Photograph by June Intharoek

All relationships can be linked to Super Mario
(who is you — implicitly an immigrant,
only ever seen as a stereotype
to those of the “kingdom,”
and all your friends are toads
and your clothes are never in style but styled old)

Basically it’s what you scrap by with eating,
On a diet of veggies to look good,
While you kill yourself (sans extra lives)

To save the princess, which —
is really like smashing your head
against a brick wall… literally,
and expecting some reward.

During the process of romantic pursuit you grow up,
and are made to feel so small,
try on different looks,
become a tanuki,
that shapeshifter who can be anything else possibly,
to fool people because
we’re all fools in love.
(don’t forget how that raccoon plays his testicles in repeated rhythms…)

So you,
a blue-collar man,
with a body that maps the march of time,
has the stamp of capitalism
just moves forward.

But you try,
you haven’t lost yet,
but it’s getting there
you sludge through shit
one pipe after another
through the sewers of life

To find the girl of your dreams
(and you’re not even entirely sure why)
who is with some other man
a real lizard, or something.

(P.S. Physical confrontation with masculinity that’s only toxic when it’s not for the benefit of another).

Your journey will always take you into
another world,
but for aught because
always, your princess is always in another castle.

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Michael T. Smith
Michael T. Smith is an Assistant Professor of English who teaches both writing and film courses. He has published over 100 pieces (poetry and prose) in over 50 different journals. He loves to travel.