portion of the artwork for James Ardis's poem

(I walked with earbuds on)
James Ardis

“Hold me if I’m dying and vice-versa, OK?”


I walked with earbuds on
my first three years here
but now I’m involved in the community,
I make cufflinks out of 20 gauge shotgun shells
in the backroom of the Abel Sisters’ boutique.
I patron traveling salesmen selling exotic taquitos
and they never cut me off.
I accelerate the game clock
to live entirely off of Christmas presents.


I am not allergic to anything that lives
in Arkansasís row crops, and hardwood forests.
I disregarded sharp chipped
tooths and cavities. My birthday
is on my wristband, stop asking.


When I played Medal of Honor: Frontline, the dead bodies
of my allies always disappeared.
The Playstation 2 is weak, I was storming Normandy.
Priorities had to be made
and the bodies were just going to be bodies.


I would rather be at the cafe near Intensive Care,
everyone is young-ish like me:
the on-call surgeons,
the mothers of the teenagers
who chugged bottles of hydrogen peroxide.
We duck our heads behind our laptops
and pretend we can pick up the Wi-Fi.


What should a non-player character do with himself,
how should he walk by the player,
talk to the player, after he’s shuffled off
his last useful piece of dialogue?

I miss everyone I love,
sure, but how can I make
someone stick around town
after they’ve beaten its boss battle?


No, I have not been in a different country
in the past six months.
In Seoul, in Dubai, in Munich
the kids are buying shots
until their credit cards cut them off,
they’re going to internet cafes
to hack into my game
to see their characters’ tits.

I never asked to travel, all I ever asked for
was a view of Helena that I chose
and roommates who attracted interesting junk mail.


How many bodies did you watch
disappear tonight?
How long did you have to wait?


Trust me, I took you here for a reason.
This is the best gun store in town.
He’ll sell us guns all day
until we unload a round in his chest.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 47 | Spring 2016