Poetry | March 01, 2003
Poetry Feature: Bryan D. Dietrich
Featuring the poems:
- I Wonder
- Superman’s Other Secret
Diana, like any other girl with new clothes, cannot wait to try them on!
-Wonder Woman #1
Question is, would I matter if I didn’t
tout these tits? If my legs weren’t, total,
seventy-two inches of eye candy?
And get a load of the getup….Well, if
it doesn’t get you up, you’re more than
mostly dead. Whitman said there is that lot
of me and all so luscious, but then he
didn’t have to hide the lot in a hanky.
Try fighting Hirohito in heels, Nazis
in a nightie, crazed crackheads with the wind
wolf-whistling up your crack. I defy
you guys to name just one super savior,
one with a prick, who lets it all hang out.
Sure, they leap about in longhandles, uber
Underoos, but even Underdog unzips
more than me before hiking a leg.
So, okay, definitely not a dog.
It could be worse. I could look like Lois,
maybe Hawkgirl after a turkey shoot.
But when I hear that other busty bombshell say
I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way, I have
to wonder, do alien androids really need
to know I have nipples? Does Wonder Man
buy Nair by the crate? Shanna the She-Devil,
does she worry over her pits? I don’t
suppose I’ve ever had another option.
It’s all about cleavage, and I don’t just mean
what I could do with an arrow and a dozen
ax-heads. To do what I do—saving you,
in this world that would, otherwise, have me
Amazon, Amazon only—to do it dirty,
hairy, in a jumper, to do it plumper
would beg the old joke. You know, the one
about that kid. Let’s say Tim. To save himself,
his town and the like, he had to stick his finger
in the dyke. She beat the shit out of him.
I wonder if I am getting jealous of my other self.
Princess? My eye. Leaving paradise, we all
want to believe we were more before, not less.
Yes, it might be easier not to dress
ourselves in wristlets, gown, the long fall
we once wore in another land, that last life….
Easier to go forward undiminished, believing
ourselves ever larger than we were, but the thing
is, we tend like rats to follow the fife
into the mountain, run up short against the wall,
look back and see what children we were, following
too, and want never to have left. Swallowing
what we’ve chosen is hard. No, better to call
back to that other self, say, Don’t leave town,
than admit you’re more a princess, now you have no crown.
To admit I’m more princess now that I’ve no crown
is to say that what I had was not what I remember,
to believe this life, success dressed as Wonder
Woman, preempts Paradise. W. W., that clown,
bests Prince, princess? I guess I’m just confused,
tired of being more choice than myself, better than what
I was, more Goddess less the gods. Not fat,
like Etta. Not pawn, dear Steve. But used,
used to win the prince, to trump this very Prince
that I’ve become. Yet who am I to hate what I have made?
To envy myself the ticker tape, accolade, parade?
Still, when I put on those tights, saved Steve from stints
in the stockade, from Poison—oh, the perils I could list—
why was it the lie he loved and not the lonely typist?
Why the lie? Was it love? The lonely
typist? I know Kent ducks such dramas
too, but by Hecate, for him it was only
two. Me? I’m a fucking trinity. Mama’s
girl. Heroine. Mouse. Why is it us,
women, always, stuck with messier mental houses?
Triplicate Girl? Huntress? Lightning Lass?
Oh, and then if we cross the abyss,
the dark divide between simple detective
and, well, marvel, there’s Marvel Girl, née
Jean Grey, a.k.a. Phoenix, a.k.a.
Dark Phoenix, later a whole host of prospective
relations, reincarnations…. Ever only almost one.
It’s always “we,” eternity. Virgin, mother, crone.
It’s always we. Three over infinity preside.
Virgin: she before the he is seen inside.
Mother: she because the her is just a ride.
Crone: me, when at last I let the one decide.
Of course I know it’s not that simple.
The world turns on more than just a dimple,
the crack in everything. But what of the wimple,
the chador, burqua? Aren’t they there to hide the ample
firstness of what men can never be? The West—
your madness, not mine—rewrote the best-
seller of all time, biology, to make us last.
Problem is, the penis is just a clitoris
with choler. You want us. You want what you’ve lost.
But everything you do divides the conquered by the cost.
Nothing that you do divides the conquered.
The cost, yes, makes us, me, crazy. I don’t want
to be all you suspect, everything you’ve
feared since you first crawled bawling from the haunt
you call cave, the origin you want to believe
was not your mother, but then at least a third
of what I am I owe to you. And that cave
me, that cave of me, what I name Word,
the beginning, what I dragged even Steve
Trevor to, hauling him from one origin, the sea,
to another, that me, that Paradise, I can’t leave.
It can’t be covered, broken as I am broken. See,
I guess in being three—me, less than me, and the me who,
in saving you, pulls you all free—I’m only two.
In saving you, pulling you all free—I’m only two.
I am the me who left Paradise to save it,
but also she who jealously watched her man covet
me, tart in tights. So, yes, two. Or one. You
know as well as I the history of the divine,
the need for opposition, enemies, hell,
self or other. Leviathan, Yahweh’s handyman.
Seth, Osiris’ brother. Inanna and Ereshkigal.
But these are only those who complement,
shadows, the big id tease. Gilgamesh, king of ease;
Enkidu, man of moss. Frigg, woman of omen;
Hel, liaison to loss. Huck and Jim. Thelma, Louise.
None of them are only one. Yet, their troubles, mine.
So much to do, love, save. So many schizos, so little time.
So much for love. I’ve saved so many—schizos
most of the time—but not myself. Me. One version
of those other doubles doubled over with guilt, bozos
built, like Wonder, on angst and alliteration.
Peter Parker, wimp, poisoned by a spider.
Matt Murdock, blinded by radioactive canister.
Bruce Banner, werewolf, green, wanderer
in the world. Dr. Don, lame, God of Thunder.
Susan Storm, Shiera Sanders, Greer Grant,
all broken, fractured, bent. Still, as strong
as Clark Kent. Best and worst of both worlds.
Can’t we all just…. Okay, you say, just get along
little princess. But I can’t. I left leaving when I left said
princess, my “I,” leaving Paradise. We both did.
Superman’s Other Secret
It’s strange, I suppose, to find myself spellbound,
in knots, as tongue-tied by her tossed locks
as the proverbial bad boy. Lassoed, trussed up
and forced to tell the truth under the influence
of that golden rope, doped. Lost in her main
means of defense, more shackled than she
by her mettle, those magic manacles. Unable
to dodge the bullets that, heartward, seem to hum.
Mostly, she avoids them. I just let them come.
I’m supposed to be taken, I know. Good guy,
steady as the morning star, faithful as that apple
pie Lois sometimes bakes me, a fine example….
But then there’s two of me, as many (more?) of her.
Smart, savvy, strong enough to beat all she can’t
bear. As beautiful as any stag she might have done
in, outrun, caught, antlers askance, standing
in the still. Goddess? Okay, demi, but born to shame
that lack of choice, Paradise, from which she sprang.
Woman of steel, mistress of the upper air,
she knows how each of us is always already
falling. Alone with her, I seem to understand
earth, its breath, better, the orgasm of ozone
that rushes out when she describes her own
flight. Even sitting—stratus, nimbostratus,
talking—I’ve watched her turn into it, dive,
ride it the way she does her stories, worries, cares.
The shape of the wind. What her world wears.
Me, I just point and leap, but not with her.
Some days I fear that I’m invisible as the plane
she doesn’t need, a spectacle in a suit, uptight,
upright, perhaps too. Or that, though our colors clash
the same, hers cut closer to the breast. Even weaknesses …
I fear mine are mine alone. No recurring villains,
no green rocks, a decided lack of chains. And though
we both could leap this difference, in fact much less,
there is a yaw yet, deep as regret, from farmboy to finesse.
If you are a student, faculty member, or staff member at an institution whose library subscribes to Project Muse, you can read this piece and the full archives of the Missouri Review for free. Check this list to see if your library is a Project Muse subscriber.
Want to read more?Subscribe Today
SEE THE ISSUE
Aug 19 2021
4 Poems by Tiana Clark
Self-Portrait at Divorce Tiana Clark After reading Stag’s Leap again and finally knowing what the hell Sharon Olds was writing about The day my husband left I accidentally set
Aug 19 2021
Poem by V. Penelope Pelizzon
Of Vinegar Of Pearl (an excerpt) V. Penelope Pelizzon “The elements return to the body of their mother.” —Paracelsus 1. Like pulp-and-spittle wasps’ nests built in their season to
Aug 19 2021
5 Poems by Nancy Reddy
Spooky Action at a Distance Nancy Reddy In the Nashville airport, in gate C-84, in the industrial carpet and molded plastic seats where we all wait to be carried elsewhere,