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Poem: "Casting for Answers" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "Casting for Answers"
This poem came out of the April 1, 2014 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] librarygeek and [personal profile] janetmiles. It also fills the "ice" square on the public card for the Spring and Autumn Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] janetmiles. It belongs to The Ocracies series.  It matches "It Takes Three" (the Matriarchy of Sherin) and "Temperate in Politics" (the Duarchy of Twale).


"Casting for Answers"


The Patriarchy of Darthalem
occupies the mountain peaks
where the ice clings long into spring,
and down the sides of the slopes
clad in deep green fir trees.

It is a good place
to fall and break your neck,
or to set an ambush for your foes,
and so a great many men
get themselves killed
before they can take a wife.

With so many men,
the strongest gather up
as many women as they can
afford to support in a vast mansion,
although it must be admitted that
the men of the orange caste
don't care much for any particular wife.

Other men content themselves
with just one woman and a cottage.
The families of the blue caste
are small but fierce in devotion.

The weakest of the men
are little better than women,
and indeed, often share their professions.
The men of the yellow caste typically work
for the men of the orange caste as servants,
or even catamites, delicate as they seem.

Yet a yellow man will wink
at an orange man's neglected wife
and give her a good time
while the orange man is out
driving his poor blue neighbor
out of a space in the market square.

The blue wife is content,
and will not lie with a yellow man,
but the yellow is busy in the orange court.

Oh, there is ice on the mountains
that shatters and chimes in the spring,
but there is no ice in the hearts
of the folk of Darthalem,
who are more passionate than
their neighbors would ever believe.

Their craggy homeland
may have set them a puzzle,
but they have no trouble
casting for answers.

* * *

Notes:

Darthalem is patriarchal (ruled by men) and patrilineal (tracing male ancestors). It is primarily neolocal (husband and wife moving out to form a fresh household together).

The side-blotched lizard has complex and diverse sexual dynamics, as described in this cute cartoon which helped inspire the poem.

This also ties into the Matriarchy of Sherin and the Duarchy of Twale.

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Current Mood: busy busy

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Comments
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: April 4th, 2014 04:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Intriguing - and thanks for the links to the picture book! I knew that different animals had different social structures, but didn't know a lot of specifics, so this is all new to me.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 4th, 2014 09:45 pm (UTC) (Link)

You're welcome!

I'm glad you liked the poem.

I have long been fascinated by different sex/gender dynamics, and have found the animal world a terrific source of inspiration. So I knew about bonobos, seahorses, discus fish, and several others. I was thrilled to find some new examples with really elaborate styling, such as the side-blotched lizard.

I put the picture books on my wishlist, though they seem to be unavailable at the moment. I'm hoping they'll come back eventually.
kengr From: kengr Date: June 10th, 2017 06:55 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: You're welcome!

The book is back as an e-book for $4. I bought it and grabbed both the zip file (because sometimes it's easier to have the images) and the PDF file (in case I want hardcopy).


book_worm5 From: book_worm5 Date: October 25th, 2015 05:52 am (UTC) (Link)

Animal Lives book

This was going to be a reply to you and janetmiles, but LJ apparently won't let me authenticate that tonight.

It seems there's a Kickstarter on right now to reprint the book you were both interested in. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1438393276/animal-lives-book

By sheer coincidence (or perhaps not?) I went to look at the comics from this, saw that Humon also does Scandinavia and the World, which I enjoy, thought "oh right, I haven't caught up on that lately", and there was a plug for the Animal Lives Kickstarter. 6 days left as of this writing. :-)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 29th, 2015 01:26 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Animal Lives book

Thanks everso! I have ordered a copy.
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