Bad guy plastered on a brick wall.
He sticks. He groans. He slides
I have power. Stan Lee 4-color comic
book power. I have the secret name,
the secret word.
I have green lanterns for eyes, so cold
you’ll taste mint and smell fire.
My hair is made of nebula.
I birth stars every time I get a haircut. Don’t
have clothes, just a ruby glaze.
Aliens, big breasted and desperate,
come to me for help. They are honey-wrapped in
chain mail bikinis, and they don’t believe
I put the smackdown on the corporate baddies,
the squeeze on Mr. Starbucks.
And Ronald McDonald?
I beat that clown’s ass into a white paste served
on two all beef patties, lettuce, cheese
pickles, onions—there’s a new
special sauce in town. I save the day.
Then, night falls.
Those bright Metropolis skies crust
over with Gotham gargoyles.
I hide in my fortress, but
the void waits with a crooked grin.
Dreaming is the emerald rock,
the yellow impurity,
the burning phobia. I still need sleep.
When the lights go off, I hear the cackles
from my bedroom, and he hangs
from bags under my
eyes. There is a knock. I go to the door.
Secret Origins are waiting, loaded,
with the story of a gun.
Screams. I make all the wrong decisions.
Yes, even worse
than the real ones.
In 1985, David Arroyo was struck by a meteor. He was minding his own business, watching Aliens for the twenty-seventh time on HBO. Since then he’s been writing verse shimmering with the power cosmic. He’s been published by Burning Word and Stirring and is earning an MFA in Creative Writing through Stonecoast.
Editor’s Notes on “Captain Volta”: This poem transcends humor. It’s a successful experiment in sound, edging into performance poetry territory, but much more masterfully done. Humor, like horror, is a powerful stylistic tonal tool (as opposed to being considered genres as some do). Sometimes, as this poem accomplishes, profound things can be said through a humorous delivery. The image is a generic superhero (artist unknown), which is actually a synthesis if many known superheroes; it is dubbed Captain Volta after the poem.