Lunch Poems

Leveling Up

An invokation of Super Mario Brothers, Buddhists, and the customers at your local Starbucks.

Buddhists know suffering to be like the ghosts
           in Super Mario Brothers—they advance

only when your back is turned. To face them
           is to reclaim the distance between you

and your mind. How to believe in such power?
           Last night, I lay awake till 5 a.m.,

then drove to Starbucks. New light crept
           toward all the dampened metal

in the room. The pretty barista sighed
           as deeply as the venting steam.

I watched the line of cubicle commuters,
           thought, if only I was a little faster.

But the ghosts need not be any faster.
           The ghosts need only never to stop.

Johnathon Williams is a writer and web developer living in Fayetteville, Ark. Other poems have appeared in Best New Poets 2009, Tar River Poetry, and Unsplendid. He edits and publishes Linebreak, an online magazine of original poetry, and blogs at Made Thing. More by Johnathon Williams