There Is a Forward Motion in Old Video Games
P. Scott Cunningham
after Donald Justice
There is a forward motion in old video games
That keeps a character from going back.
When you move, the camera pans from left
To right but stops when you turn back.
Some wall is following. The music keeps playing.
The same opponent appears over and over
Trudging toward your fists. The surface is a knot
That tightens on one end while it loosens
On the other. The sky is full of ether.
Tubes lead nowhere. The wall persists.
The world is divided into levels, so it stands
To reason, life was worse in the beginning.
As the dead pile up, the evil thins but in force
Increases. The wall was built to keep it
From circling back to the beginning.
The screen is very dusty, kid. Go back to work.
One day the wall will be gone for good.
Good and evil will act exactly the same,
And all that we accomplished from dying and saving
Will be erased as if we’d never been playing.