ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem is spillover from the December 6, 2016 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired and sponsored by [livejournal.com profile] ng_moonmoth. It also fills the "dragons" square in my 11-1-16 card for the Fall Festival Bingo. This poem belongs to the series A Conflagration of Dragons.

Warning: This poem contains intense topics. Highlight to read the warnings, some of which are spoilers. It features refugees, homelessness, traumatic stress, references to the destruction of several cities, ravaged economies, which are slowly being replaced by alternative currencies, loss, low morale, animal death, sentient dragons having sex in public, and also eating people, canon-typical violence, gore, heroic deaths, further trauma and loss, even more dragons, extreme stress, fleeing in fear, really unhappy ending (except for the dragons), and other mayhem. Current environment is STILL NOT SAFE. If these are sensitive issues for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before reading onward.


"The Gathering in the Grassland"


The refugees streamed out of
the ruins of their cities:

the Madhusudana flew
from lost Shaunaka as it
crumbled from its cliffs

and the Shu from
the ashes of Jehuti
amidst the forest fires.

The Beneberak fled across
the plains as once-great Demas
burned to the ground behind them.

Some sought refuge in the mountains,
in the deserts, even in the swamps --
but there were so many, so very many,
that the remaining cities could not
give shelter to all of them.

So they gathered in the grassland,
Madhusudana and Shu and Beneberak
all made equal by their misery.

Markets of a sort sprang up
underneath makeshift tents,
necessary exchanges made with
what few jewels and coins had
survived the ravenous dragons.

More often, they traded in other things --
the Madhusudana offered stamps that
could be redeemed for sending messages;
the Shu bartered their time for services;
while the Beneberak brought smokes that
relieved the suffering for a little while.

None of these were as good as gold,
but all of them were better than nothing.

The refugees did what they could
to rebuild their cultures, but it was hard.

They had lost so much -- their homes,
their land, their stockpiles of goods,
their families, their safety, their health --
everything but their very lives.

The few remaining heroes struggled
to rally their demoralized people,
to kindle a spark of hope amidst
this darkness and despair.

The Madhusudana had Bhimasen,
who had survived the fall of Shaunaka
and now protected his people in their flight.

The Shu had Sekhet, her nimble fingers
and quick wits building weapons and
other equipment from whatever remnants
the people could bring to her.

The Beneberak had Rechab, who was
trying to turn their scattered herds
into a functional cavalry.

As the tent city strengthened,
it attracted more and more people.

These refugees brought with them
what few treasures they had, and
made new things with the work
of their hands and their hearts.

It was not so bad as it had been.

Then the dragons came.

A blue hen flew down and
began pecking at the market
where a few jewels glittered.

A red drake followed her,
strutting and trumpeting
to impress his would-be mate.

He slew horses to feed her,
and when their owners protested,
he slew the people too.

Then a third drake arrived,
this one as black as a tarpit.

When the two drakes saw each other,
they shrieked in rage and began to fight.
They rolled over the camp, their great wings
thrashing and clawing at the grass, their paws
tearing deep furrows in the topsoil.

They crushed everyone who came near
and destroyed everything they touched.

The blue hen rumbled in pleasure
as she picked through the carnage
for treasure and flesh, gorging herself
on the gruesome feast laid before her.

The heroes formed a line so that
the young and injured could retreat.

Bhimasen fell while preventing the blue hen
from devouring a cluster of children.

Sekhet died when the red drake
tore apart the catapult that she
was aiming at his chest.

Rechab went down underneath
the claws of the black drake,
but not before dealing him
a devastating blow.

Then the red drake pounced
upon the wounded black and
drove him away, cawing defiance.

As the red drake mounted
the blue hen, she roared
her pleasure over the plains.

The refugees wept as they fled
from devastation yet again.

Those farthest from the carnage
grabbed up what goods they could
before running for their lives, but many
were once again left with nothing.

A child screamed, pointing at the sky.

The refugees looked up and saw
even more dragons, flying in a V
like a flock of migrating geese.

The sun glinted on hide of red and
blue, green and bronze and black.
Their wings cast dark shadows over
the streams of fleeing refugees below.

It was then that the people truly knew despair.

* * *

Notes:

Bhimasen -- a Madhusudana hero who survived the fall of Shaunaka, and protected his people during their flight, only to die on the plains when more dragons attacked.

Sekhet -- a Shu hera who excelled in weaponry and engineering. She died in the attack on the plains.

Rechab -- a Beneberak hero who tried to put together a cavalry after the fall of Demas, but was killed on the plains when dragons attacked.

* * *

Refugees experience trauma before, during, and after their flight. This often leaves deep psychological scars. There are ways for societies, caregivers and other individuals to help refugees. We don't have a plague of dragons in our world, but we still have lots of refugees.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-12-30 06:02 pm (UTC)
nsfwords: (Default)
From: [personal profile] nsfwords
Yeah Dragons! I really enjoy this series. I know it's much grimmer than many of your other series, but I really appreciate your portrayal of these particular dragons and their massive scale destruction. While I like tales of wise old dragons and friendly helper dragons, these match my secret head cannon of what dragons would really be like - totally terrifying.

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