I used to live in Portland, Oregon, and I played a lot of video games. There was a chain of video game parlors called Wunderland, where you paid a cover of (at the time) a dollar ninety-five and then the game machines took nickels. My favorite branch of Wunderland was on Belmont, in an old movie theater called Avalon. It was awesome, and I wrote a poem about it.

What the pikeman pondered hard
While storming Chateau Galliard
Through death and glory, pounding blood
Through the horror of the rising flood
Of bodies now before his feet
Will I live or Charon meet
Echoes through history on and on
To adrenaline-soaked Avalon.
For what bully would not run
From one who's bested Shang-Ti Sun
In Mortal Kombats One and Two
And through whose laser-cannon's view
Has won some little freedom back,
Be he teenage Nazi, Jew, or black,
Wrested from him, sorely missed,
By another boy with larger fists
For breaking Mother's wedding tray,
Crying, or being in the way?
Escape from home to stay alive
And spend his dollar ninety-five
And feed machine and fantasy
On nickels of impotency
To heal the ache of heart and skin
In the rank, electronic din
With frustration walking hand in hand
To Avalon, his Wunderland

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