Poetry

The Dead, Redux, or, How I Ranted About the U.S. and Accidentally Repeated Joyce

I just read a Reddit comment
claiming that America gets the Halloween season right,
and my first thought was
“That’s ’cause we’re one giant ghost country,”
then I thought about how we’re haunted by
so many sins,
and this person went on to say
(I’m paraphrasing here)
that wearing a costume is liberating,
so I thought about
how we cover our problems,
and we hide our roots,
and we ignore all the violence
inside every suit,
and now I’m thinking
that calling us a ghost country
is accurate
and wrong at the same time,
’cause many ghosts haunt us,
but the people we’ve wronged
are still living here,
they’re struggling here,
and though I did not commit many of America’s sins
personally,
I benefit from the repercussions of systemic wrongdoing,
I receive a relatively cushy life
thanks to inherent
violence
vice
repression
racism
sexism
ableism
God, I wish I could be more
poetic about this,
but I can only state it plainly,
that America’s problem, mainly,
is that it’s tearing itself to pieces all the time,
and the people who could do things better
never get positive attention, or power,
and half the country glowers
at any suggestion that we could improve ourselves,
so we’re fascinated by ghosts
and we’re inundated by monsters
because they show us a truth that we’d rather deny,
and the masks let us hide
in the stories we tell,
we convince ourselves that we’re not stuck in this hell,
a gigantic grave,
and a cell,
a shell of the beautiful land it once was,
before all the settlers,
before all the colonies,
now just a siphon that’s sucking the money
from every poor worker
and every minority
and, well, most everyone, actually,
the people at the top
are sipping grape gravy
and chuckling at somebody’s racist tweet.
They know they’ve shackled our feet,
and we can’t get anywhere
unless we agree to work for them,
then they drag us,
slowly,
while syringes and hoses
take every ounce of blood,
every dollar,
from us,
and I don’t know where this is going,
I just know
I’m real sad
that all we have is hospitality, and spooky shit,
Joyce said it all a century ago,
about Ireland,
and it applies to us now,
we’re a frail fucking cow
who’ll bend over backwards
to give up our milk.

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rambling

Drangleic, Redux

With Elden Ring closer to release than ever before, my hype is through the damn roof. Probably through the stratosphere. I checked YouTube every day during the closed network test, and watched hours of footage with and without commentary, and I remembered why I love the Soulsbornekiro (lol, the term just gets bigger) community. People were getting genuinely excited about everything, on camera and/or microphone, and it was beautiful to behold. Memes and serious discussions have swirled from the Elden Ring void for months and months now. We’ve finally experienced some of the game with our own hands (for the lucky testers) and eyes (for the audience members like myself). Some folks believe that too much anticipation is anathema to eventual enjoyment, but I believe they’re wrong: after seeing new details of Elden Ring, I’m even more excited than I was before.

Jesus lord, there are still three months to go before release! I’m so excited and I want to feel the beauty of something, hell, anything FromSoft has made. Anything, I said? Strap your Faraam boots on and heft your blades, folks, ’cause I was so desperate for FromSoft content and so nostalgic for older days that I *gulp* downloaded Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin on Steam.

“Chris,” those of you who don’t play video games are saying, “what does that even mean?” Stay a while and I’ll tell you. Or don’t – I force no one to read and/or listen to my words. In the Souls community, there are a few generally accepted notions. One of these is this: Dark Souls II is the stepchild of the Souls family. Demon’s Souls released on the PS3 years ago and became a cult classic, then Dark Souls followed and garnered more mainstream popularity. Folks were playing and talking about that game, at least, until Skyrim released about a month later and distracted everyone for … way too long. Still, the reality is that Dark Souls followed the road that Demon’s Souls had paved, and that road would eventually lead FromSoft to acclaim, recognition, sales, and, sweet Jesus, rabid fanpersonhood (it’s a new term I just made up). However, a good foundation doesn’t guarantee smooth construction. Indeed, things can get weird during the building phase. FromSoft has built a fantastic repertoire, and a wonderful fanbase, but Dark Souls II tested all of us. I said in this very same paragraph that I’d tell you why. I suppose I should stop stalling and actually tell you why Dark Souls II is an invitation to debate.

The first Dark Souls is a masterpiece of game design: it features a seamless, interconnected world, challenging enemy AI, deep NPC questlines that span the entirety of the game, hilarious and fun (and possibly frustrating) multiplayer options, an engaging leveling system, more weapons and armor than you can shake a stick at … it’s fucking beautiful. Then, Dark Souls II released. And it offered more of the same. Not necessarily a bad thing, right? Well, it’s hard to describe, but … Dark Souls II always felt slapdash. Incomplete. Like something is missing. Many fans explain Dark Souls II away by saying it tried to recreate the magic of the first game without understanding why the first game was so magical. For years now, I’ve been one of these fans, saying that “Dark Souls II is a good game, it’s just not a good Souls game.”

I’ve had two friends tell me that Dark Souls II is underrated. That I judge it too harshly. Admittedly, I completed Dark Souls II back in the day. I was pulled in by its mysteries, because I love learning cool new things and experiencing interesting worlds. Despite flaws in some of its mechanics and design, Dark Souls II is compelling, and challenging.

So I’ve had my hardline stance shifted by my friends, and here’s the kicker: I never played the “definitive” version of Dark Souls II. What does this even mean? Well, in the age of DLC and game expansions, it means that Dark Souls II inevitably had new content added to it. And well, I never actually played that new content. Both of the people who told me that Dark Souls II is underrated specifically mentioned that “You have to play it with all the DLC.” And I had never done that. And I sit here, saying things like “Dark Souls II is meh” and “I prefer I and III.”

Earlier, I called the game “Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin.” That is because this is the name of the game with all its expansions. As is the case with many older games, one may now buy a “definitive” or “complete” edition with all the DLC stuff added in from the start. So, in my excitement and eagerness to experience something FromSoft made, and to tide myself over until Elden Ring comes out, I bought Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin.

I’m not too far into the game yet, but I’m having a ton of flashbacks. I’m remembering parts that pissed me off, but I’m also re-experiencing the parts that pulled me in. The slow unfolding of a mysterious origami creation – or maybe it’s more like the slow folding of a mysterious origami creation, as one doesn’t get the full idea until it’s all experienced and done. I’ve moved through the game a little differently this time around. Instead of opting for the “I’m new here, let me go through things in some kind of intended order” strategy, I’ve thrown myself willy-nilly at mid-game stuff because I want to use a specific weapon. So I rushed to that weapon, and now I’ve got it, and I’ll be a bit more relaxed from here on out. I haven’t seen any of the new content yet, and that’s fine – I’ll discover it naturally, I hope.

Some stuff is still frustrating: the combat feels so fucking janky, and hitboxes are strange. The NPCs and world are fantastic, until they’re not; draw distances and relative scope are not realized in any realistic sense, and as they say, the devil’s in the details. Upon close scrutiny, much of the world falls apart, and it’s non-sensical. But this is sort of the main thrust of Souls lore. Time is convoluted, and things are not necessarily in any order. If I embrace this mindset, the game is much more bearable.

Some of my favorite armor sets are in this game, and my favorite weapon type, twinblades, was introduced in Dark Souls II. Some of my least favorite bosses are in this game. Shit, most of my least favorite bosses are in this game, but that just means I’ll enjoy beating the shit out of them. This is also my first PC FromSoft experience, and it’s sort of preparing me for Elden Ring: I pre-purchased Elden Ring on Steam, and I’m hoping that years of PC development will pay off in a relatively bug-free launch come late February.

I could probably talk about Dark Souls II for days, and wax philosophical about its place in FromSoft’s game design timeline, and its place in the community … shit, I haven’t even touched on the fact that FromSoft’s “B team” made the game. But like, I honestly don’t think that’s important right now. What’s important is that Dark Souls II was a step on the road that eventually led here, to the Elden Ring hype train (carriage?), and I ride this vehicle willingly. I’m so excited for Elden Ring, and weirdly, I’m excited to experience Dark Souls II again, in its complete form. Happy days to you, folks, and make sure to do something you love today.

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rambling

Of Salt and Artifice

There comes a time in every person’s life when they question their dietary choices and habits. I must admit, I’ve come to that time in my life at least a few times. Around four years ago, I had just been released from a relationship with someone who was attempting to go vegan (that’s my nice way of saying she broke up with me), and I was a few months into a new job as a cashier in a middle-of-the-road Trader Joe’s wannabe grocery store. This meant that I had a decent discount on groceries (yay, they probably cost, well, closer to what they should have cost without bullshit markups … but that’s a complaint for a different piece). Anywho, since I was dating someone who wanted to be vegan, and I care about animals in my own way, I also tried to be vegan. Even after that relationship ended, I tried to be plant-based. I did a pretty decent job of it too, until I lost my job at that grocery store.

That time had the potential to be immensely transformative. I don’t often make radical changes to my habits, and in a way, I’m not sure it’s necessary for people to push themselves so hard all the time. The best thing about attempted radical changes, on a personal level, is that even if they don’t pan out, they usually allow space for a person to make smaller changes to their habits. And as some argue, consistent small changes are easier to stick with. So I kept the desire to be vegan in the back of my mind, and fell back a little. When I was a kid and a teenager and oh fuck it, pretty much my whole life I’ve been a huge devotee of fast food, frozen delights, and pre-packaged salt-sprayed junk extravaganzas. And sugar. So much sugar. Have I ever mentioned that I’m a type 1 diabetic? Yeah, my longtime love affair with fast food and sugary snacks is not healthy for me. Hence, my reflecting on my eating habits.

Moving into my brother’s newly acquired house has not given me a lot of space to fix my habits, but that’s only because I don’t take the time to shift my behaviors. My brother, Alex, has actually been trying very hard to cook his own meals every day, and it’s really good to see him paying so much attention to his health. Meanwhile, our roommate Dalton is a longtime friend of Alex’s, and a medium-time friend of mine, and he eats more like I do: hella fast food, salted snacks, and frozen meals. We also tend to be at home more often than not, and because of this, he and I go shopping together. So I default to the Dalton method, and I buy a lot of snacks, and frozen stuff, and only a smattering of fresh ingredients. This makes me sad, but I also take full responsibility for my ultimate lack of regard for my health. I fall into other people’s influence too easily, and I want shopping to be easy for me and for Dalton. So I get the crap I grew up with.

Yet I still dream of healthier living. About a month ago, while I was shopping by myself for a handful of things, I thought “Maybe I should learn how to cook tofu.” So I went to the aisle that houses the tofu, and I looked for a small pack of the stuff. They were out of the unflavored tofu, which I wanted so I could learn how to flavor it myself, so I grabbed a pack of Moroccan-spiced tofu … or something like that. Supposedly, it’s seasoned with spices one would find in Morocco? I’m not actually sure, and it might be a marketing thing. The important thing is, I got pre-seasoned tofu, put it in the deli drawer at home, and just let it sit there. Until today.

Before I talk about today though, I should address the last several weeks. Dalton and I were shopping a few weeks ago and we wandered into an aisle that displayed all kinds of noodles. As in, cups of soup, and pre-packaged ramen. We went for some cups of soup, were not too pleased with the later results, and resolved to buy a bunch of ramen the next time it was available. Well, about two weeks ago, we found a bunch of chicken flavored ramen. And we bought a box of it. So we started making ramen for ourselves, like the relatively poor American dudes we are. I went with just ramen and flavoring the first time, and Dalton mentioned how he cracked an egg into his to give it more flavor and body. I said, oh yeah, that sounds fucking great. So the next time I made ramen, I cracked two eggs into that shit, and used way less water so my broth would be packed with good flavors.

So a few weeks of ramen go by, and I’m feeling pretty good. Today, I go downstairs to make something to eat, and I think “I don’t have any bread right now, so maybe I’ll just wrap cheese in ham and have a little snack.” Then I look past the lunch meat and cheese and I see it: the tofu I bought a little more than a month ago. I think to myself “Tofu is pretty good in ramen.” So I set out two eggs, a package of ramen, a bowl with a fork, a pot, a wooden spoon, a small pan, and the tofu. I put water in the pot, and start heating it. I also start heating the pan as I cut open the package of tofu, then I slice the tofu into cubes. I drop all the tofu in the pan, and when the water boils, I drop the ramen noodles into the pot. I have the noodles going on the left, and the tofu going on the right. After two minutes, I crack the eggs into the ramen, and I push the tofu around with my wooden spoon. Another minutes goes by, and I put my ramen and egg concoction into the bowl. I throw the chicken flavoring all over it, and I stir it well. Then I toss all the tofu into the bowl.

Voila, as one would say in French. I made ramen with eggs and Moroccan tofu … I think. It tasted damn good, and I’m now wondering how I can flavor tofu on my own so I don’t need to bother with the pre-flavored stuff. I think tofu with noodles and eggs is actually pretty fuckin’ tasty, and I was happy as I ate my work. It’s not vegan, and it’s not as healthy as it could be, but I’m still glad that I’m making some kind of food for myself. One of these days, I’d love to make my own noodles, and master that art. For now, I’ll put noodles and tofu and other stuff together, for a pretty good meal. Happy days to you, and don’t stay hungry if you can help it!

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Poetry

A Lifetime Supply of Plaque

Y’all wanna talk about dental hygiene,
I finally remember to floss
after a few days
(maybe it was a week)
and blood fills my mouth,
and smears the skin around my lips.
There’s a crusty something
on my tongue,
and it sort of flakes off,
and I spit it out with the blood.
I rinse my mouth;
I smile;
I don’t look so bad after all that.
Time to brush,
and make a promise bound to break:
I’ll do this again tomorrow.

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Poetry

The Stillness of Remembering

Well do it then,
or don’t;
maybe stop and think,
or don’t;
keep it up –
can you?
What makes you think this is even
okay,
what compels you to
keep
going?

It was at that moment I decided to listen
to Fleetwood Mac again,
to sink into songs that most people know,
to blast Rhiannon into my ears
then sing a soft rendition of Dreams,
in my room,
and imagine heading to a karaoke bar
for the first time in years,
to put some of my soul
into words
and let people hear them,
and when I remember that the pandemic
puts a stop to all that,
I think
maybe this is why people
buy personal karaoke machines,
you can buy those, right?

Some songs are great for everyone,
but they mean something special to me.
I won’t forget
the times that Dreams got me through the night,
and I kept my visions to myself,
and I walked outside
to love the moon.

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rambling

Wandering and Wondering

I’ve been paying extremely close attention to two video games, one of which already exists for players, and another which is nearing completion and is available (in a limited capacity) to a select number of people. I wondered (ha, title reference?) if I should cram both of these games into a rambling write-up, because my mind has been preoccupied with both of them, and I quickly decided that I’d do my best to cover both of them, and my feelings toward them. So here I go: bear with me, friends, as I try to shove my thoughts into lines and paragraphs that make some semblance of sense.

Wondering About Series Progression

The first game, which released almost two years ago at the very beginning of the pandemic, is a wonderful life sim called Animal Crossing: New Horizons. You may have heard of it. If you’re someone who doesn’t play video games at all, then I respect you and I welcome you to this space, and I will inform you that this post is gonna talk about two video games at length. And you’re some of the only people who have maybe not heard of Animal Crossing. But I doubt it – the internet puts its grubby claws on everything these days! Anywho, uh, I keep stalling ’cause I’m not entirely sure how to fuse two subjects into an “essay” anymore. I may have lost my touch. Eh, I’m not too worried. I’ll plod on and do my best – here we go! (How many times will he say “Here we go,” you may wonder … at least a few times!)

Animal Crossing is a life simulator that blew everyone’s minds back in the early aughts due to its clever use of the Nintendo GameCube’s internal clock: the game kept track of time, in real time! If your console’s clock was aligned with your real-world time, and it was 2:00 PM in your time zone, it was 2:00 PM in the game as well – holy shit! You may scoff now, but back then, this concept was fucking revolutionary. “Sweet Jesus, man, you call it a life simulator – are you born into the game world only to die eventually, just like real life?” No, hypothetical reader/TED Talk audience member. You are instead thrust into a simulated world of debt, responsibility, and the choice to save up your hard-earned money to get a bigger house, or use your Bells (in-game currency) to buy, like, whatever. But if you buy more stuff, you need a bigger house to properly display it and store it. And your friends can live in your town, which was saved locally to your memory card, or they could play separately in their own towns. Which you could visit by train, if your friends inserted their memory card into your GameCube (that’s somehow the sexiest non-sexual video game thing I’ve ever said .. woohoo?!).

I’m getting ahead of myself by diving way too deep into the first Animal Crossing’s gameplay, and I haven’t even scratched the surface. Fuck. In essence, the game starts with you on a train, leaving your home behind and embarking on your own; in a way, it is like a birth into a whole new world. You have no money, but you somehow agreed to buy a house anyway. You can catch bugs and fish to sell for money, or to donate to a museum, and oh gosh the feeling of being the first of your friends with a full museum is fucking phenomenal … I’m doing it again. I’m getting carried away.

Animal Crossing is, and always has been, a game about doing whatever the hell you want, within the game’s parameters. You can work your ass off to pay off your home loans and expand your house, or you can live a modest life and use your money for other stuff. You can spend all day fishing in the rivers, or the ocean. The second game added a cafe to the museum, which you could visit to purchase coffee. This is one of the greatest innovations in any video game series ever. Don’t fight me on this, the update to the current game speaks for itself … okay, I’m doing it again.

The third game, which is the one with which I have the least experience (even Animal Crossing burnout is real), introduced a whole separate shopping plaza, which you could fund and populate with the various shopkeepers and peddlers who wandered around at random in the first two games. This meant that there was less hoping and crossing of fingers – if you want to see a particular vendor, you need only travel to the shopping plaza.

The fourth game, which moved ahead to the 3DS, saw you take over as the mayor of your own little town. In previous games, an aging tortoise (turtle? I am not well versed in zoology) named Tortimer presided over each town/city in which you lived. He showed up for important events and holidays to give you cool knick-knacks. Well, in New Leaf, Tortimer was moved to an optional island for mini games and fun, and you took over the running of the town. This meant that you could decide which “Public Works Projects” would decorate the exterior spaces of your town. This was huge – previously, you couldn’t place stuff outside your house. You couldn’t place anything on the ground, but there were still cool things you could add to your very own town. It was fun, and addictive.

Now we finally arrive at the fifth and current Animal Crossing game, a gem called New Horizons. It involves permanently living on your very own island. You’re not the mayor, but you may choose to be the “Resident Representative” of your island. This means you make all the final decisions about where new residents will live, and where to place shops and new developments, and bridges and inclines and holy moly there’s so much. The game also added DIY “recipes,” which are essentially crafting options. All that furniture from the old games? Sadly, it’s not all here in New Horizons. I believe, to save themselves the trouble of thinking of recipes for all the old furniture, they simply chose to scale back the sheer number of decorative items. We all noticed this scaling back, and it bothered many of us. Do I still enjoy the game? Hell yeah – finding new crafting recipes adds a whole new element to the game, and it’s super rewarding to save up resources and build new things every day.

Another missing element, however, was the cafe. The blessed, blessed cafe. This upset most of us, and rightly so. The game also released without a dedicated shopping space, so we all had to wait patiently for certain vendors to grace our islands with their presence. It was random, and it was awful. What if I was working so often that I couldn’t play every day? This is definitely reality for many people, and the concept of checking your island every day to see if Crazy Redd is docked is just not friendly game design.

But thank the stars, New Horizons was updated about a week ago. The cafe is back, and better than ever. Harv’s island, which previously only housed a photography mini-game (which I personally don’t find interesting, but eh, to each their own), may now become the permanent home of all those wandering vendors. If they’re not on your island making sales, they’re on Harv’s island, hoping you’ll swing by and look at their wares. Even Tortimer is back, just to make us old-timers happy!

There are also a whole bunch of new items, and crafting recipes, and you can cook food now! Isabelle, your assistant from New Leaf, has also been improved: instead of prattling off inane bullshit about her tv binges, she informs you of which vendor or traveling person is currently wandering around your island. There are so many improvements. The game feels like it went from a scrawny hollowed out version of Animal Crossing to a fully fleshed out, strong Animal Crossing. Not that I hated it before: I played it, enjoyed it for about two months, and promptly put it down for a long time. This update really fills in that hollow space. But speaking of hollows …

Wandering a New, Deadly World

The second game is the latest game in FromSoftware’s Soulsborne … family? Series? Anywho, Demon’s Souls is arguably the first in this style, and it was followed by Dark Souls, and Dark Souls 2, and Bloodborne, and Dark Souls 3, and Sekiro … we’re actually not sure what to call this whole collection, but so far, Soulsborne has worked pretty well. As you may know if you play video games, these games are pretty tough. When I first played Dark Souls, I likened its difficulty to the old NES days of pattern memorization and tell recognition: if you fought the same enemy enough, you’d know their tells and their patterns, and you could respond accordingly to win eventually.

This style holds up remarkably well, and the “Nintendo hard” glory of Soulsborne games has pulled in many a gamer, myself included. I fucking love Bloodborne more than the other games, and I think I may count it as the best game I’ve played in my life thus far, but uh … the newest game looks to be even better than Bloodborne. Which, I think, is what we all want from a software developer/video game creator, right?

Oh my stars, I haven’t even mentioned what this game is called. Soulsborne vets already know what I’m about to say: the game is called Elden Ring, and it looks. Fucking. Amazing. A bit of context may be in order here.

A few years ago, Hidetaka Miyazaki, the director of most Soulsborne games, revealed that he was working on a new game. George R.R. Martin was namedropped, and it was revealed that he was collaborating with FromSoftware on this new title. Nerd radars went off all over: the acclaimed writer of A Song of Ice and Fire (known to many as Game of Thrones) was working with our glorious team at FromSoft? On a new game? What beautiful fantasies were they putting together? My god, how violent would this game be? HOW DEEP WOULD THE LORE BE? AHHHHH, it’s almost too much … I doubt you could even imagine it!

Okay, internet jokes aside, we learned of this awesome collaborative force. Then, like, nothing. We got no news. We heard whispers of the game’s continued development, but only received bits and pieces of information. Like a drip feed, tangled and snarled to the point of no release. Dear God, the game will still release, right?

We fans clamored for news. We made up lore, and gameplay mechanics, and memes, all to bide our time. Then we all received cryptic internet missives: the Summer Game Fest of 2021 may include information regarding Elden Ring. The host, Geoff Keighley, was jokingly stuck in “gamer jail” for neglecting to reveal possible Elden Ring news in the past. This was his big chance to free himself, we all joked. If he could deliver us anything about Elden Ring, he’d be free from gamer jail.

To avoid dragging this out any longer, he did it. He freed himself from gamer prison. Geoff beamed as a brand new Elden Ring trailer started to play.

We all ate it up. We drank all of it in. We fucking consumed that trailer like it was nectar of the gods. Which, in a way, it was: sweet nectar from the developer gods at FromSoftware, who were working to create this fantastic world for us to explore.

“Wait, sir – what’s so different about this world?!” Well, I was gonna mention it earlier, but I sorta forgot to do it. Elden Ring may best be described as Dark Souls meets Breath of the Wild. Go on, hold your applause – I’ll explain what most of us gamers already know and accept.

Dark Souls set the standard for gritty fantasy games with difficult bosses and enemies. For the past ten years, so many developers have taken leaves from the book written by FromSoft when they created Dark Souls. Open world games have been a thing for decades now, but Soulsborne games are somewhere else on the gaming spectrum: their worlds are sometimes interconnected, with levels and areas meeting back up with other areas, but more often than not, there’s a linear progression to them. Until now, with Elden Ring.

You see, Elden Ring features six areas and bosses that we all assume are required to be defeated in order to beat the game. However, instead of systematically working one’s way through a linear progression of areas that culminate with a final boss, we have … a whole open world to explore, and bosses to defeat as we see fit, in whatever order we choose. Or so it seems thus far. We may go through the game’s big, beautiful world in the ways we see fit, with the gear and abilities we prefer, in the order we choose. If there’s an easier way to progress things, most of us may opt for that route … but it looks like we may be able to run to even harder areas and enemies, if we think we can take them.

Dark Souls sort of offered options like this, but there were definite gameplay barriers for certain points. A linear progression. Breath of the Wild, on the other hand, allows gamers to rush to the very end of the game, if they want. Gamers may play the game and explore at their leisure, and approach enemies and challenges with their preferred methods – it rewrote a lot of the “open world” formula to allow for many answers to the game’s questions.

And it looks like Elden Ring is embracing Breath of the Wild’s fresh take on exploration – do it at your own pace, and focus on the things you enjoy. But when you decide to engage in combat, it’s got all the cool options FromSoft has explored in their journey here: the grueling difficulty of Dark Souls, the fine-tuned stealth of Sekiro, the pacing of Bloodborne, but THERE’S ALSO MOUNTED COMBAT, which is totally new.

There are so many options, and they’ve all been refined over the years that FromSoft has spent making games we love. Their old games are linear, and still really good. But Elden Ring, well, it’s open world. It’s letting us all decide how the hell we approach its challenges, and we like that.

I’m speaking for FromSoft fans here, and maybe that’s unfair. I should just say what I enjoy. I’m looking forward to Elden Ring so much that I already paid for it on Steam. The day it releases will see me sitting down with a bunch of snacks, and sandwiches, or fish, or something, maybe with a bunch of soda and some beers. I’ll sink into this whole new world, and I’ll get lost, and I’ll wander to all these beautiful places. And I’ll love every second and every pixel of it.

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Poetry

Fishes and the Crab, or, A Song for Saxony

She walks in beauty, like, oh fuck,
I’ve just quoted Byron,
and he was not a nice man,
a damn good writer but not
nice,
mistreating women all over,
and now
he’s overtaking this poem,
and I didn’t want that to happen,
but for real, she

She makes me want to treat everyone better.
To wrap us all in gentle warmth, like a sweater.

I want to slither into her heart and
let my love course through her body,
not like a poison,
but a panacea,
she makes me wish I was
a miracle snake,
with fangs dripping honey
and nectar and
sweet words
to heal her, and everyone,
I want to shed my skin in her presence
and watch it keep unfolding
until it covers everybody, every body,
every pulsing throbbing beauty of a person on this planet,
I want to enmesh humanity
and caress them with my disguise,
until I’m naked and I feel with my eyes,
I drink in all the people
and I smile a little
and the world is okay,
at least for a night,
my bite

My bite is addictive, narcotic, erotic,
my erratic fears and worries
leave with my skin,
and my teeth
are now the only blankets I need,
I wrap her in them,
I touch her entirety
with nibbles,
I shed bitterness and hold sweetness,
to pass it through her skin
with the dental work of yesteryear,
my bite was corrected long ago
and now I’m erected for her, so
I think of what my teeth can do,
and run it through
my mind toward
a snake that’s undulating from my pelvis,
and I feel this,
I feel every shake and tremor of desire
like a fire,
I am a kernel of corn
and she is popping me into being.

I want to pop, and not stop,
I want to become bubble wrapped infinitude,
so she can touch me
again and again,
and I gasp every time,
and when it’s over
we reach for each other
and I remember
there is more

There is more than this room,
there’s a world out there
waiting for my arms,
and I arm myself with words and hugs,
because I remember that I care,
she reminds me that I care
about the planet
and the people on it.
There’s probably a sonnet or two
that describes my feelings better than I have,
but I’m doing my best
to transfer heat from my chest
to this page
for this age,
my brand new age
of flowing emotion,
and this motion,
I never want it to stop,
it’s outward and inward all at once
and I’m sending thoughts like letters
to her mailbox,
and I want to send other things
that I find within myself,
she spots my feelings on my shelf
and she asks

Where did this come from?

and I don’t
mind
answering.

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