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.