Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "A Sense of Power"

This poem is spillover from the March 18, 2014 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] corvi. It also fills the "senses" square in my 1-31-14 card for the [community profile] origfic_bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. It belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics.

"A Sense of Power"

The world is different for soups,
not just because of their overt abilities,
but also because of the senses
that come along with those.

There's one who calls himself Facet,
but everyone else knows him as Bugeye.
He has, in fact, a pair of compound eyes
that glitter with rainbow colors as he moves
and give him a multifaceted view of the world.

But that's not what makes him special --
he can also see everything
that the insects around him see.
Every fly on the wall, every bee on the blossom,
every moth on the wing is a scout for him.
The ground is all but transparent to him
through the eyes of ants and beetles.

He's lucky to have just a touch
of enhanced intelligence to process it all.
He sees the world as God sees it,
just a little bit, and counts himself blessed.

The woman known as Durganta
is an avatar of the goddess Durga,
draped in red and white silk
and riding a tiger.

She can hear karma,
the quiet creaking of the Wheel
as it grinds souls fine as rice flour.

It tells her things --
wonderful, terrible things --
about her fellow humans.

This is what allows her
to blow OM through a conch shell
and pacify entire crowds.

This is what allows her
to call instant karma with
a touch of her slim brown hand.

She knows the sound of their souls.

Antimatter got caught between
the dark and the light,
positive and negative
tossing themselves like a coin.

Now he can feel the laws of physics:
thermodynamics as warm as sunbeams,
gravity tugging on each hair like a
rush of eternally expressive goose pimples,
electromagnetism springy as elastic

and underneath all the rest,
the ever-present drowsiness of entropy.

In quantum physics he feels
the fizzing of infinite possibilities,
and it's easy, it's so easy,
to bend the rules just for a minute.

It's what she does, Miss Mixit,
putting things together
to find out what will happen.
You wouldn't know it to look at her --
she's just an ordinary college student
with messy blonde hair and blue eyes --
but she's something out of the ordinary, all right.

She can smell what chemicals can do.
Most of the super-gizmologists are engineers,
but her gift is for chemistry instead,
and she has the nose to go with it.

For her it's like arranging flowers
by fragrance instead of color,
to compose a harmonious bouquet.

For her it's like cooking,
the richly scented steam rising up
to release all its secrets --
needs more pepper,
time to stir, almost done.

Every aroma in the laboratory
is information just waiting
for her to unravel it.

She's young, though, still learning;
her nose doesn't know everything yet.
Sometimes the unexpected
still surprises her.

Señora Cocoa can taste emotions.
She's always had an exceptional sense
of the subtle flavors in chocolate,
but ever since taste-testing a new ingredient
she's been able to do a lot more.

Now she has the powers of chocolate
to soothe shattered nerves, bring happiness,
even mend damaged relationships.

The knowledge is in her,
subtle and sweet as a kiss,
what she must do to take away
the bitterness that life has left behind.

Jealousy is sour as limes
just beginning to go off,
and envy is brighter, almost lemon.
Self-loathing is salt in the soul's wounds,
a sea-wave slap in the face.
Despair is burnt toast, black and gritty
with an ashy foretaste of death.

It's not as ostentatious as some gifts,
not like laser eyes or brick fists,
not flashy like a girl in skin-tight dexflan;
she is content with her lovely brown dress
and long black hair and quiet walks
in search of people who need her.

This superpower isn't meant to save the world,
but to save one person at a time,
and oh, it's sugar and milk and cocoa
to anyone starving for care.

Of course not all superpowers
map so neatly to familiar senses --
to the Sponge, they are pure pleasure
when they hit him.

Just that.
Nothing more.

It's like those rats
that he read about in school
with the wires punched into their brains,
electric stimulation direct to the pleasure center.

He can understand
why they pushed the lever
until they died.

The only problem is that
he can't do it to himself;
his power doesn't work that way.

He has to get someone else to hit him --
and he's not picky about it,
he'll take a mindfuck or a shapeshift
or a super-powered fist to the face,
it all feels good to him.

This is what makes him
such a popular henchman:
he's always up for testing the boss' power,
for being the whipping boy to motivate the troops,
for creating a distraction when the superheroes come.

There are no words for
what it does for him, not really,
because it's not in his body
but in his brain --

sun going nova,
fanfare of trumpets,
rush of orgasm,
perfume wafting past,
sweet sweet sweet


They wonder why
he keeps coming back for more,
and sometimes the superheroes ask,
but by then he's so intoxicated

that all he can do is laugh.

If you don't grow up with superpowers,
if they come to you in progress
as happens to most soups,
there are things people will tell you
and things they won't.
They'll never tell you that
what changes you the most isn't
the superpowers but the senses.

* * *


Bugeye / Facet (Benton Reyes) -- Although he gives his codename as Facet, people typically call him Bugeye. Mostly humanoid, Benton has compound eyes in vivid peacock hues. Not only can he see everything around himself, but he can also see everything visible to all the insects around him. He has straight black hair and fair skin. When off duty, he dresses conservatively. He is a soft-spoken, quiet man who is more complex than most people realize.
Origin: City exterminators sprayed a multi-queen hill of fire ants behind the church where Benton worked. The ants came boiling out of their hive and stung everyone, causing the exterminators to lose control of their equipment, spraying toxic chemicals everywhere. The two exterminators died from a combination of ant venom and pesticides. Benton survived and mutated.
Uniform: Pixelated dexflan unitard in many colors. From a distance it looks grayish when deactivated, although up close the rainbow colors are visible. When activated it has a chameleon mode to blend into the surroundings.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Cooperation, Good (+2) Christian, Good (+2) Constitution, Good (+2) Office Worker
Powers: Master (+6) Control Insects, Average (0) Flight, Average (0) Super-Intellect
Motivation: God is inordinately fond of beetles. So am I.

Durganta -- A world-class soup, Jaya Tandon lives in India. She has long curly black hair, brown eyes, and deep brown skin.
Origin: Jaya grew up in a small village near Pakistan. When Pakistani soldiers invaded her village, she prayed for help. A tiger came out of the jungle and carried her into battle; together they destroyed all of the invaders.
Uniform: Red sari trimmed in gold over white sari blouse trimmed in gold. She wears a conical headdress of gold and jewels, gold bracelets and anklets, and gold jeweled earrings. Her ruby bindi was a gift from another soup, and is charmed to stay on her forehead.
Qualities: Master (+6) Weapon Skill, Expert (+4) Dance, Expert (+4) Languages of India, Good (+2) Intimidation, Good (+2) Enduring Hardships, Good (+2) Wisdom
Poor (-2) Literacy
Powers: Expert (+4) Energy Beam, Expert (+4) Instant Karma, Good (+2) Conch Shell (sonic blast OM for pacification), Average (0) Blessing, Average (0) Memories of Past Incarnations
Average (0) Super-Sidekick Utsaah: Good (+2) Strength, Average (0) Flight, Average (0) Invulnerability, Average (0) Speed, Average (0) Tiger
Weapons: Discus, Elephant Goad, Lasso, Scimitar, Trident
Motivation: Do the work of the goddess Durga.

Señora Cocoa -- Valeria Salazar is a Mexican superhera. Her face is a wide oval. She has light brown skin and brown eyes. Her hair is long and wavy, dark brown. She has a large, plush body and carries it well.
Origin: Valeria always had a taste for fine chocolate, and worked on a farm that made fair-trade gourmet chocolate. One day she was taste-testing a fancy new ingredient, which unexpectedly gave her superpowers.
Uniform: Brown flamenco dress with gold accents.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Chocolatier, Good (+2) Extended Family, Good (+2) Farmer, Good (+2) Flamenco Dancer
Poor (-2) Hates Megacorps
Powers: Expert (+4) Chocolate Powers (Signature Stunts: Bestow Happiness, Lift Depression, Relieve Female Complaints, Soothe Cravings; Spin-Off Stunt: Repair Relationship), Good (+2) Empathy
Motivation: To make people happy.

* * *

Super Senses are a common group of Required Secondary Powers that people need in order to make their primary powers safe and/or functional.

Insects have compound eyes that produce a kind of mosaic vision. See a video on insect vision.

There is a saying that "God is inordinately fond of beetles" because there are so many different kinds. Imagine that divine vision is far more complex and expansive than human vision. This may be why divine figures see the world differently and solve problems in unexpected ways.

Durga is a Hindu goddess.

Some people can perceive the state of souls. Karma deals in the balance of negative and positive actions.

OM is a popular chant. You can read instructions on how to chant OM or listen to it on a video.

The laws of physics include basic and quantum aspects. Many things seem to bend or break the natural laws. Really all it means is that we do not yet know the laws well enough to pinpoint areas in which they behave differently.

The sense of smell relates to chemistry. There are ways of improving your skill of smell.

Taste is another chemical sense, and it too can be trained.

Chocolate is an entheogen, helping people expand their consciousness. It has psychotropic and other health benefits. It can ease depression, reduce stress, and promote love.

The pleasure center refers to areas of the brain that generate and interpret positive feelings. Studies show that it is so powerful, it can overwhelm other drives including survival. This is one way that addiction hijacks the brain.

Pain and pleasure can mingle, as in sadomasochism, but it isn't always sexual. There are many reasons why some people like pain, including the association of pain with relief, distraction from emotional upset, or falling below expectation. Superpowers that are usually attacks may elicit a similar crossover for some people.

Human senses influence our perceptions, especially in setting limitations. Alien senses may therefore generate a very different worldview. The same is true of superpowers that expand a person's perception.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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