Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Poem: "Fifty Feet and Climbing"

This poem came out of the August 2, 2016 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] rix_scaedu and [personal profile] shiori_makiba. It also fills the "common failure modes" square in my 8-1-16 card for the Group Dynamics Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] rix_scaedu. It belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics.


"Fifty Feet and Climbing"


It's barely into August and already Kelvin's here;
He's benched outside the office where he winds up every year
As victim of a bully or purveyor of a prank,
His fingers busy fidgeting, his face a careful blank.

The principal's indifferent, and he sends Kelvin home
For fighting back when seniors sprayed his books with shaving foam.
The anger and the shame are friends and enemies of old,
And there in Kelvin's head a new idea is taking hold.

He's working in his mom's garage and playing to a hunch
When something spooks the kitten into spilling Kelvin's lunch
Upon the giant robot that he hopes will win a prize
And laser beams start blasting from the robot's ruby eyes.

So Kelvin climbs aboard the thing and takes it for a walk;
If people want to laugh at him, he'll give them cause to talk.
They're always scared he'll build some thing they can't control at all --
It's fifty feet and climbing up the Weeton high school wall.

The principal is panicking, the teachers break and run,
The bullies dive for cover -- Kelvin's never had such fun.
The robot's hands are hammers and his lasers cut like knives;
He tears the school to pieces while the kids run for their lives.

The robot gives him powers Kelvin never thought to wield;
He builds a schoolbus Stonehenge in the Weeton football field,
Evaporates the swimming pool with lengthy laser gaze,
And turns the crowded parking lot into a pavement maze.

The cops are called but average men can't even slow him down,
So Kelvin points his robot up and flies away from town,
And Weeton's left to clean up what they wouldn't fix before
While Kelvin rides his robot and discovers how to soar.

They go to Kelvin's mother but her scorn rebuffs their cries;
With narrowed gaze and crossing arms she stands up and replies,
"I warned you what would happen and for this I blame you all --
It's fifty feet and hammered down the Weeton high school wall."

The stories drift back now and then of Captain Kelvin's cause,
A supervillain hunting bullies outside of the laws.
No matter how the superheroes try to take him out,
He always gets away from them to plan another bout.

The years go on and rules are passed to ban young soups from school,
Then challenged and struck down again since bigotry's not cool.
The people slowly realize what they should have understood:
That bullies make more black capes than the white capes ever could.

For people want to win respect from those they call their peers
And if they can't attain it, then some turn to fanning fears --
The easy way to stop a supervillain's great rampage
Is head it off before his lonely tears can turn to rage.

So pay attention to the brains and loners you may know
And hold a friendly hand to them wherever you may go.
Then you won't be the one at fault when karma comes to call --
"It's fifty feet and climbing up the local city hall!"

* * *

Notes:

Captain Kelvin (Kelvin Devolski) -- He has fair skin, brown eyes, and short brown hair. He wears glasses. Kelvin is among the generation of 1980s schoolkids who began manifesting superpowers at school age and spooked adults into trying to ban superkids from school. He is most famous for building a giant robot and riding it into town to tear down his school building. It's the source of people criticizing bullies or other social problems with, "This is what leads to kids riding to school on a fifty-foot robot with Laser Eyes."
Origin: Kelvin's superpowers grew in during his childhood, beginning at Average for both, with Super-Intelligence increasing to Expert and Super-Gizmology to Good.
Uniform: He favors casual, comfortable, geeky clothes instead of anything fashionable. As an adult, he has a set of Super-Armor for combat occasions.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Nerd, Good (+2) Activist, Good (+2) Dexterity, Good (+2) Intimidation
Poor (-2) Unpopular
Powers: Expert (+4) Super-Intelligence, Good (+2) Super-Gizmology
Motivation: To beat down the bullies.
Equipment: Good (+2) Giant Robot with Good (+2) Laser Eyes
Expert (+4) Super-Armor with Good (+2) Super-Strength, Average (0) Flight, and Average (0) Invisibility

Kelvin as a Boy

Kelvin as a Man

* * *

Superpowers have shifted in Terramagne over time, first appearing primarily in adults and then gradually in younger people. The Fruit of the Boom continued the curve with a rise in manifestations among school-age children. Here's where you see the bump during the 1980s with people panicking over superkids and the realization that the younger people are, the less control they have. So there were efforts to keep superkids out of school, some of which were blocked, some passed and were later repealed or modified, and a few remain. By the end of the decade, some basic protections were in place, trying to balance everyone's safety and rights.

Bullying is a pattern of hurting people for personal gratification. People take on different roles in this process, which has short-term and long-term effects. There are tips on how to stop bullying for adults and children. I've picked the most useful I could find, but the fact is, the most effective method of stopping a bully -- filing a lawsuit -- is permitted only to adults and has a dismal 16% success rate. In other words, NONE of the methods recommended are likely to work, although most of them have worked in limited situations. For children, one of the most effective -- hitting back -- is often punished severely. But look at the long-term health impact: bullying can kill people. You're fighting for your life and sanity. By all means, give the authorities an opportunity to solve the problem rationally. If that doesn't work, fight back with everything you've got. They can't kill you any deader for pissing them off. Terramagne-America has learned these lessons better than local-America has, and consequently puts more collective effort into prevention. That actually does work, because bullying can't happen if the nearest people consistently interrupt it.

Gifted people think differently and do things better. It's like being a hummingbird in a flock of sparrows. This causes problems for gifted children and gifted adults, especially a sense of isolation. It's hard for gifted children to form friendships and adults to form romances because they need true peers, who are statistically rare.

This brings us to smart supervillains. Quite often, they want to change the world, but the superheroes don't want them to do that. Sometimes the conflict happens because the supervillain's idea is inherently harmful, but often it's basically a political difference of opinion. The status quo is defended by the people it benefits. Changes are promoted by outcasts. And if rational methods do not solve problems, there are people who are willing to use less-rational methods. We call them supervillains because they're inconvenient, often destructive, and rarely blessed with social graces. But sometimes, they're right anyway.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, education, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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