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Poem: "Picking Up the Litter" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
Poem: "Picking Up the Litter"
This is the linkback perk for Winterfaire 2016, so you can reveal verses by participating in that project.  It came out of the July 5, 2016 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a prompt from rix_scaedu.  This poem belongs to the Berettaflies thread of the Polychrome Heroics series. So far 26 of 31 verses have been posted.

Picking Up the Litter

(Week 3, Day 7)

Amelia Dunbar stood in the parking lot of
Popcorn Puggles Kennel and Canine Academy,
holding a four-week-old puppy for comfort and
trying not to freak out over all the cop cars.

The Madison Parish police had shown up,
along with a SPAZMAT team, after she had
reported the birth of some bizarre puppies.

Queenie Buttercream had gotten stung
by some bizarre bug while expecting,
so it was a miracle that she had survived,
let alone managed a live birth after that.

Then Amelia had gotten a look at the pups,
who had bronze-colored knobs on their heads
instead of proper eyes waiting to open,
and who'd want a puggle like that?

But she had guests, so she couldn't
just wring her hands and ignore everything.
Instead she cuddled the puppy and smiled
and tried to keep track of all the people
trotting in and out of the kennel.

"Now, Amelia, don't worry," LeRoy said.
"Nobody's going to hurt your dogs,
or steal them. SPAZMAT sent folks
who know animals, so they won't
crowd a new momma dog."

Amelia felt grateful that he had
come along, because LeRoy knew
the kennel -- he had been rooting for
her puggle breeding program because he
hoped they would make good therapy dogs
for the parish police department.

The officer patted her on the shoulder.
"What say we go in the kitchen and
get some lemonade?" he said. "If I
know you, then you put a pitcher on
as soon as we called you up to visit."

"You know me too well," said Amelia,
but her smile turned more genuine.
She was a good hostess, and
that familiarity helped now.

So they both went inside to drink
pink lemonade and eat praline cookies
until the SPAZMAT folks came out
of the kennel to talk with Amelia.

Apparently Queenie Buttercream
was as fine as anyone could tell
without opening the whelping room
to bother her, and the puppies were
all as wriggly and healthy-looking
as could be, except for the eyes.

Amelia listened, and nodded, and
allowed it was okay for SPAZMAT
to access the veterinary records
from when Queenie got stung,
but when they said "berettaflies,"
that's when she threw up her hands.

"I thought all them bugs were
clear down in Easy City," she said.

"So did we," LeRoy said grimly.

Then Amelia remembered a project
she'd done way back in high school.
"Monarchs fly north in spring and then
south in fall, just like geese," she said.
"Might could be these berettaflies
want to fly off the same way?"

The nice SPAZMAT folks groaned
and covered their faces.

"Have some lemonade,"
Amelia said, and they did.

Wasn't much she could do about bugs,
but a bad day could be shored up
with a little southern hospitality.

Inside, her belly had
its own batch of butterflies
heebing and jeebing around,
but she tried not to show it.

She didn't know how to feel
about Queenie Buttercream
and the funny-looking pups.

Far as Amelia was concerned,
all this was somehow the fault of
that blame fool Stylet down in Easy City
whose art project had gone all kinds of wrong,
or whatsisname from SPOON with the bug eyes,
or going back a bit farther, maybe that bunch
of rainbow-wearing wannabe superheroes
who busted up the lab in the first place.

And nevermind they didn't any of them
know about her or her dogs at all.

Now she had that settled in her head,
Amelia felt better. It wasn't any fault of hers
that she'd taken her pregnant dog out for a waddle
and gotten way more trouble than she asked for.

It was all the fault of those fatheads
who'd gone and made a great big mess,
then left her picking up the litter.

"Uh oh," said LeRoy.
"Last time you got that look
in your eye, I had to spend
a whole weekend digging out
a den of dogfighters. What you
got in your head now, Amelia?"

"I just recollected, I haven't written
my blog post for Popcorn Puggles
today," she said with a steely smile.
"Reckon I should go do that, as soon
as folks get out of my hair here."

* * *


Amelia Dunbar -- She has fair skin with freckles, green eyes, and straight strawberry blonde hair to her shoulders, often tied back in a short ponytail.  Her heritage includes Irish, British, and German.  Amelia lives in Afton, Madison Parish, Louisiana where she runs Popcorn Puggles.  She raises puggles, in hopes of developing a consistent breed instead of just crossbred individuals.  She feels that pugs have been overbred and beagles overlooked.  She travels often for dog shows, and always tries to find a knicknack wherever she goes.  So far she has filled collections for 50 states in spoons and thimbles; currently she is working on plates.
Qualities: Master (+6) Dog Breeder and Trainer, Expert (+4) Steel Magnolia, Expert (+4) Strategic Thinking, Good (+2) Collector of Knickknacks, Good (+2) Gentle, Good (+2) Interpersonal Intelligence, Good (+2) Stamina, Good (+2) Traveler
Poor (-2) Anxious

LeRoy Amis -- He has toffee skin, brown eyes, and nappy black body hair.  His head is bald, though.  He lives in Afton, Madison Parish, Louisiana where he works as a police officer.  He enjoys community outreach and outdoor activities.
LeRoy also knows Amelia Dunbar, who runs Popcorn Puggles.  He is a fan of her breeding program because he hopes she'll turn out good therapy dogs for the police program.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Compassion, Expert (+4) Policeman, Good (+2) Community Outreach, Good (+2) Emotional Intelligence, Good (+2) Outdoor Sports
Poor (-2) Limited Education

* * *

Madison Parish is in northern Louisiana.  (This state has "parishes" instead of "counties.")  Afton is a town in Madison Parish.

Puggles are a "designer dog," actually a crossbreed between pugs and beagles.  They are popular for the reasons listed here; they make a good balance between the two breeds that produces a fine family dog.  The disadvantage is that crossbreeding is a crapshoot.  See a young puppy, older puppy, and adult puggle.

The breeder at Popcorn Puggles is trying to turn them from a crossbreed into a stable breed.  She feels that pugs are overbred and way too brachycephalic.  So she selects for puggles that have a moderate amount of wrinkles, a medium-short muzzle, and a curly tail.  Colors include black, fawn, lemon, red, tan, particolor (any of those colors with white), or tricolor (black, fawn or tan, and white).  Puggles often have a black mask on the face.

The name "buggle" comes from "bug" and "puggle" (itself a portmanteau of "pug" and "beagle"). Buggle eyes look much like this.  These are compound eyes, such as insects have; rather than simple eyes, such as mammals normally have.  Read about the different features for each type of eye.

Enjoy recipes for Southern Pink Lemonade and Crispy Praline Cookies.

See the spring and fall migration of the monarch butterflies.  As if that's not enough, rose butterflies migrate too.

[To be continued ...]

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7 comments or Leave a comment
thnidu From: thnidu Date: December 1st, 2016 04:39 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, puppies! I hope they (and everyone) will all be OK. Berettaflies 540 miles from NOLA as the... winged creature flies are bad news.

Vocab notes:
• "brachycephalic" is from the Greek roots meaning "short" "head". (For those of your readers who aren't language geeks like you and me.)
• "Buggles" took me a moment: Bug-eyed puggles, with the same change as ... I forget his name.

ALERT! Your profile page has a "broken image" square under "View my FriendFeed" and above "BlogRankers". That image links to an ad for blogexplosion.com and/or GoDaddy (not sure how they're connected), and it's parasitic: You can't get back to the profile page with the Back button. I've seen this kind of bastardly behavior before; I had to use my History link to jump directly back to your LJ site.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 1st, 2016 05:13 am (UTC) (Link)


>> Oh, puppies! <<


>> I hope they (and everyone) will all be OK. <<

The puppies are fine. They're just not ordinary ones.

>> Berettaflies 540 miles from NOLA as the... winged creature flies are bad news. <<

Very bad news. Stylet has just demonstrated why it's risky to gengineer mobile lifeforms and downright dangerous to use migratory ones. This is what happens when people do mad science without benefit of a bioethics course. Whoopsie.

>> Vocab notes:
• "brachycephalic" is from the Greek roots meaning "short" "head". (For those of your readers who aren't language geeks like you and me.) <<

That's linked in the notes, in case people are reading them, and it goes to a discussion of why breeding for squashed heads is very bad idea.

>> • "Buggles" took me a moment: Bug-eyed puggles, with the same change as ... I forget his name. <<

Facet, rudely known as Bugeye. I'll see about adding a reference to the portmanteau name.

>>Your profile page has a "broken image" square<<

thnidu From: thnidu Date: December 1st, 2016 06:49 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

« This is what happens when people do mad science without benefit of a bioethics course.»
Or assuming that it doesn't apply to them, or something like.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 1st, 2016 06:51 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

There are other people who feel that they don't need to abide by bioethics. In Stylet's case, a majority of it is honest ignorance. This is why part of his restitution for the mess he made will be taking classes in this and other relevant topics.
From: lone_cat Date: December 14th, 2016 06:53 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

As in not knowing that rose butterflies are migratory?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 14th, 2016 08:28 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

Stylet may well have known, or discovered while working with them, that rose butterflies are migratory. What he's missing is a habit of thought that goes like this:

* Gengineering can have unexpected results.
* Butterflies are mobile lifeforms. Some butterflies migrate.
* If contained organisms escape their containment, they tend to move if able to do so. Migratory ones may move quite far.
* Releasing gengineered lifeforms -- or indeed, anything exotic -- into an ecosystem can have catastrophic consequences.
* Therefore, gengineering sessile species is safer than mobile species, and migratory species are the most dangerous of all in terms of travel hazards.
* Responsible gengineers either do not use migratory species, or take extra precautions when doing so, e.g. a killswitch.

Regrettably, L-American gengineers don't make it all the way through this chain either. They're out there gengineering wind-pollinated grass crops and thereby contaminating the entire food supply. Then farmers get sued for "stealing" GMO crops when, in fact, their neighbor's frankenfood has trespassed onto their property and destroyed the value of their own organic produce.

These problems are easily foreseeable, at least for some people, but not everyone sees them until the damage starts happening. And then people usually try to cover it up instead of admitting they made mistakes and fixing those.

Basic bioethics in T-America won't cover everything Stylet needs to know, because this is getting into pretty advanced territory. He can work his way up, though, and that will be good for him. The advanced classes go all the way into coping with esoteric zetetic stuff. That's liable to be part of his sentence.
starcat_jewel From: starcat_jewel Date: December 14th, 2016 05:19 am (UTC) (Link)
That's what I call a "hijacker page", because that's what it does to your computer. My normal solution is to close the tab, then open a fresh tab and navigate back to where I was before I got hijacked.
7 comments or Leave a comment