Captain Volta

6. Captain Volta

                             David Arroyo


                       Captain Volta



Bad guy plastered on a brick wall.

       He sticks. He groans. He slides

              down, slowly.

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

              in modesty.

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.

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