W. Todd Kaneko

Self-Portrait as Flash Gordon [Emperor Ming in Love Remix]

Where I live, I wish we were both
aliens living far away from Earth,
all fire and lightning for the stratosphere,
no heroes or jet packs to disrupt

our villainy—together we could destroy
a planet, a galaxy, if we wanted.
We could fill the universe with rubble
so no one can worry about
where we are from—you

with fair skin and the temperament
of a solar flare, me with sallow
complexion and a serpent’s tongue
yearning to wrap itself around your name.

Where I live, I am not an alien, but a man
and you are a woman on Earth.
Let’s gaze at one another’s planets,
try to remember which one we are from—

yours is the one where men like me
are creatures to be feared and slain.

Mine is the one that would destroy us both.



W. Todd Kaneko is the author of This Is How the Bone Sings (Black Lawrence 2020) and The Dead Wrestler Elegies, Championship Edition (New Michigan Press 2023). He is co-author with Amorak Huey of Slash / Slash (Diode Editions 2021) and the textbook Poetry: A Writers’ Guide and Anthology (2018). A Kundiman Fellow, he lives with his family in Grand Rapids, Michigan where he teaches creative writing at Grand Valley State University.