Honey, there’s nothing for you out there. They’ll take your eyes for caviar and sockets as spoons; plant escargot beneath your keratin and sails in your tongue. The passengers paid for sights, not Psalms – waves, not songs. Here, there are a thousand glistening tickets, a dozen beautiful boats, but only one bottle of champagne left bubbling.
Later, the orthodontist pries into the tectonics of your jaw.
They question your dental metrics,
Speak about your health in shades of pink
And recalibrate your oral Richter with light.
An automaton with a different accent
Reminds you to float in butter as one does
Buoyant pools of salt or bitter minds.
The orthopedist churns your jungles of jelly
Into Psalms of physiology and balance –
The abdomen is overflowing with red vines and abundance.
You forget to mention the screaming ghosts
Of scarlet jaguars languishing near your naval.
Arctic caps, scooped open with nameless gloves.
Water levels measured by clouds in a cup.
Could you name me by my atmosphere –
The dying tongues and bushels of memories
That occupy these skies – instead of your numbers?
There’s a tilt in the axis, claims the podiatrist
And a ringing in the lithosphere
I’ll ring you up for those inserts.
Hope that helps the head a little.
Which fruitful era lies dormant
in these abdominal trenches
screaming with gastrointestinal
tectonics, Cretaceous skeletons
left traipsing in cherry rivers?
Ignore the scales until Sunday.
Fill the beds in amber and aloe
until they secede to the Ice Age.
Keep the earth still, complexion
from discoloration, temperament
glacial – don’t measure surfaces
until the meteor is obscured
in the soft clay of your earth
and the dust free of parabens
thrust the waist tapes to space until
the world is lush with Mammalia –
bust, saggy in ectothermic corpses
There is nothing normal about this process –
no breaching Lochness swallowing the weather
and spitting out numbers that tell us how the rain
manipulates our facial muscles,
no tangles or tongues assigning the samples
levels of importance and possibility,
no sparkling answers tightening the stellar leather
around Orion’s ambitious hips.
Sagittarius fills his quiver with serpentine tails
from the top percentiles, hoping he could
shoot smiles into the eyes of the dead –
a topaz back to the crown of Cassiopeia.
I’m as greedy for sweet gravity as she was
her own body, a sisterly autocannibalism.
We’re hungry for edible mirrors
for sugar made of glass
and neutrals packed with sand,
for palettes that paint like Jupiter
and smell like cosmic storms.
I could squeeze all the rancid starstuff
from my own planet onto Nessie’s bloody scales –
confirm IQ, GRE scores, cortical surface area
and still be Platinum status at Ulta
Sephora coupons traipsing through my mailbox
like bright lines slicing the pupils of kittens.
Recently, I’ve struggled to return to readings. I peruse the newest offerings for Prairie Lights Live, hoping for that fire to engulf my attention like a new FromSoftware-esque cycle. There’s a nap and my son waiting for me at home. However, how could I turn down an evening with the creative director over at Sledgehammer?
I know my focus here has been on poetry and literature, but that really is only half of the story: when I’m analyzing data at my desk, I’m almost certainly listening to a podcast on gaming news or design. When I’m walking my westie, my tempo is set to remixes of the Bloodborne soundtrack. Unlocking my home or office includes the incandescent glimmer of my key ring Hunter’s Mark in the light. It’s such a different, but equally valuable, form of artistic influence. No collection of poetry has left me more environmentally conscious than Horizon: Zero Dawn. I am hard-pressed to consider what better encompasses mental illness than games like the haunting award-winning audio of the pseudo triple-AAA breakout Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (which, by the way, deeply earned its wins for “Games for Change” and “Best Voice Actor”). Dark Souls has reignited my appreciation of high fantasy that was sapped away by cliched pages years ago. Books and games deliver what the other lacks and carry a purpose the other simply cannot handle in the mere nature of their presentation.
Thus, you must imagine the thrill when these two worlds blend – to hear fiction from the man who bridges these separate continents, wrote for Blizzard, EA, and beyond, and crafted the world of Overwatch. Even better, he explains his own experiences with psychology and morphs them into the main character.
This is one of the more well-received readings I’ve attended. However, the room was packed with animators and computer designers in graphic tees and casual overtones (I, along with one other person of the 20 or so attendees, was the only audience member not currently enrolled in a technological field). He read with confidence before he discussed his artistic overlap of literature and games. World-building was a topic of focus, how essential it is in game and fiction writing. He’s even carried over Easter eggs into writing (which elicited a couple chuckles). When asked which story was his favorite, he expressed his love of writing about the World of Warcraft dwarves. In his mind, they lacked a true saga, so he decided to tackle this and give these characters what they deserve. Though I am not familiar with this series, others nodded their heads in agreement. The major characters, such as Arthas, may have truly noble stories in place, but he definitely had a soft spot for the hidden heroes. Another interesting point he posited is how the vision in video games is, essentially, controlled by the player – he recounted stories told to him by fans that neither he nor the other developers ever thought would come from the scenes they so meticulously crafted. This rings deeply of Dark Souls for me, where the wonderful lore is woven in places as subtle as flavor text or item descriptions, or the placement of items in the world. You could absolutely play it mindlessly and never even once think of the story – this happened for my initial playthrough of Bloodborne. The first run was a vacuous display of aggression, while the ending to my next profile left me gasping. Overall, I’m excited to see how a gamer weaves his words and plays these niche details on the page.
While signing, he was extremely amicable, listening to the dreams of the aspiring developers and designers play out before him. I only wished I could be a true cog of this industry. Waiting in line, watching the data scientists and artists animate their hopes before him, a waterfall of doubt consumed me when I’ve always been so sure of my career path. I introduced myself as a misplaced neuroscientist who hopes to find their place in this world of programming and imagination. He assured me, there is no one way into video games anymore. He encouraged, it is the passion that determines this more than anything. I believed this after his displays of love for his own children of creativity, and I too believe I can pursue all of my occupational kin equally. Lastly, we were all drunk off the excitement of his announcement – that he may be eyeing the Midwest, particularly Iowa City, as the home of his next business endeavor. Here, we chimed, he will find an enthusiastic pool of gamers from all facets of life.
If you are ever in Iowa City, I beg you to pick up a drink over at Pullman’s – sipping on my own rendition of their powerful Bee’s Knees sweet gin cocktail, I’ve read the first few chapters of this book. The writing is as captivating and smooth as the character’s tactful reading of patterns. It bears just enough reality in a world of advanced technology and old fantasy to relate with the outcasts. For weeks, it topped Amazon’s techno-fantasy search, garnering a 4.5 rating on Goodreads. I do not know what carries more worth: the experience of this gathering, the book itself, or the inscription that pushes me more towards a different path every day – “Jenna ~ The world of games awaits you!”
As of yet, I am still homeless in terms of laboratories and a bit astray in science and writing alike. Perhaps I can entertain you, instead, with pictures of my new son, Larry F. Kelly. I’ve now had him for approximately two months. He is estimated at three years and is thought to be a westie mix. Unfortunately, he had a background of turmoil, so he’s very slow to warm people (or anything with a pulse) – but you can earn his trust with enough string cheese and time!
I’ve seen the classic pet debate in grad school…I’d say, go for it, if your schedule allows. It’s a lot harder to hate yourself after a string of failures when there’s always something endlessly excited at your mere existence. 🙂 He’s replaced the mental altar of self-doubt.
Anyway, as usual, I’m hoping to return soon. My current media has been video games, so let’s hope literature returns soon!
Come, I’ll clean my teeth with you
and stain the furniture with echoing pulse.
I didn’t want to diagnose us
a waterfall of butter and melted wires
waves of licorice pulsing off the cliffs
arching your shoulders to carry the moon
a platter of metal and earth
but here we are
and I’ve crafted a bar cart of your limbs.