Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "Picking Up the Trash"

This poem was inspired by a prompt from elisem.  It also fills the "hostile climate" square in my second card for the Hurt/Comfort Bingo fest.  It belongs to the series One God's Story of Mid-Life Crisis.

This microfunded poem is being posted one verse at a time, as donations come in to cover them. The rate is $.50/line, so $5 will reveal 10 new lines, and so forth. There is a permanent donation button on my profile page, or you can contact me for other arrangements. You can also ask me about the number of lines per verse, if you want to fund a certain number of verses.
So far sponsors include: elisem, Anonymous (gift for elisem), janetmiles

80 lines, Buy It Now = $40
Amount donated = $30
Verses posted = 13 of 17

Amount remaining to fund fully = $10
Amount needed to fund next verse = $3
Amount needed to fund the verse after that = $2

Picking Up the Trash

More and more often,
Shaeth found himself drawn
to disreputable places --
dank alleys and dingy taverns,
ditches by the sides of roads,
woodlands where someone could get lost
and not looked for by villagers.

This is where his people wound up,
calling for help, for someone -- anyone --
not expecting an answer;
but now there was someone to answer
and to take in those whom others had cast aside.

Now there was Shaeth, God of Drunks,
who went out to gather up the desolate.

He went out in all weather:
when the sun beat down
as fierce as a drunk's fist,
when the rain fell
as cold and bitter as beer.

There would be snow, come winter,
that felt sharp as glass but never cut,
and Shaeth would doubtless go out in that too.

He walked the boundaries
between field and forest,
the lonely hills dotted by baaing sheep
and their taciturn shepherds
who could not be bothered
to drag a passed-out body into shelter.

Shaeth was rather beginning
to dislike shepherds.

One memorable autumn afternoon
Shaeth came down the trail in the pouring rain
with two drunken whores over his shoulders,
and when the shepherd in possession
of the little shanty swore at him and told him to leave,
the God of Drunks pitched him out into the storm.

Shaeth lowered the two women onto the single bed
and cast a few spells that might help.
He was still not particularly good
at healing or herbalism,
but at least he was learning.

The blonde coughed and groaned.
She sat up and tried to wring out her dripping hair.
Shaeth found a rug that smelled strongly of sheepdog
but at least was dry, and used it to towel her off.

The brunette blinked bleary green eyes at him,
then began to unlace her bodice.
Shaeth stopped her with a hand on the strings.
He hadn't come out here for a drunken fumble.

They would need sustenance as well as shelter.
Shaeth investigated the shanty and found
that the former occupant had left behind
a shepherd's pie in the coals of the hearth,
so perhaps he was not wholly useless after all.

The blonde waved away the food,
still queasy after her ordeal.
The brunette was ravenous, though,
and Shaeth dished out the shepherd's pie
in small portions so she would not make herself sick.

He found an odd satisfaction
in taking care of people,
because while some of them
protested that they were fine
and pushed him away,
most of the ones who actually called him
were piteously grateful for his help.

It was nice to be needed,
but it was even nicer to be accepted
and welcomed instead of scorned.
Shaeth was really growing fond of that part.

So he soothed the drunks
through their horrible realizations,
got them warm and dry and fed,
and took them to the temple
if they were willing to follow his lead.

It was like picking up the trash,
Shaeth thought to himself.
The job was never done, but
there was no telling when you'd turn around
and find treasure in it.

Tags: cyberfunded creativity, fantasy, fishbowl, gender studies, poem, poetry, reading, spirituality, writing
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