One of my students, I learned, is soon going to be an orphan. He knows this, so does his ma. Yet every day, he shows up at school, ready to tackle the craziness of the mundane. Let’s be honest, how comforting is a hypotenuse? And if you think it’s great because, you know, ramps save you time, or they help you climb to great heights, or maybe triangles are really good for drawing, then maybe you have a point. A dull, unsharpened, broken pencil point, but a point nonetheless. Otherwise, you can see why I really admire the kid, who isn’t self-destructing or getting high when he should be in physics. So I wrote him this poem. And for the next week, I’ll be bringing you pieces that are inspired by video games and their themes of escape, rescue and leveling the hell up from eating psychotropic fungi:
Ooooooo, Piece of Heart!
He wants to be a superhero with sideways 8 lives,
wants to fly through time with the
song of an ocarina,
he wants the loss of health to be healed with
a flickering star or heart piece, maybe even
the start/select combination.
He’s more then willing to resort to cheat codes,
even the notorious
up, up, down, down, left, right, b, a
to return things the way they were,
or maybe to ‘god mode’ where
no matter how hard you’re hit,
you can’t fall down, and there’s always
finishing move that makes you jump
from the couch and scream
‘Damn! That was sick!’
Forget jumping through hoops,
try barrels hurled at the speed
of gorilla strength.
Try the second invasion of aliens,
speeding toward earth in pixels,
but this time, Will Smith is too busy
filming to assist with missile defense.
Try fire breathing dragons without
His jiminy fairy guide went
missing the day the earth became
wider than the TV screen, but he would give
all the rupees in the world,
all the melodies in his head, even
give up the triangle tattoo atop his hand
(the symbol of true courage),
to see his circumstances in
word bubbles and puzzle solving tasks.
During class, he looks avidly for
item upgrades after completing assignments,
as if only ‘A’s will help him on his quiet quest.
The rest of the time, he’s silent,
maybe with his tongue stuck out,
as if he’s spent too much time
mastering his run and jump.
Like the last chapter of childhood, he’s stuck
himself in a Nintendo wonderland where
he can always be the hero,
always press continue and
start at his last checkpoint,
always find a new life or heart after
defeating his demons and
never have to face adulthood,
when the play screen may read ‘game over,’
or worse, the credits.