a lesbian said I was sexy, once
and it stopped me cold
as if she slapped me
on the butt.
It blurted out from her lipstick
and fell like lightning
onto the dark and empty dance floor
while we danced separately
as a boy
and a girl.
It turned us all around—
those handful of words reaching
across the sheets of blank paper between us
making me smile
about the way opening lines fall onto laps
as wild ideas first—
then, dares you to take the lead.
a super hero
He’s back. Walking alone, bare-chested
and cape-less; a 60-ish year old
who is virtually naked in a thin loin cloth
at Baltimore’s Comic Book Convention
as if he’s either supposed to be Tarzan
or some bizarre villain. Folks stare and frown.
Every year, I expect Security to stop him
and ask him who does he think he is
until I began to see a different ploy emerge
where maybe he’s not trying to be a bad guy.
What if he’s not out to pervert
our nerd assembly where costumes are cheered
and his aim is not to foil a wholesome Saturday
for grown-ups who must now shield
children’s eyes from such adult gaudiness.
I used to question his annual mission
since Batman, X-Men, Spiderman and
Wonder Woman are always here. Now I see
the epic undertaking: to be a walking comic book
where a simple man becomes a legend.
Carlo Toli Paul was born in Brooklyn, New York to Haitian parents. He is a graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park and was a Cave Canem fellow in 2000, 2001, and 2004. He lives in Gaithersburg, MD.