ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
Based on an audience poll, this is the free epic for the April 5, 2016 Poetry Fishbowl meeting its $200 goal. It came out of the January 2016 [community profile] crowdfunding Creative Jam. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] thnidu. It also fills the "Guilt Free: Crafts" square in my 8-1-15 card for the As You Like It Bingo fest. This poem belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics.


"To See by Hero-Light"


It was not such a new thing,
even though it was new to Romaine
and she found it confusing.

There were pictures of it
going back through history in
many iterations, from paintings
to tapestries to rock carvings.

The heroes and the holy people
could be seen with a halo of light
surrounding them -- sometimes
their whole body, other times only
a head or a hand or a heart.

At times the light even formed
itself into patterns of lines
like waves or rays.

In some cases only the patterns appeared,
abstract blocks or borders, but she
recognized some of them.

There must have been,
she believed, others before her
with same ability that she had,
to see by hero-light.

It illuminated a great many things.

At first Romaine did not understand it
and only painted what she saw.

It began as wavy lines or
jumbled squares, then evolved
into kaleidoscope flowers.

The first time she really
connected it with a person was
a black drummer in the street who
seemed to radiate long waves
and shorter zig-zags.

Then came the woman
whose body was white fire
and green peace, dancing
on a river of blood that
looped back on itself.

Romaine didn't paint for a while
after that one, but eventually
her fingers got to itching again.

There was a woman whose prayers
filled the air with sparks and shadows
that coalesced into a glowing ball.

Another's thoughts appeared
like waves of paint on her forehead,
and a third flung her hair in rainbow arcs
even though to ordinary eyes it was
an unremarkable shade of brown.

Romaine saw a girl who seemed
quite mundane, except that she
had roots coming out of her feet and
branches sprouting from her head,
with little colored balls in between.

Later on Romaine heard that
the girl was turning into a tree, and
realized that what she was painting
might have more meaning than
she once thought it did.

Her paintings still sold,
but she wondered now
if it was quite all right
to keep selling them.

She was only painting
what she saw, but
not everyone saw
what she did.

Romaine began to study
the balls of light and learned
that they were called chakras.

This might have been more useful if
the people she saw consistently matched
the pictures in the guide books with
their perfect rainbow progression.

Even so, Romaine learned to identify
the healers by their doubled green hearts
and the passion gifts by their doubled red hips.

She discovered that shields and forcefields
appeared regardless of chakra colors
but based on a thick white layer
just outside of the body.

Romaine recognized the Green Man
because he was a famous supervillain,
but his patterns were a dreadful mess --
red and branching black at the roots,
murky yellow in the middle, green
lined with gold veins at the top,
dots of color splattered around
in random order everywhere.

He might be breaking the law, but
she worried about him a little anyhow.

Aquariana's energy was all ripples
of blue and purple and green that
hinted of whales and dolphins
hiding in its depths.

Water powers were like that,
Romaine discovered, flowing
through her fingers and
difficult to grasp.

Backdraft was nothing more
than a vague man-shape
with red and yellow flames
billowing all around him.

Romaine had no idea
what to make of the young man
who had all kinds of colors and
symbols flowing out of him like
an explosion of possibilities.

That was the first painting
that she decided not to sell.

The spiritual sort of halo
tended to show up as gold --
here a Muslim woman,
there a Christian one --
although she saw one man
with a broad disc of silver.

She was uncertain whether to say
anything to these hidden saints
or let them pass unremarked.

In the end, those paintings too
went into her closet, keeping
the secrets of their intricate designs,
which even Romaine could not decode.

One college girl made Romaine
turn her head, because of the hero-light
swirling all around her -- a million colors caught
and refracted in soap-bubble brilliance.

She did not have the usual halo, but instead
a flare of highlights like something blocking the sun.
In front of her chest there floated a starburst of light,
as if her soul could not quite fit inside her body.

Sometimes Romaine still painted things
that were abstract enough to sell, such as
the woman entirely in pink or the circle of people
all sharing the same smooth blue energy.

She never advertised her true ability
and she was discreet about the sources
of her inspiration. Still people bought her art
for the beauty of it, without even knowing
the connection with superpowers.

Now and again, though, someone
would catch her eye and nod.
She knew that they knew.

It was enough.

* * *

Notes:

Romaine Cezanne -- She has tawny-fair skin, hazel eyes, and long wavy chestnut hair. Her father is a traveling musician, her mother is a light/sound technician, and Romaine grew up on the road with them. She has lived in Key West, Florida; Easy City, Louisiana; Santa Fe, New Mexico, Rain City, Washington; Portland, Oregon; Westbord, California; and various communes or artist colonies. She has also visited Goa, India; Gallipoli, Italy; Paris, France, London, England; Newcastle, Australia; and Valparaiso, Chile. Highly recommended Reykjavik, Iceland was a regrettable bust. Romaine is an experienced traveler and enjoys it, although she prefers warmer climates to colder ones. She speaks English, French, Hindi, Italian, Marathi, Spanish, and Portuguese. She is currently learning Esperanto. Her creative, Bohemian personality lends itself well to expression and to making friends with other artistic people. However, Romaine does not mesh well with conventional activities or expectations.
Her superpower allows her to see symbolic representations of superpowers, usually in abstract swaths of light and color. It is not easy to figure out exactly what those mean, due to the complexities of different superpowers and personalities, but she is learning. Meanwhile Romaine makes a decent living as an artist, because people enjoy her artwork even without knowing about the soup connection. It sells pretty well. This is good, because keeping a dayjob is one of the those conventional things that she sucks at.
Origin: For months, a yoga guru traveled with Romaine's family, teaching all kinds of New Age stuff. Romaine enjoyed the meditations and other exercises. Over time, she found herself able to visualize more and more, until it turned into a superpower.
Uniform: Romaine dresses in Bohemian garb and has good fashion sense. She enjoys both bright and pastel colors. She favors long, flowing skirts and clingy or flowing tops. Big dangly jewelry is another favorite. Romaine likes to go barefoot, and if footwear is required, she prefers sandals with a minimum of coverage.
Qualities: Master (+6) Traveler, Expert (+4) Artist, Good (+2) Bohemian, Good (+2) Graceful, Good (+2) Languages, Good (+2) Observant
Poor (-2) Pretending to Be Conventional
Powers: Good (+2) Symbolic Vision of Superpowers
Romaine can see superpowers as light, colors, and patterns around people. She is slowly learning to interpret at least some of the meanings.
Motivation: To reveal the unseen.

* * *

Auras, chakras, and halos are all different conceptualizations of energy as light or colors. They appear throughout the art and iconography of many cultures.

Visionary or intuitive painting is artwork that depicts more than just the physical world. Here are some tips on how to do it.

The colors of paint chosen for a picture may relate to the symbolism of aura colors or chakra colors.

This picture captures energy in wavy red and blue lines. Here the colors form squares and rectangles, an uncommon effect as energy tends to follow natural and curvilinear patterns. These mandala designs are more typical of energy wheels.

This aura painting combines curves and angles, also introducing a human figure. This one has a stylized woman surrounded by curving lines of power.

Fears create barriers to art. While the fears that get talked about are those relating to skill and profitability, it's not all that rare for artists to feel afraid of what they paint, especially if they deal in mystical or controversial topics. Learn how to overcome fears and paint anyway.

In this picture, a woman is seen as if through a sparkling veil. This face is framed by splashes of color. This woman's hair turns into a rainbow of color. Here is the girl-as-tree picture.

There are many ways to analyze and interpret the symbolism and other aspects of a painting.

In this painting of a healer, the green of the heart chakra spreads downward into the solar plexus, which is usually yellow. Someone with passion gifts may have the red of the root chakra spread into the sacral chakra, which is typically orange. In this picture, shielding is represented by a thick white band around the body.

When the chakras are all different sizes and the progression of colors is out of order, that warns of trouble, as in the Green Man. Aquariana's image features swirling lines and dolphins. Backdraft's portrait uses fire imagery. High-level "macro" powers that encompass a whole field (such as Superpower Control) or "meta" powers (a cluster of powers related by origin but spanning multiple fields) often generate complex images like this.

Here is a halo on a Muslim woman. This one is on a Christian woman. This man has a thick silver aura.

This woman is showing a heroic aura. In this picture, you can see the heroic aura of the fabled Cu Chulainn. In the classic Irish tales, hero-light was variously written as luan laith or lón gaile. In entertainment tropes, it is called a battle aura, as with Duck Dodgers. This can refer to subtle energy which is only visible to people with mystical sight, or it can resonate all the way down to ordinary human vision. With superpowers in particular, some of them naturally radiate excess energy as visible light, the way Lawrence's hair has a faint glow. If it goes out, that means the person has lower energy than usual, below the overflow level. Some people's glow gets brighter when they use their abilities, especially at high force.

Here is a woman's image all in shades of pink. This group of people is done in shades of blue.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-04-12 11:48 pm (UTC)
zeeth_kyrah: A glowing white and blue anthropomorphic horse stands before a pink and blue sky. (Default)
From: [personal profile] zeeth_kyrah
Yay for extended perceptions. :)

(no subject)

Date: 2016-04-13 01:15 am (UTC)
thnidu: A maze. www.promrds.com/chapter9/mazegenerator.htm (maze)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
Is this related to a prompt I gave you once? It looks familiar.

Backdraft's link is broken:
http:// https://maryannedurnin.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/come-holy-spirit-sm-2.jpg?w=500
Properly simplified, it works fine.

The "heroic aura" link,
http:// http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/236x/9e/3f/ef/9e3fef15e22cfb924660c2e1c80e5ab3.jpg,
is similarly crippled and works with similar repair.

(Not enough SPOON spoons to check all the links.)


Edited Date: 2016-04-13 01:16 am (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2016-04-13 05:46 am (UTC)
thnidu: plus sign (plus)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
Oh, can we expect ever to learn more about some of the soups that Romaine sees here?

(no subject)

Date: 2016-04-13 01:18 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I really enjoyed this. That there are paintings she decides not to sell, that people know and nod and go about their lives? It just makes me smile, and was a great way to start my day. Thank you.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-04-14 03:06 am (UTC)
chanter_greenie: a lilac tree in bloom (Wisconsin spring: lilac season)
From: [personal profile] chanter_greenie
Oooooh. :) Interesting!

I recognize ... is she Alma? the young woman who turns out to be a treeform humanoid, but now you've got me curious about some of the other unnamed people, and the colors and locations of different patterns and auras. Is the young woman with the soap bubble sheen Valentina/Neon Girl? :) That man with the silver halo intrigues me. The lady all in pink--wow, what sort of power is that one?! And ooooh, the young man with the riot of possibilities is someone flickering? Does he end up with ability(s)?

Now I get a bit meta on you. Is the color of a hero light-type signature significant regardless of where it's seen, as in green+a halo effect=a mindhealer for an example, or does it vary based on location, as in a green doubled heart=a healer where green+a halo effect=something entirely unrelated to healing? On a related subject, do you have any ideas how something like empathy or telempathy would commonly manifest in color and pattern/location? Ooh, and what about shapeshifters? I imagine that one would vary all over the place depending on form(s).

I confess, I'm working on a few things related to Terramagne!Wisconsin, to be bounced off you before they go anywhere visible to the public, and this poem got me imagining the patterns the characters would exhibit if Romaine or someone with a similar ability saw them. For example, as I imagine them, two characters would have the subtle doubled green hearts of average (0) healing powers, but in leaf shapes, equaling plant healers... or is that how that sort of thing works?

Long comment is long. *coughs*

Re: Okay...

Date: 2016-04-17 04:08 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] chanter_greenie
Ooooh, thanks! :D I did not know that empathy, telepathy and telempathy were usually shown as radiating lines or arcs. I figured they'd be shown as either some sort of broad, straight projecting line, or speech bubbles colored with words or thought images. Huh. I bet that pink-all-over girl is a high femme empath (your call if she is or isn't, this has just got me musing). I may just have to prompt for her!

The combination of multiple symbolic varieties showing up via visionary powers makes sense, at least in the abstract. Wicked complex, though, you're so right! I wonder how precognition, seership of the 'this is what's happening at the present moment in another location' variety, or retrocognition would appear? For some odd reason, I keep thinking maybe indigo for precognition, although now I'm less sure. That initially sprang from one of my characters from Terramagne Wisconsin who's precognition works on a smaller scale; he's not one to sense an upcoming world-shaking event, but something that will very much matter to the person next to him on a city bus, something he or another passenger can positively influence, yes.

Somewhat related, would superintellect be a doubled yellow heart, a yellow halo, or potentially both? I sniffed around a couple of the links you provided, and am taking an educated guess based on what I read.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-04-13 10:59 am (UTC)
ext_74: Baron Samadai in cat form (Default)
From: [identity profile] siliconshaman.livejournal.com
Methinks Theodora would probably be quite blinding to Romanie. I do rather like this one though, it shows that not all powers are meant to do things with. Some just are.

Thoughts

Date: 2016-04-13 06:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> Methinks Theodora would probably be quite blinding to Romanie. <<

Likely so.

>> I do rather like this one though, it shows that not all powers are meant to do things with. Some just are. <<

That just came up in "What You Like Doing Best" too. Even though Officer Pink's power doesn't 'do' anything, it quickly became a core part of his identity. In fact, crayon soups are one of the largest groups, because low-level abilities outnumber high-level ones.

Another enormous category, although underestimated because few people realize they even have it, spans the internal enhancements like Super-Immunity. Those are beneficial, but not volitional and not very visible.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-12-13 02:59 am (UTC)
callibr8: icon courtesy of Wyld_Dandelyon (Default)
From: [personal profile] callibr8
>> Romaine had no idea
what to make of the young man
who had all kinds of colors and
symbols flowing out of him like
an explosion of possibilities. <<

Based on what I've read, I'm thinking that this *could* describe either Edison Finn or Danso. If it's not either of those, then is this a character we've met yet? You (and Romaine) have definitely piqued my curiosity!

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