Volume 2, Issue 7    |    ISSN: 1941-2908



          The biggest struggles don't come in tights.
          It's not like it is on TV, facing the Hulk
          Hogans of the world, the Undertakers,
          the Rowdy Pipers. It's not Spider-Man
          crossing Crusher; Banner, the Abomination.
          Not even Clark Kent and Cassius Clay, alien
          versus Ali under some synthetic red sun. No,
          nor the Claw or Bone Saw, the Giant, Rock, Stone
          Cold, all those long locked brothers. We do know
          the ring, the crowd sound. Can count, on the ropes,
          the exact number of enemies at our backs.
          But when that hand reaches in from outside,
          slaps our sleeve to let us know we're not alone,
          when the melee ensues, bodies piling up
          until we can't distinguish friend from fiend,
          foe from phony, when the referee goes down
          and the chairs begin to fly, tables upended,
          all pretensions dropped, lines forgotten, fake
          physics made suddenly very real, even then,
          each dream teaming of masks (Sandman
          vs. Slaughter; The Body, The Spirit) breaks down.

          Say, for example, you love two women. One,
          a writer. The other, all your friends claim, alive.
          The former, her parents called Lois Lane long before
          she came to this state, learned the lingo, turned
          toward the planet you share for worship. You fell
          first for her stories, for the luster of each lush
          word, glottal glory, resolved backstory, her perfect
          agreement, but you've been with her long enough
          now to know better. Nights out with the uptown
          crew, nights in with computer, reams, dreams,
          a dozen dirtied wine stems. Small piles of skin
          picked from her ear till it bleeds, the tub she keeps
          falling into, the nightmares—No, please no—the candle
          left burning that nearly. . . . Then, one night, the scream
          when she saw you, yet didn't. And no one but you
          suspects, not even her. The secrets of identity.
          The stories we tell. What exits us must always
          also enter. Incubus, Oedipus, Judas
          kiss. . . . What have these to do with empty bottles
          hidden in the backs of cabinets? Words
          know nothing of the mouths that shape them.

          So what words are left for you who wants
          to leave? Chickenshit? Judas, you've already
          used and probably will again. It's not like you
          planned any of this, yet here in the thick of battle
          the gloves and capes and masks are off, and she
          who would have been isn't anymore. An Amazon
          stands in the other corner, someone you never saw
          entering the ring. And what now? Abandon
          your partner, throw in the towel, tired of holding back
          her hair? Or is this too-ready recrimination?
          Did you already know what you'd planned when last
          you left her, flying off to wrestle reptiles
          in your head? All you know is this: This
          woman, this new figure is, even now, too fitting
          for your own. You both have hidden things, terrible
          things, have burned and been burned, but neither wants
          to keep those secrets alone. She, your other love,
          once plummeted from plane into power, got caught
          in the current, volts vaulting her system one organ
          at a time, but electric burns are not like any
          other. They follow no preordained path.

          Moving like life itself through the body,
          they mark you. They mark her. They are obvious
          and they are beautiful and—even in her robes,
          one ringlet shining against skin against scar—
          they move you like she moves you, passing through
          your body one wonder at a time. So, Judas,
          you must choose. You will watch Lois crumble
          and cry and beg, and you (you already know this),
          you will leave. You will turn from her and deny
          and deny and, finally, at cock crow, hope
          that what you do will make her hate you. Then,
          when you have left libation behind, left word
          for wisdom, reporter for typist, flesh for spirit
          and spirit once more for she who is, more fully
          flesh . . . Then, only then, will you also leave costume
          for consummation, embrace all you find
          in the ring, let go the little battles and learn to love
          the fire that comes with this new sun, this scarlet
          skald, herself a herald of Hera's word, the only flame
          you were meant to fight, what no candle left
          lit could burn, what no gilt, no grudge could match.

Bryan D. Dietrich's poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, Ploughshares, The Paris Review, The Nation, The Harvard Review, The Yale Review, Shenandoah, and many other journals. Winner of The Paris Review Poetry Prize and a "Discovery"/The Nation Award, Bryan has published two books of poems, Krypton Nights and Universal Monsters.

copyright © 2008, Bryan D. Dietrich




      —An Apotheosis

      —Annabel on the Eighteenth Floor


      —Rhapsody in Transverse Vibration

      —The Red Door






      —Several Stories, Single Bound


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