There's a Torn World update listing recent additions and modifications. In particular, the Art gallery has been upgraded so that pictures now link to related articles. The next Muse Fusion will be next weekend, October 14-17.
In terms of turning characters inside-out, I've probably done more stories involving torment with foreign languages.
Starting now, the Poetry Fishbowl is open! Today's theme is "ghosts." (You can be creative about different conceptualizations of "ghost" and while the topic is horror-themed, you're free to aim for any tone you want.) I will be checking this page periodically throughout the day. When people make suggestions, I'll pick some and weave them together into a poem ... and then another ... and so on. I'm hoping to get a lot of ideas and a lot of poems.
The linkbacks perk is active. Click to read "Salt and Pepper" (Path of the Paladins) or notify aldersprig of linkbacks to reveal more verses.
What Is a Poetry Fishbowl?
Writing is usually considered a solitary pursuit. One exception to this is a fascinating exercise called a "fishbowl." This has various forms, but all of them basically involve some kind of writing in public, usually with interaction between author and audience. A famous example is Harlan Ellison's series of "stories under glass" in which he sits in a bookstore window and writes a new story based on an idea that someone gives him. Writing classes sometimes include a version where students watch each other write, often with students calling out suggestions which are chalked up on the blackboard for those writing to use as inspiration.
In this online version of a Poetry Fishbowl, I begin by setting a theme; today's theme is "ghosts." I invite people to suggest characters, settings, and other things relating to that theme. Then I use those prompts as inspiration for writing poems.
I'm practicing cyberfunded creativity. If you enjoy what I'm doing and want to see more of it, please feed the Bard. The following options are currently available:
1) Sponsor the Fishbowl -- Here is a PayPal button for donations. There is no specific requirement, but $1 is the minimum recommended size for PayPal transactions since they take a cut from every one. You can also donate via check or money order sent by postal mail. If you make a donation and tell me about it, I promise to use one of your prompts. Anonymous donations are perfectly welcome, just won't get that perk. General donations will be tallied, and at the end of the fishbowl I’ll post a list of eligible poems based on the total funding; then the audience can vote on which they want to see posted.
2) Swim, Fishie, Swim! -- Here is a progress meter showing the amount donated. At $150 you get a free series poem; at $200 you get an extra fishbowl featuring a poetic series.
$275.50 raised, first goal MET, second goal MET
Our old friends and kin watch over us still,
coming and going invisibly through our daily lives.
Time is no more to them than the trees of a forest
through which they can move at will.
Late in the year, when the moon wanes
and the Veil thins to gossamer as light
as a spiderweb dropped on an autumn lawn,
they reach out to remind us of their presence.
Wave a piece of paper past a candle's flame
and seek for a message in the marks of smoke --
such things are easily shaped by spirits,
themselves as ephemeral as light and ash.
Dark as a footprint on new snow,
the image emerges, a plump wolf
loping with mouth agape in silent laughter,
name written not in words but in memory and truth.
Those we have loved remain with us:
they are always there, frost-furred wolves
running through the silver mists of the bright beyond,
herding our futures toward us like so many deer to a feast.
This poem was inspired by a prompt from aldersprig and sponsored by fireun. The idea of haunting a place that doesn't exist anymore got me thinking about prehistoric houses made from mammoth bones.
They are still there,
vague as fog on cold mornings,
stirring and stirring the ancient air.
They are something less than memory,
more than ghosts -- impressions left in bone,
in earth, in jumbled artifacts like a tumble of lost treasure.
This was a home once,
built from mammoth bones and hides,
housing the laughter of families and the press of warm flesh.
The ghost of its past
is still visible in its presence,
white scaffolding shining in the mind's eye.
These were people, once,
and great shaggy beasts huge as houses,
their passage looming large over the dusty steppes.
The echos of these ancestors
linger in the teasing, ceaseless wind
and whisper hunches into the heat of living ears.
The archaeologists shiver
even in the bright noon sunlight,
stumble at a subtle shove but do not know why.
The spirits swirl,
purposeless yet eternal,
bubbles in an eddy of Time's infinite river.
This poem was inspired by prompts from marina_bonomi and my_partner_doug who got to talking about sudden deaths and stuck souls. To convey a sense of the afterlife as experienced by such a soul, I used the extended metaphor of a stranded motorist -- a familiar experience for many folks that should counterbalance the mysterious subject. This poem was sponsored by marina_bonomi.
A sudden unexpected death
is like a breakdown:
you were going somewhere
and then without any warning
The car coughs black smoke,
skids to a stop and lodges
firmly in a snowdrift.
The road is empty
but for the blowing snow,
and now that the heater has conked out
you abruptly become aware
of just how cold it has been all along.
You hate the idea of waiting.
Your fingers fiddle with the door handle,
but you're not dressed for this weather
and you remember the safety rule:
In case of emergency, remain with your vehicle.
So you wait, and you hate it,
and there's nothing going on,
and the windows slowly frost over.
The wind and the snow whisper softly outside,
and gradually your chattering mind quiets itself
as you realize that you're never going to reach your destination,
that you'll be spending the night somewhere else after all.
That's all right, you think to yourself,
the storm cooling the first burn of frustration.
There are other places you can be.
Then, just as suddenly as the breakdown itself,
there comes a loud rapping at the window.
Hastily you roll it down, and there is a grinning towtruck driver
with a truck already backed into position, its rotating lights
splashing the frozen landscape with flashes of warm gold.
You ride to the nearest town in the toasty cab of that truck,
and then there is heat and light and cocoa and bed
and you don't mind so much when you find out
that your car is totalled on account of a seized engine
because you are safe here
and that's all that matters.
It was custom to get rid of them this way --
old tennis shoes and boots and slippers
would be tied together and tossed on high,
snagged in trees or over wires,
left to dangle in the winter winds
until the weather wore them away.
One day a ghost came,
tucked his luminous feet into his slippers,
stood for a long minute leaning on air
and then strode quietly away again,
taking his slippers with him.