Poetry: “What Might Reasonably Be Called People,” Nick Lehner

Something from the comic books—
yes, that’s a good beginning. We’ll start
out unreal and fantastic, turning dark
and graphic in time. Fantastic. Shazam,
kapow. Inset—a face with tears puddling,
unrealistic eyepools of sorrow, balloon
filled with Father! father! or exclamations
equally italicized and important. Some
thing of import, so that later when blood
burbles from enemy chest, we know
the motivation. It’s important to know
the motivation. We might reasonably
be called people, but then again we’re alien
forces, battling and uncertain, juxtaposed
against the bright world of justice.
Life forces nonetheless, not robotic
but vital, seething. Seething. It seems
important to repeat certain things.
Others can be written once, erased or
consigned to some shelf. Dusty, arcane.
Where to place emphasis. What to outline
in black. Sketched like this, we look
like people, only graphic, creatures of graphite,
dark smudges imperfectly drawn against
surreal landscapes, the world we’ve come to know.