Congratulations, Computer!

Congratulations, Computer!
Street Fighter 2 (Ode to Chun-Li)


Long before I could lace sneakers
and bike without training wheels,
I understood how to buy violence

like instinct: feed the arcade
cabinet’s slot a silver Washington;
punch the red button that signals

Start; select Dhalsim, Zangief, Ryu,
usually Blanka the green beast
from Brazil, though never Chun-Li.

The mallrats called her names
I didn’t know, said she’s designed
for girls to play and boys to ogle

or beat. With Blanka’s gnarled claws,
I could K.O. Ken—the fair-skinned
blonde boy who fought by the docks—

but Chun-Li’s Hundred Rending
Kicks hauled my fevered monster
to corner screen like a sandlot bully

who groped the wrong girl. If Chun-Li
was built to beat on, why did she fight
more relentless than her swollen male

counterparts? Didn’t my defeat assume
her name and figure? Baby blue skirt,
brocaded ox horns, sheer panty hose

hugging her most sinister weapon:
sledgehammer legs bashing Blanka’s
brain ‘til golden chicks fog his vision.

Congratulations, computer. Perfect
still flashes after every bout against
Chun-Li. Thank you for teaching me

to treat thighs with reverence, to never
underestimate giggly girls in short skirts.



Congratulations, Computer!
Harvest Moon (Nintendo 64)


It’s easier to land the hottest girl in town when you serve her
some of that special soup in the kitchen of your giant mansion. – Aaron Boulding, IGN

Once per lifetime,
you may trade fish
for the blessing
of the Lake Goddess.
Successfully hook the elusive
blue trout, throw it back.
The Goddess emerges,
green-haired specter
over water, and boosts
your choice bachelorette’s
affection fifty points.

Say Karen’s the reason
you give gold
to the bar. Next time
you’re floating eye
-balls deep in merlot,
her heart will swell
a shade brighter—banter
perfumed in flattery
as she refills your glass.
You fight to keep face
from smashing table.

If she remarks sour, if she’s
not one big-bright-sunshine
emoji, the system’s
haywire. Bachelorettes
with high affection
should never speak ill
of your presence. You’re the hero.
Barring crackpot anomalies,
gifting’s best for winning
a woman’s bubblegum heart.

Most women love two things
tops. Karen loves wine
and fish: ten points each.
With fresh caught
fish writhing in hands,
hoof it to her house
every evening unannounced
for one year.
If she’s not home,
sprint to the bar before close.

Nudge Karen’s noggin with fish
to gift her on the clock.
Her awe and surprise
won’t diminish, no matter
how often you do this.
If she sighs or rolls eyes
after your thousandth fish,
the game’s glitched. Women
never grow sick of gifts,
least of all yours. Assuming

the system works, her heart
will turn pink by summer. See pink
valentine flash when she speaks?
Call the lumber
-jack, order King-Size Bed,
wait one week,
and remember to deliver
fish—by the satchel
if you can. Once the bed’s installed,
scour General Store
for Blue Feather. This is classified

under Tools, like Axe, Hammer,
and Watering Can.
Next time you see Karen,
wield the Feather
to propose, and don’t forget
to give her fish!
If you own the King-Size Bed
and her heart’s pink,
she’s 100% guaranteed
to say yes. If she rejects you,

reset system. Call mother.
Increase fish-gifting
to ten satchels daily.
She’ll only say yes
after receiving enough fish.
If the game functions
properly, you’ll kiss Karen
outside the white-steeple
church on Sunday.
Once you shack, do not slack.
For healthy marriage
and children, bring home

fish: as many and often
as foreseeable. You’re the provider.
This means fishing away
hours in the most sinister weather.
This means packing home
to the gills with fish for famine
or flood. Your domestic
success rests on a fridge
overflowing with fish,
cupboards choking in fish,

fish bleeding out the windows,
oozing from front door
to flowerbed for neighbors
to marvel. Do not tire
‘til wedding bed and baby’s crib
are buried in fish.
The Familial Dream trophy
will remain unattained
‘til you, wife, and child drown
beneath your catch.