Between Sidekicks [Poetry]

by John F. Buckley and Martin Ott

Scandalia lost her sidekick once in a blizzard
during the Cold War, and twice on a train:

a poisonous soufflé from her diabolical twin
and a confession to why she only chose men

to polish her thigh-high boots and rocket whip
weekly before they could watch the big game,

both tucked in the evidence cooler, next to
the body, for future analysis some would call

perverse for her unwillingness to bury her last
sidekick, while others would say her own heart

froze when he fell from Tattletaglia’s deadly
mushrooms, chewing and pausing dramatically,

the spin of the cosmos nothing like the churn
inside her for revenge, for love, for breaking things,

for desperately hoping the would-be mugger
tried to reach for his gun. Her cowl hid the tears

but not her yearning to bring another man-child
into the folds of her epic quest to turn the news

into underworld legends, dark urban omens,
disquieting lullabies mama thugs sang to their

super villains in utero, the seed that would grow
to vanquish legions of sidekicks still in drydock:

Cracksy and Whisper, Red Rumor and Lash,
Pettegolezzo and Whipping Boy and Kid Cache,

a roll-call of pint-sized ghosts with the whimsy
of Santa calling his reindeer. Was she unlucky

just at quasimaternal love or the whole skein
of life, each fate thread collecting knots as she

tried to fit her guilt and regrets into a costume
that could no longer breathe in the absence?



John F. Buckley and Martin Ott began their ongoing games of poetic volleyball in the spring of 2009. Since then, their collaborations have been accepted into more than seventy journals and anthologies, including Barrow Street, Drawn to Marvel, Map Literary, Rabbit Ears: TV Poems, Redivider, and ZYZZYVA, and gathered into two full-length collections on Brooklyn Arts Press, Poets’ Guide to America(2012) and Yankee Broadcast Network (2014). They are now writing poems for a third manuscript, American Wonder, about superheroes and supervillains.