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ELEGY AND PERISPHERE / David Wojahn 1. Silver Age The heroes of the sUver age stare back from thirty years ago, peering at the boy gazing out the attic window to the lake in summer, transom open, the tiger UIy patch, nodding below in the Marsh's garden (Alsatian bride, from a war caUed Great, and scarcely of this century, forgotten Verdun, Paschendale.) On the lake the sails flit, moth-wings. SUver age: though the crucial metals are higher on the periodic chart. A bite from some plutonium-irradiated spider, or gamma rays bombard the astronauts, giving birth to the Other in the shape of Spider Man, The Thing, The Human Torch. ii. After Montale "Around us, as far as the eye can see, The inequaUty of objects, persisting insensibly___ " Spider Man vs. some new enemy— Green GobUn, Princess Python, web sUnging The Missouri Review · 27 To triumph over Vulture, the exact green shade of his feathers, indeUble. SaUs on the lake. Dog days of August When the refugee doctor who cast my broken elbow (hairUne fractures ghostly on his fluoroscope) dives from his inboard, having chained his hands to a concrete block. Or Private Eddie Stanhope, the town's first green beret, boards a transport for Khe Sanh. Aquaman, Atom, X-Men, Thor the Mighty, "Superman's Mission for President Kennedy." 111. Mre Shot Frm Italian Pavillion A ramp to the golden planet of the Perisphere, upon which several figures make their way, and one must be my mother. The New York World's Fair, a halcyon and edgy June of '39, the awkward Kodak peering from its frame, my desk: ?GG? SHOT FRM ITALIAN PAVILLION with some blurred and spidery cursive on the edge. She's come from Minnesota with her sister and three friends to attend the future. Caption: "GE House of Tomorrow" with its frozen quik-thaw dinners and an aproned robot maid. "Good evening, Ladies. Hello HeUo," an amplified parrot's voice. The dishwasher churns. 28 · The Missouri Review David Wojahn How radiant tomorrow was. Caption: how beautiful. The summer Fermi's U235 goes critical. IV. Superman's Mission for President Kennedy The young President sits rocking chaired within the Oval Office, inside a cartoon panel with the Man of Steel, his "Physical Fitness Spokesman,' He waves a glossy of John Glenn. "No muscle gap among our astronauts," the Chief intones. Panels, frames, puns, debris. Thirty-year jumpcut to Sotheby's—Cosmonaut artifacts on auction for hard Western currency. Gargarin's spacesuit, a bowl once lapped by Laika, the premier dog in space. Ivan Ivanovich, the pale and strangely grinning mannequin who logged a year in orbit before plunging to a Ural vaUey. Retrieved on a sleigh by the KGB, he's propped under kleiglights, still smUing stiffly. v. Panels Ruby fires and the assassin crumples. Stunned Texas Rangers flicker past in black and white before it starts again, twenty frames a second, Stetsoned heads bobbing as the suspect writhes and shrieks, as Cronkite for a third time points out Oswald on the blood-sUck floor, beside another screen David Wojahn The Missouri Review · 29 where the curtain-flickering Minnesota sky is cold gunmetal blue, where November sleet careens along the panes. The Justice League of America struggles with Lex Luthor at the center of the earth, trapped in a valley of crimson lava. And as my mother weeps, the panels blur. Sleet faUs aU the way to DaUas until the center of the earth has frozen, the gunflash over and over. vi. Appraisal at Moondog's Their condition: neither Mint, Near-Mint, nor Very Fine, merely Good to Very Good, which cuts their value thirty-five percent. The buyer makes two pUes and shakes his head, a jeweler's eyepiece bobbing at his neck, incongruous for a kid who's half my age, a sUkscreened Manson snarUng from his t-shirt back, press-on tattoos (knife-in-heart), three days faded to the same anemic red my Human Torch and Flash are dying in, conditions flickering from a once-Mint blaze to the cinders of Fair. He searches price guides and we go on bickering. Then the flash of lurid green, the twenties on the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 27-35
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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