Chad Parmenter

Batman Vs. Captain Midnight

But they’re a pair of good guys.
And Midnight died at the hands of falling sales.

        But meet Ras Al Ghul, sulfur-souled,
        fu-manchued Lucifer of Batman’s demon

        Meet his Lazarus Pits, where hell meets
        rejuvenatory spa, where those who died
        are zombified.

        There, Midnight’s soul blooms on his ribs
        like a lichen.

In the targets scarred on his eyes,
Gotham City fits neat as a kiss.

His ancient fighter smokes the skyline violet.
K-K-K-KAFF KAFF, his guns strafe the bay
with puffs of rust. 

Batman’s parents are dying in a nightmare.
He wakes to see the plane turn to fire
and dive behind the skyscrapers.

        Below City Hall, Midnight poses
        on one blaze that was a wing.

        His scarf streams—a bandage undone.
        Traffic honks at his smoking feet.

The batplane cuts in like a bad pun.
But Midnight’s pistol, a fossil, still fires right.

Its pilot (you must be so tired
of hearing his name) takes a shot

in the mask.  Deeper.  Dies.
Really.  I’m so sorry.

         My dad flew the ancient fighters
        that had pounded Vietnam,
        G-forces pressing his face into a mask,
        sky riding his wings.

        He wore the air, wore
        thunder, wore this godlike
        power to disappear
        and come home holding gifts

        from ancient cities.  In the pit
        of me, he’s waking up,
        taking flight.  But what
        do we do with who our parents

        are in us?  We find them in our
        inner sky.

Nothing dies in fiction.       
Let me write him back to life.

Batman spits the bullet out.  WOKK,
punches Midnight’s gun away.

"Too popular to die,” the captain rasps.
“For now,” Batman answers. 

“I’m tired.  Dead tired.  Bury me again?”
“Sure, Sir.”

        Captain Midnight falls into his arms.


Batman Finds the Industrial Soul

You knew we had the other three–
animal, vegetable, mineral.  If you didn’t,
do.  Feel each, its heat in your chest.

        Batman was a rising star in the noir world.
        He was what machines dream of being:  cool.

Enter Maria, the hot robot from “Metropolis.” 
When he called her Batplane, her circuits burned.

Her chest rivets fell out,

        and he saw inside.
        Behind the piston ribs, the silvery liver,
        the spark plug heart–it. 

        A clockwork ark, its cogs gnaw fire
        from air.  Its bolts whistle
        when it grows a plume of steam.

When it hisses SHANTIH,                          

        in his own sternum, gears burn.

Maria’s hand welds into his, kisses it into blisters,
as his freezes hers. 

How could we not turn into our machines?
They offer such hot constancy.

        You’re a storm of photons
        on a screen.  Stay
        at this distance.        

Wendy XuChad Parmenter's poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, Kenyon Review, and Harvard Review.  He received his Ph.D. from the University of Missouri, and is currently a visiting assistant professor at Niagara University.