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Poem: "Telephoto Futures" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "Telephoto Futures"

This poem was prompted and sponsored by nhpeacenik


Telephoto Futures


The psychic photographer does not know
why people are following her.
She isn't very good yet --
she needs to work on her focus,
and she needs to improve her framing,
and when she tries to put her finger on what's wrong
it shows up on the film.
But people are following her anyway.

At first she eludes them by luck.
Then she eludes them with foresight,
snapping images of where they will be
so she can be somewhere else.

When she catches one of them
passionately kissing his mistress
she gets an idea.
That's the first photo that she sells to a tabloid
before the event in question actually happens.

The timing, she discovers, is tricky.
She has to release the incriminating evidence
early enough to be impressively predictive,
but not so early that the victim can spot it
and avoid fulfilling it.

As she studies her stalkers more carefully,
she begins to lose interest in racehorses
and partial lottery numbers.
Instead she learns what they do
when they're not chasing her,
where they work, what they fear.
She learns they are hired by politicians
and by the military,
and that spooks -- like cockroaches --
are terrified of the light.

Smiling, the psychic photographer
visualizes exchanging her long telephoto lens
for a short-range zoom
and a flashbulb.

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Current Mood: busy busy

15 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
aldersprig From: aldersprig Date: August 4th, 2010 12:29 pm (UTC) (Link)

GiggleSnerk

Ysabet, I *love* this! What an amusing pre-coffee wake-up!

I especially liked the line

"and when she tries to put her finger on what's wrong
it shows up on the film."
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 4th, 2010 05:26 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: GiggleSnerk

I'm glad you're so taken by this poem!

"and when she tries to put her finger on what's wrong
it shows up on the film."

I love working with all kinds of imagery. I try to find things that will match the theme of a given poem -- and in this case, I'm using a common metaphor to bridge the everyday experience of shooting a camera with the mystical exercise of psychic photography. The far-out becomes more plausible when linked to the familiar.
aldersprig From: aldersprig Date: August 4th, 2010 05:27 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: GiggleSnerk

The far-out becomes more plausible when linked to the familiar.

I agree. Both more plausible and more stunningly far-out.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 4th, 2010 06:03 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: GiggleSnerk

Suzette Haden Elgin wrote a wonderful discussion of this concept along the lines of "Now do you believe there are wombats?" -- I think it's in her Science Fiction Poetry Handbook. There's a snippet here:
http://www.sfwa.org/members/elgin/SFPoetryHandbook/Index.html
aldersprig From: aldersprig Date: August 5th, 2010 12:24 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: GiggleSnerk

"Anything that you can presuppose, you will not have to claim"

Yes, wonderful, thank you for the link
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 5th, 2010 12:34 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: GiggleSnerk

I highly recommend that book, by the way; it's the best guide to speculative poetry that I've seen.

There's a subtle art to settling unfamiliar ideas into people's minds without startling them in the wrong way. *ponder* I am far better at subtlety in poetry than in most other place.
aldersprig From: aldersprig Date: August 6th, 2010 01:17 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: GiggleSnerk

I was thinking about that while working on a fantasy short story that turned out to want to be a novella - that it's nice to insinuate some things, sketch in a few lines for people, and let them fill in some holes themselves.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 6th, 2010 05:04 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: GiggleSnerk

Writing is like art. The foreground and subject are in sharp focus. The background usually is not. You have to learn how to paint the dusky blue hills in the distance, without trying to fill in every tree back there ... and do it in a way that makes people want to go there.

This is why, as a writer, I try to pay attention to what my characters are noticing. Some of them are obsessed with food, some with clothes, others are like bloodhounds and only notice the trail of action they're following so that the surrounding just kind of fade out. I watch for the moments when someone lifts their gaze to the horizon, or the sky, because it helps the readers understand that there's a whole world out there, and it is not small. Detail, detail, detail ... scope. This works well enough for me that I've had readers make long-jumps to conclusions based on reading between the lines, and peg what obscure culture I was using for partial inspiration, or things like that.
aldersprig From: aldersprig Date: August 13th, 2010 01:43 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: GiggleSnerk

I was thinking of this when I was writing my Friday flash for this week :-)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 13th, 2010 04:36 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: GiggleSnerk

Wow, I love what you wrote! I have linked to it. Glad I could help.
aldersprig From: aldersprig Date: August 13th, 2010 04:37 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: GiggleSnerk

Thanks so much!!
eseme From: eseme Date: August 5th, 2010 02:41 am (UTC) (Link)
So, having taken a photography class, this one really works for me. I love the photography metaphors for magic/fortunetelling.

And I just LOVE the way she turned the situation on her stalkers. That is just great and so satisfying.

Ha, selling things to tabloids before they happen. It doesn't even sound very science fiction...
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 5th, 2010 04:53 am (UTC) (Link)

Yay!

>>So, having taken a photography class, this one really works for me. I love the photography metaphors for magic/fortunetelling.<<

Score! It probably helps that I've been doing more with photography over the last year or so.

>>And I just LOVE the way she turned the situation on her stalkers. That is just great and so satisfying. <<

Stalking, or spy-tailing in this case, is all about control and one-sided knowledge. They really don't expect people to turn the tables on them, but it's a very effective way to deal with the situation. When people are leaning on you that hard ... they've put themselves off balance. That's very exploitable.

>>Ha, selling things to tabloids before they happen. It doesn't even sound very science fiction...<<

Just barely! ;) I wouldn't be surprised if someone had tried this.
rowyn From: rowyn Date: August 5th, 2010 07:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hee! I like the finger-on-film metaphor in the last two lines of the first stanza. :)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 6th, 2010 06:12 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

It's proving popular, and I had fun with it.
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