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Poem: "Picking Up the Trash" - The Wordsmith's Forge — LiveJournal
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
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

FULLY FUNDED
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: , , , , , , , ,
Current Mood: busy busy

23 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
From: technoshaman Date: August 22nd, 2013 08:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm beginning to like this guy... :)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 22nd, 2013 09:02 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yay!

Shaeth knows what it's like to be down and out, to have no idea what you're doing, to have urges that aren't good for you but are hard to work around. He appreciates the little practical things. And all that makes the former God of Evil surprisingly effective as the God of Drunks.
kelkyag From: kelkyag Date: August 22nd, 2013 09:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
The fourth-to-last verse appears to be missing its first line, or possibly more?

Shepherds are responsible for sheep, which are in need of even more minding than drunks -- the domesticated varieties can be pretty hapless. I can't say I blame them for prioritizing their charges over random humans.
tigerbright From: tigerbright Date: August 22nd, 2013 10:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Shaeth is something of an all-or-nothing guy, too.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 22nd, 2013 11:01 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

He can be that. Also, former God of Evil: his grasp of appropriate behavior is patchy.
thnidu From: thnidu Date: August 23rd, 2013 01:42 am (UTC) (Link)

Missing line or stanza(s)?

You beat me to it, kelkyag.

May I ask -- and I mean that literally! -- the origin of your LJID?

Dr. Whom: Consulting Linguist, Grammarian, Orthoëpist, and Philological Busybody
kelkyag From: kelkyag Date: August 23rd, 2013 05:28 am (UTC) (Link)
Kelkyag was the name of the character I played in a role playing game rather a long time ago. 'Twas also a convenient seemingly unique string to use when the 'net got busy enough that my preferred username was no longer reliably available.
thnidu From: thnidu Date: August 23rd, 2013 02:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
Quite similar here. I had a D&D 2nd Edn. mage with (of course) a very long name, of which Thnidu is the short form. It's just off the edge of English phonology: we have native "sn-, sm-" (snort, smile) and loanword "shn-, shm-" (schnozz, schmuck), but no "thn-" or "fn-"; I'm not counting "fnord". And there was nothing else "thnidu" on the Net.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 23rd, 2013 07:17 pm (UTC) (Link)

Well...

It always reminds me of "You need a thneed!" Dr. Seuss was a consummate linguist but every once in a while he'd break the rules of English and ... nobody would notice, because he was all the time throwing in weird words or names that did follow the morphological rules.
thnidu From: thnidu Date: August 24th, 2013 04:26 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Well...

Heh! :-)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 23rd, 2013 10:18 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Missing line or stanza(s)?

The missing line is now fixed!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 23rd, 2013 04:03 am (UTC) (Link)

Thoughts

>> The fourth-to-last verse appears to be missing its first line, or possibly more? <<

Fixed, thanks.

>> Shepherds are responsible for sheep, which are in need of even more minding than drunks -- the domesticated varieties can be pretty hapless. <<

That's true. However, he was inside the shanty at the time, not actually herding the sheep.

>>I can't say I blame them for prioritizing their charges over random humans.<<

It is widely, though not universally, considered uncivilized to walk past someone in need of help without helping. Refusing to share a shelter during a storm ranges from impolite to grounds for exile, depending on culture. And you never know when the offended party will be capable of kicking your ass, as in this case.
kelkyag From: kelkyag Date: August 23rd, 2013 05:59 am (UTC) (Link)
Refusing to share shelter in a storm is a much larger offense, yes.

Paranoid big city upbringing says a person appearing possibly in need of help on the street is as likely to be a threat. :-/
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 23rd, 2013 06:05 am (UTC) (Link)

Well...

>> Paranoid big city upbringing says a person appearing possibly in need of help on the street is as likely to be a threat. :-/ <<

That has always been a concern; bandits used to lie down beside or on a road to make people stop. Thing is, if the members of your society don't stop to help each other at need -- if ignoring harm is the routine response rather than a fluke -- it means your culture is coming apart at the seams. A lack of compassion is very corrosive, and it's a serious problem in big cities.
kelkyag From: kelkyag Date: August 23rd, 2013 06:40 am (UTC) (Link)
Yes.
rowyn From: rowyn Date: August 23rd, 2013 04:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
I feel kinda bad for the shepherd, too. But I don't expect the former God of Evil to be a good example of proper behavior, even if he's making an effort to mend his ways now. :)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 23rd, 2013 06:55 pm (UTC) (Link)

Well...

>> I feel kinda bad for the shepherd, too. <<

Getting thrown out in the rain is unpleasant and potentially hazardous. However, when you act like a selfish jerk, sometimes that has negative consequences.

>> But I don't expect the former God of Evil to be a good example of proper behavior, even if he's making an effort to mend his ways now. :) <<

Exactly. Shaeth is just getting to where he can do a good thing now and then, and some of that will be on purpose. He still doesn't understand the idea of Good very well, and can't always recognize it, let alone practice it with regularity. And socially appropriate behavior is even farther out of reach, as it goes into more arbitrary and variable areas.
tigerbright From: tigerbright Date: August 22nd, 2013 10:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
This makes me happy.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 22nd, 2013 11:00 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yay!

That's good to hear.
elisem From: elisem Date: August 23rd, 2013 10:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's all here. Yay! Thank you for writing it, and to everybody for getting it here.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 23rd, 2013 10:17 pm (UTC) (Link)

You're welcome!

I'm glad you enjoyed this.

Sometimes people get really enthusiastic about a microfunded poem and it fills in fast like this. That's always fun to see.
natf From: natf Date: August 24th, 2013 02:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
/like

I really enjoyed this!

I need a "Like" icon. Maybe one for djinni's next free icon day…
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 25th, 2013 01:31 am (UTC) (Link)

Yay!

I'm happy to hear that.
23 comments or Leave a comment