Mystery of the Little Green Army Men

by Marie Abate
They were green, plastic, and two inches tall,
give or take a weapon,
purchased out of gumball machines
for a nickel
at the Caldor and the Royal Farms,
anywhere you could find them.

You put them
in Roman formations—
pig’s head, square front, tortoise shell—
behind the chemistry beakers at Smith Hall,
or on the Dean’s desk in Linthicum,
or inside the bronze tiger’s mouth
at the library’s marble front doorway.

People took pictures
in little Polaroid bursts
and tacked them on corkboards
in the Union hallway.
They wrote titles
like Where’s Waldo and
Ground Control to Major Tom.
The Towerlight
wrote a news article
about a found art movement,
“artist unknown.”
On page six,
a blurry photograph showed a shadowed
figure running through the dark
with little men in his hands.

Only I knew
that it was you,
art school dropout
in a black cat burglar hat
at two in the morning,
after you got off the late shift
at Chevys:
reaching behind trash cans,
hiding in light poles.

You made little green armies
in the Quantum Physics stacks
just for homesick students like us.
Marie Abate lives in Baltimore, MD. She completed an MA in Writing from Johns Hopkins University in December 2011. She works as a copy editor for an online school system.

© 2012, Marie Abate