W. Todd Kaneko

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Self Portrait as Flash Gordon
[1935 Radio Drama Subtext Variant]

Tell me how you feel
about skin, about desire’s

pinpricks broadcast
across a starship’s prow,
                                     through my transistor radio
after dark. A good Foley
artist can spin
                                    a mock planet
real with broom clatter
and tin cans. A character actor
                                   materializes in static,
squeaks out threats
in foreign accents
                                   to project ideas
about how evil resonates
in strange bodies,
                                  about the pale-skinned
girl seized by orangutan
hands, the steady-voiced
                                 champion who saves
America on Saturday nights.
Earthlings are alluring to
                                 damsels in the sky,
faces fearful of frost
giants and mole men,
                                 always scornful
even if this galaxy
is made up
                                of unearthly creatures—
tell me how I look
from outer space, so
                                I can still feel
human—not just
                                the alien’s shade,

                                the eclipse

                                of his spirit.


W. Todd Kaneko is the author of The Dead Wrestler Elegies (Curbside Splendor, 2014). His poems and prose have appeared in Bellingham Review, Los Angeles Review, Barrelhouse, The Normal School, The Collagist, and many other journals and anthologies. A Kundiman fellow, he is co-editor of Waxwing magazine and lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he is an assistant professor at Grand Valley State University. Visit him at www.toddkaneko.com.