WHERE I COME FROM WE DO NOT RUN
No man is a hero to his valet.
—Mlle. Aisse, Lettres
Super Dan: Where I come from we do not run
with crosswind. You did once
at the wildlife park, with the she-lion.
Hope was the two of you were bonding
from either side of the sixteen-foot
chain-link fence. When she stopped, you stopped, when
she pivoted, you pivoted. When she silently settled
into pounce-mode your memory
flipped back to twenty years
of housecats. The dilated eyes, two black saucers.
The shoulder muscles under fur, tense with the
exactitude of hard labor. The rubbing of her shoulder
blades a private encouraging undertone.
In you the blood fell to your feet
as an avalanche. Meat. But—
she harbored no spite, no jealousy, no predetermined
disgust, didn’t favor your jeweled rings or lust
for your husband. You were merely
close enough to matter some.
But for that fence.
Or rather the four feet of it
she could not leap.
Just look at this human predilection for daredevil stunts—
motorcycle jumping over quarter-mile-wide canyons!
Or the enormous dirt arena
and the gigantic slapdash pile of junked cars,
and barreling smack into that pile
another souped-up junk car dragging
a hay truck on fire!
Never will be the day
when one hermit crab says to the other
hermit crab, “Hey Joey, light my
shell on fire
and I’ll run into the sea.”
Super Dan receives hot chocolate
in a large steaming cup, then pours into it quite a bit
of a new superdelicious beverage not
available on his planet, something
creating a fondness in him, they call it Kahlùa—
At my home we accept we live until we don’t.
Even with what creeps us. Look at your world’s Komodo
Dragon with its man-dropping saliva, the brown
recluse violin-coifed spider, the primordial
scorpion, siren of hurt in its curved blond tail. The tail
itself a marvel of grotesque, agile as one human
index finger, the flexion, the extension, but—
for all their misgivings, they’re not out calculatedly
picking the lock of your home. A delicacy
set upon a silver platter
to them would be absurd excess. Eat
or protect. Unadorned
as the trundling, snuffling brown bear
on the pine hilltop, making the most
of the furrow in front of him.
It is not the bear on the hill with servant bears.
Originally published in The Los Angeles Review, 2013
Winner of the 2012 Red Hen Press Poetry Award
Judge: Jericho Brown
originally titled "Super Dan Comics Question Box Series #18"