s eighth “Poet Populist”. His community project was entitled “Seattle Writes” in which residents of Seattle and King County were encouraged to submit a poem on the theme of “Neighbors.” There are over 200 poems on the site to date including submissions from the kindergarten class of the New Discovery School as well as some of the finest poets in the region including Elizabeth Austen, Martha Clarkson, and Tatyana Mishel.