ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem came out of the July 2016 Creative Jam. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] mdlbear. It also fills the "begging" square in my 7-16-16 card for the [community profile] hc_bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. It belongs to the Officer Pink thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.


"Under Her Coat"


There was a woman who came through
Bluehill a few times a year, staying for
a week or two and then moving on.

Turq had seen her before,
but he paid her no mind until
she found him begging in the rain
and dropped a cash card into
his battered plastic cup.

That was unusual enough for
Turq to scurry into the nearest store
and buy a granola bar just so he could
check the balance on the card.

It read $97.05 remaining.

Turq wondered what the heck
anyone was doing just wandering
around Bluehill handing out
hundred-dollar cards.

In particular, he worried that
she might be trying to buy
the kind of favors that people
might not come back from.

He tried to tail her,
but she was fast, and as
furtive as any street person.

The word on the street was
good, too, and Turq knew that
it was difficult to fake.

People said she was good for
a meal, if you were hungry;
a coat, if you were cold; and
even (in whispers) a hug,
if you were lonely.

So Turq watched,
but did not interfere.

She was tall, and she always
wore a coat of dark green canvas
whose bulk hid her shape and
fell to her ankles, its deep hood
lined with some brindled fur.

She often carried bags
in her hands or slung over
an elbow, reaching into them
to pass out loaves of bread and
bundles of fruit, sweaters or
gloves or good winter hats.

The cash cards she produced
from under her coat, hidden pockets
full of secret treasure that somehow
no one had managed to pick.

She caught up with Turq again
when he was least expecting it,
his cup as empty as his belly since
he wasn't very good at begging,
and gave him a loaf of bread
worked into a round braid and
sweet with honey and apples.

Hunched in her coat, she might not
meet the ordinary beauty standards, but
Turq found kindness a beauty all its own.

One day he managed to score
a few hours of work with some of
the teens who did odd jobs at
the True Blue Bikeshare.

They were cleaning up garbage
and graffiti under the bridges where
the homeless people camped out and
the young troublemakers liked to go for
a packet of drugs or a quick screw.

They used jumbo bags
to hold all the garbage, and
sorted out what could be recycled
as they went along.

They used cans of nontoxic solvent
and handfuls of rags to wipe the graffiti
off of the walls and the pillars.

The bridges where Mill Creek
ran near the industrial park were
the worst, because traffic was low
and the water rarely rose far up
the banks of gravel and clay.

Turq noticed that whenever they found
a pile of something other than loose papers
or empty pop bottles, everyone looked to him
to determine whether it was uninhabited,
unwanted, and actually safe to touch.

If it was safe, then he started picking it up
and they joined in; if it wasn't, then
he shook his head and moved on,
and they followed him.

The best of the bridges, in
Turq's opinion, was the one that
had a park bench hidden under it, where
today they found a local girl camped out.

Turq knew her, a little, to look at
but not to speak with, and he thought
that she had washed out of college and
then gotten stranded here as a result.

Without a word, she got up and helped them
clear away the trash around her little camp,
and when that was done, she sat back down.

One of the boys gave her a few dollars,
and she thanked him with a fleeting smile.
Turq knew that she rarely spoke.

The sun was going down, turning
the trees to bronze and the water to gold,
but they were not quite done cleaning up
the far side of the bridge there.

The solvent smelled of oranges
and did a pretty good job of taking
the crude scribbles off of the concrete.

One line, written in silver paint,
stubbornly refused to wash away:
Some say, under her coat she has wings.

Even without a name, Turq knew who it must be.

He wondered about the strange woman
and who she was and where she came from --
and what she was and why she was here --
even as he picked up the last of the litter
and chanced to look down.

There at the edge of the bridge,
pointing into the brisk wintering wind,
Turq found a mark like two huge fans
spread over the dry brown dust.

It looked like the one he had seen where
an owl took off after catching a mouse.

Gently Turq reached out and wiped away
the marks with the toe of his boot, then
walked back toward the group.

Some things did not need to be seen
in order to be believed.

* * *

Notes:

Hallah (Haley Kramer) -- She has tinted skin, brown eyes, and long brown hair. She also has wings, barred in brown on cream like an owl. Her parents kicked her out of home for being a freak. She survived on the street, but encountered the usual problems of sexual assault and drug abuse. Eventually Hallah began finding jobs as a scout or courier because of her wings, which paid much better. She managed to get off the street, but she still feels sensitive about it and spends a lot of her resources taking care of the homeless. She often travels around for her work, and uses that to reach people all around Missouri.
Origin: Her wings emerged with puberty, and she learned to fly about a year later.
Uniform: Hallah hides her wings under loose, shapeless clothing when she is not flying. She usually wears a long coat of heavy green canvas with a fur-lined hood.
Qualities: Master (+6) Compassion, Expert (+4) Generosity, Expert (+4) Reputation on the Street, Good (+2) Spatial Intelligence, Good (+2) Strength, Good (+2) Wealth
Poor (-2) Rocky Past
Powers: Good (+2) Flight
Motivation: To take care of the poor and downtrodden.

* * *

"One of my friends told me about some graffiti he saw on a bridge: "Some say, under her coat she has wings." Whoever that unknown graffiti artist was, inspired this song. Thank you."
-- header for "Wings" by Cat Faber

Homelessness is a widespread problem spanning various subgroups. There are national and community measures to end homelessness. You can see that Terramagne-America is a step ahead by including current or former homeless people in their efforts, which avoids a lot of mistakes that inexperienced residents would otherwise make. Here are some ways that individuals can help too.

Respect is vital for homeless people, but often more privileged people violate their rights. So there's a movement toward a Homeless Bill of Rights. These may protect such rights as freedom of movement and privacy, or include a necessity clause to prevent charging people for crimes when they had no alternative. Know how to respect poor and homeless people.

Challah is a sweet, rich bread which may be enhanced by adding such things as honey and apples. It is commonly braided.

See the Bluehill bridges with graffiti and a bench.

Birds can leave impressions in dust, mud, snow, or other soft materials when landing or taking off. Here are unlabeled and labeled impressions of a hawk catching a vole, and a snowy owl catching a rabbit.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-07-24 02:46 am (UTC)
technoshaman: Tux (Default)
From: [personal profile] technoshaman
*lol* I suspected from the title and opening verses what was going on; by the time I got done, I knew that the prompter had to be someone I knew, because filk is a somewhat tightly knit community...

*checks, doublechecks* Okay, that's not just any ordinary challah. That's *crown* challah, which is special to Rosh Hashanah and Hanukkah. (I haven't had the apple variety; the stuff we get around here normally has raisins... but knowing what I do of Jewish food I have no doubt it is much with the yum.)

That citrus cleaner is good stuff. So too is Simple Green, a cleaner based on, of all things, chlorophyll... it's murder on mildew without being murder on your lungs.

I like this Hallah lady. Courier work pays well, does it?

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2016-07-24 04:10 am (UTC)
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
From: [personal profile] mdlbear
Favorite of mine, too, obviously. Up there with Ship of Stone, Ripple, The Mary Ellen Carter, When I Go, Kitchen Heroes, and maybe a few others. The ones that are so good I can't tell which I like more.

I'm really glad this one got sponsored.

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2016-07-24 08:49 am (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
Yes. Agreed.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-07-26 02:41 am (UTC)
zeeth_kyrah: A glowing white and blue anthropomorphic horse stands before a pink and blue sky. (Default)
From: [personal profile] zeeth_kyrah
I currently use Seventh Generation cleaner, which uses thymol (thyme extract) as its primary cleaner. It apparently does pretty well on mildew, too, and cleans up soap scum (though that might be the surfactants combined with the thymol). I clean my sink and shower basin with it now and then.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-07-26 04:46 am (UTC)
technoshaman: Tux (Default)
From: [personal profile] technoshaman
Yeah, nowt better on soap scum than a good detergent. Thymol, eh? Have to try that sometime.

When I was a wee lad we were on well water with a ridiculous amount of calcium in it... I never got cavities, but we had to use Zest, which isn't soap but solid detergent, to avoid getting a nasty ring in the bathtub...

It was big fun watching out-of-towners take a swig of the calcium water... to me it tasted sweet, but oh, the faces of those expecting "soft" water! OTOH, going to Orlando, *I* was the one making the faces, with all the sulfur, even in "city" water...

Re: Yes...

Date: 2016-07-26 05:26 am (UTC)
technoshaman: Tux (Default)
From: [personal profile] technoshaman
What happened to it?

(no subject)

Date: 2016-07-24 04:58 am (UTC)
curiosity: Close up of a tabby cat's face from nose to corner of the eye, including part of the muzzle and a few whiskers. (Default)
From: [personal profile] curiosity
This is reeeeeealllly good.

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2016-07-24 07:04 am (UTC)
thnidu: blank white robot/avatar sitting on big red question mark. tinyurl.com/cgkcqcj via Google Images (question mark)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
I'm glad you've shown us this view.

How does Turq know if it's safe, etc.?

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2016-07-24 07:56 am (UTC)
thnidu: my familiar. "Beanie Baby" -type dragon, red with white wings (Default)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
Ah, yes, thank you.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-07-24 11:27 am (UTC)
sweet_sparrow: Picture of two cats lying back-to-back with two black spots connecting to make a heart. (E: Heart)
From: [personal profile] sweet_sparrow
Oh, this was so sweet! It's lovely to see Turq starting to think about other people more and more and to see more kindness getting spread around. I think my favourite bit is when one of the boys gives the local girl a few dollars too. ^_^

(no subject)

Date: 2016-07-24 04:27 pm (UTC)
gingicat: drawing of me based on wedding photo (Default)
From: [personal profile] gingicat
I have been pleasantly earwormed :)

(no subject)

Date: 2016-07-25 01:38 am (UTC)
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
From: [personal profile] stardreamer
Reading the lyrics of the song, I found myself thinking that it would fit well into the Fledgling Grace universe.

It's nice to see Turq slowly easing his way into the fringes of an actual community. This is a big step forward for him, that he's willing to work with a group of people instead of reflexively hiding.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-07-24 10:33 am (UTC)
ext_74: Baron Samadai in cat form (Default)
From: [identity profile] siliconshaman.livejournal.com
Valkyjr have wings from birth... but when they interbreed with 'ordinary' humans, sometimes the latent genes mean the child will produce wings at puberty, occasionally, like a super-power. These genes can also skip a generation or two, remaining silent, until some chance combination of genetics and environment triggers development.

Wow!

Date: 2016-07-24 10:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
That's fascinating. Thanks for sharing.

Re: Wow!

Date: 2016-07-24 10:41 am (UTC)
ext_74: Baron Samadai in cat form (Default)
From: [identity profile] siliconshaman.livejournal.com
It's funny actually, that's one of those little snippets of back-story I've had sitting on my hard-drive since I started writing about Theodora. Just never had any reason to include it anywhere.

Then you wrote this poem...and it's like you'd read my notes. Because one of the inherent traits of them is a sense of rightness, of balance or order to the world...and if there's something wrong or off-kilter, it itches at them until they have to do something about it. Kind of a inbuilt moral compass which comes with the Soul powers. [which not all of the cross-breeds get.]

RE: Re: Wow!

Date: 2016-07-24 10:19 pm (UTC)
ext_12246: (smiley)
From: [identity profile] thnidu.livejournal.com
Oh ho! Thank you; this adds some further dimension to Theodora.

Re: Re: Wow!

Date: 2016-07-24 10:31 pm (UTC)
ext_74: Baron Samadai in cat form (Default)
From: [identity profile] siliconshaman.livejournal.com
Well, I don't think it's giving you any spoilers to say that Theodora is pure-blood [you probably guessed that]... she was born with wings. Her parents were Valkyrja as were their parents. The powers grow in as they reach puberty [or a little later]. Although they don't always realise they have them unless stressed...

Of course, not all of them have Theodora's aura... and saying more about that would be spoilers.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-07-25 11:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] paantha.livejournal.com
Lovely. <3

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ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
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