Poe, Dickinson, Neruda, Plath, Yeats, and … “Frogger,” by me

The Internet is a strange place.

I semi-routinely search for myself and But Our Princess to see if anyone’s talking about it.  But recently, I noticed a sudden spike of people searching for a particular poem:  “Frogger.”  So I Googled that myself, and found myself in surprisingly good company right here.  (I’m presuming Yeats got tired of people mispronouncing his last name so instead switched it to something much more common.)

As best as I can tell, this is an academic-decathalon-esque competition, which means a bunch of high school students will be analyzing my poem competitively.  (A delicious thought.)  I’m tempted to post some red herring analysis about the poem here, such as how it rebalances our concepts of masculinity in a twenty-first-century America driven largely by capitalist blah blah blah, but really I feel much more certain about two aspects of the poem:

1.)  It is about imagining a journey that was not actually taken.  (This is evident from the opening sentence:  “… I imagine the journey we didn’t take.”)

2.)  This poem was inspired by the video game Frogger(This is evident from the title.)

On the list, the links to the other poems are from the Poetry Foundation, Writer’s Almanac, Bartleby, etc.  And mine … is from a blog.  (And I was grateful to Jeffery Berg for posting it here.  Perhaps he’s wondering about what I presume is a spike in traffic to that post.)

For better or worse, when you put work on the Internet, you never know where it’s going to wind up.  I’m also posting the poem below.  Partially because clicks on my blog help validate my existence as a person, partially for all of you desperate high-schoolers eager to analyze my deconstruction of the classist politics inherent in the Eisenhower interstate system and U.S.-Canada relations so warm you’d think they were bathwater.

Remember:  It’s all in the wrist, kids, it’s all in the wrist.

* * *


Sometimes, in the closet of 3 a.m., I imagine the journey we didn’t take. The go-kart track in Fargo where we slammed around corners as easily as swinging a stopwatch on its lanyard. The clouds slinking like submarines through the ocean of an Oklahoma sky. Otters in the Snake River. The girl in the sporting goods store in Cranbrook, British Columbia—purple dress, pink hair, a skull-and-crossbones tattoo on her ankle—standing between us and the fishing poles, saying, “It’s all in the wrist, boys, it’s all in the wrist.”

Then I get out of bed, stand on the deck, look at the stars. The bullfrogs glunk their love songs to the moon. The grass blades gather beads for their morning tiaras of dew. Even the highway is done with driving for now.

I go back to bed, try dipping my toes in the river of sleep. I can almost picture the sunset over the Platte River we didn’t see, ripe as a nectarine, or hear water churning like an engine in a ravine below while I straddle a fallen log.

Some things are too dangerous to cross.


6 comments on “Poe, Dickinson, Neruda, Plath, Yeats, and … “Frogger,” by me

  1. CEE says:

    Well. I was worried. I’m no longer worried. We’re speaking of the same Pac-fruit, but you’re talking Red Delicious Apples, and I’m talking McIntosh.
    I guess two-bit graphics, are all about the beholder. Which, is why I roll my eyes at reviews and ‘zines who roll their eyes at “the vertical pronoun”. Then, I roll my “I”‘s. It’s all any poet does, anyway. Yelling down an elevator shaft, trolling for Otherness.

    Love the chap title, though. Better than mine. Then again, we’re polar opposites. Which, is fine. I was born the same, which means Today, Now, I’m different. This happens, because Santana wasted his ink. No one has any memory in the first place.

    Shameless Plug. Here’s mine–print coming, in a week or so:


    I wish you well. Even success. I’m afraid I can’t go so far as to be Voltaire about it, though. Rejection is always, Always fear-based, Beej. At the end of the cliche, it’s a tweak on Arthur Miller, and one must finally take Eisenhower into one’s own arms, and kiss him.

    …but, yeah, love the chap title. It’s certainly better than mine.

  2. Craig S. says:

    It wouldn’t just be high schoolers reading your poem and being familiar with it. There’s a category of the World Scholar Cup that is ages 10-14 so it could be middle schoolers as well. I’m assigning it this week to my teams competing here in Houston, Texas and I’ll let them see this blog entry as well. I have no idea what kind of questions students might be asked about the poem, but hopefully this blog will help learn a little more about you in case that helps in May when my students take their competition test. Students from more than three dozen nations around the world should be involved in the competition, by the way, with really not too many of those being in the United States.

  3. Grace says:

    Thank you so much.
    As you probably guess, I’m one of those would-be contestant in the WSC.
    Your input may be crucial for our win 🙂

  4. Phoebe says:

    Hailing from Indonesia~ Thank you for the help sir, it is very much appreciated.
    I’d also like to express my thanks to you for creating poems based on well-loved games with their many, many copygames. You’ve made the learning so much more interesting.

  5. yutingcham says:

    Also a competitor in this competition– thank you so much! I’m glad that it introduced me to your work and am thankful that you wrote a post about it.

  6. CL says:

    Thank you so much for this post! It really helped us understand the main ideas of this poem!! And we love the memorable last line “Some things are too dangerous to cross”. -Scholar’s Cup team from Hong Kong

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