Poetry and Prose from the Center for Writers
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by FAE DREMOCK
in his hand John held a solid ball, 1 centimeter by 1 centimeter
the size and weight of a man's life
it glowed red and hot
revived by breath
into a fire that could catch a bone, a lung--
in the darkness of his kitchen
behind a tin of oolong
John kept a journal full of lists
the diaries he had read in the archives
the women he had loved
the books he had not written
the reasons he should live
it changes life, he thought, this piece of flesh
half the size of a robin's egg
this newly birthed, ugly, tentacled thing
that could walk along his nerves
into his brain
enough, he said.
he put it on the shelf above his desk
alongside a tiny broken shell in a small blue dish
next to his watch with its radioactive face
pen, paper, and someone else's life--
he allowed his hand to shake, then rearranged his notes
outside the rains began
hero of the night
fighter of crime
tonight he is a dark knight
hanging by his batfeet
upside down in a sand cave
explosions rocking the land outside
he swings back and forth with each wave
of sound and sand.
somewhere out on the desert the batmobile is sinking into the shifting dunes.
motor clogged with sand, gears ground to a stop.
here there are no buildings to swing up on.
the bat light call is the light of a missile against the night sky.
his only call to duty.
alfred is an old man in a general's uniform.
no quick change act here.
in this self-dug trench.
his high technology has been reduced to a laptop.
being eaten by the sand.
the women he wants to save are behind heavy veils
forbidden to drive cars or talk to men.
the butlers are Pakistani, egyptian, phillipine.
alfred will die before he was grown.
his young apprentice robin is in diapers at home.
untrained yet and perhaps never.
at the fifty-first alert he puts on his gas mask
goes back to sleep
in his sandbat cave.
dreams of the joker, the penguin, the catwoman.
enemies easy to defeat
man to enemy one on one.
in his dreams of warfare
there is no blood spilled
no shot down planes burned up ships
no dead oil black cormorants.
no night fears of nerve gas.
alone in his sand bat cave he shivers
while we still unborn
sit quiet in a bar
rehearsing 20 year old music'
fire on a jukebox
fearful of the growth of batwings
in the nytimes today
a sale on gas masks
the face of the super hero
we drink wine
shots of tequila
sitting on barstools
somewhere in all of us
an urge for purple heart
a medal of honor.
far from the city
a million batmen in sandbat caves don masks and batwings
charge out in batmobiles across a desert
above in orbit a thousand batplanes carrying bat bombs
the earth is baking
tonight the ten of us remember what life was like
before the backbone of batmen
tonight we drink whiskey in bars a thousand miles above this earth
with nowhere to land