Maureen Thorson



His home was devoted to ABBA.
He lived in the restive staccato
Of memorabilia. 1975 was just on pause.
The fire and force of ABBA.
The infinite skirts of their music
Rustled onward in this dollhouse theater.

At first light, he woke to the piquant airs
Of holy Swedish dance-rock. The doves of dawn
Backed up by the wide throb of Jan Schaffer
On electric guitar. Synthic animal yowling
Now transformed: sacred, superior to
The profane domesticities of the merely unbodied.

He thought: no witchcraft like Gunnarsson
On bass! Meanwhile, Agnetha, Bjorn, Benny, and Anni-Frid
Grinned down from the walls, the tolerant saints
Of the blond shag hair-dos, of the miracle cheekbones
That sliced night into dawn after dawn.



There was only one
Steve McQueen and you
Were he, meant to be
Watched in exhibition,
Rugged good looks and
“I live for myself and
I answer to nobody.”
The unexpected camera
Angles you had to shoulder
During your short life
Remind me: add to watchlist,
Add to watchlist, add
To watchlist: The basic facts,
Quotes, and a filmography
Most charming. The tribute
Page is closed and all
The pieces are mixes, but
“Acting is still like racing,
You need the same
Concentration,” and in
An ad for Wrangler jeans
I see the same sort of yellow
Landscape that a tripwire
Was strung across, courtesy
Of you and damn the nazis,
Archivally encapsulated
Inside my skull: You’re
A permanent feature on
The bill. You’ll stay that way,
Hunched sleekly over
The fields of wheat where
I hear the engine gunning
Just before you race offscreen,
Before you escape and never die
Of cancer in a ward in Juarez.



The lollipop wheels
Of the meatwagon awaken
The schoolkids of suburbia.

Even the manicured lawns
And polka-dotted mushrooms
Seem to pop, to suddenly declare,

“Hey look, it’s some meat!”

And though he’s worn to the bone,
The driver’s so jolly
With his kid gloves
And his little puppets of the presidents.

He’s got presents
For every chosen child, and
Would ya just look at ‘em streaming

From every gimcrack bungalow
To heed his wagon’s call,
While he looks beneficently at this

Gift of himself, flesh of his flesh,
All for the sake of the kiddies,
The good little boys and each girl.



If the china dog on the windowsill
Catches the sailor’s eye,

If the sailor’s eye—blue and blank—

A note that follows others
As a wave:

...................... Then up she rises,
From a throat parboiled,
A socket of fog, descending.

If the wind should strike its colors,
Then his timbre sets its track,

And if his rum-soaked voice should carry
His song holds you on its back,

Wet fingers to the wind,
Gulls shrieking through the fog.

And through that fog, you’ll see
The bloodshot china dog

Reflected in his eye, the eye that holds
The little figure like a note

As it clears its porcelain throat
To join into the sailor’s melody,

Into his roundelay of waves,
The hosannah of gathering dust.


Now only the ghostlight
is left, and your old bones
gather bruises from
the forward straining
of your arms. The curl
on your forehead
grows long. You’re done
with the cyclical universe,
with stopping traffic by
your mere appearance.
Someone has taken the ladder
away, and the green screen
is blank, unladen with
the lacy fire escapes
of Metropolis. The actress
playing Lois is not your
true love, and even you
cannot now save yourself,
your x-ray eyes a special effect,
your seemingly impervious
frame the result of foam
props, and your enemy
not Lex but the body, its
realness: Your true kryptonite.



Maureen Thorson is the author of two chapbooks, Novelty Act (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2004), and Mayport, winner of the Poetry Society of America's National Chapbook Fellowship for 2006. She currently lives in Washington, DC, where she runs Big Game Books, the tiniest press in the world, and writes poems about film noir, mysterious islands, and robots.


Published in Volume 9, Number 2, Spring 2008.

Read more by this author:
Thorson's Intro to The Museum Issue, Vol. 10:1 (Winter 2009)
Maureen Thorson: Tenth Anniversary Issue