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Poem: "Paper and Tiger" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "Paper and Tiger"

marina_bonomi started by requesting a villainess that would require both the Origami Mage and the Kirigami Mage to defeat.  my_partner_doug provided her character class.  marina_bonomi then sponsored the poem.  This is written in tanka verses.  Read about Yìnglóng  online.  You can find other poems in the Origami Mage series through the Serial Poetry page.


Paper and Tiger


Origami Mage
listened to the rumors and
hid in the village
where nobody could see her,
not even the Moon Rabbit

Kirigami Mage
also heard the rumors and
hid in the forest
beyond the village market,
hoping no one would find her

Burning Tiger stalked
through the village square,
looking over goods,
taking all that she wanted
and leaving merchants weeping

she took the last eggs
from the chicken farmer and
all of the silk from
the poor tailor and his wife,
whose children would go hungry

no one dared stop her --
one ronin touched his sword hilt
and she burned him up,
the tiger tattoo blazing
as it prowled across her back

when Burning Tiger
grabbed the baker's cringing son
to make him her slave,
Origami Mage burst from
hiding and cried, "Let him go!"

Burning Tiger turned
with a sneer and flung fire
at the upstart mage --
only to be blocked by wings
as paper geese beat out flames

her dark eyes narrowed
and she cast another spell
burning the paper
that held the mage's power,
leaving her helpless at last

Kirigami Mage
dashed into the market square,
faced the Burning Tiger,
flung paper to her rival
and hissed, "Hurry!  Do something!"

Burning Tiger snarled
at her new opponent and
set her robes ablaze --
Kirigami Mage fell down
and rolled on the ground, screaming

thunder split the sky
as Yìnglóng  responded to
unfolding summons,
filled the air with his cold rain
and crushed the Burning Tiger

"But I only asked
for a modest summer rain,"
Origami Mage
said as she helped her rival
stand in the slippery mud

"Shut up," her rival
advised her as they stared at
the rain-dragon-god
and the fire witch's corpse
and the frightened villagers

Yìnglóng  just chuckled,
like bubbles of springwater,
and healed the mages
with two cool flicks of his tongue
over their burns and bruises

Origami Mage
bowed to her rival and left
Kirigami Mage
silently watched as she went
then folded into a bow

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Current Mood: busy busy

16 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
marina_bonomi From: marina_bonomi Date: January 4th, 2012 09:06 am (UTC) (Link)
Ohhh, yes, yes, yes! It might be straight from a wuxia novel.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 4th, 2012 10:45 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yay!

*bounce bounce frisk caper grin*
I'm thrilled that I got it right!

I do enjoy martial arts as a story motif -- some manga and anime on the Japanese side, some movies Japanese and Chinese, a few short stories, etc. I went and looked up wuxia, which I've seen before but not examined in detail. I was suprised by how close the match was! I guess I've absorbed more than I realized in my casual explorations.
purplefrog26 From: purplefrog26 Date: January 4th, 2012 03:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oooh I like this a lot. I like how the structure supports the story rather than overshadowing it.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 4th, 2012 10:23 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I like using short-short poetic forms as verse forms. Most of the Origami Mage poems are written with haiku verses, but a few have tanka verses or other structures. I find that haiku is good for a 'snapshot' effect when the storyline unfolds in little frame, while tanka gives more room to explore complex interplays and action scenes.
jenny_evergreen From: jenny_evergreen Date: January 4th, 2012 04:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
Excellent! I particularly love the use of "folded into a bow".

Edited at 2012-01-04 04:04 pm (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 4th, 2012 10:20 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

She is not quite ready to accept her growing respect for her rival.
From: angela_n_hunt Date: January 4th, 2012 05:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
HA

*does happy dance*

I love it!!!

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 4th, 2012 09:51 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I'm happy to hear it. I wasn't expecting this one, but it really fills in a useful point of the story arc.
From: angela_n_hunt Date: January 4th, 2012 09:56 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

It's just an absolutely delightful interaction between the two mages and the tiger witch is *scary*!

Just wonderful.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 4th, 2012 10:06 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

Burning Tiger was partly inspired by the tradition of elaborate tattoos among Asian cultures, especially in organized crime and martial arts, sometimes said to convey mystical powers. Tiger is a style of martial art in some schools. "Burning tiger" is a phrase referring to something self-destructive, a symbol of violence or war; not sure whether that's western or eastern though. And "paper tiger" originally meant something that's not as scary as it seems, but has developed a number of counterpoints where something associated with paper is seen to be formidable. So there are all these implications running through it.

Another thing that this poem does is to demonstrate that some people in this setting really abuse their powers. Kirigami Mage, in contrast, is annoying and appears as the antagonist through much of this story arc, but is not truly evil. She's not running around lighting villages on fire or killing people to get what she wants. It's mostly a private conflict.
meeksp From: meeksp Date: January 5th, 2012 12:13 am (UTC) (Link)
This one makes me want to break out the watercolours. Not just the watercolour tool, either...the wet, drippy, might-stain-the-carpet kind. *sigh* Maybe while I'm visiting my parents next week...paint is less of a hazard with hardwood floors.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 5th, 2012 12:49 am (UTC) (Link)

Ooo...

I would just LOVE that. Watercolors are marvelous paints.

Have you ever tried taking yours out somewhere? haikujaguar paints in a bookstore coffee nook. I've known other artists to paint in coffee shops or even outdoors when the weather is nice. Some community centers have suitable space too. You might be able to find a place where people wouldn't bug you.

I think the colors in this poem would work really well in watercolor. The bright fire hues of Burning Tiger, the pastel paper squares, even the cold blues and grays of the dragon if you do the final scene. There are several good points where you could get a really dramatic pose -- I'd probably be inclined to sketch two or three different ones and do a quick color test to see which works best. There's the first engagement where Origami Mage tells Burning Tiger to release the captive boy, then Kirigami Mage interrupting when her rival goes down, and finally the dragon arriving to put out the fire. It would make a fabulous action painting.

If you haven't done something like that recently because of all the cool digitals, it might be useful for updating your portfolio too. You've got the Mikaspace site up to promote your work and people are going there all the time. Something vivid and colorful would be eye-catching there.

Let me know if you decide to explore this any further. I would totally pimp it all over the place.
meeksp From: meeksp Date: January 6th, 2012 05:32 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Ooo...

I haven't tried since I had access to the studios in art school. It can be fun to have other artists around, but I've never been able to work in places that are intended to be social. I might try checking if the local art school has any workspace that's open to the public when I get back.

If I can find the time to do this at all, I'll probably do a series of painted sketches and maybe a finished version of the most popular one if there's any interest.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 6th, 2012 05:43 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Ooo...

>>I haven't tried since I had access to the studios in art school.<<

I think it's worth exploring again.

>>It can be fun to have other artists around, but I've never been able to work in places that are intended to be social. I might try checking if the local art school has any workspace that's open to the public when I get back. <<

I figured that you'd want a place with little or no chance of being bothered. Art school is worth checking, though if that doesn't play out, try other places. Even a public place might do if you went when it's mostly deserted, though private would be better.

>>If I can find the time to do this at all, I'll probably do a series of painted sketches and maybe a finished version of the most popular one if there's any interest.<<

That would be fabulous.

I've been enjoying the watercolor practice series that DW user Limiinal is doing, like this one:
http://limiinal.dreamwidth.org/270740.html
eseme From: eseme Date: January 11th, 2012 04:24 am (UTC) (Link)
Just a late note to say I really enjoyed this one. I liked the spur-of-the-moment teamwork.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 11th, 2012 06:17 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

They aren't quite ready to cooperate on purpose yet, but they'll get there.
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