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Poem: "Confusion to the Enemy" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
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ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "Confusion to the Enemy"

This poem was written outside the Poetry Fishbowl project, inspired by a blog conversation about handicapped characters particularly with viva_la_topknot.  It belongs to The Clockwork War series, and you can read more about that on the Serial Poetry page.  Here's the article I referenced for traumatic brain injury.

This is the linkback perk for the June 5, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was originally hosted by dreamwriteremmy.  Linkers include: dreamwriteremmy, janetmiles, stonetalker, wyld_dandelyon, catsittingstill, and meeksp.  Thank you all.

We're finished with this one, yay!  However, if you want to link to the unsold poetry list, there are still 3 verses left to reveal in "Signs Along the Way" from last month.


Confusion to the Enemy


The quiet white room was filled
with quiet people in white clothes
except for their charges,
who were all in uniform,
because they deserved that dignity,
because they were still in service,
even if most of them didn't know it anymore.

The uniforms were all neatly kept
and the men who wore them were mostly young,
their heads shaved for this branch of service,
their eyes sometimes fierce, sometimes blank
with the far look of traumatic brain injury.
They muttered amongst themselves
and fiddled their way through art projects
and stared at the viewscreen
with its endless parade of banal entertainment.

Then one of the soldiers began to twitch
and his mutter rose to aggrieved yells.
Frustration at his shattered nerve
and scattered wits grew too much to contain,
spilled over into the public air.

"Catch him, quick!"
the nearest attendant called,
and they wrestled the broadcast helmet
onto his bald head and turned it on.

"We've got a jammer live,"
the attendant said into the commboard.
"Put him to good use."

A minute later, the commboard
sputtered an eager reply:
"We have breakthrough!
Our boys are going in.
Keep him broadcasting
for as long as you can."

The attendant imagined the fighters smashing
through bot forces suddenly unable to communicate,
striking fast and hard to wreak as much havoc as possible.

He laid the overwrought soldier on the padded floor,
straightened the shaking limbs,
blotted tears of rage from the red face,
and made sure that the helmet's contacts
kept in touch with the sweaty scalp.

Madman with a monkeywrench
turned loose in a clockwork war.

"Give 'em hell, kid,"
the attendant said.
"Misery loves company."

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5 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
catsittingstill From: catsittingstill Date: June 7th, 2012 11:25 am (UTC) (Link)
This made me shed a few tears of my own.
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: June 7th, 2012 12:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
I agree; this was heartwrenching.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: June 7th, 2012 07:17 pm (UTC) (Link)

Well...

The whole series is about making lemonade when life hands you lemons, in a war zone. Traumatic brain injury is one of the more debilitating handicaps -- and it can be invisible. So I wanted to do something with that in science fiction, because it's so rarely rendered in literature at all. It is heartwrenching, but maybe it'll make people think.
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 4th, 2017 08:27 am (UTC) (Link)
Like this whole series! This one especially. I'd be right there next to the attendant, echoing the "Give 'em hell, kid!"

The brilliant ways that the various characters have come up with for staying in the fight speak very strongly to the warrior part of my soul. -- Callibr8
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: June 4th, 2017 09:38 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

>> Like this whole series! This one especially. I'd be right there next to the attendant, echoing the "Give 'em hell, kid!" <<

Yay!

>> The brilliant ways that the various characters have come up with for staying in the fight speak very strongly to the warrior part of my soul. -- Callibr8 <<

I wrote this series after reading something or other about soldiers with disabilities who continued to fight.
5 comments or Leave a comment