This work was featured in Issue 18:2, Spring 2017 — Cave Canem 20th Anniversary Issue

Carlo T. Paul

Two Poems

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.