Poem of the Day: "The Nitro" by Clare Rossini


I'm not sure if it's a good thing or a bad thing that comic book superheroes have become so ubiquitous in culture that they've even invaded poetry, and I have little interest in wading into that debate [today].

I do find it intriguing that even as actual sales of comic books are at their lowest ever, their cultural currency continues to increase (not without limit, however. The genre runs risk of over-saturation in the movies, at least).

However, I was immensely startled when I read this poem, available as a free read on the website of the Paris Review, of all places. It's a wonderfully evocative piece, suggesting the alternate push and pull between God and man, a tension that results in superheroes and supervillains, Sinestro in this case.

Or I'm misreading everything and it's about nothing more than a roller-coaster.

Either way, enjoy!

THE NITRO by Clare Rossini

I wanted sky. That was my ambition. And now I'm being tugged
Up a small steel mountain,

A burly chain beneath the car hauling my weight
And a trail of my fellow aspirants. Poised at the top, we waver.

Then the slow turn downward,
The gathering speed, hurtling

Toward the earth from which, with a paste of mud and spit,
In that one foreboding

Story, the god
Made the man.

Upward again, turning and writhing in air, my body become a space
Where, as in love,

The great forces stream through:
Space, wind, light, the seconds blurring by like years.

O my god, I hear the cries of those around me as we are borne up and
Down and up and down,

Our breath three
Tubular steel

Hills back.
Let this not end, my body says and, at the same time, Let it be done,

As with a sudden jerk, a brake
Catches, the train slows, we arrive

At the platform milling with the shades
Called the living. Down the ramp. Back to a frail rain

Glossing popcorn stands, the carousel's splintered mirrors, and
Hey! It's some dude

Dressed as Sinestro from the Legion of Doom, his power ring strobing,
Scattering the crowd.

-The Paris Review Spring 2011

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