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Poem: "The Care and Feeding of Peeves" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "The Care and Feeding of Peeves"
This poem was inspired by LJ user Ng_moonmoth. It has been sponsored by [personal profile] pocketnaomi. It belongs to the Monster House series.


"The Care and Feeding of Peeves"


We're not the only household
with an unusual assortment of pets,
from the aquarium full of eyes to
the radiator dragon, along with
a seeing-eye gremlin who is
actually a service animal.

A few blocks over there is
the crazy peeve man, kind of
like a crazy cat lady only instead
of collecting felines he gathers in
the nuisances that other people
have abandoned along the way.

When you pay attention to something,
when you actively feed it, then it tends
to grow on you; and sometimes,
it takes on a life of its own.

But if you stop taking care of it,
then it gets hungry and goes looking
for a new owner to keep it company
and treat it properly as a pet.

We see them at the local park
on the weekends, Mr. Peebley
and his pack of pet peeves all
yipping and dancing around him
like a whole pound's worth of mutts.

Sometimes there's a fellow who
comes in from the county with
his flock of scapegoats, and
the two old men sit down to talk
about whether it's better to warn
people they're getting attached to
a strange pet or not, and which is
the best brand of peeve pellets.

They swap lines from their favorite books,
The Care and Feeding of Peeves and
Practical Scapegoat Raising.

If it's not too hectic, we stop
to chat for a little while, and
they tell us about which cities
have Mythical Beast Supply Shops.

There's talk of another attempt to start
some kind of Ephemeral Animal Control,
but those motions are always begun by
hunters, and nobody with any sense
really wants to call them for help.

Besides, if it weren't
for the pet peeves and
the scapegoats -- and all of
the people taking care of them --
then we'd have to keep our own problems,

and that would really suck.

* * *

NOTES:

The Crazy Cat Lady trope is one iteration of people turning to animals for company when humans fail to provide it.

A pet peeve is a minor irritation which annoys a particular person to a major degree.

A scapegoat is an animal or person blamed for the wrongdoing of others.

An egregore is a thought construct, usually created through a deliberate ritual, but sometimes by accident. Within this setting, pet peeves and scapegoats can spin off into egregores in this fashion.

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Comments
ng_moonmoth From: ng_moonmoth Date: September 7th, 2016 01:18 am (UTC) (Link)

Whee! So much fun!

Just what I asked for. And, of course, the Monster House storyline is exactly the right place.

Amusing and interesting that there's a name for the category of being that includes incarnated peeves.

Loved the ending! Understanding that something has a function that can be useful goes a long way toward making it a normal part of the environment.

Thanks for the poem, and the insights it provided.
pocketnaomi From: pocketnaomi Date: September 7th, 2016 01:31 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Whee! So much fun!

That was awesome, Ysabet; thank you. I really love the flock of scapegoats; I want a few now!
ng_moonmoth From: ng_moonmoth Date: September 7th, 2016 05:25 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Whee! So much fun!

>> I really love the flock of scapegoats; I want a few now! <<

I would hazard a guess that their hair is not well suited to use in fiber arts. I suspect it is coarse and difficult to spin, and the result is likely rather rough. These would, however, be desirable properties for anyone wishing to work up a Hair Shirt; someone who wished to do so might well be interested.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 7th, 2016 05:29 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Whee! So much fun!

Well, it would depend on the type of goat. Some breeds, most notably the Angora, are quite prized for fiber production. A majority of goats have coarse hair as you have observed, and I agree that a Hair Shirt made from scapegoats would be a truly memorable artifact.
ng_moonmoth From: ng_moonmoth Date: September 7th, 2016 03:34 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Whee! So much fun!

>> Well, it would depend on the type of goat. Some breeds, most notably the Angora, are quite prized for fiber production. <<

Indeed, there is quite a range. But because it depends on the breed, I expected that an incarnation of a behavior that is often expressed in coarse language, difficult to spin as courteous or civil, and frequently results in rough treatment would have hair to match. :-)

>> a Hair Shirt made from scapegoats would be a truly memorable artifact. <<

Especially for someone who endured the effort and frustration that would surely accompany making their own.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 7th, 2016 07:24 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Whee! So much fun!

>> Indeed, there is quite a range. But because it depends on the breed, I expected that an incarnation of a behavior that is often expressed in coarse language, difficult to spin as courteous or civil, and frequently results in rough treatment would have hair to match. :-) <<

Sounds like you haven't many many of the people who hide their malice behind sweet words and a fake smile. I imagine those are the ones responsible for the Angora scapegoats.
ng_moonmoth From: ng_moonmoth Date: September 7th, 2016 08:15 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Whee! So much fun!

>> Sounds like you haven't many many of the people who hide their malice behind sweet words and a fake smile. I imagine those are the ones responsible for the Angora scapegoats. <<

Oh, I have. Such folks are all too prevalent in my career path.

I expect, however, that as in your Fledgling Grace storyline, incarnation would reveal truth. The long, fine strands of Angora scapegoat hair are likely too brittle to remain intact, and too slick to hold together, during preparation and spinning.
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: September 10th, 2016 02:21 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Whee! So much fun!

I'm sure I've told you this before, but it continues to amuse me, so I'll tell it again.

"Bless your heart" is a Southern statement that can be spoken in two different ways.

There's the actual request for a blessing: "They had a bad fire and lost almost everything. The church is having a bake sale to raise some funds to help them, bless their hearts."

And then there's the Angora: "Did you hear what happened at the church picnic? Frank thought the burgers were taking too long to cook and the grill needed to be hotter, so he dumped gasoline on it. Bless his heart!"

But it was BarbaraFox from alt.callahans who taught me the true superlative form.

"*sigh* *tsk* *shake head sadly* His Momma tried, bless her heart."
pocketnaomi From: pocketnaomi Date: September 7th, 2016 06:54 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Whee! So much fun!

Their milk, however, is exceptionally soothing, and is taken warm as a remedy for insomnia and humiliation, and applied externally -- usually by concerned friends -- to snap patients out of guilt trips.
cat_sanctuary From: cat_sanctuary Date: September 7th, 2016 08:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
(chortles) I forget at the moment who wrote a novel in which the peeve was visualized as a real alien animal, with a personality halfway between a cat's and a pig's, which it expressed by speaking fluent English.
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