A D&D poem

This is from Wisdom teeth, by Derrick Weston Brown

More of his work is featured here.  N.b. I did not read his entire book.  As I’ve mentioned before I’m not really a big poetry fan (I think I have read exactly one book of poems — the complete poems of  e.e. cummings — although I do like hearing readings a bit more and went so far as to purchase two CDs of readings of poems and stories, one by Steven Jesse Bernstein and one by William S. Burroughs).  What I did read in Brown’s book was pretty good, though.  I just happened to flip to this randomly, and of course the “D&D” in the title caught my eye.  I don’t think this is by any means the strongest poem in the collection, just the most relevant.

D&D: A Confession

After Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

I started rolling dice at the age of eleven.

On weekends, late into the night, I’d

blow into my buckeye brown tight fist

shake the bright red stones and let

them fly.

Surrounded by a crew of stone faced

white boys who’d survey my roll

with hopeful glances, I’d watch

the die twirl and settle,

check the numbers, then

proceed to slaughter. Open to

their bloodthirsty suggestions.

Dude, you’re a third level

Elf Paladin. Use your broadsword

on the Orc battalion.

No way dude. If I want to wear

down their hit points I gotta

use my mace. Geez man I only

get one turn per round. And what

happens when it’s their turn to attack?

I lost my enchanted shield to the Bugbear

a few turns ago, and all I have is this

chain mail, one flask of healing potion

and a prayer.

I hear you man. And we all

know how Orcs like to aim low.

I hope your hit points hold Bro.

If you die, I’ll resurrect you, but

you’ll have to give that cache of emeralds

in return.

I’d sip my Mr. Pibb

and munch on pretzels thoughtfully.

decisions, decisions.

Heavy is the lone black boy’s head

in the world of Dungeons and Dragons.

I guess this is a very ordinary poem, really, apart from the subject matter.  The D&D jargon is either intentionally garbled a little, or slightly jumbled by the poet’s memory.  Based on picture of the poet on the book, I’d guess he’s around 30 years old, so he’s talking about the D&D of the late 1990s or early 2000s. Elf paladin? That sounds like 3e.  Pretzels… that I can get behind. All the dork nostalgia about “Doritos and Mountain Dew” rings hollow to me; I was always a pretzels man.

(My efforts to contact the author via email have apparently failed, so if you are the author and don’t want your poem posted here, let me know by commenting below or dropping an email at the address mentioned on the sidebar.)

Published in: on November 29, 2011 at 11:44 am  Comments (4)  
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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I hope the rest of it is better–thought I do like the emeralds.

    This is a far superior D&D poem:


    • Hah!
      Yeah, I’m not sure this is the best reperesentative of his work. The linked samples give you the idea… makes me think of ‘poetry slam’ type stuff more than literary magazine poetry. But I’m not a big poetry fan generally speaking.

  2. In the world of the creative writing workshop any specialized knowledge is welcomed as a differentiator of the mostly similar poems people write. Rock climbing, sailing, your Arabic grandmother’s cooking– if people in the workshop have no knowledge of it they will ooh and ahh at any detail you give them. I don’t necessarily condemn this because I think it is part and parcel of learning about audience and what might actually be universal for us humans. I imagine this poem came out of that kind of workshop situation. “Hey I’ll write about my D&D days, now if I could only remember . . .”

    Heavy is the lone black boy’s head

    this is the only line that points at something deeper than just details, and I’d be interested in reading that poem.

    • Good point. The book has several sections..I wonder if he didn’t just need to fill in the pages and used some older/school material…he did go to grad school, which probably produces mountains of ‘spec’ writing.

      I was hoping to get some details from the author about his actual D&D experiences, but like I said, no reply; I’m not sure the email address I found is still good.

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