Gary Jackson’s collection of poetry, Missing You, Metropolis, features unique subject material and authentic language. Just look at the title. Hopefully you recognize Metropolis and connect it to something in your past—think back to red capes and a countless number of action-packed comic strips. And just as the title suggests, Jackson’s writing has everything to do with the fantastical world of superhero legends, including references to Superman, Spiderman, Batman and X-men.
His quirky and original writing style makes his poems enjoyable and easy to read. The author straddles the threshold between somber, serious tone and silly, unnecessary fluff by creating a fresh and un-clichéd idea of normal super human beings. Whether it’s “In a Conversation about Superheroes,” where young boys debate and fantasize about Mystique (the Invisible Woman, Storm and Shadowcat), or in “Upon Seeing Spider-Man on my Way to Work,” where the narrator dreams about what it would be like to be the “bastard webslinging over electric Soho,” Jackson creates an extremely entertaining flashback to comic books, TV shows and superhero movies for the reader to relive.
Not every reader has to be a die-hard fan of comic book legends to appreciate Jackson’s work. This poet is capable of capturing a wide range of audiences: he explores beyond the celebrated superhero status by delving deep into the more intimate and emotional details of the characters’ lives. In the poem “When Loving a Man Becomes too Hard,” the speaker reveals, “Mary Jane confesses she sometimes makes Peter wear the costume when they fuck,” creating a scenario between Spiderman and The Incredible Hulk’s respective lovers, Mary Jane and Betty Ross. The women, over a bottle of good merlot, ponder their romantic relationships and admit somewhat dark humor memories of their bedroom experiences. Jackson’s vivid descriptions of human emotion and his frank writing style bring a sense of truth and reality to his collection of poetry.
Jackson magnifies everyday conflicts, dilemmas and scenarios by applying them to superheroes—the distorted versions of human beings. His portrayal of superheroes as if they are everyday figures make his readers question whether there is a real difference between the invincible figures in the sky and the civilians on the street. Winner of the 2009 Cave Canem Poetry Prize, Jackson brings childhood back in a more adult way.
Excerpt from “The Dilemma of Lois Lane”
And I don’t know which man
is real. Sometimes,
when we’re alone at home,
fixing dinner, you’ll pretend
to wince when you cut yourself,
and I find myself hoping
that the tiniest drop of blood
will bloom on your finger.