November 4, 2011
Batman’s Closing Time
Tonight, at last, he’ll hang up his mask for good. It’s true. It will sell hella (that’s a lot of) comics. He will make this little hell freeze over, but first, the underworld has over- flowed again. Batplunger to that toilet, he scans the damage. Clayface, the psycho idol made of Play-Doh, whose suit holds his body in one piece, has lit an abandoned building, to make a kiln, to bake himself back to human again. Poison Ivy has woven the library in vines, sealed the children in to tell them where their fairy tales really come from. Twoface has kidnapped the twins from the Macy’s makeup counter, for a hydro- chloric makeover. Too late to save them. But wait. Not quite. Killer Croc, still in shock from Crocodile Hunter Steve leaving us, is running, no, more walking amok. But he’s too, too close to postal. They’re all here. Call it karmageddon: if you suit up, they will come. They can’t not. Now, on the city’s flowery outskirts, downed powerlines are ushering the others in, inking their silhouettes with sparks: there’s Scarecrow, here to fear us up. Ras al Ghul; gulp. Riddler — what’s almost as deadly as needing someone? That’s right. It’s him. Hundreds of your Others have come, and Grendel, because he got lost on the way to becoming a ghost. They’re here; they always were, and are, to make you stay away from being you. There’s one win here. Turn to me. Talk to me, like your dad used to to you. Like I still do. “You’re . . .” No, in caps again, like a comic book’s, way of saying, or Bidart, when he stabs at the heart’s dead leather part: NOW YOU ARE SIX, IN BATMAN JAMJAMS, FIGHTING NIGHTMARES, FIGHTING WITH YOUR FORGETTING TOMORROW MORNING THEN, INTO MIDDLE SCHOOL, AND I DIE MANY TIMES IN THE FIRST ISSUE OF BATMAN YOU BUY, DIE LIKE YOU WANT TO WANT TO AND THEN YOU’RE HERE, WATCHING “BATMAN BEGINS” WITH STEPHEN DOBYNS, NOT KNOWING HOW YOU’VE BROKEN DOWN. One day, Batman realized, when he took off his mask, the villains turned into children. Tonight, if my nephew runs into the living room, from nightmares, Batman on his jamjams wearing his tears, I’ll pick him up, and tell him he’s real. You are, too. Don’t let go
This concludes Chad Parmenter’s cycle of Batman poems, which appeared through the week as supplement to our Epic Wins series. Image via the The Library of Congress photostream on Flickr.
Chad Parmenter’s chapbook Bat & Man appears in February 2012; it may be preordered now from FInish Line Press.
EPIC WINS: SERIES INTRO by Matthew Battles | THE ILIAD (1.408-415) by Flourish Klink | THE KALEVALA (3.1-278) by James Parker | THE ARGONAUTICA (2.815-834) by Joshua Glenn | THE ILIAD by Stephen Burt | THE MYTH OF THE ELK by Matthew Battles | GOTHAMIAD by Chad Parmenter