The Human in the Superhuman: Missing You Metropolis by Gary Jackson

From this focus, however, Jackson’s persona poems in Missing You, Metropolis range from the decidedly human woman that Jackson’s speaker first has sex with to the remarkably disturbed Joker from the Batman comics. The poem “The Dilemma of Lois Lane” falls somewhere in the middle of these two poems, mingling the human and superhuman as the speaker is a woman in love with a superhero. Lois Lane muses on what it was like to first realize her Clark Kent was really Superman: she realizes his eyes will always be bright, his hair will always curl, and his body will always be “as solid as diamonds” (p. 38). However, she pretends those certainties are not real, because she prefers the reality of the human Clark Kent, and wishes he could

always be
the Clark that steps on people’s
shoes in elevators, the Clark that
spills coffee on the break
room floor. But you blow forest
fires out with those same breaths
I take into me when we kiss

— p. 38

This bumbling Clark Kent is the one that is most human to Lois, and perhaps the one that seems most available to love. Who can honestly say that they are in love with a superhero? And as a superhero, do they even share the same capacity to love? Clark seems to understand Lois’ conundrum:

when we’re alone at home,
fixing dinner, you’ll pretend
to wince when you cut yourself,
and I find myself hoping
that the tiniest drop of blood
will bloom on your finger.

— p. 38

He recognizes that Lois would be more comfortable with him as fully human, so he goes through the motions of pretending to be. However, he can never truly bleed. They play a game of pretending, both hoping Clark Kent/Superman was only human.

Jackson’s Missing You, Metropolis highlights the “human” part of superhumans. In the midst of the mess of human existence — gangs, racism, tragic deaths — people have the ability to rise above it. Superheroes may be able to fly, may never bleed, may control the weather, but humans can grow, learn, soothe, and love. Humans can be more. Can be super. Can be heroes.

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