“Betty Doesn’t Know Who She Loves More” By Daniel Crocker

 

Betty Doesn’t Know Who She Loves More

Bruce is the sensitive type
a little nervous but
It’s nice when someone
really listens

Honestly, most of the time
she probably prefers him
Hulk tries, but his thoughts get
muddled. They go from rage
to depression and back again

But Bruce can be a little boring
at times with his talk of
quantum physics, cures and
medication

Hulk has something
and it’s not just the ripped
abs and cantaloupe biceps

Hulk once
knocked a man through
a wall for her

The man died

That says something, doesn’t it
That he would end everything
a man could possibly be so easily
wipe out a billion timelines

and maybe she just couldn’t
love one without the other

Both Bruce and Hulk
know their place
Neither are very happy with it
but it is what it is

and she knows something
they don’t. She knows they are in
love with each other. She couldn’t
force them to part. No, she’ll have both.
Thanks.

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This poem appears in Daniel Crocker’s book Gamma Rays. For more information, check out this interview between our Managing Editor Chase Dimock and Daniel Crocker about his collection of Hulk inspired poetry.

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About the Author: Daniel Crocker’s work has appeared in The Los Angeles Review, Hobart, Big Muddy, New World Writing, Stirring, Juked, The Chiron Review, The Mas Tequila Review and over 100 others. His books include Like a Fish (full length) and The One Where I Ruin Your Childhood (e-chap with thousands of downloads) both from Sundress Publications. Green Bean Press published several of his books in the ’90s and early 2000s. These include People Everyday and Other Poems, Long Live the 2 of Spadesthe novel The Cornstalk Man and the short story collection Do Not Look Directly Into Me. He has also published several chapbooks through various presses. His newest full length collection of poetry, Shit House Rat, was published by Spartan Press in September of 2017. Stubborn Mule Press published Leadwood: New and Selected Poems—1998-2018 in October 2018. He was the first winner of the Gerald Locklin Prize in poetry. He is the editor of The Cape Rock (Southeast Missouri State University) and the co-editor of Trailer Park Quarterly. He’s also the host of the podcast, Sanesplaining, about poetry, mental illness and nerd stuff.

The Incredible Bipolar Hulk: A Conversation with Poet Daniel Crocker

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The Incredible Bipolar Hulk:

A Conversation with Poet Daniel Crocker

By Chase Dimock

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The genius of The Incredible Hulk is that everyone can identify with him. All people have a reservoir of anger inside them, and we all know the painful discipline of managing anger, lest it erupt into senseless rage. The Hulk Smash is the fantasy of acting on our anger with a violent ferocity that mirrors the inner, emotional experience of pain.

In his latest chapbook, Gamma Rays, Daniel Crocker identifies with the Hulk as a metaphor for the experience of bipolar disorder. As It Ought To Be debuted Crocker’s Hulk poem “The Incredible Hulk Tries to Write a Poem” last January. For Crocker, the Hulk is more than just a momentary outburst; he is an enduring persona who embodies the manic energy of bipolar disorder. Crocker’s poems humanize the Hulk, and in turn, provide insight into the mind of the bipolar person as they navigate the impulses within them. I had a chance to ask Crocker about the Hulk and how he personifies the bipolar experience in his poetry.

 

Chase Dimock:  The first question on anyone’s mind when they first look at your cover is going to be “Why the Hulk?” In the past, you’ve written poems in which you take on the personas of Cookie Monster, Skeletor, and George Bailey from It’s a Wonderful Life among others. What is it about the Hulk that made him worthy of an entire collection of poetry? What does taking on his persona uniquely achieve among your pantheon of pop culture icons?

 

Daniel Crocker: The simple answer is, I love the Hulk. I wrote one Hulk poem, the one where he goes shopping after taking klonopin, and then I couldn’t stop for awhile. I was filtering everything through the Hulk. I originally thought I might end up with a full length, but after about 20 poems I realized I was kind of done with the story I wanted to tell. But, he’s a great metaphor. Any negative aspect of your personality, especially those that center around losing control, that’s basically the Hulk. He’s the things you bury deep. In a lot of ways this books is about coming to terms with that.

So I used it as a metaphor for my bipolar disorder because you never know when you’re going to have another episode. You just try to keep them at bay with medication. Then I started thinking about what it means to navigate love and a relationship when you have this hanging over your head–when you’re not always sure you’re going to wake up okay. Unlike Shit House Rat, however, this is more about coming to terms with it. It is, I think, a happy book with a happy ending.

 

Chase Dimock: The Hulk has been incarnated as a comic, a cartoon, a TV show, and several movies. I know the TV show version of the Hulk the best because I grew up watching reruns. In that version, he’s somewhat of a loner who tries to manage his rage alone and channel it toward productive ways to help the people he runs into. The show always ends with “The Lonely Man Theme.” It seems like your Hulk is more like the Hulk from the comics, which places him in a romantic relationship with Betty. Why was it important to focus so many of your poems on the Hulk in a relationship?

 

Daniel Crocker: In the end, it’s a book about navigating a relationship while having a mental illness. In my favorite runs of the Hulk, Bruce was always afraid of his anger coming out. He would do anything to keep the Hulk away–even though it’s a part of him. He was so obsessed with finding a cure that his relationship with Betty would be strained. When I was diagnosed with bipolar, I read up everything I could on it. So, I understand that level of obsession. I also, of course, worry that my symptoms could come back at any time—even while on medication.  So, I hope it shows the impact of bipolar disorder on one’s immediate family as well as just the person who has it. In the end, though, it’s just coming to terms with the monster inside of you–whatever that may be.

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“The Incredible Hulk Tries to Write a Poem” By Daniel Crocker

 

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The Incredible Hulk Tries to Write a Poem

but his cucumber fingers
keep getting in the way

He smashed the keyboard
all to hell and pencils
mean broken lead and splinters

Pens make a mess that nobody
wants to clean up
Hulk is used to it
He’s made so many messes

There’s that boy he kissed and then turned away
There was a woman before Betty who got tired
of dishes thrown against the wall and Bruce’s
wails of agony. It’s just too much, she said

Hulk has so much he wants to say
It lives and breathes inside his green skin
where it will stay for what might
as well be eternity

He wants to write a love poem for Betty Ross
He wants to write 1,000 poems of apology
for Betty and all the rest left in the wake of his anger

If he could just write his way out of this
entire mess, untangle this knot
maybe they would forgive him, he thinks

But Bruce knows forgiveness isn’t
given easily and if it comes
it’s not going to be the result
of a goddamn poem

Forgiveness comes through silence
or doesn’t come at all.

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About the Author: Daniel Crocker is the author of three collections of poetry, a novel, and a collection of short stories. His latest book, Shit House Rat, was published in 2017 by Spartan Press. His book Like a Fish is available from Sundress Publications, and his e-chap, The One Where I Ruin Your Childhood, can be downloaded for free from the Sundress site. His work has appeared in New World Writing, The Good Men Project, The Chiron Review, The Kentucky Review and over 100 others. He’s the editor of The Cape Rock, co-editor of Trailer Park Quarterly and the Co-host of the Sanesplaining podcast.

 

Check out our interview with Daniel Crocker on his book of Hulk poems, “Gamma Rays.”

 

More Hulk poetry by Daniel Crocker:

“Betty Doesn’t Know Who She Loves More”