Where’s that god-machine when you need one?

note passed to Superman

sweet jesus superman,
if i had seen you
dressed in your blue suit
i would have known you.
maybe that choir boy clark
can stand around
listening to stories
but not you, not with
metropolis to save
and every crook in town
filthy with kryptonite.
lord, man of steel
i understand the cape,
the leggings, the whole
ball of wax.
you can trust me,
there is no planet stranger
than the one i’m from.

— Lucille Clifton


Posting a Clifton poem every day of the month has been such a pleasure.  I’ve been grabbing poems almost indiscriminately.  Almost.  I know how absolutely she always seems to be talking from inside my head and heart, and I trust that, figure that whatever poem I choose will just turn out to be the right one.  How excellent that that has proven true!

These Clark Kent/Superman poems really strike me.  I love the challenge, the disappointment, the acceptance in them, love the idea of her talking directly to Clark, directly to Superman.  I love how thyese poems remind me of how many times I hold back, waiting for someone to sweep in and make things right, make bad things go away, fight all of my battles.  And how they remind me of how seldomly that deus ex machina has ever magically appeared to solve my problems.

Quiet clash
more knife-cut than fire
A line, thin as wire,
crossed.  Pulled into this gyre,
I swing out, off track,
swing wide, wild, slowly back.

2 thoughts on “Where’s that god-machine when you need one?

  1. Molly

    good poem. I found the division of fire from flash to be brilliant. I got it the second time I read the poem. Nice. The poem gave me a sense of movement that is almost physical.

    As for Superman, here is a quote from Homer Simpson: I’m normally not a praying man, but if you’re up there, please save me, Superman.
    The idea of a cycle of poems directly addressed to Superman and Clark Kent is fantastic.


    1. Oh, the Superman/Clark poems are really wonderful. I love that she chose to write to him/them. “if I should” has always smacked me right in the chest. So strong and sad and brilliant.


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