from The State Springfield is In
Tom C. Hunley
About the Writer
Tom C. Hunley is a professor of English at Western Kentucky University and the director of Steel Toe Books. He is the author of four previous full-length poetry collections, two textbooks, and six chapbooks. He is the co-editor, with Alexandria Peary, of CREATIVE WRITING PEDAGOGIES FOR THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY (Southern Illinois University Press, 2015). He divides his time between Kansas and Oz.
Tom's most recent full-length collection, The State Springfield is In was released by Split Lip Press last month. Of the collection, Tom writes:
While these poems are ostensibly about The Simpsons, they’re actually about me, about my inner life. Just as my Maggie Simpson sees herself in the old, craven face of Mr. Burns, I see a part of myself in each of these characters. When I write about the Van Houtens’ divorce and its effect on young Milhouse, I’m writing about my own scarred, departed youth. When I have Homer wax uxurious about Marge before confessing, in his next breath, to being tempted by the Lurleens and Mindys of the world, you can bet that I have in mind my own marriage to the lovely Ralaina. Like Troy McClure, I yearn to be remembered and fear that I won’t. Like Moe Szyslak, I have different, conflicting sides to my personality and I don’t always know how to reconcile them. Like Frank Grimes and Apu Nahasepeemapetilon, I have frequently felt like an outsider trying desperately to fit in. Professor Frink’s loneliness is my own loneliness, as is Comic Book Guy’s. When Lisa Simpson discusses foreign policy and Kent Brockman and Mayor Quimby’s campaign staff weigh in on local politics, they address my own concerns. Edna Krabappel voices my thoughts and feelings about teaching. Reverend Timothy Lovejoy and Ned Flanders articulate my struggles with faith and doubt better than I ever could without wearing their masks, just as Disco Stu and “Bleeding Gums” Murphy help me explain what music means to me. This book of poems is the most autobiographical thing I’ve ever written.
You can purchase his book HERE.
Men Are From Marvel; Women Are From DC
(Comic Book Guy)
Worst. Therapy. Couch. Ever. I got off
my stool at The Android’s Dungeon
for this? Allow me to introduce myself.
My parents named me Jeff Albertson, but
throughout Springfield, Gotham, and Metropolis,
they call me Comic Book Guy.
Gosh, idiot (Napoleon Dynamite reference),
um, yes, that’s my crime-fighting alter-ego, and
This C:/Dos/Run/Run/Dos/Run tee shirt serves
as my costume. Tights don’t suit me.
Neither do suits (too tight.)
There’s simply no emoticon for the feeling
coursing through my veins, powerful as Pon Farr,
the Vulcan Blood Fever (reference to Spock’s
need to breed, a rather obvious corollary to my own
overdriven loneliness). Ever since Kumiko split
on me like a favorite pair of jeans, I feel like
I’m beached beside the half-buried Statue of Liberty
(original Planet of the Apes reference,
damn the remake all to Hell).
My life is like an Alf rerun that I can’t
shut off. I thought I could figure this out
myself. I have an IQ of 170. I translated
Lord of the Rings into Vulcan for my
Masters thesis. But I guess the brain and heart
are as far apart as Kelly Clarkson and the ability
to carry a tune (invocation of Simon Cowell,
though not a reference per se).
Even Spiderman sometimes needs someone
to untangle the web that he weaves (that’s right,
I can reference Shakespeare too). I get jealous
of statues when pigeons land on their heads.
I feel lonely like Alaska, lonely
like an O.J. Simpson fan site.
I could have gotten married, online, in a
role-playing game, but I didn’t want to deplete
my power crystals. I’m starting to see
that even Radioactive Man, Manboy,
and The Adventures of Mr. Smarty Pants
are just pulped trees, inkstained,
and Kumiko and I are two old oaks. The crime I can’t fight
is the sad fact that wind rattles us, that every year
our leaves leap, beautiful suicides heaped on the ground,
that my limbs snap from the effort of reaching
to touch hers, that Time is a cold voice yelling “Timber.”
Letter of Recommendation for Nelson Muntz
To Whom It May Concern:
My name’s Willie. Just Willie. I’m too poor for a last name. I never went to one of these fancy schools with multi-colored chalk. I’m simple. I live in a shack on school property. But I honor my home town, Kirkwall in Orkney, by replicating its lovely countryside with my award-winning landscapes. I work my fingers to the bone here at Springfield Elementary – except for the index fingers, arthritic since my Space Invaders experience in 1977.
Now let Willie be frank. It’s true, young Nelson Muntz made my rounds with me during his many after-school detentions. I took the boy under my wing, made him an apprentice, taught him to roll up his sleeves and plunge clogged toilets with his bare arm, taught him how to dig a child out of a well or wrestle a wolf into submission if duty demands it, how to grin and say “yes, boss” even when you’re working for a daft pansy.
But did that rotten brown banana appreciate my efforts? Nay, he mocked me. He laughed at Willie’s kilt. I still hear it in my dreams, alternating with my father’s screams and squeals as they lynched him for stealing a pig. “Haw haw!” “Agh agh!” Worse, Nelson read my diary, which I write on my arm with tattoo needles. He read about how Shary Bobbins dropped Willie like a slippery bar of soap, and “Haw haw!” He read about Willie’s hobby of videotaping couples in cars just at the point before the windows steam up, and “Haw haw!” And worse even than that, he quit on me, walked away from a Groundskeeper Nelson future, turned and ran like some cheese-eating surrender monkey from France.
If I see him again, I’ll release my bees on him; I’ll chop him up to make haggis. I’ll make him pay with his children’s blood. No matter what you do, don’t let him smell you later, and never let on that this letter isn’t a glowing recommendation. Keep this bully boy running!
Kent Brockman, Channel 6 News
I know it
is difficult to get the news
but let me tell you, this week
at Springfield Elementary, the children drank
in the cafeteria, because
Fat Tony sold it cheap
to Lunchlady Doris,
because mobsters have corrupted
the town of Springfield, and Mayor Quimby
got caught embezzling a million bucks
because politicians have corrupted
the town of Springfield, and now we need to run
a cute human interest piece
about a “charity event” staged by
one of our sponsors,
the nuclear power plant,
because as I’m sure you already know,
have corrupted the town of Springfield
and to further show you just what state
Springfield is in,
here’s a photo of local man Homer Simpson
who gained weight on purpose until he had
to wear a mumu
so that he could collect disability,
and here’s a mug shot
of Sideshow Bob, now behind bars
for trying to murder a ten-year-old boy, Bart,
which goes to show that the human heart
here in the town of Springfield
is everywhere corrupted, I mean
I could exaggerate just a bit about
I don’t know, an outbreak of monkey flu,
and just like that I could get you
to crack open
your neighbor’s skull,
and feed on the goo in there.
Now, it may or may not
be news to you, but there’s
corruption, also, in the town you’re in,
and if you look hard at your own
human heart, you’ll find plenty
of corruption, underneath your own skin.
Grandpa Abraham Simpson on his 100th birthday
I’d like to digress from my prepared remarks
to discuss how I invented television so
I could watch Matlock. In those days,
my nickname was Blade, or Blaze, bla-something.
No, wait – Superstar Simpson, they called me.
I’ve forgotten so much.
When I was a pup, I was God of the gridiron,
floating into the end zone buoyed by the cheers
of beautiful girls. In those days, football was
called tackleball. One cheerleader kissed me
on a blonde haystack, sweet-talked me into
throwing a game so her bookie could cash in,
then discarded me like an old bra, which
reminds me of this sad waitress I met
a few years later at a Navy drinking hole.
I can’t recall her name or face.
Cheap perfume from a half century ago
charges back into my nostrils and returns me
to a war of petrified shyness and biological imperative.
Then I’m back on the border between the gone-by world
and the coming one, between a hide-and-seek game
interrupted by the ice cream man and Death stalking me
at every turn, shapeshifting into a black cat,
a winking stranger, a high-pitched ringing only the old
tmen and women at Springfield Retirement Castle can hear.
Legend has it that my great-granddaddy fought in
the War of 1812, which in those days was known as
Revolution Junior, and I tried to assassinate Adolf Hitler
with a javelin at the 1936 Summer Olympics.
Heed my warning, people of Springfield:
horrible things are going to happen to you
and you and you. Once while I was working
as night watchman at the cranberry silo, a voice said
Abram, from now on, your name is Abraham, and
your descendants will be as numerous as the cranberries,
and I did hit one Homer, not to mention two love-children
whom I never mention. I’ve fed cows, I’ve been fed cows,
I’ve felt Time watching me through the eyes of vultures.
One time, Lisa saw her own reflection in the eye of
a beached whale, and Bart tripped down its airhole. Lisa
fell asleep reading Leaves of Grass to the whale, Blue-ella,
who died. Did you know the female blue whale’s heart
weighs fifteen hundred pounds? I keep learning facts
right at the moment when they dissolve into fiction.
I used to be with it, but they changed what it was.
Sleeping in the back seat of Homer’s car today,
before Homer honked the horn and my dentures
fell out of my mouth, I dreamed about the time
I arrived like Columbus at a Country
and Western bar, meaning I thought, at first, I was at
an Indian restaurant. I bought that bar and named it Abe’s,