Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "The Cutting Edge"

This poem is spillover from the March 3, 2015 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] stardreamer. It also fills the "no honor among thieves" square in my 7-30-14 card for the [community profile] genprompt_bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] curiosity. It belongs to the Antimatter & Stalwart Stan thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.

WARNING: This poem contains some tense topics. Highlight to read the warnings, some of which are spoilers. There is incarceration, reference to lingering damage from previous injuries, explicit self-harm, blaming others, psychological manipulation with intent to harm, negative coping methods in general, and use of superpowers for petty mischief. If these are sensitive issues for you, please consider your headspace before reading onward.

"The Cutting Edge"

After he got out of the hospital
and into jail, Shiv still spent his time
practicing in hopes of regaining his aim.

The headaches and the shakes had finally
gone away, but his blurred vision
had improved only a little.

The other inmates gave him a wide berth anyway --
nobody wanted to piss off a supervillain.

Shiv still had his cutting edge where it counted most,
a weapon that not even the cops could take away,
talent sheathed inside him like invisible steel.

During the trial, he fidgeted with the smooth nickel-iron
of the turbo cuffs, creating tiny curls that cut into
the skin of his wrists all the way around,
taking his mind off the proceedings.

Afterwards, the bailiff exclaimed over the smudges
of blood and had the cuffs off him in an instant.
"What happened?" the older man demanded as he
opened a first-aid kit and began tending the small injuries.

"You must have put them on too tight,"
Shiv lied. "Now look what you've done."

The bailiff's stricken expression was almost
as gratifying as sticking a knife in someone.

Then some Jesus freaks had to come
thump a Bible at him and tell him to mend
his wicked ways, or at least that's what Shiv heard
after the candy-coating was licked off their fancy speech.

As if that wasn't enough, Antimatter and Stalwart Stan
stopped to talk with him. "What do you want?"
Shiv grumbled, not really wanting to see
these two except at knifepoint.

"Wanted to see if you're okay," Antimatter said.

"Yeah yeah, you and the Jesus freaks,"
Shiv said as he made a face.

"Oh, you mean the two guys from Mount of Olives?"
said Antimatter, looking down the hallway. "You don't
have to worry about them. They only ask once.
So if you ever change your mind, you'll have
to get in touch with them yourself."

"Hey, what happened to your wrists?"
Stalwart Stan frowned over the bandages.

"Police brutality," Shiv drawled,
and took delight in watching
the eyebrows go up in shock.

"He's just messing with you,"
said Antimatter. "Ignore it."

Stalwart Stan gave a disgusted shake
of his head and stalked away.

Shiv reached out with his power and sharpened
one of the D-rings on Stalwart Stan's shoe enough
to cut the lace, then dulled it back down to something
more difficult to trace but still capable of wearing
through the shoelaces faster than usual.

It took only a few paces for him to trip.

Shiv hid his laughter as Antimatter scurried
to pick up his probably-boyfriend.

He missed Antimatter, a little; the fawning tagalong
had been fun while he lasted, although in the end
he had betrayed Shiv just like everyone else.

Maybe Shiv could find a new boy in prison.

* * *


"The world can only be grasped by action, not by contemplation. The hand is the cutting edge of the mind."
-- Diane Arbus

Narrow handcuffs are hazardous and can cause temporary or permanent injury. Zip ties can be even worse. Wide handcuffs, like the turbo style, are much safer and more comfortable. Terramagne-America uses handcuffs which are broad and solid. They do ratchet down, but have a second lock to prevent accidentally going tighter once they are set. They are extremely difficult to break or pick open, so they're also more secure. The main drawbacks are that they're heavier and more expensive.

Self-harm is a negative coping method, usually used by women but also found among men. Shiv likes to play with sharp things. Sometimes he injures himself as a distraction, or just careless fidgeting; other times does it deliberately to implicate other people. Here is a workbook on reducing self-harm written by people who have been there themselves.

Blaming others is a type of psychological manipulation. Shiv does this constantly. He just doesn't see how his own actions lead to undesirable consequences. There are ways to stop playing the blame game and let go of manipulation.

Mount of Olives is a T-American charity which helps supervillains stop being supervillains, inspired by John 8 where Jesus saved the adulterous woman. Olivian personnel work in pairs, a pro-bono lawyer with a counselor. They take on cases with extenuating circumstances, or where the supervillain was pounced on by police while minding his own business, or other indications of wanting to turn over a new leaf. The lawyer deals with the legal side of things, and the counselor helps the soup learn social skills to establish a more responsible lifestyle. It's important to keep their background in mind when trying to help at-risk youth. Shiv's personality and behavior imply that he came out of an unhappy home.

"Jesus freak" is one rude term for certain types of Christians. Shiv is grossly overstating the situation; Mount of Olives folks are polite and low-key.

D-rings on hiking boots or heavy sport shoes provide a sturdy anchor for laces.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, writing

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