April 7th, 2011

Origami Mage

Poem: "the two alchemists"

This poem came from the April 5, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired and sponsored by marina_bonomi.  She wanted to see what would happen with a Chinese-style alchemist and our paper mages.  But it turns out there are two  approaches to alchemy ...

To read the other poems in the Origami Mage series, visit the "Serial Poetry" page on my website.


the two alchemists


in the high mountains
the origami mage met
an old alchemist

he was practicing
the internal alchemy:
jing  and qi  and shen

they talked by his well
about their rivals and roads,
their joys and regrets

"tell my rival, if
you see him: I have found the
key to happiness"

"tell my rival, if
you see her: I am learning
all about patience"

the alchemist said:
"it would seem that we are on
the same path, my dear"

in the low valleys
the kirigami mage met
an old alchemist

he was practicing
the external alchemy:
metal elixirs

they talked by his hearth
about their rivals and goals,
their hopes and their fears

"I want to learn how
to cut to the heart of the
matter," she whispered

"I wanted the pill
of immortality, but
I was not ready"

"if you could still die,"
asked the kirigami mage,
"would you choose to go?"

the old alchemist
nodded, so she cut for him
an eight-spoked fălún

"tell my rival, if
you see him, that he was right
after all," he said

she agreed, and said,
"I hope that you don't meet my
rival where you go"

then she loaned him her
scissors to cut himself free
of immortal life

she watched his spirit
ride the Dharma Wheel toward a
new lesson at last

kirigami mage
prayed that her rival still walked
among the living

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Ebony Tresses

 A previous discussion about the challenges of African-American hair among dancers has been followed up with gorgeous photos of black women showing off their hair.  Hair like a lion's mane.  Hair that looks like it's flowing underwater.  Hair of spirals.  Hair like short fine wool.  All different, all beautiful.

How could a choreographer look at that and not want to play with it?  I'm not all so much of a dancer, and it's bellydance more than anything else -- but that's enough to make me think of having the dancers leap and dip to set the spirals bouncing, or braiding the hair with long rows of clicking golden beads, or putting one of the girls with mermaid hair into one of the myths about Oshun or Yemaya because French-African culture blends can be awesome.

Bah.  Maybe I should just write a poem.
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Poll: Serial Poetry Perk

The $150 goal has been met, so you get a free poem from an ongoing series.  For this first time, I'm going to offer you a choice of several most-popular series.  Other times you might get a slightly different set of choices.  You get to vote on which series will get the extra poem.  Everyone is eligible to vote.  I'll tally the votes on Friday evening.  Then I'll ask my donors for ideas.  Thank you all for your support!

Poll #1727744 April 2011 Serial Poetry Poll
This poll is closed.

Which series do you most want to get the freebie poem?

The Inkseer
2(10.5%)
Monster House
9(47.4%)
The Origami Mage
3(15.8%)
Fiorenza, the Italian Herbalist
5(26.3%)


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List of Unsold Poems from the April 5, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl

The following poems from the April 5, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl are currently available. They may be sponsored via PayPal, or you can write to me and discuss other methods.


"Anomalies of Mind and Time" -- 18 lines, $10 SOLD
To present the Torn World character Oranaan as a mad scientist, I compared his intellect to the Others. "Anomalies of Mind and Time" is written in free verse.

"Back to Back" -- 26 lines, $15
I loved the phrase "they sleep in the same bed, but never talk" so that became the core image of "Back to Back." This free-verse poem renders various branches of science and mysticism in the metaphor of a dysfunctional family. It is bitter but also a little wacky, like one of those horrible arguments you don't want to listen to but can't walk away from.

"Buggered Up" -- 15 lines, $10
The prompt about mind control and forensics led me into a wicked subtle idea, based on my awareness of how important forensic entomology is to determining time of death (and thus, the timeframe of a necessary alibi). "Buggered Up" is a rondeau about the mind control of tiny flies.[info]aldersprig suggested the rondeau form.

"Catering to the Masses" -- 33 lines, $15
I combined the idea of mad scientists in the kitchen with [info]aldersprig's prompt (on Dreamwidth) about bunsen burners. The result is "Catering to the Masses," a free-verse poem giving a behind-the-scenes look at a convocation of mad scientists. Because hey, somebody has to do the cooking...

"Igor's Creature" -- 110 lines, $55 Microfunding as of 5/10/11
From the prompts about Igor, Igor's view, Frankenstein, and playing God ... I got "Igor's Creature." (Okay, I also threw in some ulterior knowledge from studying the original novel with an eye toward feminist deconstruction of male privilege and class warfare.) This free-verse poem is all about the guy who does the real work while his boss goofs off, hogs the credit, and generally wreaks havoc. Of course Igor winds up cleaning up the mess, but he's also the one who realizes that the monster isn't actually a monster ...

"Lab Partners" -- 38 lines, $15
From the prompt about mad scientists and their secret society, plus others involving white hair and electricity, I got the free-verse poem "Lab Partners." It gives a glimpse of what draws mad scientists together and what their culture is like.

"Lab Rage" -- 76 lines, $38
Two different people asked about "mad as in angry" scientists. So, I give you four low-ranked and frustrated scientists who are tired of being oppressed, their high-ranked oppressors, a weird-ray, a Jesus Gun, and a fire-fight in a laboratory. "Lab Rage" is free verse and all in good fun.

"Nanny Hammer and the Dawnsday Machine" -- 113 lines, $56.50
From the prompt about a benevolent mad scientist, I got "Nanny Hammer and the Dawnsday Machine," a free-verse poem in which a mad scientist teams up with Gaia to save the world from human foolishness. There are guard critters and a two-headed robot.

"Nerds of the Vengeance" -- 69 lines, $34.50
From the prompt about the mad science of marching bands, I got the free-verse poem "Nerds of the Vengeance." Ambitions start small ... but they don't always stay that way, especially when people try to thwart them.

"Pig Tales" -- 38 lines, $15
The prompt about a guinea pig mad scientist combined with others about a spork in a lab and mad scientists with thick white hair. "Pig Tales" is a free-verse poem about the adventures of Jenny, her experiments on human subjects, and what happens when PETA shows up.
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Generally Sponsored Poetry Poll for April 2011

You have $20 in the general fund.  There are four $15 poems left: "Back to Back," "Catering to the Masses," "Lab Partners," and "Pig Tales."  There are two $10 poems left: "Anomalies of Mind and Time" and "Buggered Up."  You also have the option of routing funds into the ongoing epics "Paper, Scissors, Stone" or "The Truth in the Tower."

Poll #1727769 Generally Sponsored Poetry Poll for April 2011
This poll is closed.

How would you like to distribute the $20?

$15 for "Back to Back" and $5 toward an epic
1(5.9%)
$15 for "Catering to the Masses" and $5 toward an epic
3(17.6%)
$15 for "Lab Partners" and $5 toward an epic
0(0.0%)
$15 for "Pig Tales" and $5 toward an epic
1(5.9%)
$10 for "Anomalies of Mind and Time" and $10 for "Buggered Up"
2(11.8%)
$6 to finish "Paper, Scissors, Stone" and $14 toward "The Truth in the Tower"
10(58.8%)

If an epic gets $5, which should it be?

"Paper, Scissors, Stone"
8(57.1%)
"The Truth in the Tower"
6(42.9%)
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Socially Awkward Situations

This is a good list of socially awkward situations.

Some thoughts for improvement:

1) If someone says they don't want to do something, and it's not an emergency, don't rag them about it.  Really.  That's obnoxious.  Respect people's boundaries, unless it's totally impossible or interferes with your own needs in some way.  If there's a boundary conflict, try to discuss it in a rational manner rather than harassing the other person.

2) If you have a hard time describing something in words, try pictures.  For the haircut example, that works great.  Salons almost always have a pile of magazines with haircut pictures.  Flip through in search of one you like or at least find tolerable.
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Kissing Cardinals

I just saw the cutest  thing.  A lady cardinal landed in the bushes outside my office window, and started pecking dead bugs out of the windowframe.  Her mate landed next to her.  She did that beak-gaping thing that birds do when they want attention.  Then they started billing and kissing.  Awww ...!  I bet they are building a nest.  It's that time of year.
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Crowdfunding Update: Hunt Press Computer

angela_n_hunt has posted an update for crowdfunding the Hunt Press computer.  Donations are at $277 of $1500 according to the crowdfunding post, but the IndieGoGo post says $442 so it looks like more money fell into the jar.  Remember, this is the press that wants to publish a hardcopy of "The Origami Mage" series when that's done, so new equipment means better goodies for you.
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Finding Faraway Planets

This article offers some new ideas for planet-hunting.


NASA Telescope Ferrets Out Planet-Hunting Targets

Astronomers have come up with a new way of identifying close, faint stars with NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer satellite. The technique should help in the hunt for planets that lie beyond our solar system, because nearby, hard-to-see stars could very well be home to the easiest-to-see alien planets.
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