Shaq Cento by Michael Marberry


– Shaquille O’Neal (1992-2011)



Pluto is not a planet, but I am.
The story of my life doesn’t matter.
I don’t know what comes after.
I don’t give a bleep. Did I say bleep?
That’s a trick question. I’m sorry:
I don’t see a problem. There is nothing
to say because I know everything. Leave
it at that. I’m true. You know how
I be. You can’t stop me: I’m a cop.
I’m President. I weigh 330,000 lbs.
plus I look good. I want people
to say: That’s cool…Merry Christmas!
I must be a bad motherfucker, a brick
wall, a tax, a star. I’m a leprechaun.
I’m Irish. I’m Alpo. I’m toilet
paper, Pampers, and toothpaste—
proven effective. Look it up!
The Big Aristotle, the Big Shake-
speare, Shaqcasso. I am a shogun
led by no one. I’m the black basketball
-playing Nietzsche, a brigadier general,
baby. I’m karate. I’m the master
clown, not the hierarchy. That’s why
they call me Sasquatch Sasquatchian.
Badda-bing, badda-bang. Dun-da-daaaa:
“The Man,” the Don Dadda, medulla
oblongata. I’ve got a lot of knowledge.
I wasn’t born; I was found on a train.
(Ask your mother.) I am the other son
of Jor-El, a ritual ready for change, a hero
ain’t nothing but a sandwich. Blah blah
blah blah blah. I can’t hear you, static
in the question. Earthlings don’t faze me,
only factors—t’ai chi every time. My name
will be there, unless you erase it. I won
an Oscar, was an angel, used to carry
a knife—the first graduate in crayon
biology. That’s horrible, tropical black
man: “horrawful.” (That’s not a word;
I attribute it to me.) I’m still sexy, still
great, not the one buying love; the big
dog, not a jitterbug. I miss everybody
back to my alien roots, man of all nations:
shalom, salaam alaikum, ni hao ma,
konnichiwa. I want to be one with
the immortals. Write it down: Strength
is mental, a slice is good but we’re trying
to get fat. Like the Pythagorean Theorem,
there is no answer. Whoopty-do! There is
an answer: We’re planning the parade.




Michael Marberry‘s work has appeared or is forthcoming in The New Republic, West Branch, Crab Orchard Review, Sycamore Review, Indiana Review, Bat City Review, and elsewhere. A 2015 Pushcart Prize recipient, Michael is currently pursuing his PhD at Western Michigan University, where he serves as Assistant Coordinator of the Creative Writing Program and as Coordinator of the Poets-in-Print Reading Series. He hails from Tennessee.