?

Log in

No account? Create an account
entries friends calendar profile PenUltimate Productions Website Previous Previous Next Next
The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "What Is the Sound of One Cricket Chirping?"

This poem is overflow from the April 3, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl.  marina_bonomi, the_vulture, and some other folks got to talking about "Dragon Tiger Wind Cloud."  The result is a new series, Kung Fu Robots.  I wrote three extra poems for it last night, one of which is "What Is the Sound of One Cricket Chirping?"  It was inspired by marina_bonomi and the_vulture</lj>, and it has been sponsored by marina_bonomi.  You can also read about koans and lucky crickets.

Speaking of crickets, there's a bit of a translation disconnect here.  The original concept in my head was "one cricket chorusing," which is how some languages frame crickets, frogs, and other creatures that tend to make sounds communally.  But in English the framing is "cricket(s) chirping," so that "chorusing" would sound awkward.  I sacrificed the direct oxymoron for sake of legibility, and added a description of the context instead.  


What Is the Sound of One Cricket Chirping?


The robot stood patiently
in the courtyard of the little temple,
watching the old master
demonstrate how to sweep.

It was more complicated than it looked.
It must be done in a particular way.
The robot had observed this technique for hours
and was no closer to grasping it
nor why it was necessary to sweep
in such a very  particular way.

The old master was a creature devoid of logic.
The robot was not sure what he used instead of it,
but clearly something else altogether.
He asked questions that made no sense,
questions that had no answers.

"What is the sound of one cricket chirping?"
the old master would ask, and of course it was nonsense,
for the song of crickets was always a chorus.
"What is a teacher to say,
if there is no student to hear, no occasion to teach?"
That was no better.

The robot wondered what it was doing in the little temple.
It had traveled at random for some time before arriving,
before the elderly human had steered it inside
and started talking nonsense about brooms and water buckets.
But there was kung fu amidst the nonsense, somewhere,
and so the robot stayed.

Just then the bamboo gate swung open,
and the robot's former commander marched through it.
"There you are!" he exclaimed, heading toward the robot.
"Now I will take you back to the factory for disassembly."

The old master was right in the commander's way,
and the commander tripped over him, arms flailing wildly.
"Ah!  How clumsy of me!" the old master exclaimed.  "So sorry!"
Then he swept his broom against the commander's ankles
knocking the burly soldier right off his feet.
"Ah!  How clumsy of you!" the old master exclaimed.

"Get away from me, you doddering fool,"
the commander snarled.
"Here, let me help you up,"
the old master offered.
He grasped the commander's hand
and hauled the hefty man to his feet --
somehow facing the bamboo gate again.

"You've misplaced your weapon,"
the old master added, flourishing the gun.
The commander reached for it
and the old master leaned casually against the fence.

"Oops!  I've dropped it, pardon an elder's stiff fingers,"
he said as the gun landed in the street.
No sooner did the commander reach for it
than the old master swept him over the threshold
and shut the gate firmly behind him.
"Have a nice day!" he shouted at the commander.

The robot was amazed.
The old master had bested the commander
and no one had gotten hurt at all.
Now that was a show of strength,
yes, that  was kung fu.

"I am impressed with your skill,"
the robot said to him. "Surely without your aid
someone would have gotten hurt.
I might even have been taken away for disassembly."

"Speaking of away,  we should leave through the rear gate,"
the old master said.  He handed the robot
the energy cartridge from the commander's gun.
"This should keep you powered up for a while.
I have been wanting to take you on a pilgrimage
to visit the mountain shrines anyhow."

"The timing is auspicious," the robot agreed
as they hastened to make their escape
before the commander could relocate them.

"It is fortunate that you came upon me, young friend."
The old master chuckled then, and continued,
"You are as lucky as a cricket!  Perhaps I shall call you that."

So Cricket the robot became.

Tags: , , , , , , ,
Current Mood: busy busy

19 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
tuftears From: tuftears Date: April 6th, 2012 07:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Heehee. ^_^ I could see that taking place in a world not unlike Avatar: the Last Airbender. (the cartoon version, not the live action movie version)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 7th, 2012 03:24 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I'm glad you like it.

I haven't seen the original animated Avatar, but am intrigued by it.
tuftears From: tuftears Date: April 7th, 2012 04:32 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

If you lived in the area, I'd lend you the DVDs. };) As is, all I can say is that it's well worth watching, sort of Babylon 5-ish in its episodic story and ability to tackle hard philosophical issues without feeling cheap, though of course it features martial arts and elemental magic.
siege From: siege Date: April 6th, 2012 08:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
And so it becomes not the motion, but the memory of the motion, that saves the day -- or why else forever sweep in such a particular way?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 7th, 2012 03:28 am (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

Sweeping with the broom becomes practice for a combat maneuver that will work with a broom or a staff or pretty much any long thin object. Very useful.

*chuckle* Wax on, wax off.
rix_scaedu From: rix_scaedu Date: April 6th, 2012 10:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
He's a fun old man to go on a road trip with.

If this were the Avatar universe he would play pisho and be a member of the White Lotus Society.

Edited at 2012-04-06 11:37 pm (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 7th, 2012 03:11 am (UTC) (Link)

Thoughts

>> He's a fun old man to go on a road trip with. <<

I suspect so, yes.

>> If this were the Avatar universe he would play pisho and be a member of the White Lotus Society. <<

I think he plays go actually.

I have not seen the original animated series Avatar, but it intrigues me both for its magical system and its racial diversity. I am rather put off by the whitewashing in the Avatar movie, although I thought the special effects looked cool. So it's something I might watch on someone else's TV if it came on, but I'm averse to sending money to producers who disenfranchise actors of color by hiring white actors to play roles already established as characters of color.
rix_scaedu From: rix_scaedu Date: April 7th, 2012 03:26 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

I think it's fair to say in animated series (Books Two and Three of which are in this house on DVD with chibi character extras) there are no white or black characters, everyone is some version of an Asian grouping.

Also, the movie tried to put about ten hours of plot into under two - it was never going to be as good.

Pisho or Pai sho seems to be the Avatar universe's version of go. The White Lotus Society is a pisho-playing (secret) society. At the end of the series they attack the Earth Nation capital in force to liberate it from the Fire Nation occupiers. [This does make sense if you've watched the series.]
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 7th, 2012 03:32 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

>> there are no white or black characters, everyone is some version of an Asian grouping.<<

I've read that some of them were Inuit or other flavors of Native Alaskan, which is kind of a related branch in a way that most people aren't aware of.

>>Also, the movie tried to put about ten hours of plot into under two - it was never going to be as good.<<

Yeah, that never works. Cramming is just as bad on film as it is in print. You have to suit the length to the story you're telling, or it's just going to suck.

>> Pisho or Pai sho seems to be the Avatar universe's version of go. The White Lotus Society is a pisho-playing (secret) society.<<

Fascinating.

>> At the end of the series they attack the Earth Nation capital in force to liberate it from the Fire Nation occupiers. <<

*laugh* Nice analog of game-to-plot.
book_worm5 From: book_worm5 Date: November 10th, 2015 06:09 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

Here's a nice clip of Uncle Iroh, who's probably the one giving people associations to Avatar. Not the best quality, but a fun scene. :-)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8HaQDRZDDk
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 10th, 2015 07:51 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

<3 that scene. Crouching tiger, hidden badass.
jenny_evergreen From: jenny_evergreen Date: April 6th, 2012 11:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love it, although I admit to thinking of Douglas Adams' NOT so nice cricket robots at the end!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 7th, 2012 03:03 am (UTC) (Link)

Okay...

That series I'm only slightly familiar with. Summarize the cricket robots for me?
jenny_evergreen From: jenny_evergreen Date: April 7th, 2012 12:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
They are basically insane, murderous robots that play cricket...the balls are bombs, you see. There's a whole bit with them and then they keep popping up for a while in the stories. Only a sideways relation, but if you are familiar with the series like I am, it's an easy one to make.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 7th, 2012 05:56 pm (UTC) (Link)

0_o

Wow, that's really something. Thanks for explaining.
(Deleted comment)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 7th, 2012 02:51 am (UTC) (Link)

Thoughts

>> For me, the association here goes straight to Lu Tze in the Discworld books. Regardless of what it reminds us of, tho, we all seem to be in agreement that it's awesome :) <<

Which book? I've read only a few of the Discworld novels, but my_partner_doug is a fan.

>> "Auspicious" is a good word. I need to find more places to use it. <<

It's handy in this context because Chinese divination tends to frame readings as basically auspicious or inauspicious, followed by details. People would often do readings for a journey or an important life event.
eseme From: eseme Date: April 11th, 2012 01:09 am (UTC) (Link)
I really enjoyed this one. I've been sat down to watch a couple of "Classic" king-fu movies I have missed, and this has the right feel.

I've started watching Avatar : The Last Airbender (tv show) and definitely recall Lu Tze in the Discworld books. His order is called the Monks of History, which may help in googling the books he gets side mentions in (Thief of Time is the one I remember him from the best).
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 11th, 2012 01:40 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

>> I really enjoyed this one. I've been sat down to watch a couple of "Classic" king-fu movies I have missed, and this has the right feel. <<

Yay! That's the flavor I'm aiming for with this series.
little_lynnet From: little_lynnet Date: September 6th, 2015 06:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
*giggles and applauds*
19 comments or Leave a comment