This is how it always begins: a red light, another red light, and then a blue light. Sputtering of engines, twisting of metal frames, calibrating with concrete both perfectly smooth and roughly textured. Whatever vast expanse lies beyond the checkered wall is not us. We, who never ask why the polygonal moon has slung itself beyond this orbit, who never ask the origins of this brick tunnel of orange light and what cryptic weather it shields us from.
Some of us don’t want to know. The skybox is clear blue from every angle; the path is obvious and gently sloping; our tires are turning unambiguously. The music ambles along with the gait of a fresh millionaire.
It helps to have a spot on a grid, a clear position, an obvious context; it divides things up between good and evil, red and green, the fire-breathing and fire-throwing, the first place and the rest. Look closely: even the roundest surfaces are made up of these sharp edges.
moo moo farm
Wide, unfinished dirt roads. Farmland for mushroom cultivation. Rolling hills that bounce and gesture towards the horizon. Slackjawed bovine on the sidelines, flat as a stage prop, ageless as gods. The illusion of something beyond this claustrophobic dimension: is this what keeps our engines thundering? Are these perfectly white, perfectly oval clouds even real?
We can’t even talk of this in terms of escape; it is all circular, globe-like. To walk away from something on this world is to approach it from a different angle.
Your childhood home is no different: that cozy basement of middle school snow days, that analog TV of warm-blanket fuzz, that ugly couch where you first kissed a girl, the dead AA battery you let roll behind the peeling-paint cabinet; you try to leave them all by passing through the front door, but you’re only approaching your house from behind. Travel far enough in a straight line and you’ll be knocking on the back door, the spare key no longer where it used to be.
No one is tilling this land. No one is feeding these cows. No one is in control of anything, but you kind of feel like you’re in control, don’t you? And so you keep moving forward, throttle down. You keep approaching yourself from every angle.
August Smith is a poet living in Somerville, MA. He runs Cool Skull Press and is an MFA candidate at University of Massachusetts Boston. His book The Mario Kart 64 Poems is available at this website: http://coolskullpress.com/chapbooks/ ?