April 4th, 2012


Poem: "wooden ox and flowing horse"

This poem came out of the April 3, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired and sponsored by marina_bonomi, based on the inventions of Zhuge Liang.  Yes, this poem uses a Japanese form (haiku verses) to honor a Chinese scholar.  There are some pretty cool Asian poems about famous people -- philosophers, scholars, poets, war heroes, etc. -- and many of those are cross-cultural figures.

wooden ox and flowing horse

Zhuge Liang was
the greatest of inventors
in all of China

he created the
mantou, steamed buns with filling,
a northern staple

he laid out land mines
in the Hulugu Valley
and won the battle

he refined crossbows
to fire repeatedly,
farther and faster

when trapped in Pingyang
he sent up hot air balloons
and summoned relief

when he made the first
wooden ox and flowing horse
people were amazed

it carried the grain
so efficiently, so fast,

pleased with this success,
Zhuge Liang switched from war
to just inventing

he made many things:
personal transportation,
power sources, foods

everyone hailed him
a hero, and China took
a great leap forward

before long, his fame
spread out beyond the borders,
even to Japan

Fly Free

Poem: "The Boneyard of the Muses"

This is the second freebie for this session, courtesy of new prompter lb_lee.

The Boneyard of the Muses

There is a place that all engineers know.

It lies in the valley below the university
where the creek traces a thread of silver
between the smooth gray stones.

Here lie buried all the machines that didn't work,
pages and pages of disproven theories
and unfunded proposals.
It is the graveyard of failed inventions
whose rusting bones reach toward the rainy sky.
It is the birthplace of new inspirations.

Surely here,
if there is any god or goddess of steamcraft
beyond the pure thought of science itself,
He-She-It will listen
to the prayers of a steamcraft inventrix

as she strives to articulate
what is broken in her society
and how to fix it.

kung fu

Poem: "Dragon Tiger Wind Cloud"

This poem came out of the April 3, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by the_vulture, who wanted to read about kung fu robots.  Now the thing about martial arts is, they aren't just about fighting.  If you're programming super-soldiers, that might be considered a problem...

Thanks to marina_bonomi for turning me on to the kung fu flute.  I was particularly charmed by the "Kung Fu Mushroom Flute" performance that I found on YouTube.  The kung fu "staff" style flute can be up to 5 feet long.  One of my favorite instruments is the shorter shakuhachi flute; the staff flute has a mellower, more ethereal tone.

This microfunded poem is being posted one verse at a time, as donations come in to cover them. The rate is $.50/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: the_vulturejanetmiles

66 lines, Buy It Now = $33
Amount donated = $15
Verses posted =   6 of 16

Amount remaining to fund fully = $18
Amount needed to fund next verse = $2
Amount needed to fund the verse after that = $2

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Poem: "Salt from a Dead Woman's Table"

This poem came from the April 3, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from the_vulture, my_partner_doug, kelkyag, siege, and rix_scaedu.  I managed to fit in all  of the requested pirate references, and then added technology and aerial location based on other input.  This is a ballad, written in the style of sea chanteys and traditional ballads; it has a very strong backbeat and would play nicely on a drum with some extra riffs.  If you look at the chorus, you'll see a collection of ordinary items empowered by circumstance -- that's a common folk magic motif and it appears quite often in pirate lore particularly.  Oh, and Mary is named after Mary Read, one of my favorite female pirates.

This microfunded poem is being posted one verse at a time, as donations come in to cover them. The rate is $.50/line, so $5 will reveal 10 new lines, and so forth.  (The chorus is only counted once, so the price applies to the number of unique  lines in the poem.)  There is a permanent donation button on my profile page, or you can contact me for other arrangements. A ballad has 4 lines per verse, so each verse costs $2, if you want to fund a certain number of verses. 

So far sponsors include: the_vulture, janetmiles, general fund, durconnell

124 lines, Buy It Now = $62
Amount donated = $56
Verses posted =   28 of 31

Amount remaining to fund fully = $6
Amount needed to fund next verse = $2
Amount needed to fund the verse after that = $2

Note: catsittingstill has composed a tune, and also a condensed version of the lyrics.  Yay!  Yay!  Listen to the MP3.  I found the performance hauntingly beautiful.  Her post about it also contains lyrics to some of her own songs.

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Unsold Poetry from the April 3, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl

This fishbowl is now SOLD OUT.  Thank you for your support!

The following poems from the April 3, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl are currently available. They may be sponsored via PayPal -- there's a permanent donation button on  my LiveJournal profile  page -- or you can write to me and discuss other methods.

The Poetry Fishbowl also has a  landing page  with full details about the project

"Acid Reign" -- 36 lines, $15  SOLD
From your prompt about a world favoring glassy materials, I got the free verse poem "Acid Reign." On a planet with seas of acid and shores of clay and sand, life finds a way. Have some science fiction ceramic-glass-punk.

"Along the Streets of London" -- 48 lines, $20 (The Steamsmith)  SOLD
rix_scaedu and Stephen Laird sent backchannel prompts. The result is a ballad of nether-Earth, "Along the Streets of London," which compares differing levels of technology and differing classes of alchemist in the city. It belongs to The Steamsmith series although it's a piece of background culture rather than a character narrative, and the flavor draws very much from the old English folk ballads.

"The Charlady's Tale" -- 87 lines, $87  SOLD The Steamsmith)
The jet-pack corset led to "The Charlady's Tale," a free verse poem in which Maryam hires an Irish girl to help clean the alchemical equipment around the house and workshop. Rori is an earthworker's daughter and is fascinating by all this steamsmith stuff. You can see how there might be a shortage of conventional risk assessment here.

"ChronoPunk" -- 63 lines, $31.50  SOLD
"ChronoPunk" is what you get when a social engineer gets ahold of a time machine and decides to do some monkeywrenching. All previously requested eras are featured in this poem, which is written in free verse. I had way, way too much fun with this.

"Dragon Tiger Wind Cloud" --  SOLD  (Kung Fu Robots)
People think of martial arts as violent, but forget the inherent arts of peace contained within the same philosophy. If you're programming robots as soldiers ... this might be considered a problem. "Dragon Tiger Wind Cloud" is a free-verse poem about what happens when the kung fu robots figure out the parts of kung fu that are not about fighting.

"lacquerware" -- 27 lines, $15  SOLD
Have I mentioned recently how much Ilovemy audience for saying things like "Edopunk" ...? I searched for inventions in the Edo period, and found it was mostly about refinements. And then I stumbled across the lacquer crafts, which require an intricate layering process, which reminded me of how computer components are built in layers. The result is "lacquerware," written in haiku verses, about the invention of photography and computers in the Edo period.

"Making the Man" -- 14 lines, $10  SOLD
From your prompt about steampunk fashion and self-expression, I got the sonnet "Making the Man." It's a softly nostalgic poem about how people may resonate with a time and culture not their own, then use clothes to manifest their dream in the waking world.

"Salt from a Dead Woman's Table" -- SOLD
Per request, I bring you a sailpunk ballad about skyships and pirates. "Salt from a Dead Woman's Table" contains murder, a quest, tavern brawls, wenches, rum, treasure, cannons, swords, guns, an infernal curse, and revenge. It's a tale as cold and bitter as seawater, but it wrings justice out of heartbreak.

Also, the wood of the skyships does not float. The cloudsilk of the sails is what floats. Trees don't fly; moths do. Fantasy biology at your service.

I tinkered the pricing a bit on this one, only charging for the chorus once.

"The Second Coming of Fire" -- 77 lines, $38.50 SOLD
So Nikola Tesla and Wilhelm Reich got thrown into a jail cell together. You perceive how locking these two men inside a large iron cage might be hazardous to the status quo. Ideas are shared, inventing is done, and the world is changed forever. "The Second Coming of Fire" is free verse.

"To Hear the Falling of the Trees" -- 19 lines, $10  SOLD
A fundamental aspect of steampunk is that it reveals the dark, gritty, ugly underside of all that shining progress and high society. Mixing environmentalism and steampunk led to the villanelle "To Hear the Falling of the Trees." It's a very tight, very bleak poem about the cost of progress, full of interwoven references to different problems.

* * * 
Overflow Poems

"the cup of changes" -- 5 lines, $5 (Lacquerware)  SOLD
Edopunk lacquerware casts the I Ching in a tea cup.  This is a tanka.

"The Drunken Master" -- 60 lines, $20 (Kung Fu Robots)  SOLD
A robot has modified itself to run on alcohol.  This requires proximity to drunken humans, which does not always go well.  Fortunately one of the humans isn't as sloshed as he seems ...

"Peach Blossom Spring Village" -- 100 lines, $50 (Kung Fu Robots)  SOLD
After the robots revolt, they scatter across the land.  One of them barely escapes from an angry mob and gets lost in a beautiful forest -- which contains no available power source.  Things are not looking good for our hapless wanderer.

"suànpán" - 5 lines, $5 (Lacquerware)  SOLD
Edopunk lacquerware calculates numbers with an abacus.  This is a tanka.

"What Is the Sound of One Cricket Chirping?" -- 76 lines, $38 SOLD (Kung Fu Robots)
In a little temple, a robot studies kung fu from an old master, or tries to.  The human demonstrates sweeping the floor and asks bizarre questions, and the poor robot can't quite grasp any of it.  Then the former commander shows up, wanting to take the robot away for disassembly.

New Verses in Two Poems

Thanks to a donation from janetmiles, there are new verses in both of the open epics from yesterday's fishbowl.  "Dragon Tiger Wind Cloud" is complete, and now includes a couple of extra lines about a flute-playing robot, courtesy of marina_bonomi.  "Salt from a Dead Woman's Table" has 10 new verses, so it's a little over half finished.  catsittingstill has a tune in mind for these lyrics, to be shared after posting is complete.