“Commander Keen” and “Kid Icarus”

A few people have asked about the poems I read in the book trailer for But Our Princess Is in Another Castle. (You can watch here if you yet haven’t, whilst learning more about the book!  It’s beautiful.)  They’re sections of two poems spliced together from video games that aspire heavenward:  Kid Icarus and Commander Keen.  You can find “Kid Icarus” online at the likewise beautiful Cavalier Literary Couture. “Commander Keen” riffs on the extraterrestrial dreams I imagine a lot of kids have growing up.  It was originally published in Pear Noir!, and is one of my favorites in the book.

* * *

Commander Keen

We were raised in the decade of crashed spaceships.  We’d see them from the school bus:  one would be large as a car wreck, coughing purple smoke.  Another was small as a crushed can, glinting in the gravel.

Science class was only good for answers.  We learned space is a vacuum, blank as a bubble.  We guessed licking a nine-volt battery was like tasting champagne.  A hawk ate a snake ate a mouse ate some grain.  Mars stared at us from page 63, red as a kickball.

It was fall.  We were building a fort in the woods, laying out branches like an electrical diagram drawn in crayon.  All those leaves.  We kept twin imaginary robots that looked like ordinary flashlights.  One was named Terror.  The other was Fear.  The weatherman made frost sound like a mystery, but we learned it was just the natural progression of things—water getting older, harder, more bitter.  We had a backpack filled with fruit snacks, beef jerky, and our mothers’ cameras.

We would be ready.  We would be ready for when they came.

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