Warning: This poem contains some intense topics. Highlight to read the detailed warnings, some of which are spoilers. While trying to process past abuse, Turq has a graphic meltdown. Ansel does his best to comfort him. There is angst, overwhelm, flashback and intrusive thoughts, stabbing a worksheet with a pencil, trivial damage to an already beat-up rug, vigorous crying, guilt, difficult conversation, and other challenges. If these are sensitive issues for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before reading onward.
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Once there was a rabbi
who wished to keep his money
as safe as it could be.
He had heard the tale of
Pygmalion (and got it all wrong)
so he crafted a golem of pygg and
made a slit in the cheap orange clay
that he could put the coins through.
when he walked, but no matter
how hard the thieves and bandits tried,
they never could get it out of him,
for he was still a golem and
therefore very strong.
When at last the golem
became so full that the coins
no longer chimed inside him,
the rabbi went to smash him and
thereby retrieve his cache.
pushed him down and ran away
(no longer jingling) into the night,
whereupon the rabbi sadly realized that
he had indeed made his money completely safe --
even from himself.
* * *
This is not part of the Clay of Life series proper, but it was a solitary prompt and a funny idea, so I wrote it anyway.
Pygmalion is a mythological figure who carved a statue and then fell in love with it. The statue's name is Galatea, but because the sculptor's name is more famous, people often confuse the two.
A piggy bank is a hollow receptacle for money, traditionally made out of ceramic and shaped like a swine. It probably got its name from a cheap clay called pygg.
Starting now, the Poetry Fishbowl is open! Today's theme is "Clay of Life." I will be checking this page periodically throughout the day. When people make suggestions, I'll pick some and weave them together into a poem ... and then another ... and so on. I'm hoping to get a lot of ideas and a lot of poems.
Today is the last day of Pesach (Passover). Pesach Sameach to my Jewish fans! This fishbowl will remain open until after sunset, for anyone who's observing the offline rule during Pesach. (I usually close it during the wee hours of the morning.)
What Is a Poetry Fishbowl?
Writing is usually considered a solitary pursuit. One exception to this is a fascinating exercise called a "fishbowl." This has various forms, but all of them basically involve some kind of writing in public, usually with interaction between author and audience. A famous example is Harlan Ellison's series of "stories under glass" in which he sits in a bookstore window and writes a new story based on an idea that someone gives him. Writing classes sometimes include a version where students watch each other write, often with students calling out suggestions which are chalked up on the blackboard for those writing to use as inspiration.
In this online version of a Poetry Fishbowl, I begin by setting a theme; today's theme is "Clay of Life." I invite people to suggest characters, settings, and other things relating to that theme. Then I use those prompts as inspiration for writing poems.
I'm practicing cyberfunded creativity. If you enjoy what I'm doing and want to see more of it, please feed the Bard. The following options are currently available:
1) Sponsor the Fishbowl -- Here is a PayPal button for donations. There is no specific requirement, but $1 is the minimum recommended size for PayPal transactions since they take a cut from every one. You can also donate via check or money order sent by postal mail. If you make a donation and tell me about it, I promise to use one of your prompts. Anonymous donations are perfectly welcome, just won't get that perk. General donations will be tallied, and at the end of the fishbowl I’ll post a list of eligible poems based on the total funding; then the audience can vote on which they want to see posted.
2) Swim, Fishie, Swim! -- A feature in conjunction with fishbowl sponsorship is this progress meter showing the amount donated. There are multiple perks, the top one being a half-price poetry sale on one series when donations reach $300.
3) Buy It Now! -- Gakked from various e-auction sites, this feature allows you to sponsor a specific poem. If you don't want to wait for some editor to buy and publish my poem so you can read it, well, now you don't have to. Sponsoring a poem means that I will immediately post it on my blog for everyone to see, with the name of the sponsor (or another dedicate) if you wish; plus you get a nonexclusive publication right, so you can post it on your own blog or elsewhere as long as you keep the credits intact. You'll need to tell me the title of the poem you want to sponsor. I'm basing the prices on length, and they're comparable to what I typically make selling poetry to magazines (semi-pro rates according to Duotrope's Digest).
0-10 lines: $5
11-25 lines: $10
26-40 lines: $15
41-60 lines: $20
Poems over 60 lines, or with very intricate structure, fall into custom pricing.
4) Commission a scrapbook page. I can render a chosen poem in hardcopy format, on colorful paper, using archival materials for background and any embellishments. This will be suitable for framing or for adding to a scrapbook. Commission details are here. See latest photos of sample scrapbooked poems: "Sample Scrapbooked Poems 1-24-11"
5) Spread the word. Echo or link to this post on your LiveJournal, other blog, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Digg, StumbleUpon, or any other social network. Useful Twitter hashtags include #poetryfishbowl and #promptcall. Encourage people to come here and participate in the fishbowl. If you have room for it, including your own prompt will give your readers an idea of what the prompts should look like; ideally, update later to include the thumbnail of the poem I write, and a link to the poem if it gets published. If there is at least one new prompter or donor, I will post an extra freebie poem.
1) I customarily post replies to prompt posts telling people which of their prompts I'm using, with a brief description of the resulting poem(s). If you want to know what's available, watch for those "thumbnails."
2) You don't have to pay me to see a poem based on a prompt that you gave me. I try to send copies of poems to people, mostly using the LJ message function. (Anonymous prompters will miss this perk unless you give me your eddress.) These are for-your-eyes-only, though, not for sharing.
3) Sponsors of the Poetry Fishbowl in general, or of specific poems, will gain access to an extra post in appreciation of their generosity. While you're on the Donors list, you can view all of the custom-locked posts in that category. Click the "donors" tag to read the archive of those. I've also posted a list of other donor perks there. I customarily leave donor names on the list for two months, so you'll get to see the perk-post from this month and next.
4) After the Poetry Fishbowl concludes, I will post a list of unsold poems and their prices, to make it easier for folks to see what they might want to sponsor.
Feed the Fish!
Now's your chance to participate in the creative process by posting ideas for me to write about. Today's theme is "Clay of Life." I'll be soliciting ideas for Menachem, Yossele, other Jewish characters, figures from Jewish folklore, outcasts, the misunderstood, fish out of water, abuse survivors, refugees, hermits, others on the fringes of society, wandering, hiding, helping each other, expecting the unexpected, speaking heritage languages, surviving oppression, upstanding, speaking truth to power, punching up, synagogues, Jewish homes, famous Jewish places, cities, classrooms, offices, Pesach / Passover, other Jewish holidays, Jewish customs, self-sacrifice, disruptions, poorskills,
I'll post at least one of the fishbowl poems here so you-all can enjoy it. (Remember, you get an extra freebie poem if someone new posts a prompt or makes a donation, and additional perks at $100-$300 in donations. The rest of the poems will go into my archive for magazine submission.
Participation was excellent, with 23 comments on LiveJournal and another 65 on Dreamwidth. Please welcome new prompters we_are_spc and k_a_webb.
Read Some Poetry!
The following poems from the April 4, 2017 Poetry Fishbowl have been posted:
"Cracks and Shadows"
"A Curious Transfusion of Courage"
"Discovering the Rose Garden"
"In the Cracks of Climate Change"
"A Level of Protection"
"Saying No to Powerlessness"
"The Silent Devoted Companionship"
"Sunshine in the Sidewalks"
"This Has Always Been Me"
"Until You Saw into My Cracks"
"What Lives in the Cracks"
"The Quick Brown Fox" (Polychrome Heroics, March 7, 2017 Poetry Fishbowl)
"How to Get It Out" (Polychrome Heroics: Shiv, January 3, 2017 Poetry Fishbowl)
Buy some poetry!
If you plan to sponsor some poetry but haven't made up your mind yet, see the unsold poetry list for April 4, 2017. That includes the title, length, price, and the original thumbnail description for the poems still available.
Currently sponsored poems have all been posted. Donors this time include: goldbach5, redsixwing, daisiesrockalot, ng_moonmoth, Anthony & Shirley Barrette.
The Poetry Fishbowl made its $200 goal, so "How to Get It Out" was the free epic. We also made the $250 goal, so that's a third tally toward a bonus session, slated for Tuesday, April 18 featuring Clay of Life.
The Poetry Fishbowl project also has a permanent landing page.
There are still verses left in the linkback poems "Testing the Metal," "Dangerous Refuges," "The Marble and the Sculptor," "Picking Up the Litter," "The Golden Peaches of Peace," "Leaves Upon the Water," and "The Quick Brown Fox." Linking to this page will reveal new verses in whichever poem you request.
"Climbing Through the Cracks"
A DW prompt inspired the free-verse poem "Climbing Through the Cracks." An abused teen seeks refuge in an unlikely place.
375 lines, Buy It Now = $188
Jobina Benton knew
how to live in the cracks.
She searched for clothes
in thrift stores and giveboxes,
went dumpster-diving for
anything still usable.
Several prompts contributed to the free-verse poem "Profusion." People travel through a crack in the Tef, first in spirit, then in body.
113 lines, Buy It Now = $57
The crack was small,
at first, barely big enough
to pick up radio signals
or whisper through.
Alex and Ash examined it
with their sensors. Bailey
and Chris built tiny probes
to squeeze through it.
"The Tragedy of the People"
Some DW prompts inspired the free-verse poem "The Tragedy of the People." Salim escapes from Palestine into surprising new opportunities.
156 lines, Buy It Now = $78
Salim Tamimi is too young to remember
a free Palestine, but he's heard stories of it
from before the endless decades of war.
It would be nice, he thinks, to live somewhere
free of bombs and raids and encroachment.
There are three new poems about Stylet, to be released in sequence:
"The New Beginnings of Soft Greens"
A DW prompt inspired the free-verse poem "The New Beginnings of Soft Greens." Stylet reacts badly to receiving Ashley's message, and Carissa puts him back together again.
182 lines, Buy It Now = $91
Available for posting after "The Whip of His Own Remorse," "The Inner Transition," "The Willingness to Surrender Ideas," "Until It Hears Something Better," and "A Little from the Heart" have been sponsored and published.
Stylet had three long, horrible days
to think about the consequences
that his actions had brought him.
Three days of feeling guilty
about the berettafly mess and
ashamed of ruining Ashley's life
and hurt that she found the sliver of
their genetic juncture so offensive.
"This Is How I Should Be"
Continuing the tale of Ashley and Stylet, "This Is How I Should Be" features them discussing future plans -- this time, via video call and with emotional spotters, so nobody gets hurt. The poem is written in free verse.
307 lines, Buy It Now = $154
Available for posting after "The Whip of His Own Remorse," "The Inner Transition," "The Willingness to Surrender Ideas," "Until It Hears Something Better," "A Little from the Heart," and "The New Beginnings of Soft Greens" have been sponsored and published.
The routing information on
Ashley's message indicated
that she was still in the hospital,
so that's where Stylet tried first.
He had Carissa with him as
an emotional spotter, so they used
the viewscreen for the video call.
"The Key to Everything"
A DW prompt about Stylet inspired the free-verse poem "The Key to Everything." Stylet talks about one of his prior creations, but there's more going on than he realizes.
144 lines, Buy It Now = $72
Available for posting after "The Whip of His Own Remorse," "The Inner Transition," "The Willingness to Surrender Ideas," "Until It Hears Something Better," "A Little from the Heart," "The New Beginnings of Soft Greens," and "This Is How I Should Be" have been sponsored and published.
It took time for the authorities
to go through all of the information
that Stylet had ceded to them.
Periodically Valor's Widow or Carissa
would take Stylet to the police station or
SPOON or SPAZMAT to talk about
the repercussions of the content.
There are three exit day poems about Shiv, all free verse:
"Blue Jeans and Jazz"
"Blue Jeans and Jazz" actually happens the day before Shiv leaves prison. Mr. Vanburen helps Shiv choose some street clothes, because Shiv is too overwhelmed to do it all by himself.
536 lines, Buy It Now = $268
Shiv lay in his bunk and tried
not to think about how today was
his second-to-last day in prison.
He wanted early release,
sure, he was grateful for it,
but now that it was almost here,
he was also terrified of it.
"The Key to Your New Home"
"The Key to Your New Home" follows Shiv as he explores his apartment in Public Housing.
201 lines, Buy It Now = $101
It was a good thing
that Boss White came
to pick him up from the bus,
because Shiv could hardly
string two thoughts together.
What the fuck do I do now?
Shiv wondered, nibbling his lip.
"To Know After Absence"
"To Know After Absence" is about Shiv moving into an apartment above Blues Moon and choosing some furniture from the gang's storage building.
372 lines, Buy It Now = $186
Available for posting after "The Key to Your New Home" has been sponsored and published.
On the way to Blues Moon,
Shiv fretted over all the new stuff
that he was supposed to remember --
his apartment keys, the new address,
the hours for the amenities -- and it had
him gnawing his thumbnail from nerves.
Boss White listened to him muttering
the information so he wouldn't forget it,
then said, "Write it down, Shiv. I didn't
give you that daybook for a doorstop."
A storm rolls in,
dark clouds heavy
with water and ice
Rain buckets down,
hail hammers the ground,
and lightning flashes.
The sky turns on itself,
and the twisted wind
A tornado dances
across the hapless land,
picking up a skirt of dust
as it twirls around,
a tall spiral fountain of doom.
* * *
A tornado is a violent weather phenomenon caused by rotating air. Learn about tornado safety.
What I Have Written
"Twisted Wind" is today's freebie.
Inspired by My Prompts
alexseanchai has posted "The Spiral of Life" about small acts of kindness.
Also from alexseanchai
Your poem inspired "Beacon", a sequel poem of sorts, about picking up after the tornado: 25 lines. Sponsor it for public view for $20, or become a patron of my Patreon and view it there (it is not yet posted) for as little as $1 per poem.
There are three open epics. "A Hope and a Promise" belongs to Polychrome Heroics and needs $152 to be complete. "Essential for Human Survival" belongs to Polychrome Heroics: Cassandra and needs $210.25 to be complete. "The Inner Transition" belongs to Polychrome Heroics: Berettaflies and needs $322 to be complete.
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 18
Which of these should get the $5?
A Hope and a Promise
Essential for Human Survival
The Inner Transition
Clay of Life (Jewish fantasy)
This series began with the August 6, 2013 Poetry Fishbowl. The poem "Clay Feet" introduced the golem Yossele and the traveling blacksmith Menachem. Jewish culture and folklore contribute much to this series. Themes include spirituality, freedom and service, friendship, and craftsmanship.
Pesach (Passover) 2017 is celebrated April 10-18. Pesach Sameach to my Jewish friends! I myself am eclectic Pagan but happy to write about other traditions.
(Sorry I didn't get to this earlier today. I was busy stumbling through the yard putting half a roll of orange duct tape on dozens of saplings I've planted previously so they wouldn't get cut. It's taken this long for my brain to boot up enough to remember that I should announce next week's fishbowl because oh yeah Tuesday.)
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There are three open epics. "A Hope and a Promise" belongs to Polychrome Heroics and needs $168 to be complete. "Essential for Human Survival" belongs to Polychrome Heroics: Cassandra and needs $210.25 to be complete. "The Inner Transition" belongs to Polychrome Heroics: Berettaflies.
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 15
How do you want to distribute the $16?
ALL $16 into "A Hope and a Promise"
ALL $16 into "Essential for Human Survival"
ALL $16 into "The Inner Transition"
$5 into "Hope," $5 into "Essential," AND $6 into "Transition"