WIKIPEDIA

BY GREGORY SHERL

Mel Gibson is a thundercloud. He formed somewhere
over the Midwest, a few years after World War II.
They say he emigrated from Australia, a son of prisoners
surrounded by water—that they hated the dryness,
but what to do? Mel found Catholicism in an unplugged fan.
Me, I was born in a billboard. A wave came,
the billboard stood. I washed up close to the last place
she slept. I smelled cherry blossoms, found bristles
from an old toothbrush. The truth about Mel Gibson
is that his heart is every drug-free commercial.
This is Mel Gibson’s heart when he looks at your olive skin:
a frying pan against glass bowls. In the summer you can sleep
above the thinnest sheets, eat chilled soup & still sweat
from the neck. I have thought about touching every person
who looks at me but doesn’t look away. The satisfaction of possibility
is why I dial her number even though it’s disconnected.
Mel Gibson is the fifth face on Mt. Rushmore. Look harder.
Last night Mel came home, wet & still thundering.
I told him not to use that language in bed.

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A note on why we chose it:

Of course we loved “Wikipedia” for its immediate irreverence, playfulness, irony and mix of high and low pop culture. It’s clear the poet followed the poem here and that it wasn’t created out of some forced inversion, but “Wikipedia” also
hints at some bigger statements about our culture, our obsession with celebrities and their pervasive decay, their sometimes troubling connection to violence and indifference, spurred on by the poem’s extraordinary movement and imagery. But that’s obvious. We also love the poem for what’s less obvious, less immediate. What role does the “I” have here? The poet was wise to make this less a poem about Gibson and more about some personal juxtaposition of his thundering and the speaker’s troubled experience. In short it’s the juxtaposition of Gibson and statement–”In the summer you can sleep / above the thinnest sheets, eat chilled soup & still sweat / from the neck”–that sold us.

Mario Chard, Poetry Editor

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Greg-Sherl-150x150Gregory Sherl is the author of The Oregon Trail Is the Oregon Trail (Mud Luscious Press, 2012). His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in New York Quarterly, Gargoyle, Blue Mesa Review, Columbia Poetry Review, and Versal. He co-edits the online poetry journal Vinyl.

His poem Wikipedia appeared in Issue 23.1 Winter/Spring 2011.