SPOTLIGHT: Poplandia by Andre F Peltier

Yub Nub, Motherfuckers

The 1983 Sears Wish Book
arrived before Thanksgiving,
and we poured over
those pages
afternoons after school.
Attempting to assist my parents,
I circled the items
I needed most:
Every item in
the entire toy section.
Castle Grayskull, The USS Flagg,
BA’s sweet windowless black van
with the red stripe
and swivel seats for
Face and Murdock.
Always at the ready
with their rifles
and their improvisation,
Hannibal loved it when
a plan came

I would have settled for
the Smurf Magic Talk Playset,
or Strawberry Shortcake’s
Berry Bake Shoppe,
but the Star Wars section
was the section of true glory.
TIE-Fighters, X-Wings, Snow-Speeders,
the Jawa’s Sandcrawler…
I wanted them all,
yet The Ewok Village Action Playset
was the real prize.
If only I’d been more specific
in my circling.
If only I’d been clear
with my parents.
If only I’d said,
“This is what I want.
Fuck all that other shit.
The Ewok Village
is my Holy Fucking Grail.
I want to live in the trees like
Wicket, Teebo,
and Logray.
I want to drop boulders on
Imperial AT-ST walkers.
I want to destroy the backdoor entrance
to the shield generator bunker.
I want to soar on a Sky-Glider
like Princess Kneesaa
to defeat the dreaded Gorax.
I want The Star Wars Ewok Village,
God damnit!”
Then, maybe,
just maybe,
those ancient youthful days
would have been as golden
as the Ewok’s android God.
Then, maybe,
just maybe,
I could have raised my head
to the heavens
and shouted,
“Yub Nub, motherfuckers!
Yub Nub!”


The day I met Elvis Presley,
November 1975, has lived in
infamy as the day the storm
broke over Minnesota and
the Edmund Fitzgerald
came to rest on the floor
north of Whitefish Point.
I wore my greatest jumpsuit:
wide collar, white, sequined
breasts. The collar was wider
than the King’s.
The white was whiter
than the King’s.
The sequins shined brighter
than the King’s.
He didn’t like it.

No one should stand
head and shoulders
above him he thought.
The storm clouds crashed
and the lightning lit
the world. The white of my
jumpsuit pushed back those
flashes and blinded the King.
My sequined suit nearly
saved the freighter as she
broke up and nestled like
“an old man into a warm bath”
below the thunder.

Elvis wanted to shine brighter.
“You should show more
appreciation for my talents,”
he quipped, as he pointed his
Barretta at my chest.
I puffed it up to deflect the
bullet. Superior rolled on
and my jumpsuit shone
pure and bright.

Let the Rigatoni Be My Reeds

The ghost of John Coltrane
lives in my pantry.
He steals chickpeas,
long grain brown rice,
red lentils,
& black-eyed peas.
He comes out
once in a while
to stretch his translucent limbs
& rattle his transatlantic chains.

At night, I hear
Alabama, Lazy Bird,
Lulu Se Mama
float through the kitchen.
I’m laying in bed
and My Favorite Things
echoes off of a canister
of granulated sugar.
Sara asks me to
turn off the music
so she can sleep.
I say, “It’s not me;
it’s John.
He’s up to his old tricks
Haunted by a
sax player/
mad genius/
lover of licorice:
it could be worse.
Sometimes, during the day,
when he thinks no one is
he glides outside
to see the garden
and watches the progress
of the tomatoes and herbs.
Neighbors have whispered,
“Hey, I saw a creepy,
old guy in your
back yard yesterday.”
“It’s only Coltrane’s ghost,”
I reply,
“checking the meter
and tapping his toes.”

This is the year of the
This is the year of the
everlasting jam.

When that tumor
consumed him,
only forty years old,
fans and critics
thought it was the end.
Loving wife
& loving kids
lowered him to eternal rest.
No rest for the wicked though.
He was live at Birdland,
live at the Vanguard.
He is live behind the pasta and marinara.

The ghost of John Coltrane
still searching for the
perfect al dente tone.

Quintero’s Left Hook

We touched down
at Tampa International
& the swampy wall
caught us like
that old prize-fighter,
Manuel Quintero,
breaking his left hand
on Saguaro’s right cheek.
We were down but not out
as we rented a truck
& high-tailed it to
Anna Maria.
In that unseasonably
sticky October,
we sweated through our clothes
& moved the furniture,
shoes, cooking utensils.
The house was empty
by the next morning.
The ref called time on Saguaro’s face
& on what we’ve come to see as
our life on the island.
The house sold quickly
& we drove north
that same day with
all of Mable’s trinkets,
trifles, riggings.
A catfish buffet in
South Georgia;
they served the same
at Circulo Cubana de Tampa.
Back on I-75 north
through the Smokies,
we pushed on across
the bluegrass of Kentucky
after midnight.
That U-Haul never went
as fast as when
she was barreling down
those mountain passes
& on across the great Ohio
double decker bridge.
She was fast as Quintero’s
jaw-breaking jabs
& twice as deadly.
No one dared call that old girl
no one dared face down
in the ring of the Cuban Club,
& that swampy wall of
Tampa-Bay humidity
took on all comers.


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