Tell, Don’t Show
Run Away From Home

Extraordinary Man

There was this guy who had super powers for real.
When he looked at a cashier, he could see
straight through her frothy orange hair
to her scalp. And not just that, he could make out,
just by the creases in her shoes, if she was
rich or poor, aching or numb.

He could see her at age 19,
but he could predict the future too.
Mostly bad news: the sky was always
reporting car wrecks, Alzheimer’s.
The warm asphalt said, “gunshot wounds.”
Pigeons in flight, “hookers.”

He could hear messages in the radio,
codes littered in tabloids and lotto slips.
He heard the words people meant
when they were saying something else.
He heard the secret suffocating
that made them all ordinary and mean.

This was no ordinary guy
who scurried across the parking lot
tallying the price of a gallon of 2 percent,
and the length of the Express Line
and the minutes left in halftime.
He was Extraordinary Man.

But the job was too much.
The ants cried out from the pavement,
the outrageous angle of the sunset,
the falling sap of cigar smoke,
the brokedown Cutlass with the kids inside
moving faster than the speed of light.

He had to wear little foam earplugs
and even they were swelling in his sleep,
in his bruised ear canals,
murmuring in Chinese,
begging to be found.

Comments

myra

Now THIS is a poem. Extraordinary Man is almost too much to contain in such a small space - sounds like the beginnings of an essay.

Mug

Thank God for sight....Intellectual aesthetic... Pursuing creative thought is a beautiful pain turned laughter....sometimes existing between a hard day and heaven.
The last stanza is really nice. The depth of the creative curse is real.

Shawn

"he heard the words people meant / when they were saying something else."

These two lines are exactly what we were talking about on Bonnaroo weekend, Hannah....not visual at all, not detailed at all....but poetic as hell.

hspalmer

yep and that's also proof that iambic tetrameter can sound perfectly natural

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