ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem was written outside the prompt sessions, and fills the "food" square in my Wordsmith Bingo card. It is posted here in trade for a piece of demifiction in my P.I.E. setting, "Conserving the Habitats of Unusual Species" (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) by [personal profile] dialecticdreamer. This poem belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics. Note that it's early in Damask's story arc, despite being published after a bunch of other stuff, so the character interactions are at an earlier stage.

"Favorite Flavors"


Indian summer brings a wave of heat
in early autumn, baking campus
beneath the hot bright sun.
My skin sweats because of my backpack,
shoulders chafing under the straps.

It's Monday, so I have
a comfortable gap in classes
around lunchtime.

Not far from the Student Union building
there's a soda shop/ice cream parlor
that offers a welcome respite
from the sweltering air.

This is the first time I've been here
as myself, although I have some of
Maisie's memories from before.

There is Dan the ice cream man
behind the counter as always,
tall and wide and cheerful,
a smile on his bearded face
as he asks me what I want.

I look through the cases,
and none of the ice cream
really appeals but there is
strawberry frozen yogurt
so I order that.

Dan tilts his head a little,
as if I've done something unexpected,
but he says nothing about it
as he dishes up my order.

The strawberry frozen yogurt
is very good, cold and sweet
and just a little sour,
perfect for a hot dusty day.


On Tuesday I come from the gym,
tired after a round of knife practice,
and even though I've just showered
the sun drenches me with sweat
as soon as I step outside.

On the way home, the ice cream place
catches my eye and I go inside.
A wave of cool air chills my damp skin.

There are dozens of toppings
beside a cooler full of
plain base flavors,
none of which grab me.

I want something I can
really sink my teeth into.
Then I spy the rocky road with
its jumble of nuts and marshmallows
mixed into chocolate ice cream.

I can't help but smile
as Dan the ice cream man
dishes up a serving for me.

The chocolate tastes rich and thick,
contrasting with the salt-sweet crunch
of the honey-roasted peanuts
and the chewy fluff of marshmallows.

Rocky road --
that's the story of my life
these days.


I have a chef salad
for lunch on Wednesday
because it's too hot outside
to contemplate cooking
or eating anything warm.

I'm still hungry, though,
so I stop at the ice cream parlor
to get dessert.

"Back again?"
asks the man behind the counter,
and I smile at him,
a little nervously,
because he knew Maisie
and I'm not her.

"One spumoni, please,"
I say quickly, hoping
to forestall further conversation.

I want my dessert,
which means I don't want
Maze to come out
and deal with expectations
of being Maisie
the way she usually does.

It works.

He doesn't ask anything more,
just tips the spumoni gelato
out of its small mold onto a plate
and passes it to me.

As my spoon cuts through the layers
of pink-green-brown to reveal
a sprinkling of fruits and nuts,
I can't help but be reminded
of how we all fit together.

It's ironic that I'm the one
who likes spumoni,
with my fair skin and blonde hair,
while Ham who looks Italian
has gone for rocky road instead.

This is me, though,
a taste of this and a dab of that,
smooth chocolate and sweet-sharp cherry
and nutty pistachio that so few people like.


Ham gets a cramp during practice
on Thursday, so I come out
to cope with the aftermath.

Walking home with a lingering limp
is uncomfortable, but
it's nice to have some time out
so that I can think about
everything that's happened to us.

Remembering Mindflare hurts more
than the quivering thigh muscle,
but it's something we need to face
instead of pushing it down all the time,
even if the trip to the shrink
didn't work out very well.

The ice cream parlor has a menu
scribbled on a whiteboard out front,
advertising a new flavor, Azteca,
made from dark chocolate and cayenne.

Well that sounds good.

The place is crowded,
plenty of students wanting
to try the new flavor.

Dan the ice cream man
is handing out samples
on little wooden spoons.

Before I can ask for one,
somebody pushes a bowl into my hands.
"I seriously can't finish this," he says.
"You're welcome to it if you want it."

I wonder why, and then
I recognize him -- it's Dace,
the guy I met on the roof of a frat house.

It's good to see him
safe and sober,
and I like the idea of
making my own friends
instead of just having
hand-me-downs from Maisie.

"Thanks, brother," I say.
"Want to share a table?"

Dace gives me a startled look,
like he wasn't expecting that,
but then he nods.

So we sit together
and I listen while he talks about
failing to get into the fraternity,
and I tell him about knife practice.

The ice cream is strange,
cold and hot at the same time,
a contrast as counterintuitive
as my life has become.

I love it anyway,
the bittersweet chocolate,
the fierce burn of spices.

It hurts so good.


Class is a madhouse today,
everyone saying
"Thank god it's Friday!"
instead of paying attention
to the reading.

Someone in study group
brings meatloaf sandwiches to share,
and I don't mean to be rude, but --
seriously, meatloaf? in this heat? --
so I only eat a few bites of lunch.

It's still too heavy.
I want something
to clear my palate.

The ice cream parlor
has several flavors
of sorbet in a cooler.
I pick out lemon.

Dan the ice cream man
scoops it out onto a lettuce leaf,
because he pays attention
to little details like that.

I know that the lettuce
is really meant as decoration
but I like nibbling on it
between bites of lemon sorbet,
bitter crunch contrasting
with smooth tang.

I see Dan staring at me
and remember belatedly
that Maisie didn't like lettuce much.

Hastily I finish my helping
and dart out the door
before he can corner me.


A scraped knee brings me out
Saturday afternoon, and then
nobody wants to take over.
They all just want a break.

Well, fine.
I haven't been out
in a while now.

It will be nice to take a walk
and see campus for myself,
not just in someone else's memories.

The weather is finally starting
to cool off a little, although
it's still unseasonably warm.

The ice cream parlor draws me in,
quiet today, a lull caused
by people getting ready for
Saturday night dates or dancing.

"What'll it be today?"
asks Dan the ice cream man.

I look over the flavors
and decide on mint chocolate chip.
I want something cool and soothing.

The ice cream is delicious,
minty green with bits of chocolate
melting on my tongue as I turn away
from the counter.

"It's funny," says Dan,
"you've come in here every day this week
and never ordered the same thing twice.
I remember when you used to
get vanilla every time,
and only the toppings changed.
Now you've changed, Maisie."


I scramble to the front,
taking over from Clement
who is frozen with dread
that someone could discover
our strange new nature.

"No, no, everything's fine,"
I lie as quickly as I can.

I juggle the ice cream in one hand,
trying not to drop the bowl,
then take a bite so I won't have to talk.

I can't help making a face.
I don't like ice cream with chunks in it.

"You know, it's okay if you feel different,"
Dan says gently, leaning on the counter.
"I heard what happened to you.
Surviving something like that
would be enough to rattle anyone."

I want to talk about it, I do,
but all I can think of is
that one disastrous counseling session.
It's not fair to drag anyone else
into the mess that is my life.

"I don't feel any different --
just the same old Maisie!"
I say brightly, waving my spoon.

His gaze follows me as I leave,
and I don't think
he believes me for a minute.

* * *


There are many reasons why people like different foods. Mood can make food taste different. Your favorite ice cream can theoretically predict your personality.

In a multiple system, headmates may distinguish themselves in various ways, such as by liking different flavors of food. It can be challenging for other people to tell who is fronting. Some multiples find this annoying, but others like Damask actively capitalize on it. But just because you're hiding, doesn't necessarily mean nobody will figure it out.

Enjoy a recipe for Strawberry Frozen Yogurt. Adding a small amount of alcohol helps keep the yogurt smooth and creamy while frozen.

Rocky Road Ice Cream is a traditional flavor. This one has a cocoa base with nuts and marshmallows. This one also includes chocolate chunks and the honey-roasted peanuts.

Spumoni Gelato is an Italian classic. Making it actually requires three recipes in one, for the different flavor layers.

Aztec Chocolate Ice Cream is one version of a flavor that combines cold ice cream with hot spices. I originally discovered something similar in the late, lamented Chocolate Coyote of Madison, Wisconsin -- of which, indeed, almost nobody could finish a serving by themselves. It was usually shared, because the heat built with every bite.

Lemon Sorbet is a popular palate-cleanser.

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream combines a mint base with bits of chocolate. This one uses fresh mint. This one relies on peppermint extract.

Dan is wonderful

Date: 2014-07-13 06:06 am (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
Observant, friendly... it's clear that Damask isn't ready to trust him yet, but I think even if he felt "in over his head" with the depth of problems they're having after the attack, he's patient enough, and observant enough, to put the clues together himself soon enough.

Thanks /scads/ for posting this.

Re: Dan is wonderful

Date: 2014-07-13 11:18 am (UTC)
silver_gull: (Default)
From: [personal profile] silver_gull
>> There are actually several people who are seeing enough of Damask switching begin realizing that something is up. Jason is another. So is Farce. You can see how Dan would be the least stressful person to make the first real discovery. <<

Now that you've said this, I'm tempted to go back through all the Damask stories to watch this happening again. I did wonder if Farce noticed the difference between Ham fronting and a singular person being on edge when she approached them on Halloween. The change when she tapped their shoulder was probably pretty dramatic to her, even if a stranger (who hadn't been watching them all night) wouldn't have noticed.

One thing about this setting, though, is that it's difficult to find the stories relating to just one character or cast herd. Is there any chance you could label the poems on the main Polychrome Heroics page with their main characters? Most of your Terramagne stuff has good rereading value, and it would be nice to be able to easily find not just the Damask poems, but the ones for Danso's lot, or the villains, or the SPOON crew.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-07-13 11:15 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] chanter_greenie
I've been curious about this one since it was first mentioned. Thank you for posting! *eyes poetry list for the half price sale, then eyes bank account* :)

(no subject)

Date: 2014-07-29 04:54 pm (UTC)
lynnoconnacht: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lynnoconnacht
I seem to be on a streak of reading all the things that I really need to be reading today. (Icecream envy. I am melting. Again. Thus, I am revelling in the cool, gelato goodness that is this poem.)

I love the descriptions of the varying days here and how everyone like different kinds of icecream. I particularly like how Mira sounds so much more confident and firm than I remember from other poems. <3 I hope that's something she can learn to hold onto. It suits her. ^_^

Awwww. That ending is beautiful. I kept on expecting Dan to notice and say something and then he did at the end. Poor Clement. Dan seems lovely, though. I hope they can build up a friendship with him and find someone they can talk to.

And yay Dace-glimpse! ^_^

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2014-07-30 08:55 am (UTC)
lynnoconnacht: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lynnoconnacht
Thank you for making my evening a much better prospect that it was with these. ^_^

I love ice cream. If you click the "recipe" tag and scroll through, I've posted some of my recipes there.

Ooooh. Ice cream is awesome. ^_^

Mira is one of the quieter headmates, with ephemeral powers, so it's taking her a while to find herself.

Mmm. I can imagine it would. What does she do when she's not fronting?

It's a possibility. Dan is among the safest people they could be talking with. Feel free to request that in a future prompt call.

I will do my best to remember. ^_^ Much as I adore Stan and Lawrence, I've missed Damask too. It was lovely to be reading about them again and I think I still have a couple left to read or reread too. ^_^

(no subject)

Date: 2014-07-13 02:04 pm (UTC)
ext_3294: Tux (Default)
From: [identity profile] technoshaman.livejournal.com
Yup. I knew a system once; I could tell when fronts shifted because one liked coffee, and another tea...

'Sfunny, I'm such a variety freak in some ways ... if something ever happened (Lady forbid) the thing that might catch me out is *not* mixing it up... or becoming a spice fiend :)

(no subject)

Date: 2014-07-20 11:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kestrels-nest.livejournal.com
I love Dan's perceptiveness here.

Could you link to the P.I.E. fiction as well, please?

Thank you!

Date: 2014-07-21 08:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> I love Dan's perceptiveness here. <<

I'm glad to hear that.

>> Could you link to the P.I.E. fiction as well, please? <<

Which poem(s) and why?

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2014-07-21 09:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kestrels-nest.livejournal.com
You said it was in exchange for a piece of demifiction set in the P.I.E. series. I wondered if that was posted anywhere. As for reason, none but curiosity. I'm an Elephant's Child. ;)

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2014-07-22 08:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
Ah, okay. The reciprocal piece hasn't been posted yet. I've asked for a timeframe. It's one that Dialecticdreamer wrote, quite lengthy, and utterly fascinating.

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2014-07-22 04:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kestrels-nest.livejournal.com
Thank you. I'll keep an eye out. I've bookmarked her blog. :)

(no subject)

Date: 2014-10-31 09:52 pm (UTC)
pinkrangerv: White Hispanic female, with brown hair, light skin, and green eyes, against a background of blue arcane symbols (Default)
From: [personal profile] pinkrangerv
Yay for everyone trying a favorite flavor!

(no subject)

Date: 2015-09-02 01:29 am (UTC)
thnidu: X RATED Food Porn. The X is a crossed fork & knife (food porn)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
Mmmmm, I love almost all of these. I haven't tasted spumoni in a long time; must remember to keep an eye out for it. I certainly would have to share the Azteca: one spoonful would probably burn me out, but I would like to try it. And mint chocolate chip is my default go-to. (Can't decide? Too tired and sweaty? THERE, THAT!)

Someone I know just blogged about this year's Baitcon...

oh, snap

Date: 2016-09-23 11:55 pm (UTC)
callibr8: icon courtesy of Wyld_Dandelyon (Default)
From: [personal profile] callibr8
I found the first several tour-de-force stanzas, delightfully wonderful. The glimpses into each entity's way of thinking about their immediate experience, and the reasons *why* they chose what they did, and how satisfied they were with their choices, were just lovely!

Then Dan spoke up, and I felt an all-too-familiar, "oh sh*t!" tightening in my guts. Even though I'm not a multiple, Clement's panic at the possibility of being "seen", and Maze's scramble to affirm that everything was fine and dandy, resonated *waaaay* too much with similar moments from my (decades ago) high school years. There's still a lot of emotional weight to certain memories. That's why a song I heard over twenty years ago, on the album Bat Out of Hell II, comes to mind at moments like this: "Objects In The Rear View Mirror". The link goes to lyrics on Metrolyrics, but there's a decent writeup of this particular song on Wikipedia as well.

musical affinity

Date: 2016-09-27 10:15 pm (UTC)
callibr8: icon courtesy of Wyld_Dandelyon (Default)
From: [personal profile] callibr8
I wouldn't be surprised if the entire Bat Out Of Hell II album is popular with that crowd! Just off the top of my head I'm thinking that many would be able to relate strongly to several songs on it, such as Life Is A Lemon, Wasted Youth, Everything Louder than Everything Else, Good Girls Go To Heaven (Bad Girls Go Everywhere)... heck, the track list is on Wikipedia, and looking at it, I think *all* the tracks would be germane. Would love to know what you think, if you have a chance to get better acquainted with the album.

world music

Date: 2016-09-28 12:57 am (UTC)
callibr8: Mount Adams from Trout Lake Abbey (TroutLake)
From: [personal profile] callibr8
When is the next prompt call? I'm thinking that some of our (Echo's Children) songs could make very interesting jumping-off points for stories in Terramagne. The first one that comes to mind in that regard is "They Spoke With Their Hands", though I could easily picture "Nuts From The Hazel Tree" and "The Living Earth" being popular with Aidan, Hannah, and the Finns. Here are links to audio samples for Hazel Tree and Living Earth.

have flutes, will travel

Date: 2016-09-28 05:03 am (UTC)
callibr8: icon courtesy of Wyld_Dandelyon (Default)
From: [personal profile] callibr8
>> one of the things that can be done about it is for somebard to pick up their instrument, plunk themselves in a park, and sing songs either showing the consequences of discrimination or encouraging better behavior <<

Hmm, I'd need to polish my guitar skills, or better yet, find someone else who likes to play guitar, and whom I could work with to reprise the multi-part arrangements and close harmonies which EC is (was) known for. Seems like a few locales in particular could use a dose of that!

>> a fun bit of synchronicity: my hazel bush has nuts for the first time this year <<

Fun, indeed! I hope it's the start of a trend.

Re: have flutes, will travel

Date: 2016-09-28 10:12 am (UTC)
callibr8: icon courtesy of Wyld_Dandelyon (Default)
From: [personal profile] callibr8
>> By the way, if you want to play with any of my lyrical poetry, go ahead. <<

Wow. I am honored by the invitation! Is there an index to the lyrical ones in particular? Most of my tune-setting evolves from reading something whose words and/or meter spark melodic ideas.

derivative works

Date: 2016-09-29 05:45 pm (UTC)
callibr8: icon courtesy of Wyld_Dandelyon (Default)
From: [personal profile] callibr8
>> I make stuff to be used and enjoyed. Once I've been paid for it, I tend to be pretty liberal about other folks doing things with it. The only thing I ask is that I prefer to get a cut of any profits made by folks who want to make something for sale. <<

Delightful perspective! Very reasonable, imo. Our views dovetail very well on this.

I took a look at Fifty Feet and Climbing. While nothing has been jumping up and down (like Bob, in Minions), several ideas are percolating. We'll see what emerges.

Re: derivative works

Date: 2016-09-29 07:29 pm (UTC)
callibr8: (Yaaaaay)
From: [personal profile] callibr8
>> Another thing I've considered is writing out more of the songs that Dr. Laser and the Nocturnal Emissions perform. <<

I hope this happens! Whether by yourself or in collaboration with others. Many of the titles mentioned are intriguing, that's for sure!

Hmmmm... given our discussions so far, I think I'm going to drop a note to my former bandmate (LJ: catsittingstill), who was our primary lyricist, pointing her at that poem in particular, as well as Fifty Feet and Climbing, and see if anything happens.

*wanders off, grinning*


ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)

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