Game Enjambment is a reoccurring poetry series on games and gaming.
When I was a young girl
—the part of her past a villainess
inconveniently forgets, unless she remembers
all too well—I imagined
the grocery store aisles jammed
with pixelated enemies and projectiles
like in Paperboy, checkerboard floor winding
a path through the level for this hungry heroine.
Now the graphics are sharper,
incremental improvements, enemies faceless no more.
I push the cart around an endcap
and nearly mow down GLaDOS and the Vortex Queen
side by side, ever the obstacles.
(Cake mix and dolphin-safe tuna
in their baskets. Such lies.)
I gawk from AI to alien,
reputations writhing in my mind…
One too passive-aggressive, the other too lacking any passive.
One verbose, one nonvocal.
consumed with power and consumption,
exploiting hunger, theirs or others’.
Each a maw in her own way,
both gaping, although that may be
their sole expression.
And then they part
to let me through.
Bosses have wronged me before,
but I hold out hope for second chances
—lest I become a villainess, too—
hope for belated lifting of next generations,
or, at the very least, moving out of the way.
I nod my thanks as I pass by.
(And maybe the contents of their baskets
weren’t such lies after all.)
Katherine Quevedo was born and raised just outside of Portland, Oregon, where she lives with her husband and two sons. Her poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Rhysling Award and has appeared in NonBinary Review, Songs of Eretz, Honeyguide Literary Magazine, and elsewhere. Her speculative fiction has appeared in various anthologies and magazines. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys playing old-school video games, watching movies, singing, belly dancing, and making spreadsheets. Find her at www.katherinequevedo.com.