Original poem reprinted online here: "Ms. and Super Pac-Man" by B.J. Best
Originally read: April 29, 2013
More information about the Poet: B.J. Best
The indents reinforce the narrative. This is the first thing I thought of after rereading this poem again. As I tried to decipher the multitude of poetic techniques in "For Love" for a couple of days, and then going to this poem. Well, I like this better as a flash fiction piece.
I know that I bring a huge bias, but well -- the indents reinforce the narrative. The piece is broken down into paragraphs not stanzas, and flow of the piece connects in sequential order: time and other.
Let's start with "other" first. The poem starts in the beginning, the meeting of "Ms. Pac-Man" and "Mr. Pac-Man." Note the use of "Super Pac-man" in the title because of a multitude of reasons: foreshadowing device, investment in the relationship, to lull the reader into thinking the piece focuses mainly on a humorous allusion.
But isn't it the case in the first stanza -- the description are a bit surreal and funny. They meet at "Overeaters Anonymous." She liked his "muscular mouth." They wanted a baby which is described as "a lemon growing from the size of a dot in her womb." All this description turns back to the video game and appears "cute" -- reference for reference sake.
Yet in the second paragraph the, "Slowly" forcefully indicates a turn. The use of the transition word will tun the initial tone and it does. "He relapsed, guzzling donuts while she was at work," "he longed to lift the hem of another's orange dress." The adoration tone turns into disillusionment, the images transition into a more serious manner -- relapsed, and lift the hem of another's orange dress. Also this is the point where the transition from the caricature turns into character.
The last paragraph the last attempt and the perhaps goodbye. Yes there's a list of new things (technology, relationship -- whatever you want to choose) like "maybe ecstasy, flirting with the waiter" all the images push away from the humorous allusion. This line goes back to the allusion though but not in a serious way, "She began with cigarettes, a cloud of coughs ghosting through the room."
Yes the allusion is to the ghosts of the game, but also the ghosts of the past or presumed future. I'm iffy on the line because the idea of ghosts of past and presumed future are a bit cliche. But I think the use of allusion in this line creates something interesting. The last line feels like a big push though.
The big push to reinforce the "Super Pac-Man." "He stood outside, contemplating the maze of sidewalks, wearing his coat like a cape in the rain." The maze line seems more forced because of the usage and the timing. I feel the tie of the allusion and the image would be better spread out rather than one after another since the complexity of the technique. One against the other buffers the strength of the line since they don't, perhaps, draw off each other -- the two lines are individually focused.
Also "Super Pac-Man" with "his coat like a cape in the rain" the image feels forced to fit the title, but the idea is interesting. The idea that the man looks at himself as the hero regardless of action -- leaving, wanting to try new things, wanting to life another hem. This connection is a little weak (if this is the connection) to me where the analogy is stronger.