Two Video Game Poems By Katie Mansfield

Forbes Magazine recommends you save 20% of your income every month,
a rule I followed religiously on Webkinz
and my Nintendo DS. Which is how,
at age 21, I have a two-story house—though fictional
and electronic. But the best thing about this house
is that I only have to pay the mortgage
if I buy into the capitalist trap of constant accumulation—
otherwise, I can live an honest life.
Dig up fossils and collect seashells.
Catch rainbow trout
and the occasional rubber tire, but that’s okay,
because I’ll just take it to the Town Hall’s recycling bin,
where it will actually be repurposed
and not shipped to a dumping ground
in Southeast Asia.
In Animal Crossing, I can take down an entire spaceship
using a slingshot. I can build a talking snowman.
And if all this sounds idyllic
it’s because it is
in Animal Crossing,
there is always someone moving away.
Sometimes they leave a picture.
Occasionally, they write.
I’m learning to make peace with this.
The art of goodbyes.
How to stand in a room
full of cardboard boxes
and send a friend off with a smile.
After all, we’ll always have Paris
or the freshman year cafeteria scene
or the police sirens crawling up the golf course, I mean
I finally get it. Why Mr. Resetti the mole is so damn mad:
it’s because he wants me to remember
that there is always something worth saving.
Even on the days I do nothing but pick weeds
and hit rocks with my shovel wishing for gold.
Anyways, isn’t that what adulthood is?
Shaking a bunch of trees hoping a piano
or a bag of money will fall out
and getting a beehive instead,
but eventually you learn to catch the motherfuckers
so they can’t hurt you,
(or you suck it up and buy insurance)
When I say Animal Crossing taught me
about life, I mean: I graduated
and I don’t have pictures with all the people I miss.
I’ll forget to write. I’ll fuck up my taxes
and god knows what I’ll do with a mortgage
but look
at the flowers I’ve planted.
At least my front yard is clean.

after Matthew Olzmann
you think you get it but what I’m trying to explain
is how the best players will keep stacking
to the side of the screen, inching ever closer to loss,
while they wait for the I-Block, because it’s the only piece in the game
that can cause a Tetris, and when it finally does appear
it arrives so perfectly
the ground d
the pieces
resettle, how could you possibly think
anything else
would fit in its place?

Katie Mansfield is a storm of feelings, an air sign, and a collector of too much washi tape. She has previously been published by Storm of Blue press and is an alumna of Stanford’s Spoken Word Collective, where past YouTube hits include “Thirst Poem.” Her Twitter is @mnonoaware

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