A. VAN JORDAN
The Green Lantern Unlocks the Secrets
of Black Body Theory
DC Showcase # 22
“Menace of the Runaway Missile!”
I did not flee to America;
I broke away from my planet
to save another: You see, I brought
the emerald wave of Oa with me
to Earth. I don’t run to or away from the light;
I am the light. But there’s also something
glowing within the darkness: more light
that simply can’t break away and shine.
That’s why I’m here. Consider
my home as the perfection of emitting
and receiving heat energy,
equally, in a body others
see as a mere void in space.
A view of my planet from Earth shows
a penumbra from one angle
and a full eclipse from the other, my origin
hidden like any immigrant’s history
hides from the country of acceptance,
but, even here on Earth, my planet still radiates
within me underneath this mask.
I’ll find a respectable man,
Hal Jordan, to carry my spirit,
and I’ll do my best to fit in,
inking up the scene
to save it, an émigré from a planet
most earthlings can’t even pronounce.
A missile trained to attack
the White House in America,
as if 1,000 lanterns were shattered,
begs the question: should I get involved?
I have to answer:
whether I’m born here or just passing
through, life for me is as fragile
in the face of destruction
as when a gun is in my back
and I throw up my hands.
We’re all equal under fear,
but we all huddle
under my lantern’s emerald glow,
which powers my ring the way an oath
empowers the body speaking it aloud,
but, with that same force, squint your eyes
in pain: if you get too close to its truth,
it burns as much as it lights the way.
When I see the lantern
floating there, naked and cold,
I picture its potential power at rest,
what it takes in and gives back,
including light and the shadows
not allowing the light to escape.
CAVE WALL PRESS, LLC
A. Van Jordan is the author of Rise (Tia Chucha Press, 2001), winner of the
PEN/OAKLAND Josephine Miles Award; M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A (W.W. Norton &
Co, 2004), which was selected as one of the Best Books of the Year by The London
Times (TLS), and winner of an Anisfield-Wolf Award and a Whiting Writers Award;
and the forthcoming Quantum Lyrics (W.W. Norton & Co., 2007). He is a graduate
of the Cave Canem Workshop and he teaches at the University of Texas at Austin.