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

This poem is overflow from the January 8, 2013 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from paka and DW user Chordatesrock.  It has been sponsored by janetmiles.  This poem belongs to the series An Army of One: The Autistic Secession in Space.

Note: The main character's self-image is complex, and some people might consider it problematical.  Bear in mind that some folks who really don't fit in with people around them will search for a story to tell about themselves that feels like a better fit.  He's got a whole life-metaphor going there, and it works for him, it's just off on a very different tangent from how most people view the world.




Invisible Lines


The one who called himself the Minotaur
had a passion for mythology.

He understood the ones who were called monsters,
the offspring of gods and mortals and other beings,
always a blend of disparate things, never whole;
always different, never belonging.

The mortals had little sympathy for monsters;
they would point and laugh, if you were lucky,
or lock you up if you were not.
They had strange rules about behavior
that they would never tell you
but blame you for breaking anyhow.
It was like trying to navigate a labyrinth
made not with walls but invisible lines on the floor.
The mortals complained about the blank-faced monsters
and mocked them as feather-witted and harpy-tongued.
Sometimes it was just easier to hide.

The one who called himself the Minotaur
(and it is MINE-otaur not MIHN-otaur,
you linguistic philistines!)
made a place for himself in space
at the Lagrange point called Sargasso Base.
There was nothing there but a tired white dwarf
with its single rocky planet orbited by a battered moon,
and the graveyard of starships centered there.

He understood the lines of force and gradients of potential,
as comprehensible to him as fences or frescos.
It was simple, for him, to manipulate the ships
into a grand design that balanced all the equations.

Others might say it resembled a snarl of seaweed
waiting to snare the unwary, but he knew better.
It became not Atlantis but a labyrinth of his own making
that only he could navigate in safety,
a floating island sanctuary in a sea of danger.
The military learned to approach his territory
with caution and respect,
or not at all.

The one who called himself the Minotaur
(and it does NOT mean bull-headed,
the etymology comes out of Ancient Greek:
Μινώταυρος [minótavros], from Μίνως [Minos, “king of Crete”]
and ταῦρος [taûros, “bull”] -- learn to read!)
was stunned when the other monsters
staged a rebellion and seceded
from the two galactic arms that flanked them.
It was as if Circe had picked up her island
and walked away with it!

He understood that they were like him,
not necessarily the same,
but akin to each other in the way that
the Minotaur was akin to Pegasus and the Sirens.
They were more like him, and he like them,
than like the ordinary mortals with
their barbaric demands and incomprehensible rules.

So when the other monsters asked him politely
if he would share his treasure with them
and provide a meeting space since he had
the only location that was known to everyone,
he manufactured a smile and sent his assent.
When they fretted that the military might follow,
his thick fingers stroked the keys of the tractor beams
and he told them not to worry about it.

* * *

Notes:

A minotaur is a mythical beast with the body of a man and the head of a bull, famously associated with a labyrinth or maze.  See also a guide to its historic etymology.

A harpy is a mythological beast said to be part-woman and part-bird.

Circe is a sorceress appearing in Greek literature.

Lagrange points are areas in space where gravitic forces balance out.  They are ideal for space stations or other installations.

The Sargasso Sea is a large span of seaweed-rich water with minimal currents and winds.  It's difficult for ships to cross.

Pegasus is a winged horse from Greek mythology.

Sirens are beautiful, dangerous creatures from Greek mythology whose voices can wreck ships.

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13 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
From: chordatesrock Date: February 19th, 2013 05:57 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm glad to see this posted. I hope to see Language Bodies soon.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 19th, 2013 06:06 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

>>I'm glad to see this posted.<<

Yay! That's good to hear.

>> I hope to see Language Bodies soon. <<

I would enjoy that too. It's a good piece of the culture just starting to coalesce.
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: February 19th, 2013 02:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
This is cool, I learned two new things, and I like the Minotaur character.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 19th, 2013 11:47 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yay!

>>This is cool,<<

I'm glad you like it.

>> I learned two new things,<<

Which ones?

>> and I like the Minotaur character. <<

I think he has an interesting perspective on life. He reappears in "Conscientious Objectors."
thnidu From: thnidu Date: February 20th, 2013 01:39 am (UTC) (Link)
I like this. I am not surprised at that, since I enjoy just about all of your work that I have read.

One note from the Doctor: The pronunciation /minótavros/, with the υ pronounced as /v/, is Modern Greek. In Ancient Greek the αυ would be pronounced more like the "ow" in "how". Of course, whatever accent the Minotaur uses is his choice.

η: I followed your link, then followed it further to http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Μινώταυρος, where there is much historical detail.

Edited at 2013-02-20 01:42 am (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 20th, 2013 03:18 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

>>I like this. I am not surprised at that, since I enjoy just about all of your work that I have read.<<

Yay!

>>One note from the Doctor: The pronunciation /minótavros/, with the υ pronounced as /v/, is Modern Greek. In Ancient Greek the αυ would be pronounced more like the "ow" in "how". Of course, whatever accent the Minotaur uses is his choice.<<

Hmm, I've got it with the r instead of the v, and au can be pronounced different ways, so I think it'll stretch to cover.

>> I followed your link, then followed it further to http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Μινώταυρος, where there is much historical detail. <<

Added to the notes.
From: technoshaman Date: February 20th, 2013 04:22 am (UTC) (Link)
I like this. I am not surprised at that, since I enjoy just about all of your work that I have read.


What he said...

and also, love the icon! Mouster Who? :)
thnidu From: thnidu Date: February 24th, 2013 05:47 am (UTC) (Link)

the userpic

(as noted in my userpic list)
Dr.Whomster, © Charlene Taylor D'Alessio. Used by permission

I am a language geek, personally and professionally, as you may have noticed in my posts and comments. As such, I have for many years had a character/persona of ...
(A tall, lean, pedantic chap -- with unruly light-colored hair, a great many pockets overflowing with markers, pens, and slips of paper, and a striped scarf that brushes the floor at both ends -- approaches thnidu and asks to take over the keyboard for a few moments.)

Good evening, technoshaman. I'm pleased to make your acquaintance.

He bows and departs, leaving a card:
Dr. Whom
Consulting Linguist, Grammarian
Orthoëpist, and Philological Busybody
Well, yes. That fellow, based on Tom Baker's Fourth Doctor, the one I fell fannishly in love with waythehellback. He first showed up on a local BBS back in the seventies sometime, in mid/eastern Massachusetts, and has been a part of my life ever since.

At the Arisia art show a number of years ago I saw this in Charlene D'Alessio's display of hamster characters, and immediately bought a print. I wrote to her for permission to use it for my Dr. Whom posts, with a link. She looked, said Fine, go ahead, and suggested I crop it to show the character better -- which I did.

You can see her "Doctor Whomster Returns" (#10?) on her home page.

Edited at 2013-02-24 06:24 am (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 24th, 2013 09:24 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: the userpic

I love this too, by the way. It's so cool that I'm not the only wandering editor in cyberspace.
thnidu From: thnidu Date: February 24th, 2013 06:27 am (UTC) (Link)

galactic map

I'm looking at the galactic map on your home page for An Army of One, trying to locate the Lacuna. Unfortunately, when I enlarge the image enough to read the location names, they're too blurry to read clearly. Do you have a version somewhere with better resolution?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 24th, 2013 07:40 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: galactic map

Unfortunately, no, I haven't found a better resolution for that map. None of the ones I've found are quite perfect and they use somewhat different layouts, markings, and even names. On that map, the Sun is near the bottom, the Orion-Cygnus Arm is in indigo, and the Carina-Sagittarius Arm is in green. So the Lacuna is between indigo and green. You can't see much of it because the arms are drawn wider in this map.

Here is the Sun's location and neighborhood.

This map puts the Sun near the top, the Orion-Cygnus Arm in orange, and the Carina-Sagittarius Arm in pink, although it's mostly scribbles rather than stars. The Lacuna lies between the orange and pink lines. The gap is more visible with the arms drawn in narrower lines.

This map traces lines over the starscape. Sol is near the top, with the Orion and Sagittarius Arms marked just to the left, and you can sort of see the space between them.

In this map, the type is really hard to read, but it's a good starscape. The Sun is the yellow dot in the center, barely inside the Orion Arm below it. The Sagittarius Arm is above there. You can see how the stars thin out between them; that's the Lacuna.
From: julia kolb Date: August 30th, 2015 08:09 pm (UTC) (Link)

Anomalous

I like this guy!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 30th, 2015 08:19 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Anomalous

Yay! The Minotaur reappears in several other poems.
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