I used to let my hand stray close to exhibits
every Field Trip to the Science Museum
on the chance one of the radioactive spiders had got loose
and I’d be bitten with great responsibility,
because that’s what Peter Parker said
and then I wouldn’t have to put up with
Todd or Mark calling me cross-eyed
and being picked last at dodge ball.
Or maybe my step-dad would bring me to Fishkill some day
and I’d slip away during his coffee break
because everyone knew IBM did government experiments
and I’d catch a massive dose of Gamma rays and grow green muscles
with purple cut-offs, and then I’d be able to say
“You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry”
and flex a little. Then he’d stop kicking me around my bedroom floor
accusing me of trying to break up his marriage.
I remember wanting to Mind-Meld Kenny Briggs in Sixth-Grade English
when I got caught lying about a Thanksgiving essay from the turkey’s point of view.
I had copied it from an old comic book and the teacher read it out loud.
Everyone thought I was pretty cool for a day.
I almost made out with Katrina at recess
but she broke up with me after that
and I stood at the side door near the soccer field
wishing I could fly away.
I used to smoke the cigarettes I’d stolen from my mom
in the woods by an old ruined mansion,
imagining returning from the war to find
my wife and kid murdered by the Mob.
I would plot my revenge, with eyes dark and
smoldering as the barrel of a .357,
picturing the older boys who put you in a head lock
and stole lunch money as chalk outlines on the sidewalk.
I wanted to catch a school bus falling off the mid-Hudson Bridge;
Mount the monster’s head on my bedroom wall next to my Jedi Diploma
that proved the Force was strong with this one;
Ride like the wind after I’d shot the guns out of the robbers’ hands
and left them lassoed together in the dusty street.
Then all the towns women would clutch their chests and sigh,
and the men remove their hats and say ‘There he goes.
He’ll be back when he’s needed. ‘
Decades later, when they cut a hole in the back of my head
to stop the swelling, I wanted them to install a flash drive
so at least I could be smarter. Instead I got a cane,
and a scar, and a profound dislike for mullets.
These days I emerge from my Fortress of Solitude only
to play trucks, or drape a red beach towel over my grandson’s shoulders
and assure him it’s OK to jump.
I’ll catch him.