October 6th, 2010

Origami Mage

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


Poem: "Can She Bake a Scary Pie?"

This poem came from the October 5, 2010 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was prompted by eseme and sponsored by marina_bonomi.  I had fun with this one -- there are bits of Italian culture and European folklore, and Fiorenza is a basically a young wisewoman with an empirical streak.  Just the thing to solve a pesky vampire infestation!

Can She Bake a Scary Pie?

Fiorenza moved through the village
as lightly as a flower drifting in the wind.
She was the best gardener.
She was the best baker.
She was the best herbalist.

So when the villagers began to sicken,
it was Fiorenza who set out to discover why.
What she learned was that
those who came down shaking and pale
with a pinprick rash at their throats
were mostly those who grew tomatoes.

"It's the devil's fruit," the priest said sagaciously
when Fiorenza explained the connection.
"That hardly accounts for the hornworms,"
said Fiorenza, "and they like tomatoes too."
So she ignored the priest and cross-referenced her list
against the people who neither grew tomatoes nor got sick
and the people who grew tomatoes but still didn't get sick
and that's how she discovered the uses of garlic.

From there it was a simple trick
to adapt her recipe for pizza pie
to include garlic as well as tomatoes --
a tasty treat for humans,
but for vampires a deadly bait.

After the problem was solved,
Fiorenza wrote down the new recipe
underneath the one for belladonna rat poison
so that she could teach it to anyone who needed it.

From then on, when a girl
moved into their village,
the mothers would ask,
"Can she bake a scary pie?" --
and if the answer was "No,"
they sent her to Fiorenza to learn how.


Appalachian Literature

This announcement crossed my desk today, featuring speculative fiction with an Appalachian flavor:

BARBOURSVILLE, WV - For the first time in the Mountain State, a book
publishing company will be unveiling three brand new book titles
simultaneously, and multiple Appalachian authors will be on hand to help
celebrate their national release. The event will take place at the
Huntington Mall Borders, this Saturday afternoon, Oct 9th, from 4:00 -
6:30 p.m.

Borders bookstore planners have announced the upcoming appearance of 2009
Bram Stoker Award-winning editor and writer Michael Knost, along with "a
representation of the state's best and brightest writers," including Brian
J. Hatcher, Mark Justice, F. Keith Davis, Jason Keene, Ellen Thompson
McCloud, Frank Larnerd, S. Clayton Rhodes, G. Cameron Fuller, Karin Fuller
and Jessie Grayson.
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The Culture of Authorship

I found this post by mishamish and got into a discussion about different perspectives of authorship.  People interested in crowdfunding may find this discussion useful, as the dynamics of authorship therein are very different from the conventional. 

What does it mean to be an author?
What does it mean to belong to an audience?
How do they interact?
How important is it to know who wrote a work? Who inspired it? Who made it available to the public? Who paid for it?
How are our ideas about the culture of authorship changing right now? What is changing them?
Where do you think all this is going?

Gender Expectations

paradigmshifty tipped me to this article about gender expectations.

I know that this is a real pattern.  It's just not one I share.  Why?  I've never been stuck on the local culture's idea of gender roles.  My mother is the one who's good with computers and mechanical stuff.  I tend to track based on skills rather than gender.  It does occasionally get me odd looks from people who aren't used to having their skills requested, or because I've volunteered for something that doesn't match the expectations created by glancing at my body.  But I wouldn't trade it.

America's Deepening Moral Crisis

I was intrigued by this article, though it offers little in the way of solutions and I'm not particularly a fan of huge taxes either. 

I believe that each society has an obligation to care for its members, equal to the obligation of members to contribute to society.  You don't get to grab the goodies and just walk away.  People must have access to jobs that earn enough to live on.  I'd rather see people take care of each other willingly, effectively, and locally so that folks in need aren't forced to rely on a clunky government or pushy church.  And I think that a fundamental problem today is that people simply don't care about each other anymore -- they're okay with human beings dying of preventable causes.  I'm really not.

America's deepening moral crisis

The language of collective compassion has been abandoned in
the US, and no politician dare even mention helping the poor

By Jeffrey Sachs

President Barack Obama is likely to face difficulty passing
progressive legislation after the November elections.

America's political and economic crisis is set to worsen
following the upcoming November elections. President Barack
Obama will lose any hope for passing progressive legislation
aimed at helping the poor or the environment. Indeed, all
major legislation and reforms are likely to be stalemated
until 2013, following a new presidential election. An already
bad situation marked by deadlock and vitriol is likely to
worsen, and the world should not expect much leadership from
a bitterly divided United States.
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