Expert Advice for Decimating All Competition in the Arcade

Ross White

You begin with Jeopardy on TV, the endless sea of blue screens, each revealing a truth you didn’t know about yourself. You answer and answer. The half-hour. The back-to back block at suppertime. Never enough. All the daytime quiz shows, The Bathroom Book of Baseball Quizzes, Trivial Pursuit cards before bedtime. You believe that there will be an answer that will put all questions in perspective. None comes. You look for the pattern of impossible question solved by simple answer in everything, you see the marvelous geometry in the way cabs won’t stop for those who hail them and subway doors close before all the passengers have gotten off. On sidewalks you see each passerby as a piece of some puzzle. You wonder how the man in the fedora will match with someone else, perhaps the tracksuited woman walking her schnauzer. All the people flatten, two-dimensional outliers at fractal edges. Predictable. You forget that you began looking for answers to trivia questions. You close your eyes at night and you see them, rectangles and cubes, accountants and astronauts, falling one at a time. You try to line them up. You try to complete them in orderly rows until they disappear.

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Ross White is the author of two chapbooks, How We Came Upon the Colony (Unicorn Press, 2014) and The Polite Society (Unicorn Press, 2017). His poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Best New Poets 2012, New England Review, Poetry Daily, and The Southern Review, among others. With Matthew Olzmann, he edited Another & Another: An Anthology from the Grind Daily Writing Series (Bull City Press, 2012). He teaches creative writing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.