In The Year of Too Many Hero Masks
Tufik Y. Shayeb

our friendship began as a river stone
that hatched itself into an broken eggshell

out came that something wet and avian
its fleshy body lurching on tiny pebbles

its chirping vague and nearly scrambled,
we drained it down a dirty sink, all down

the sticky floral dishes, taters and dogs
bits all caught upon the surf of suds

we knew who we were back then,
fists secured like tiny change banks

our proud matriarchs could not stop it
the dirt and grit, and the dust on shoes

our busy fathers could never see it,
the lizards we trapped in chipped jars

we ran on juice, ten-thousand volts
of too much, flopping around like fish

the roof, a worn out deck, crying safe,
as cousins tumbled in weeds and jeans

this city, home to undersized villains
and too many superhero masks on racks

genre was too foreign, stuck in cheeks,
as light-sabers and katanas clacked

in the above-ground pool, dead soldiers
floating—their noses scraped the rough

blue, plastic battlefields of underwater
and a grave of bruised knees and thunking

summer had planted an oval river stone
and this was what we hatched in the desert



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