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

This poem was written outside the fishbowl sessions, during the half-price poetry sale in November 2012.  It's a response to a comment by catsittingstill about whether someone's wings can change.  (We've seen an early example of that in "Moulting," but there's more to the story.)  It has been sponsored by catsittingstill.  It follows things introduced in "Hen-Feathered" and "Fledermäuse" so make sure you've read those first.  This poem belongs to the Fledgling Grace series, which you can explore further via the Serial Poetry page.

WARNING: This poem contains violence driven by sex/gender expression, along with some ambiguous moral complexities.  If those issues are triggery for you, then you might want to skip this.  On the other hand, if you're into poetic justice, you will probably find it entertaining.




Pluck

The first time after the Fledging
that a gay-bashing went awry
was in Washington, D.C.

There was a transman with peacock feathers --
who was from Iraq, and was Muslim,
so perhaps those were further goads --
and he was tiny and fragile
and full of grace.

Three beefy men jumped him
and pounded away with fists and feet,
while a fourth started to pluck out his tailfeathers.
This was not his first beating,
and he knew the odds,
so he curled up and began to pray.

Witnesses said there was a flare of light,
too bright to see past.
By the time the police arrived
one of the assailants, a Rhode Island red,
was already losing his sickles
and the others were still too dazed to explain anything.
Everyone was dazed.  No one could explain.

The one who moulted into hen feathers
tried to sue the transman,
but a judge dismissed the lawsuit
on the grounds that no human could possibly
change someone's feathers like that,
and sternly suggested that he take his complaint to God.

Before his own court date for the gay-bashing,
he went after another victim,
this one a hen-feathered chicken like himself,
and soon found himself with the wings of an eastern red bat --
ironically, the frosted chestnut fur of a female.

Word got out, after that,
and the frequency of gay-bashing dropped
because while they might risk
a fist in the face or a jail sentence, they were
daunted by a potential challenge to their masculinity,
and besides, the courts took a dim view
of fledermäuse.

Yet nothing was ever as predictable
as anyone might wish,
for it was a plucky fledermaus
who interrupted a bashing in Atlanta
because she might be a violent alcoholic gang member
but there were some things she just could not abide
so she kicked the crap out of the redneck attacker
and stuffed the half-conscious victim into a cab.

Then she scurried away,
unnoticed by the indifferent lowlifes,
scratching her suddenly itchy wings.

* * *

Notes:

Plumage research included eastern red bats, peacocks, and Rhode Island red chickens.

I also researched feather pecking, a behavioral disorder in which birds attack another bird's feathers. It is distinct from, but possibly related to, feather-picking in which a bird damages or removes its own feathers. Both are signs of significant disturbance in birds, differently reflected in harm to others or self-harm, and they transfer to humans after the Fledging when people gain wings and tails. Compare this to the way disturbed people sometimes hack off their own hair, or when attackers cut off a victim's hair in gay-bashing.

Searching for cities with a severe gay-bashing problem turned up Washington, D.C.

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6 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
From: technoshaman Date: November 26th, 2012 02:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
if you're into poetic justice,

... as it were ... :)

you will probably find it entertaining.

I did! :)

Yaknow, crime rates of all sorts are gonna go *down* in this 'Verse... *feral grin*
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 26th, 2012 10:30 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thoughts

>> you will probably find it entertaining.

I did! :) <<

Yay!

>> Yaknow, crime rates of all sorts are gonna go *down* in this 'Verse... *feral grin* <<

Yes, crime now has the added risk that, if you do enough evil, it may become visibly apparent or have other unpleasant side effects. That will take a while to sink in, but it should indeed lower crime in general. Some people will still try to get away with stuff, but more of them will think twice if they realize that they might avoid cops but cannot elude the sight of God.
rix_scaedu From: rix_scaedu Date: November 26th, 2012 03:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
I can imagine the gang member fronting court at a later date and the magistrate or judge saying, "I note, Miss Xxxx, that last time you were before this court you were a fledermäus and that is no longer the case."

I wonder if she'd be more likely to get a rehabilitation element to her sentence?

Edited at 2012-11-26 03:23 pm (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 30th, 2012 06:05 am (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

I think an honest judge would take that change into consideration. Conversely the gay-bashers winding up with bat wings would be more likely to draw heavier censure.
thnidu From: thnidu Date: February 10th, 2014 06:10 am (UTC) (Link)
(following back from "The Children Made Manifest")

violent alcholic gang member
→ alcoholic
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 10th, 2014 07:29 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

Fixed.
6 comments or Leave a comment