Suzanne Lummis: a poem



Wonder Woman, Private Eye

"Beautiful as Aphrodite, wise as Athena,

strong as Hercules, swift as...", etc.

...OK, it's Hermes, in case you've forgotten –

little winged lad, pretty boy, transmitting

his messages door to door, dispensing

his favours. I'm done with all that,

with the myth racket.

Even the land of the Amazons, tribal

thing, for me – like the kids say –

it's so over. Now, I work alone.

I go one foot softly over the other,

flightless, low as the humans, and moving as they do, over asphalt. It happened like this. One day, as I flickered through air in my tall

shapely boots and whatever

strapless swimwear DC had me

sporting that year, I caught a touch of ennui, disgust actually –

and self-disgust. I wanted the Truth.

I wanted the many-headed, terrifying

forms of it that made my twinkling

lasso look like Tinkerbell's

dainty little wand. Then

came the call of the wild, pull

of the dark – deep

and knowing. I was sick of cartoons.

You ask (the boys ask – always, they want to know), so what am I wearing?

Not a trench coat (cliché), a jacket, leather,

colour of tarnished silver, black-

zippered pockets, inside and out, jeans

like a normal woman – and, yes,

I'm licensed to carry. Heat.

Now get your mind off my body and onto

this one over here, dry from the sunlight,

jammed under a dumpster off Alameda,

south of the old train yards.

Seems most of his blood escaped

through the same hole.

Sure, I'll call 911, speed-dial the LAPD.

But I'll be working my own angle:

who is the real culprit?

The jackass who pulled the trigger,

or the deadbeat, no-show dad, or the dull,

ignorant mother, the neighbourhood

that gave up, city that turned

its back, world that was busy

elsewhere? Space

in its icy beauty, rushing toward

no place, discharged from nothing?

Who, where, what is The Arch Villain?

Hmm…

I wonder.



Suzanne Lummis was a 2018/19 COLA (City of Los Angeles) fellow, an endowment from the Cultural Affairs Department that enables the city's influential mid-career artists and writers to create new bodies of work. Her most recent collection is Open 24 Hours from Lynx House Press, and her poems have appeared in New Ohio Review, Hotel Amerika, Plume, The New Yorker and in the Knopf anthologies Poems of the American West and Killer Verse: Poetry of Murder and Mayhem. Poetry.la produces her YouTube Series "They Write by Night" which looks at film noir and poets influenced by those black and white crime movies. As host of the series, she plays a character she describes as "Two thirds me and one third the person I was meant to be."

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