ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
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This poem belongs to the series Love Is For Children which includes "Love Is for Children," "Eggshells," "Dolls and Guys," "Turnabout Is Fair Play," "Touching Moments," "Splash," "Coming Around," "Birthday Girl," "No Winter Lasts Forever," "Hide and Seek," "Kernel Error," and "Happy Hour."

Fandom: The Avengers
Characters: Bruce Banner, Hulk, Natasha Romanova, Tony Stark, Phil Coulson, Nick Fury, Steve Rogers, Clint Barton, Betty Ross.
Medium: Poetry
Warnings: A majority of this poem is sad, because Bruce's past and his head are both unhappy places, although it has a happy ending. That said, going inside Bruce's messed-up mind requires warnings, some of which are spoilers; highlight to read them. This poem mentions child abuse, domestic violence, parental death, homelessness, extreme poverty, self-hatred, deep depression, self-destruction and self-harm, chronic emotional suppression, mass destruction, casualties, attempted suicide, colonization, grief, childhood marriage, betrayal, childlessness, victimization, learned helplessness, lies, dysfunctional family dynamics, and killing dreams. If these are sensitive issues for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before reading further.
Summary: Bruce spends years on the run, hunted and hurting, trying to make the world a better place anyhow. Then the Avengers happen, and things begin to get better, and Bruce does not know what to do with that.
Notes: Bruce!whump. ALL THE FEELS. Angst. Hurt/Comfort. Fear of loss. Alienation. Regrets. Multiplicity/Plurality. Travel. Friendship. Confusion. Caregiving. Communication. Anger management issues. Running away from problems. Nobody listens to Bruce. Loss of control. Saving the world. Insomnia. Hope. Nonsexual ageplay. Science bros. Fear of punishment. Surprises. Love. Bruce Banner needs a hug. Hulk needs a hug. #coulsonlives.

Although this story begins years prior to "Love Is For Children," it wouldn't make as much sense placed at the beginning, so I'm posting it here to serve as a flashback to what Bruce's life was like beforehand. The best place to read it would probably be after "Dolls and Guys."

Skip to Part 3, Part 4Part 5Part 6.


"Saudades" Part 1


Bruce is hiding out in Brazil,
trying to scrabble his way
through Portuguese and other problems,
when he learns the word
that defines his life.

Tenho saudades de você,
he thinks of his mother
and his childhood home,
both left in the dust of history;
a longing for what was loved
but can never return.
I miss you.

Brazil is full of lost people,
the displaced and the disappeared,
who understand what it is
to be torn away
from all that you hold dear.

There are words for this in particular,
Bruce learns, rolling them in mouth and mind,
saudades de casa ou da família,
homesickness for house or family.

Tenho saudades de você,
he thinks of his lover
with her wild black hair,
heart as tempestuous as his own,
mind as gloriously bright,
the sparks they kindled between them --
missing now, and bound to stay so,
for he has no idea where Betty is
and will not put her at risk
by trying to find her.
I miss you.

This is the love that remains
after someone is gone.

This is the last thing
he has to be grateful for:
that he has people and places to miss.

Tenho saudades de você,
he thinks of his former career,
but his old way of life is gone
and there is no getting it back --
not the security or the salary,
not the occasional glimpses of regard,
not the momentary peace of mind
when the broken record of his memory
skipped itself into silence.
I miss you.

There is not much need for a scientist
in the streets of Rio de Janeiro,
but the battered factories
can use what mechanical aptitude
Bruce can muster, and everywhere
there is always a call
for a doctor in the house.

It is desperation that turns
book-learning into practical skill,
but the people of the favelas
do not care that he is desperate,
only that he is there.

Tenho saudades de você,
he thinks at the monster within,
Ainda mantenha-se portanto posso bater em você.
Bruce has tried, God help him,
to reason with the unreasoning beast
and it has all been useless
or worse than useless.
I miss you. Hold still so I can hit you.

It can be described as an emptiness,
and he feels that so keenly;
there is always a roaring inside him now
as if his skin has hardened into a seashell
and the sound of the surf
beats and beats against the curves of himself.

He wishes that the Other
would go away, go away,
but that is a futile fantasy and
he has no patience for magical thinking.

* * *

Notes:

The title may be rendered as "Misses," "Regrets," or "Sorrows." Saudade is a Portuguese word with complex meanings that deal with many kinds of longing. It appears in various phrases. Listen to pronunciations of "saudade."

Background material for this poem includes the Incredible Hulk comics, Hulk movie, and The Incredible Hulk movie. Fragments of other iterations may creep in also.

"Tenho saudades de você."
I miss you.
-- Saudade

Brazil has a long history of displaced and disappeared people.

"saudades de casa ou da família"
homesick for house or family
-- Saudade

A favela is a Brazilian shanty town or slum.

Ainda mantenha-se portanto posso bater em você.
Hold still so I can hit you.
-- online translator

Self-hate correlates strongly with depression. There are ways to turn self-hate into self-compassion. Self-destructive behaviors can be difficult put possible to stop. Self-harm is a more extreme expression of distress. There are ways to stop self-harm too. All of these things can come from abuse-related trauma.

"Magical thinking" is more accurately phrased as "wishful thinking," but Bruce being a scientist would know it by the former term. It has to do with wanting things to be different, but not taking practical steps to change them; or placing one's faith in actions that do not actually produce the assumed effects. The relationship between science and magic can be contentious, but both approaches do work well enough to appear separately in cultures around the world. Bruce has a hard time with that in some regards, because he messed himself up with science, but science can neither explain nor repair everything that happened to him as a result. As he travels, he finds that some "woo-woo" things do help, and he's desperate enough to rely on those, but it makes him uncomfortable.


[To be continued in Part 2 ...]

(no subject)

Date: 2014-01-27 08:18 am (UTC)
trollsdottir: (Default)
From: [personal profile] trollsdottir
This poem requires a simple "Thank you, Elisabeth".

I'm looking forward to see what comes next.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-01-27 09:05 am (UTC)
chanter_greenie: an older house and surrounding autumn scenery (Wisconsin autumn: smells like fall)
From: [personal profile] chanter_greenie
I will come back and read this, but I'm in the wrong headspace to do so now. I do have to say that I glanced at the title and went ... ooooooh! for the use of that term. I'm not Brazilian, Portuguese, or from any other connected culture, so I'm not sure I can claim a true understanding of the phrase, but I like to think I've known it. Not that I'm happy about having been in the situation I'm referencing, just that I can recognize the emotional reaction I had for what it was. ... if that made any sense.

In short, linguistic/emotional conceptual :D!

I'm going to have the related Cesaria Evora song in my head all night now, you know.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-01-29 05:29 am (UTC)
thnidu: Tom Baker's Dr. Who, as an anthropomorphic hamster, in front of the Tardis. ©C.T.D'Alessio http://tinyurl.com/9q2gkko (Dr. Whomster)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
quoting chanter:

I do have to say that I glanced at the title and went ... ooooooh! for the use of that term. I'm not Brazilian, Portuguese, or from any other connected culture, so I'm not sure I can claim a true understanding of the phrase, but I like to think I've known it....

In short, linguistic/emotional conceptual :D!

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-04 04:02 pm (UTC)
helgatwb: Drawing of Helga, holding her sword, looking upset. (Default)
From: [personal profile] helgatwb
I'm sorry I haven't replied before now. I thought I'd be able to read this, sadly, I cannot. I'm not in a good head space right now, I will come later and try.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-14 07:03 am (UTC)
lightbird: http://coelasquid.deviantart.com/ (Gators gonna gait)
From: [personal profile] lightbird
I finally got a chance to sit down and read this. Lovely job. I really like the way you worked with this amazing word.

On to part 2. :)

(no subject)

Date: 2014-03-10 01:06 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
This comment is less about the work and more things that it reminded me of that I thought you might be interested in.

I'm probably not going to read the rest of this, but I'd like that to be attributed to my own taste rather than the work's quality. I appreciate that it exists. I relate very strongly to Bruce, and my own relationship with poetry is a little one-sided. For me, it's much more about the writing than the reading. It helps untangle things.

I've always had good command of words even when I was emotionally clueless. I wrote free verse a lot when I was first learning to express my emotions, but I've never found other people's freeform/emotional poetry compelling to read. I tend to prefer complex rhythms weaving through even more complex concepts, such as C. S. Lewis's The Birth of Language. But I feel that the form of poetry is true to the character of Bruce, not only because I've always equated my own quest to master stories with Bruce's quest to master science, but also because he does seem to be very aware of words and language. Not just because of learning so many different practical vocabularies for different areas, but also because he seems to have an ear for symbolism, significance and hidden meaning - see his analysis of Loki's taunt at Tony in Avengers.

So I want you to know that I appreciate this work, even if I myself don't find it that compelling. Given my own attitude towards poetry and the fact that I feel like it's stating the obvious, that's probably a point in favor of its trueness to character.

OK, keep being amazing! I'm going to go comment on your other new works on AO3.

-qwanderer

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