Mermaid 4

by Joe Gardner

I was real young
6 maybe 7
Watching Hannah-Barbara cartoons

It was after
Thundar the Barbarian
With his magical sun sword
But before Captain Caveman
Would come on
You had the Super Friends

All the DC heroes
Right there
On black and white TV

I would mess
With the rabbit ears
And coat hanger
Twist the vice grips
On the nub that was left
Of the channel knob
To try to dial it in
With the least
Amount of snow and static
To get the balance
Between picture and sound…

The Super Friends
Had their shining white palace of
All the good people lived
All representative
Of hope
That no one on my block ever knew

While the bad guys
Lived in Black Mantis’s
Giant bug head
Looking headquarters
In some mysterious swamp
No one would ever want to live…

And the Super Friends
Would gather together
From their Palace
And come beat hell
Outta the bad guys
And always send them running
Back to the swamps
Where no one wants to live

Back where they belonged

And it would always remind me
Of everyday
Chased all the way……from Wilson Elementary school
Across Yosemite…… the traffic be damned ……just run and never look back
All the way back ……across to my side of the tracks
To the Airport District

Back where no one ever wanted to live…

And I couldn’t help but root for the bad guys
Always hoping
Just once Lex
Gets the drop
On Superman’s stupid Boy Scout jaw
Or maybe the Joker
Would finally
Get one over on the caped crusader
Catch his moody ass by surprise

God damn it

To give a little hope
A little reason to believe
That I wouldn’t
Spend the rest of my days
Living in this swamp
Nestled right
Between the airport
And the winery
With a river
And railroad tracks
To always remind me and keep me
Where I belong…


  1. Wow! Great poem, Joe! I can’t say I ever rooted for the villains, but I did watch these shows when I was a kid, and yes, you made me think about the plight of the bad guys–and the reality of what it is to live in the “wrong” part of town or the wrong neighborhood. Thank you so much for sharing this poem. Hope it finds many, many readers. It should!

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