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The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
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ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "Shifting Perceptions without a Clutch"
This poem came out of the October 2014 Creative Jam. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] alexseanchai, who wanted the 'click' moment of seeing The Matrix. It also fills the "extra-sensory perception" square in my 9-11-14 card for the Halloween Bingo Fest.  This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] janetmiles.  It belongs to the Polychrome Heroics setting, and is a direct sequel to "Look Both Ways."

WARNING: This poem contains some intense topics, and it doesn't have a happy ending.  Highlight to read the warnings, some of which are spoilers. There is prejudice, sexist and racist language, nausea and vomiting, a superpower misinterpreted as anything else, serious rupture of reality tunnel, extreme disorientation, and unfocused suicidal ideation.  Sadists who enjoy watching obnoxious characters writhe in torment may enjoy this.  Sensitive readers may wish to skip it.


"Shifting Perceptions Without a Clutch"


Hector Belanger leaned over
and puked down the pewter shoulder
of the horse he was riding.

The lady cop held onto him by the handcuffs
or he would have landed face-first in the street.

Everything had turned into a smear of light,
weird threads of color running through it all
so that Hector couldn't see where they were going.

He might have had a chance to make
some sense out of it if only things would
stay the same from one minute to the next,
but it all kept shifting and running together
until the motion made him seasick.

It was like the time his uncle
took him out to the country
and tried to teach him to drive stick.

All he could remember was the
sickening buck and lurch of the little bug,
trees blurring green through the windows,
and Uncle Rufus swearing that he was
a no-good fool and would strip the gears
if he didn't learn to use the clutch proper.

He never did get the hang of that pedal.

Now he was caught up in the sickly pea-green
tangles around the panhandlers on the street,
which gave way to a bunch of college chicks
trailing that ugly pink color his Nana called puce,
then mustard yellow all over the niggers.

By the time they got to the police station,
Hector was so dizzy that he couldn't walk straight
and the lady cop had to half-carry him indoors.

He kept trying to walk around the thickest tangles
because they looked like thorn bushes, but
she dragged him straight through anyhow.

It was hard to concentrate on the voices
enough to pick out what they were saying.

When he complained about the awful colors,
people asked him questions he couldn't answer.

He could hear them arguing over whether
he had a concussion or was just drunk,
but Hector knew better.

The fucking soups had done this to him,
somehow or other, it was all their fault.

Then someone suggested that
maybe he was flickering.

No. It couldn't be ... that.

He was just sick, hallucinating,
they must have drugged him.
Or maybe he was getting a migraine;
his mother got migraines.

It wasn't that.

The hands patting him down were
more gentle than when he got brought in
for being drunk and disorderly, but
the station was the same lurching swirl
of colors as the street had been.

Hector threw up on the floor.

Someone hollered for a mop, and
the lady cop suggested that maybe
they ought to fetch a nurse to check him.

People poured him onto a bench
and tucked a wastebasket beside it,
then draped a wet cloth over his eyes.

That helped a tiny bit, although
Hector could still see the colors
through his eyelids and the cloth.

Hell, he could see them through his skull.

Maybe it wasn't just a migraine after all.

Hector curled into a ball on the bench
and wished that he could just die.

* * *

Notes:

Hector Belanger -- He has fair skin, bright blue eyes, and wavy dark blond hair.  He gets by on odd jobs and is pretty capable at finding a way to make things work.  Regrettably Hector tends to look down on other people for a wide range of reasons.
Origin: He hassled students at Loyola University, including Claire Bonheur.  Claire's superpower of Reflective Luck gave him bad luck -- and the worst thing that could happen to him was his own latent ability turning active.  He blames the soups for causing this, not because he actually knows what happened, but just because Gumbo Ya-Ya had a table there.  He does not accept any personal responsibility for it.
Qualities: Good (+2) Friends in the Bayous, Good (+2) Hunter, Good (+2) Persistent, Good (+2) Poorskills
Poor (-2) Bigot
Powers: Good (+2) See ALL the Oppressions
Motivation: To crawl higher up the heap.

* * *

Driving stick shift requires knowing how to use a clutch.  If you work the clutch wrong, the car will buck or stall, or both.

Oppression includes such things as classism (represented here as pea green), sexism (puce), and racism (mustard).

Hallucinations may affect any sense, for a variety of reasons.  There are many ways of coping with hallucinations.

Denial is a coping method that can be useful in the short term, but soon tends to do more harm than good.  Understand how to overcome denial.

Suicidal ideation happens when it hurts too much to live.  Here are some tips for dealing with suicidal thoughts.

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Comments
From: siliconshaman Date: October 24th, 2014 12:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
There's quite a few people I'd wish that one on...
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 24th, 2014 05:12 pm (UTC) (Link)

Well...

Some writers just murder people in effigy. I am usually not that merciful.
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