Near-Life Experience

Robert Beveridge

(a choose-your-own-adventure poem)


(go to page 2)


you

and your band of Merry Men

are in the forest

armed only with sticks


and a few unnameable pieces of food

that bear a resemblance to old, dented tin.


On the hill, a house

with seven cupboards

and a weathervane.


Behind you, the forest.


(to enter the house, go to page 15.

to enter the forest, go to page 7.)


page 7:


you come

to a fork in the path.

An old man

in a tattered coat

wanders off down the path

less travelled.


(to follow the old man, go to page 27.

to take the other road, go to page 8.)


page 8:


when you reach the city,

the harlots

mistake your food for money.


(go to page 30.)


page 10:


old blue eyes

begins to croon

and you flee into the forest.


(go to page 7.)


page 15:


the cupboards

are full of Sinatra records

and a beer or two.


Now,

figure out

how to use the phonograph.


(to drink a beer, go to page 16.

to play the Sinatra records, go to page 10.)


page 16:


it goes down easy.


(go to page 30.)


page 27:


you and the Merry Men

find yourselves in therapy groups

beat deerskin drums

with sticks

and get in touch

with your inner children.


You lose.


page 30:


congratulations.


your band of Merry Men

gets merrier.