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

This poem was prompted by janetmiles, whose oblique reference to gaki  spawned wildly because, well, I love gaki.  This particular version shows the 'hungry ghost' who, having lived a life of greed and wastefulness, now relies on the kindness of others to feed the raging hunger.  There are various tidbits of Japanese and Chinese Buddhism tucked in here, and you can see what kind of Eastern-hero the Origami Mage is becoming.  This poem has been sponsored by marina_bonomi.


bowls of rice


origami mage
hikes up the steep mountain road,
weary feet dragging

a neglected shrine
snags at her attention and
she pauses to pray

the incense trembles
in her hand as she lights it,
sweet smoke climbing high

a hungry ghost tugs
the hem of her robe, whining
for food and for prayers

origami mage
takes her white-and-gold paper,
folding bowls of rice

the hungry ghost feeds
on sweet rice and gentle words
offered up freely

origami mage
fills her mind with compassion
and embraces peace

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Current Mood: busy busy

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Comments
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: October 6th, 2010 08:03 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm not entirely certain why, but it reminds me of The Art of Peace, written by O Sensei Morihei Ueshiba:

Do not fail
To learn from
The pure voice of an
Ever-flowing mountain stream
Splashing over the rocks.

:)
marina_bonomi From: marina_bonomi Date: October 6th, 2010 08:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
So beautiful and true. Thank you for posting this.
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: October 7th, 2010 03:24 am (UTC) (Link)
I find a lot of inspiration from The Art of Peace. I've an old, Shambala pocket book version of it that's been with me for a very long time. As beat up and reinforced with packing tape as it is, it still has a place on my altar. :)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 7th, 2010 03:37 am (UTC) (Link)

Hmm...

You might consider pulling prompts from there some time, then.
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: October 7th, 2010 04:39 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Hmm...

*smile* I will keep this in mind.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 6th, 2010 09:04 pm (UTC) (Link)

*bask, preen*

I am intensely flattered that something I wrote inspired that comparison! Thank you. I have come across some of his writings while researching other projects, and found them very insightful.
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: October 7th, 2010 03:27 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: *bask, preen*

I'm glad to bring a smile. :)

I often quote the passage regarding the multiple paths to the singular summit of Mt. Fuji, but I think my favourite is the very first one in the book:

"One does not need buildings, money, power, or status to practice the Art of Peace. Heaven is right where you are standing, and that is the place to train."
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 7th, 2010 04:34 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: *bask, preen*

Ah, I like those!
jenny_evergreen From: jenny_evergreen Date: October 6th, 2010 12:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
Love it!
endlessrarities From: endlessrarities Date: October 6th, 2010 07:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
A particularly lovely poem!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 6th, 2010 07:27 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I'm glad you like this. I enjoy watching this character evolve.
marina_bonomi From: marina_bonomi Date: October 6th, 2010 07:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
The more I read about her, the more I like her. I really, really love how she is developing.

I'd like to know how you as an author 'relate' to her, Elizabeth : does she 'show up' on her own, do you decide that she does somehow fit a prompt or something in between?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 6th, 2010 08:17 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yay!

>>The more I read about her, the more I like her. I really, really love how she is developing.<<

Same here.

She has a very graceful, deliberate air about her, slowly unfolding. Writing her is like watching someone do Tai Chi. Interestingly, I can see quite clearly what she's doing in any given scene, but it's hard for me to see ahead or predict what she'll do next. That's rare, so it holds my attention.

>> I'd like to know how you as an author 'relate' to her, Elizabeth : does she 'show up' on her own, do you decide that she does somehow fit a prompt or something in between? <<

Somewhere in between. She hasn't followed me home yet, or shown any sign of noticing me -- but I wouldn't be surprised by either. She has more depth and solidity compared to average characters. She's the kind of character who pops up with a bit of inspiration when she wants to; I can go looking for her on purpose, with a pretty good chance (but not a guarantee) of finding her.

With prompts, there's a kind of 'click' if they connect to something previously established, like a setting or a character or a series. Sometimes they'll stick together within a context just established in that fishbowl; other times they reach back or out to something else. I knew the gaki prompt was going to spawn and spawn all day, and the compassionate feeding tidbit was in a reference that I read early on. Then right at the end, I thought of the Origami Mage, and it was "Aha! That's who would be feeding a hungry ghost." And the whole poem pretty much wrote itself at that point.

If I wanted to, I could probably sit down with Japanese-Chinese-Buddhist-origami resources and browse through them until relevant bits sprouted into poems. At some point I may do that just to diversify the forms a bit; I like other Asian poetry, but the fishbowl prompts run to haiku chains because they tend to be complex little stories. Any time I've got a strong source behind a given character or setting, I can use that to spark new material. It's just a matter of flipping through the original, looking for bits that catch my attention, and asking, "What would this do over here?"

That's why I need a live net connection to make the best of a fishbowl -- I often get prompts that touch on a culture or field that I'm passing familiar with but want to research further. I'll go find an article or few and skim them for details. That prompt from janetmiles led me to a book that talked about gaki in some detail, a couple other articles, and then I went hunting for Buddhist quotes. Though to be fair, the punchline from "The Wind Eaters" was one I already had memorized; with the conclusion for "bowls of rice" I only knew that I needed something about 'compassion' or 'mercy' there.
marina_bonomi From: marina_bonomi Date: October 6th, 2010 08:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you for the in-dephth answer.
It's wonderful to get to look 'behind the curtains' so to speak, at the development of a character and her relationship with the author, it's really appreciated, Elizabeth.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 7th, 2010 02:31 am (UTC) (Link)

*bow, flourish*

Happy to be of service! I really enjoy the audience interaction too. It's one of the main appeals in cyberfunded creativity.
siege From: siege Date: October 7th, 2010 02:53 am (UTC) (Link)
As I was reading this I overheard a dragon speaking of you -- as "Na'U a'hu e": She who brings little blessings ("she-comes little blessing", referring also to a friendly greeting). It seems that your knowledge and insight are being given much respect among those who move around me.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 7th, 2010 03:34 am (UTC) (Link)

Wow!

That is so awesome. Thanks everso for sharing!

It never really occurred to me before, but I think the strong worldbuilders are more visible to people in other worlds. This isn't the first time I've been spotted -- and described or hailed -- but usually it's by characters belonging to someone I'm pretty close to. I'll have to keep an eye out for more examples.
siege From: siege Date: October 7th, 2010 03:41 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Wow!

Not characters so much; spirits. The characters I have written for haven't done much in the way of meta-activity.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 7th, 2010 03:43 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Wow!

Ah, well, I'm bloody conspicuous to spirits. No surprise there. Hi, all! *dip wingtip*
eseme From: eseme Date: October 7th, 2010 03:43 am (UTC) (Link)
I like the haiku format a lot.

I am also very intrigued by your ongoing characters. I wonder if at some point in the future you could publish an entire chapbook of Origami Mage stories, or the Italian pizza-scientist, or the ink-scryer.

I'd enjoy that.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 7th, 2010 03:59 am (UTC) (Link)

Thoughts

>>I like the haiku format a lot.<<

The haiku chain seems to be a prevailing form for this storyline, because it captures the Asian flavor while allowing narrative development. At some point I'll probably sit down and work up some other forms for sake of diversity, because there are other Asian ones that I really like.

>> I am also very intrigued by your ongoing characters.<<

It has taken a while for the Poetry Fishbowl to develop to this stage, but I really like it. I wonder if these will start building a following the way some web-serials do on the fiction side.

>> I wonder if at some point in the future you could publish an entire chapbook of Origami Mage stories, or the Italian pizza-scientist, or the ink-scryer. <<

*grin* I've already been approached by a publisher regarding the Origami Mage set. We're going to see how that series builds up. I think it's going to get big enough to make a good chapbook.

The others ... I don't know. It depends on how popular they turn out to be. One possibility would be to bundle some of the sets together, if they aren't big enough individually. I've got 2 of the ink-scryer. I think there were 4 of the Sugar-Sea poems (the cockroaches and the manta rays). 2-3 dogsbody poems. 3 about the paranoid shapeshifting starships and IT(s). A couple from a post-technological future. A couple set on Botannia. Hmm, plus the Queen Choufa series from years ago; I've recently placed a couple of those, and I think there are at least four of them. Those add up.

>>I'd enjoy that.<<

Input is always welcome!
eseme From: eseme Date: October 7th, 2010 01:04 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

I would definitely enjoy themed collections. Far future poems, fantasy poems, poems about fantasy characters... etc.

I should go back into your archive sometime. When I have that mythical free time.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 7th, 2010 06:11 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

>>I would definitely enjoy themed collections. Far future poems, fantasy poems, poems about fantasy characters... etc. <<

Currently in progress are a collection of nature poems and one of science fiction poems. I have a draft manuscript of heroic fantasy poems but that fell through with the first publisher; I may be able to find another eventually.

>>I should go back into your archive sometime. When I have that mythical free time.<<

*chuckle* I sympathize.

You can either hit the "poem" tag and scroll back, or visit the Poetry Fishbowl Landing Page which has links to the report posts (each of which links to the posted poems from that month).
helgatwb From: helgatwb Date: March 17th, 2014 01:23 am (UTC) (Link)

Beautiful

I am very moved by this. Good tears, very good tears.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 17th, 2014 01:29 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Beautiful

Yay! I'm glad you found it so touching.
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