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Poem: "With Mortal Flesh and Iron Will" - The Wordsmith's Forge — LiveJournal
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
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ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "With Mortal Flesh and Iron Will"

This is the fourth perk poem for the 2011 Winterfaire.  (Double back to read the first three, "All in the Family," "Gallery of Souls," and "Wipeout," which are now complete.) All of these activities will unlock a verse each time someone does one of them:

* link to the Winterfaire page to boost the signal
* comment posting a Booth of your wares/services in the Winterfaire
* buy something from a vendor listed in the Winterfaire 
* host a similar holiday market in your own blog or other venue
LiveJournal will notify me of comments to this post and links to it elsewhere on LJ; for everything else, you need to TELL ME in order to get credit for it. 


Leftover verses are now being used as perks for responding to the "Let's Talk About Ebooks of My Poetry" post. This poem is now complete!

"With Mortal Flesh and Iron Will" belongs to the series The Clockwork War.  It's military science fiction about an invasion of alien robots and humanity's valiant battle for freedom.  You can read more about this series on my Serial Poetry page. Participants so far: red_trillium, ariestess, jenny_evergreen, kelkyag, ankewehner, natf, marina_bonomi, angela_n_hunt, the_vulture, haikujaguar, siege, laffingkat


With Mortal Flesh and Iron Will


The bots were winning.
Humanity fought tooth and nail --
but against a foe that never tired,
neither sweated nor slept,
thought faster, reproduced faster,
and above all felt no pain,
there was a limit
to what mortal men might do.

So they changed the rules,
cut monkeyshines through inevitability,
as their ratlike ancestors had once
dared to rob the nests of dinosaurs.

They hacked into the enemy corpses
to study the hardware and the software.
What they could comprehend, they copied,
and what they could not copy,
they simply stole.

They had, after all,
an effectively endless supply
of slain enemies.

It was not so simple,
they learned,
to marry flesh and metal.
The signal burned through nerves,
threshed muscle to pulp.

The military scientists tested prototypes
on mice and pigs and gorillas,
made refinements at every step,
and advanced with desperate haste.
Men died screaming.
Yet they never ran out of volunteers.

The quadriplegic soldiers were determined to serve.
These were men with their arms and legs blown off,
necks or backs broken, nerves shorted out.
They lay in their beds and hated the bots,
eyes burning like lasers at the smooth white ceiling.
"Give us a weapon we can fire," they demanded,
"and we'll go to battle if we have to crawl on our bellies."

"You'll crawl," the scientists swore,
but not on your bellies."

Josiah Andrews became the first to survive the interface,
passing through a mind afire to emerge with nerves yet whole,
welded into a cybertank the size of a small building.
They cleared out a parking lot for him to learn his new body,
chalking lines to be followed and targets to be destroyed.
He obeyed, dutifully, and did well enough --
but the bots staged an attack halfway through training.

Commands came down the line,
and Tanker Andrews was sent forward.
He crawled on treads of carbon fiber and diamond,
crushing obstacles beneath his armored weight.
The rambots charged him in herds,
but they bounced off his battlesteel sides.

The bottlenecks tried to trap him,
but he spat napalm deadlier than dragonbreath
and reduced them to a thin slick of glowing slag.
His steering was still poor, but his aim was excellent,
and in the end, that was all that mattered.

Humanity had its edge back.
Now they could take this clockwork war to its makers,
with mortal flesh and iron will.

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Current Mood: busy busy

16 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
fayanora From: fayanora Date: December 4th, 2011 02:12 am (UTC) (Link)
Hmm... the description of the poem series mixed with my ever-present desire to see stories about good AIs, and brought me back to one series I have where humans and AIs get along pretty well, and now I've got an idea for a story wherein aliens invade Earth and get their asses handed to them in combat by humanity's AI friends.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 4th, 2011 02:26 am (UTC) (Link)

Go for it!

You should totally write that.

Hmm, it reminds me of a short story I once read, told from the viewpoint of a starship AI and written in computer time -- the whole thing took just a few seconds in meat time. Wish I could remember the title.

Anyhow, if you want stories about heroic AIs, just watch for an opportunity in my Poetry Fishbowl. There's a whole batch of heroic themes coming up.
fayanora From: fayanora Date: December 4th, 2011 02:30 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Go for it!

Cool!
fayanora From: fayanora Date: December 4th, 2011 02:35 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Go for it!

I think my favorite example of good AIs (if they can be called that) in fiction is the planet of the mobiles in the Young Wizard series. The planet itself gained something approaching sentience all on its own, but didn't really come into its own until Dairine showed up and began communicating with it. Then she taught it wizardry and the surface exploded with independent sentient units the planet made from its own substance. What was coolest was, they turned down the Lone Power's offer! They totally gave the Lone Power the finger, and survived the encounter. Which is just frakking awesome.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 4th, 2011 02:45 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Go for it!

Yes, exactly!

But I think that Dairine, who is a Wizard, truenamed the Lone Power as GIGO. Garbage In, Garbage Out. The Lone Power created death, which was a pretty awesome thing to do, and everyone else threw a giant fit and ... well, what what would you do if you put a whole lot of work into something and then everyone dissed it? It was the First Mistake. And everyone made it TOGETHER.

Garbage in, garbage out. Until Dairine came along and put something ELSE into the buffer. Go go Junior Jedi.
fayanora From: fayanora Date: December 4th, 2011 02:47 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Go for it!

LOL @ "Junior Jedi."

Yeah, Lone Power = GIGO. :-D
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 6th, 2011 02:12 am (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

That's a good idea. I don't think I've seen it done.
lb_lee From: lb_lee Date: January 5th, 2012 07:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
I LIKE this. Admittedly, cyborgs are one of our pet favorites, and CLUNKY machinery too. Both together is freaking awesome, and a nice twist on the whole "evil robots conquer the world" trope.

Like! :D
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 5th, 2012 08:04 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

>>I LIKE this.<<

I'm happy to hear that. Chime on the "Let's Talk About Ebooks of My Poetry" discussion and you can unlock the last verse.

>>Admittedly, cyborgs are one of our pet favorites, and CLUNKY machinery too. Both together is freaking awesome, and a nice twist on the whole "evil robots conquer the world" trope.<<

Heh ... yeah, this series was like: "You will be assimilated. Resistance is fut--AUGH! NO! Let go of that, you fuzzy vermin. I NEED that! HELP!"

There are two more poems in The Clockwork War, "Confusion to the Enemy" and "In the Line of Duty."

I also have an unrelated poem about a cyborg in contemporary times, who has accrued what mechanical and cyber support items he can find available, only nobody accepts that those are part of him. It's a horrible situation, and inspired by a true story.

lb_lee From: lb_lee Date: January 6th, 2012 02:13 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

A question. I know you have a lot of tags, but they seem more organized by your writing genre rather than the name of the series. I'd love to read more of your Clockwork War stories, but there isn't a tag for it. I realize with the amount of writing you've got on your LJ that keeping track of it must be a pretty monumental task, but do you have a sort of... 'Table of Contents' around somewhere? So I can easily find what writing you have up and what is still needing funding?

--Rogan
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 6th, 2012 05:33 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

I don't put the series in tags because there are a LOT of them by now, and more coming all the time. What I've done is create a Serial Poetry page:
http://penultimateproductions.weebly.com/serial-poetry.html
It lists all the series with their poems in my best estimate of series-chronological order. Published poems are linked and available poems are priced. There is a permanent PayPal button on my LJ profile page, or you can contact me for other options.

So for instance, the Clockwork War is the third series listed and it has five poems. Three are linked, and the other two have line count and price under them. This is one of the few series that didn't grow out of the fishbowl -- it was inspired by a previous discussion here about disabled characters in comics. I thought, well, I can't draw but I can sure write poetry! The first four fell out of my head all together, and the fifth appeared later. It's a completed miniseries just waiting to be fully published.

You might also like to browse lists of unsold poetry. You can find them by clicking the "shopping" tag:
http://ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com/tag/shopping
They are also listed on the Poetry Fishbowl Landing Page, which has full details about the project as a whole:
http://ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com/730515.html

If you know that you want to buy some poetry, and you'd like a particular topic but aren't sure where to find it, you can ask me. I have thousands of poems and can hunt for ones on a theme.

Finally, I have a contributor page on Torn World:
http://www.tornworld.net/members/memberinfo.php?id=13
There you can find my poems and stories for that setting. I write about Rai, who is blind, fairly often. I've also done Marai, who is deaf; and Brelig, who is missing a hand and wears a prosthesis. Some other folks have written about handicapped characters and/or adaptive equipment too. My unsponsored stories are set for supporters only; a subscription to the Torn World site will let you see all of them, or you can sponsor individual items to make them publically visible. I customarily put the price for unsponsored items in the notes underneath, so scroll to the bottom after you finish reading and you should find it.
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 5th, 2017 06:47 pm (UTC) (Link)

gestalt: a whole greater than the sum of its parts

>> I also have an unrelated poem about a cyborg in contemporary times, who has accrued what mechanical and cyber support items he can find available, only nobody accepts that those are part of him. It's a horrible situation, and inspired by a true story. <<

Has this one ever gotten published? If so, what's the title? -- Callibr8
natf From: natf Date: January 6th, 2012 08:25 am (UTC) (Link)
I really liked this - nice ending too!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 9th, 2012 05:11 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I'm happy to hear that.
fayanora From: fayanora Date: January 6th, 2012 08:53 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh so awesome!
rix_scaedu From: rix_scaedu Date: January 6th, 2012 11:36 am (UTC) (Link)
There are now obviously tank driving courses and tank driving courses. The instructors will have to revise their methods. :)
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