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Poem: "Blowing Smoke" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "Blowing Smoke"

This is today's freebie.  It was inspired by prompts from fabricdragon, siege, and janetmiles.  I was also thinking of rude joke about making anything "steampunk" by putting gratuitous gears on it.  Also, the cube is real.


Blowing Smoke


Steamsmiths were all a bit mad.
It was something that everyone agreed upon
(at least, everyone who was not a steamsmith)
so that the question was not whether
but how  mad a given steamsmith was.

The Steamsmith Guild lounge
held plenty of examples,
but the one everyone always pointed to
was Old Henry, who had occupied
a seat in the southeast corner for decades,
grumbling about his wife and smoking his pipe.

Old Henry was convinced
that smoke could be used in alchemy.
He had learnt to construct cubical soap bubbles
and blow them full of smoke,
although he had not quite got the hang of
blowing square smoke rings.

Maryam liked the dotty old bloke
because he never made fun of anyone else's experiments,
not even the time she lost control of a reaction
early in her apprenticeship
and went about without eyebrows for several weeks.

He was the first to welcome her
into the Steamsmith Guild,
and even into the lounge --
which had essentially been a gentlemen's club
until Maryam earned her membership --
which recognition she would never forget.

She had fetched drinks for both of them,
and ignored the snide mutters about how
anyone could see that her mother was a maid
and maybe there was a use for a woman in here after all.

Old Henry just grinned at her,
a twinkle in his mad blue eyes, and said,
"Never you worry about what people think, Maryam.
When you're right, you can just tell them
to put that in their pipe and smoke it."

Maryam wondered
if anyone else had even noticed that
the old man changed his pipe at least twice a year,
or that the current model
had gears  on it.

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Current Mood: busy busy

19 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: February 21st, 2012 09:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
*grin* Delightful. I like the way Maryam notices things.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 27th, 2012 06:23 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

Yes, she has a sharp eye and a scientist's penchant for thinking, "That's funny ..." Only she does it with people as well as objects; she can read people up one staircase and down the other. Not sure I've ever seen another character do both so fluently.
kelkyag From: kelkyag Date: February 21st, 2012 09:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
<grin> Old Henry sounds like a fascinating character. I'm glad Maryam found someone in the Steamsmith Guild she gets along well with.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 27th, 2012 06:17 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

Different people in the series will display different virtues and vices. Old Henry is like a pie: a bit flaky, but sweet inside.
marina_bonomi From: marina_bonomi Date: February 21st, 2012 09:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
This gave me a wide grin of my own, I hope Old Henry will be a regular in the series.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 27th, 2012 06:16 am (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

He can be, if people like him enough to request more of him!

I did finally finish the big poem that I was writing when the power blew out, and Old Henry is in that.
tuftears From: tuftears Date: February 21st, 2012 10:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
The cube soap bubble trick is awesome. ^_^

I thought pipes were supposed to get better with age?
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: February 22nd, 2012 01:32 am (UTC) (Link)
I thought pipes were supposed to get better with age?

I'm told they do, but I'm also told that some people have several and choose them for different characteristics.

I wonder if Old Henry is maybe using his pipe as test equipment for his smoke-in-alchemy hypothesis?

[Edited to insert a missing word.]

Edited at 2012-02-22 01:35 am (UTC)
tuftears From: tuftears Date: February 22nd, 2012 01:57 am (UTC) (Link)
*peers curiously*

Well, I may be thinking of meerschaum pipes where the coloring is brought out by smoking. It's unclear to me that this significantly affects the aroma/flavor of tobacco smoked within the pipe.

According to this article briar pipes do need a breaking-in period, consisting of filling in the bowl with a layer of carbon. It also gives this interesting trivia:

Did Sherlock Holmes really use Meerschaum pipes?

Yes! William Gillette is credited with the introduction of the curved, meerschaum pipe to Sherlock Holmes. Gillette found it difficult to deliver his lines on stage using a traditional straight pipe. He found he could hold the curved pipe in his mouth and easily say his lines. The curved pipe has been a part of Holmes image ever since.


Other than that, I don't see any pertinent reason not to just imagine that Old Henry saw no reason not to replace his pipes every six months, as long as he broke them in in some fashion. ^_^
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 27th, 2012 06:09 am (UTC) (Link)

Well...

They actually are little alchemical gadgets. He keeps building new pipes, trying to get them to do things that will eventually be useful.
catsittingstill From: catsittingstill Date: February 22nd, 2012 12:45 am (UTC) (Link)
I wonder what the current pipe will do.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 27th, 2012 06:11 am (UTC) (Link)

Well...

So far, I've seen them blow different fragmentary shapes.
From: siliconshaman Date: February 22nd, 2012 11:34 am (UTC) (Link)
I like the mental images that paints...

Edited at 2012-02-22 11:34 am (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 22nd, 2012 11:42 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yay!

This is definitely one of my more picturesque series. Old Henry in his corner with his steamsmith pipe would make a terrific art print to sell at steampunk conventions.

Also, I love your icon.
From: ext_2315078 Date: December 16th, 2013 07:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
"although he had not quite got the hang of
blowing square smoke rings"

*dies*

I love the steamsmith poems.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 16th, 2013 07:28 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yay!

I'm glad that you're enjoying the series so much. This particular thread does carry through later poems.

Remember, you can ask for favorite characters/series/motifs in any open prompt call. January's theme is "it seemed like a good idea at the time," which lends itself well to The Steamsmith.
From: ext_2315078 Date: December 16th, 2013 08:20 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yay!

You should turn them into a book some time. Yes, that theme does sound like it suits the Steamsmih perfectly. Looking forward! :)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 16th, 2013 08:33 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yay!

>> You should turn them into a book some time. <<

That is indeed a plan for the poetic series. One challenge is that a majority of them, including this one, have open-ended plot structure. Path of the Paladins has a clear story arc ("put Gailah back in power") and so does The Origami Mage ("how does the rivalry resolve?") but most don't.

>> Yes, that theme does sound like it suits the Steamsmith perfectly. Looking forward! :) <<

Yay!
From: ext_2315078 Date: December 16th, 2013 10:16 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yay!

Sweet!
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