Josh Crummer is a poet from Saginaw, Michigan. His debut poetry collection, We Are the Raiders, released January 2022. He is currently at work on his second collection, and when he’s not working as a corporate writer by day, he’s teaching college composition at night.
Truth, Justice & Building a Better Tomorrow
Superman’s PR team quit last month. Since he came out as bi his Twitter page is full of trolls posting death threats every three seconds. Nothing personal; the heat was just too much. Not all posted how God will send him to hell – So many comments demanding answers; ‘truth, justice and the American way’ versus twenty-years in the Middle East; freedom to infect and overrun the ER; rising waters in the grocery store and the ocean; a near-overthrown capitol, a twice-impeached ex-president casting his orange visage over Congress like Lex Luthor in a retirement home. But Jon Kent’s still young; still tracing his contoured biceps in disbelief before his bedroom mirror; still shunning X-ray vision to find his haters and, when Lois is asleep, training to nod his head; keep his eyes open. He can’t hurl these problems into the sun same as his country can’t do one trick to restore its image (villains hate him!) but he can revise his late dad’s motto; not over-promise the best but over-deliver better one good deed at a time. A task as daunting and courageous as leaving the closet, calling America to an intervention; a mortal man in boxing gloves and shorts fighting the Man of Steel himself.
This Poem is a JRPG
and it begins mid-day; our orphaned teen hero sleeping past noon before fleeing bungalows and fields set ablaze by the Evil King, vowing revenge. Halfway through the intro, we meet a gentle girl; our protagonist’s age who just escaped her father’s throne to share an ancient prophecy: Darkness rises every thousand years and it’s year 999.9. No one looks twice while this poem hefts his big-ass sword into cobbled ports, lost alley slums, ancestral inns adding fifty gold to their inflating price. And after countless fights against floating fish, giant plants, golems, snakes and soldiers, we learn the true villain wasn’t the king but his number two, angelic form paired with pipe organs and Latin chorus, stopped at the final hour by this poem’s blade. These insurmountable crises of our age – Climate change, pandemic, recession mean little to this little hero poem since our heroes exist only as zeroes and ones, paper and pen. The whimsical rules in their world – Landmasses snug in a rectangle map, no matter the language, your currency welcome; rumors spread fast as your endgame airship – a trusted escape. And these lines, an endgame itself, feature a closing score – As spiky-hair hero and princess embrace, triumphant violin and minor chords combine for a curtain call of feels: pastoral fields, lightly shushing brooks, quiet sun-filled mornings spent sleeping in.
Rule No. 8
“Rule No. 8: …In some schools, they’ll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. Failing grades have been abolished and class valedictorians scrapped, lest anyone’s feelings be hurt. This, of course, bears not the slightest resemblance to anything in real life.”– Charles J. Sykes; often misattributed to Bill Gates
He’s wrong, you know. Bumblebees bump windowpanes all the time. Kids beg for candy; not a minute in jail. Boss marks copy docs in red. This very poem; so many drafts… Of course mistakes get made. If Audrey’s father never took initiative, promised he’d shoot me dead if I rang his doorbell in a rented tux while we built her homecoming float, I’d never know my dick was evil. Might’ve lived my life thinking fathers counting stars, polishing pistols, dreaming boys’ purple necks in their hands was a myth. How bold it is, years later, to unlearn that dismissive bullshit: That welcome to the real world noise when it felt every mistaken intent every older man’s overreaction was justified by the universe. Yet his lesson; his answer to a question I never asked bumps my windows, hides in my cart – keeps me awake as stars stalk my porch.