James Ardis

Staying Put

We made tidy, ’80s style end-of-the-movie life summaries for each other, like: Babin vanished twenty years, surfaced thanks to articles questioning his whereabouts in the Ask Marilyn section of Parade, emerged a wealthy secondhand sex toy dealer with two proud daughters, a Labrador retriever, congenial postcards requesting origin stories for the silicone foot models that found the writer in Utah.

The Video Game Developer is a video game developer, is finally sprawled on his girlfriend’s carpet, arms bruised by shitty nurses, yelling “I’d be a shih tzu mutt if it meant staying put.”

The only contact info I have for you, Babin, is your sister’s home address, I start a letter with, “Bud, hopefully your sister hasn’t died or moved,” but fuck that’s dumb, scratch it till you can’t make it out.

The Video Game Developer is a video game developer, is in the girlfriend’s passenger seat, bubble tea in the cup holders, picking the edges of his insurance card with the fingers still capable.

Babin became the old generation cornering the new generation at Too Cool Frozen Yogurt, like: “Did you say Jefferson Avenue? My nephew lives on Jefferson Avenue. He’s subleasing the ranch-style house near the roundabout.” Just like that, completely chill, then back to the condo to watch library upskirt webcam shows.

Look, in your perfectly healthy sister’s mailbox: love notes from 18-year-olds in khaki shorts and thick pale knees playing Magic in the back of bubble tea cafes

Look, in your perfectly healthy sister’s mailbox: pamphlets on how a stroke can be just a stroke

Look: On the flash drive, character animations
from now-defunded projects
twitching through half-coded roundhouse kicks.

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James Ardis is an MFA candidate in poetry at Ole Miss. Poems from his video-game inspired project “Damage Values” have found a home with Blinders and decomP. You can contact him here.

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