Save Slot 1

I’d like my epitaph to read
“The famous poet”
but you wouldn’t guess it from the way I act.
I could forgive you for assuming I’d like it to be
“Who found every Korok”
or
“Who completed his entire backlog”
or something like that.
I’d like to be a celebrated creator,
but I spend more time living in other people’s worlds
than creating my own.
It’s hard to make a name for yourself in this world,
but in so many others it’s already made for me.
I am the protagonist, the champion, the dragon born,
the subject of the documentary.
It’s the same problem that plagued Gatsby
who wanted to become something great,
got distracted along the way, then said
“What was the use of doing great things
If I could have a better time telling her what I was going to do?”
What’s the use of becoming someone in this world
when I’m already the chosen one in so many others—
and can fail and reload saves as many times as I want?
Part of me wishes I could be content with that,
and part of me is grateful that I’m not,
but I’m already so far in the game of life
and so many people have already played it better than I have.
There are no cheat codes,
and few walkthroughs I can turn to for help.
I’ve only got one save file—
one life—
and there are no checkpoints,
no way to start a new game.
I guess now that I’m almost level 30
I should really stop dumping XP into multiclassing,
stop grinding mini-games, forget the side quests,
and get to work on my writer build
so I can enjoy the story missions
before the servers shut down.

anxiety

put cotton balls in your mouth and chew
while hanging upside down
scraping your fingernails on a chalkboard
to the sound of feedback from a mic
as the fire alarm goes off
and you’re naked on a stage
giving a speech on quantum mechanics
to a group of Nobel Prize-winning physicists
who’ve prepared for your remarks
by digging through your grades
and social media posts
before interviewing your old boss
who fired you because he found out
you’d made a move on his wife
who was twice your age
and you forgot to put on deodorant
before they made you run that mile on hot concrete
and you want to shut your eyes and disappear
but you can’t even blink because of the metal clamps
holding your eyelids open to fans
that blast your face with freezing air
and you feel certain it’s a nightmare
only you never wake up

The Past

Our minds have grown around the past
like a tree that swells over a boulder
as its leaves push upward and outward.
The seasons pass,
the sap runs black,
the old trunk groans,
until the two are one—
though sometimes weaker for it.
Then, in some blissfully distant fall,
an evening wind may blow just right
stressing the tree along this fault
or ending the work the boulder began;
and were it to be removed by some
misguided arborist (or therapist),
the entire trunk would crack
and tumble to the grass.
No, we cannot ever escape the past.

The Punk-a-lunk

You’ve seen a lot of things, I’m sure
the land of Flarmp, a wandering dellacur,
but have you ever seen or thunk
about the purple punk-a-lunk?
The punk-a-lunk, they say,
eats 14 jibble cores a day
(but only ones you’ve thrown away).
It slurps them up into it’s trunk,
that tiny little punk-a-lunk,
then yawns contentedly and flies away,
or that’s at least what experts say.
It has orange stripes upon its side
and pinkish eyes 12 inches wide.
Its tail is green and full of scales;
its wings stretch out like flowing sails.
It snuggles with you while you sleep
and is as soft as a lurpa-sheep,
though if you ever try to peep,
the punk-a-lunk will start to weep
and will not stop its little cry
until the sun is in the sky.
But should you be content to wait
with jibble cores laid out as bait
and never even move or peek
the punk-a-lunk will kiss your cheek,
and in the morning you might see
it roosting in a nearby tree.
It will not grant a wish or speak
but should your way appear too bleak,
fear not, little one, though your path may wend,
or the whole world seem ripe to end;
all wounds of life belief will mend,
so the punk-a-lunk is your best friend.

a question

are poems ensconced somewhere inside my mind
like some hidden treasure I’m trying to find

or demons we summon with blood sacrifices
an addiction we feed with the rest of our vices

from erudite sex after months of gestation
or some kind of socially safe masturbation

are they sculpted completely in only a moment
or are we shaping slowly and don’t even know it

is a poem a seedling becoming a tree
or some captive bird that we have to set free

for some, I suppose, it’s a source of contention
but I think that most poems start out as a question.