Super Mario Bros. / Duck Hunt

The world was paper. The bushes were perfect steps, 

and a bold green. Like they had extra life. Or none

at all – eerie. I didn’t feel cold. Then I realized:

I had no heartbeat. I reached for my chest

but everything was composed 

of tiny blocks – my hands, 

the ground, ageless,

and I didn’t feel.

The whole world was painted on a single, sterile wall

to my left. There was nothing to my right. Nothing.

I couldn’t even look that way at all

but I knew.


Clouds were flat and airless. Nothing moved

but these numbers over my head, buzzy,

counting down. En, en, en. 

A clock?

I stepped forward and something with eyes waddled at me 

on the singular road. Something like a mushroom 

but wearing shoes, and I said, just a reflex, 

“What do I press?” And turned to run 

but I couldn’t go back.

Something held me.

An abyss.

That was the first time I died.

When I came out of it the world was dark

and I had slept two days. Mike told me 

what happened. What I did. 

I don’t remember. 


Too many mushrooms. 


When I woke again there were ducks at the window. 

The dog smiled, had a breathless laugh,

and sank like a ghost.


living paper.

But I don’t know. Sometimes even madness can save us.

Everything was blue and green again and so, 

so beautiful. Sharp. Bright and new

like when I was a kid

and only dreamt

such color.

I can’t wait to play again.

Adam Ai is a Puerto Rican and Basque poet and U.S. Army veteran from Los Angeles. His poems have been published in various print and online publications. He lives with a Ghost. Hobbies include time travel and teaching robots love. Connect with him on Twitter and Instagram @AdamAiPoems

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *