Why I Can Understand Thanos’ Quest for the Infinity Gauntlet
“No one on Titan – be it you, our mother, or our father – understands who I am, Eros.” ~ Thanos (Earth-616)
Imagine if you knew you were
a direct descendent
of the Eternals?
Yet despite this, you were labeled
“To turn aside.”
while your younger
(White, apple-polished, classically handsome)
is fawned over,
but not you.
Their eyes preoccupied by everything
other than knowing about
your emptinesses. //
Then she came,
“That’s a feeling,” she says,
sounding like dreams
printed on card stock.
“Come stay with me,” she says.
“Stay with me like
a long-distance train.”
This is what she tells
& you were both so
It makes one unafraid
She reminds you
of your birth name
& how it means:
How we all love
that no words matter.
How we slightly rearrange them
in hopes of protecting our bodies from
the splashing mud & rocks
when the time comes to try & forget
reality, all we tend to remember
is just the words. //
These treacheries of
the body & how
the world, with its crowded
rules, test the logic
of the body;
the body, which is
supposed to be a safe house,
now replaced by
your skin, where they
only see darkness.
Where they only see a dark room half-
filled with furniture,
a dark, bulging, throat-swallowing
of a room,
walls swallowing in big
mouthfuls of appetite
in the shapes of shadows,
shadows that do not smile
because they know too much
of the world.
Because you see everything when
the world never wants
to see you. //
She tells you she knows.
“I know,” she says.
How your skin was designed
to capture & absorb all
the cosmic energies
of the universe, all shining
She tells you about the imbalance in the fabric
of the universe: how there had always been
more people alive
than had ever died up to that point
(though you disagree)
& how she’d like you to balance it
since it was she
who gave back to you
your life &
it was she who told you
about the gauntlet & its power
to make you a God.
“Love me,” she says. //
& how can anyone possibly resist
something so powerful?
If Captain America’s shield
can’t hurt you,
nor Thor’s hammer,
adamantium claws, nor
the Hulk’s brute strength;
if Tony Stark’s money can’t
just be thrown at you
until you’ve been grounded
down into dust
then a bullet can’t kill you
Death now becomes a way
to have more space
to live. //
Unfortunately, we spend so much
of our lives
that it was actually us
who gave birth to it.
The first time I watched Mami put on her peluca: A play in 3 acts
[She jokes: “At least I won’t have to show my dirty grey hairs
to the world anymore. & I can also stop thinking about men]
& I ain’t know any better [Don’t use ain’t. No seas tonto, she says to me]
I didn’t know how vital a mother’s hair would be years later
to a child’s memory Which explains why I can’t remember it
anymore Just that cheap fucking plastic oscillating fan’s swinging back
& forth clicking its tongue like them schoolgirls on the block distracting
the silence [Mami always wishing past the silence] of our single bathroom
because our apartment was always ¾ my mother while the rest was everything else
we didn’t care about like everything our bodies take for granted
like gravity & atmosphere & oxygen & body temperatures & bones
All things once considered problems by us that needed to be
solved forgetting there were still moving images of our bodies living
across these walls piece by piece [“Bones without memory are
nothing more than bones hiding in the filthy corners of flesh,” she says]
& all we ever had to do was just place our hands up
against them & trace their outlines before writing:
I can no longer see the fear in my breathing
[She slaps me after laughing at how her bald head resembles
a cheap, white opal ring. Her fingers are loud]
[Quieres mas? She asks, thumbing her knuckles] & she had no reason to defend
herself she was woman still even though part of her ancestry was gone
with her hair the peluca lying at the edge of the sink looking dead &
I wondered if I knocked it over would it just float down to the ground?
[Questions are their own prisons, she says]
Wondered if I stole it & buried it in some secret place would someone hundreds
of years from now think: This is from a woman who once lived Who once
moved the way a dancer’s shadow moves inside a spotlight while protesting her
death at every step Who built things Who healed Who forgave Our
very own bronze anthropomorphic god Eyes like islands of explosion
though her last name was always shorter than the island it came from Tongue
her own mango tree She who filled the roots out of everyone’s lives
cojonuda enough to tell God himself to take his elbows
off el maldito table carajó! & he’d obey & smile because he’d already stolen
enough wick & could no longer give it back.
[“Let me just put my hands on you,” she says. “Let me feel your pulse,
since we can no longer trust our mouths nor our memories]
because the only things we really know are our mouths & how
they only count for us For our yesterdays For our tomorrows For
that place where we get a chance to see who we are who we’ve never seen
before but always knew was there all along Waiting alone Those same
hands that once shoed my naked feet Her voice that tiny hotel:
“Dios te bendiga, mijo,” she always said Are we all so predictable? The way
we all crumble in the exact same way?
[She places her hand inside my palm. & that’s when I notice the white ring
of skin around her finger after she’d pawned her wedding ring for rent money]
“Mijo, men can’t live anywhere they only visit,” she said “We’ll fix these things
after, but for the time being just be quiet now” though it was all a lie
like a grave just to keep me here standing like a scar waiting
for the time after her where I’m left to only love a small, half-eaten piece
In the United States in 1944, an experiment was conducted on forty newborn infants to see if they could survive without any affection or physical contact.
The experiment only lasted four months. By that time, half the babies had given up and died.
it’s strange. i think i see him
on the street. sometimes. even if i know
it’s not him. but still.
i picture him. with his gold anchor
chain & all of that god in his face
all of that god in his shoulders. all
of that god within the contours of his chest.
all of that god-given talent but couldn’t
make up for all that emptiness in his
guts. hollower than a winter rain
even still. i want to talk to him.
about fathers & sons & how filthy
fathers can be as gods to their sons
& how we love them still. because
the freedom to be cruel is one of man’s
when are you supposed to confess to someone that you’re haunted? should you tell them at all? in america, some states require a seller to disclose if their property has been “psychologically” or “paranormally impacted” in some way. but what if your scars originate from even before? before time’s arrow began its run? what if they began before america? before your time even knew of america? or does time move so fast that it eventually, inevitably, overtakes you? & we always the slower runners? always running. even though we’re free to run anywhere else? even if we’re not actually free? we still run to meet each other to deliver gifts. because no one digs out the dead unless they personally knew them from before.
which is why i feel the need to confess. why I came
here to confess: a need to ask questions. a need
to fuel dreams. you were television to me before
television when television was just a chair framed
by the light of an open window where wishes were
being made. where i held my tiny fingers high up
against that light like rye-colored knobs glad to be
alive. eyes squinted just enough to keep away the world.
turning that light into strings as if to say “i hope.”
& that’s how you ultimately taught me how foolish
i’ve been. not knowing at the time that loving you
was nothing more than the exuberance found in
the middle of “can’t seem to love.”
Born and raised in Miami, FL, Michael J Pagán spent four years (1999-2003) in the United States Navy before (hastily) running back to college during the spring of 2004. He currently resides in Lake Worth, FL, with his wife and two daughters where he continues to work on his poetry, short fiction and nonfiction. A graduate of Florida Atlantic University’s Creative Writing M.F.A. program, he keeps a running history of his published work at his blog, The Elevator Room Company, as well as across social media. He is also a co-founder of 100 Miles & Running – A Collective.