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Poem: "Paper, Scissors, Stone" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "Paper, Scissors, Stone"
This poem came out of the March 1, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from my_partner_doug and eseme.  They wanted to introduce origami and gargoyles to the Monster House.  To read previous poems in this series, visit the "Serial Poetry" page on my website.

This microfunded poem is being posted one verse at a time, as donations come in to cover them. The rate is $.50 per line, so $5 will reveal 10 new lines, and so forth. There is a permanent donation button on my profile page, or you can contact me for other arrangements. You can also ask me about the number of lines per verse, if you want to fund a certain number of verses.  So far sponsors include: ladymondegreen, aldersprig, janetmiles, laffingkat, eseme, general fund via poll

FULLY FUNDED 4-8-11
98 lines, Buy It Now = $49 
Amount donated = $43
Verses posted = 14 of 17

Amount remaining to fund fully = $6
Amount needed to fund next verse = $1.50
Amount needed to fund the verse after that = $3



Paper, Scissors, Stone


I watched my daughter take to origami
like a fledgling crane takes to air.
Her fingers flew through the motions.

She only used her eye to read the instructions.
Otherwise she left the peering pendant
underneath her blouse and worked by feel,
her sensitive fingertips finding their way along the folds.
We pinned the paper shapes to the bulletin board
and beamed at her in pride.

Then she discovered kirigami
and the moment she set down
her sharp silver scissors, the kitchen table
was covered with flopping calico carp.
She squealed and leaped backwards,
knocking over her chair,
and ran out of the room.

The monster-in-the-closet
burst out of the closet, cast-iron skillet in hand,
ready to kill something.
He looked at the mess of paper and scales
covering the kitchen table and said,
"Uh ... what just happened?"

"I really have no idea," I said,
spreading my hands. "One minute
she was working on a craft project,
and the next, the paper carp came to life."

"Oh well," said the monster.
Then he hollered through the speaking tubes,
"Who wants fish sticks for dinner?"
and took orders from the troll in the basement,
and the bogeyman, and the monster-under-the-bed.
No need to ask the radiator dragon,
who eats just about anything.

When my daughter finally peeked around the corner,
I beckoned her over and asked, "Sweetie, tell me,
where did those scissors come from?"

"I don't really know," she said.
"I found them in a pile of fairy junk."

I sighed. "Well," I said,
"that explains a few things."
So we helped make dinner for the monsters,
and we buried the fish guts in the garden,
and by the time my wife came home
from the computer store,
there was nothing left to do but tell the story
and laugh over what had happened.
That's life in our house.

Our daughter went back to origami,
and there were no more incidents involving fish,
but then one day
she forgot about not using the silver scissors
and brought them out to trim a square,
and the paper gargoyle
came to stone instead of life.

Leathery wings clung close to the hunched back,
while the two legs ended in talons
and the face bore a beak like an owl.
A lion's tail curled around the body, its tuft
caught in mid-motion as if flicking against the ribs.

"He looks scary," said my daughter.
"He sure does," my wife agreed,
but she was smiling. "Honey,"
she said to me, "do you think he could
scare away the pigeons if we put him outside?"
"Well," I said, "people use inflatable owls
and he's certainly scarier than that."

So we heaved the thing up onto the roof
where it made quite a nice accent,
though it only scared away the pigeons
for a few days before they returned.
We just shrugged and went out
to buy our daughter a new pair of scissors,
plain steel ones, at the craft store.
Then we forgot about the gargoyle for a month,
which may have been a mistake.

One night our daughter came to our bedroom
and said, "You have to see this. It's so cool."
We went outside, and she pointed up,
and there in the moonlight we saw the gargoyle
creeping along the ridge of the roof,
bat-like wings spread wide for balance,
eating the pigeons where they roosted.
We agreed that it was indeed cool,
and we all stood there watching,
like backyard naturalists,
while the gargoyle went about its business.

Our daughter even pulled out
a sketchbook with a little silver pen,
and sketched the gargoyle hunched over its prey.

Suddenly, there were two gargoyles on the roof,
eyeing each other warily over the two dead pigeons.
They backed away, hissing and bobbing,
their grey wings mantled like angry owls,
then crouched on the opposite corners
to wait for the coming of dawn.

"Let me guess," I said.
"The sketchbook and pen
came from the same fairy nest."

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Current Mood: busy busy

41 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
aldersprig From: aldersprig Date: March 2nd, 2011 07:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
*grin* Yay!

(Have I mentioned I love this series? :-)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 2nd, 2011 08:45 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I'm glad you like this poem. *grin* Yes, you're definitely a fan of the series. I like the way the serial poetry gains followers.
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: March 3rd, 2011 03:05 am (UTC) (Link)
Whoo boy! This is taking a turn for the eep!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 3rd, 2011 04:26 am (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

... and the gargoyles haven't even shown up yet. *cackle* *rub hands*
eseme From: eseme Date: March 3rd, 2011 05:01 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh! How lovely!

I had done origami as a child, but revisited it as a teen at a summer day camp. It was a mostly athletic camp (and I was not), but one of the activities was origami.

The man who taught us was blind. His work was always better than ours, and I was amazed.

That was... approaching to two decades ago. I had forgotten him, from that one summer. Thank you for this!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 3rd, 2011 05:43 am (UTC) (Link)

Wow!

That is so cool. Thank you for sharing that story. *smile* I think we all have teachers who touch our lives, remembered long or fleetingly. Sometimes I weave my memories of them into stories or poems.
eseme From: eseme Date: April 6th, 2011 02:26 am (UTC) (Link)
THERE'S that gargoyle!

Oh, this is great. Glad I sponsored some more.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 6th, 2011 02:47 am (UTC) (Link)

Yay!

Thank you for revealing more verses. I'm glad you like them. There is more exciting gargoyle action yet to come!
aldersprig From: aldersprig Date: April 9th, 2011 02:02 am (UTC) (Link)
*giggles happily*
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 9th, 2011 02:09 am (UTC) (Link)

Yay!

I'm glad you enjoyed this.
eseme From: eseme Date: April 9th, 2011 02:10 am (UTC) (Link)
Another spot on ending!

Now I imagine gargoyle nests, rather like The Truth in the Tower.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 9th, 2011 02:13 am (UTC) (Link)

Hmm...

I'm not sure how these particular gargoyles reproduce, without benefit of duplicative artifacts. But you're welcome to suggest that sort of thing as a prompt some time, if you're curious.
kelkyag From: kelkyag Date: April 9th, 2011 02:13 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm a little surprised none of the other supernatural household members mentioned the gargoyles, or the possibility, earlier. (Though if there are any who spend time on the roof or in the attic or yard, I'm not sure if we've met them yet.)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 9th, 2011 02:18 am (UTC) (Link)

Hmm...

Thinking about it ... this seems to be a setting in which many things are possible, but not necessarily expected. It would be like trying to predict which bird was going to move into your yard next. And come to think of it, you're right, so far all the creatures seem to be house-oriented. At least some of them can go outside (for instance, in the original poem where they got evicted) but don't seem to do that often.
laffingkat From: laffingkat Date: April 9th, 2011 08:36 am (UTC) (Link)
Cute. This is fun on multiple levels. I enjoy watching how you weave different prompts and ideas and wordplay into your poems.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 9th, 2011 06:04 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

>> This is fun on multiple levels. <<

It's a fun context to explore.

>> I enjoy watching how you weave different prompts and ideas and wordplay into your poems.<<

The prompt weaving varies; sometimes I get a lot that stack together well, while other times a single prompt is enough for a whole poem. I did a lot with hidden allusions this month. You can see some of the same stuff in previous epics like this one, too.
ladymondegreen From: ladymondegreen Date: April 9th, 2011 04:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm really enjoying these!

That being said, we could really have used a gargoyle or two when we lived in our previous house, as the next house over was just a skeleton, inhabited by 4000 pigeons. They make a powerful noise in the mornings.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 9th, 2011 06:25 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

>> I'm really enjoying these! <<

Yay! I'm happy to hear that.

>> That being said, we could really have used a gargoyle or two when we lived in our previous house, as the next house over was just a skeleton, inhabited by 4000 pigeons. <<

O_O Yeek.

>> They make a powerful noise in the mornings. <<

Indeed they do!

When I visited Russia, one place we stayed at had a sort of courtyard enclosed by stone walls, and pigeons flying through it. The sounds were echoed and magnified by the walls. I woke up in the morning to the weirdest combination of roaring moans and clattering wingbeats.
e_scapism101 From: e_scapism101 Date: April 12th, 2011 12:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
Add me to those who also love this series!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 12th, 2011 10:52 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I'm happy to hear this.
fayanora From: fayanora Date: August 5th, 2011 12:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
LOL! I love it!

Again with the red numbers? o_O?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 5th, 2011 06:38 pm (UTC) (Link)

Fixed!

For a while, I was including my line-count numbers, which are helpful in keeping one's place within a long poem. But I can't marginalize them easily, as is done in poetry textbooks. People found that distracting, so I quit posting the numbers -- but I didn't find all the previous examples. So I'm just deleting them as people point them out.
From: rhodielady_47 Date: September 22nd, 2012 07:29 am (UTC) (Link)
I'd love to see what else the kids can find in that fairy nest!
I'm beginning to think there's no way you can over-extend the Monster House concept. This works!
:)

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 22nd, 2012 08:06 am (UTC) (Link)

Thoughts

>>I'd love to see what else the kids can find in that fairy nest!<<

You can always prompt for it in the future.

>>I'm beginning to think there's no way you can over-extend the Monster House concept. This works!<<

We'll see how far it goes.
41 comments or Leave a comment