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Poem: "Vindication of Right" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
Poem: "Vindication of Right"
This poem is spillover from the June 2016 crowdfunding Creative Jam.  It was inspired by a prompt from technoshaman.  It also fills the "disempowered" square in my 11-3-15 card for the Disaster Bingo fest.  This poem belongs to the Shiv thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.

This microfunded poem is being posted one verse at a time, as donations come in to cover them.  The SALE rate is 12.5¢ per line, so $5 will reveal 40 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: lone_cat, thnidu, daisiesrockalot, technoshaman, clockworklady

275 lines, Buy It Now = $34.38
Amount donated = $11
Verses posted = 25 of 78

Amount remaining to fund fully = $23.38
Amount needed to fund next verse = 12.

Amount needed to fund the verse after that = $.50

Warning: There is one bit of racist language, but it's actually a black man talking about someone else's racist perspective.

Vindication of Right

By late afternoon, Shiv had
soothed his jangled nerves with
a combination of Microfyne
and a nicotine sucker.

He lay on his bed, poking through
a file of worksheets that Rosie had
given him on emotional intelligence,
following up their work on feelings.

There was one about his own emotions,
which he didn't much care for; another
about forgiveness, only some of which
actually fit the way he thought or felt;
and one of self-talk, which yeah, he
didn't need to say out loud because
it tended to upset people if he did.

That got Shiv thinking about
the flower-shaped emotion chart
that Rosie had shown him, and how
feelings came in shades, like colors.

He took some of his emotion cards
and started sorting them into sets
of related feelings, then putting
those into order of intensity.

Then he found one of the art exercises
that Dr. G had left for him, a sample page
of character emotions and then a blank one,
where the idea was to draw faces that went
from mild to strong feelings down the line.

Yeah, I can do that, Shiv thought.

It reminded Shiv of the face gauges that
the safety officer had him using earlier,
only this was a lot more fun.

So he drew faces, trying to think of times
when he'd seen someone in that mood.

Sad to desperate, annoyed to wrathful,
shocked to terrorized -- those were easy.

Contented to ecstatic was harder
just because he'd rarely seen
anyone in that good of a mood.

Shiv was trying to remember
Edison's "yay someone is reading
to me" face when the door rattled open.

Mr. Vanburen ducked inside,
shut the door, and leaned against it.

Shiv put away his therapy things
and said, "Now what?"

"How serious were you about
never wanting to see the warden
again?" Mr. Vanburen asked.

"Pretty serious," Shiv said,
as goosebumps began to race
up and down his spine. "What for?"

"Because the cops just went upstairs
to arrest him," said Mr. Vanburen, with
a look so wicked that Shiv couldn't help
recalling all those stories about him and
his jerk brother Joey getting into trouble.
"His preferred victims get a five-minute lead,
everyone else gets four, in case you want
to come see him taken out of here."

Go watch the asshole warden
perpwalked out of his own prison?

Oh hell yes.

"Best hurry if we want to catch
a good spot," said Mr. Vanburen.

"I'm coming," Shiv said as he
scrambled to his feet.

"Dr. G sent a note suggesting that if folks
want to prove the warden wrong for calling you
animals, the best way to do that is give him
a real polite sendoff," Mr. Vanburen said
as he unlocked the door. "That means
no catcalling, spitting, or throwing things.
Do you think you can you do that?"

Shiv hesitated. "I dunno ... I can maybe ..."
he said. "I want to try, though."

"That's good enough for me,"
Mr. Vanburen said, which gave Shiv
a weird feeling in his belly.

The cafeteria was already milling
with people, probably whoever had
setup duties for supper, and it was
rapidly filling with more bodies as
folks poured in through every door.

They melted out of the way when
they saw Shiv, though, floating him
and Mr. Vanburen to the front
just as they were doing with
Ragno and Mr. Bonaventure.

Shiv took a shaky breath,
trying to find the cool that he'd lost
somewhere between his cell and here.
Shit, I don't know if I can do this.

Mr. Vanburen put a steadying hand
on his shoulder and squeezed.

All around them, Shiv could see
signs of people having ditched
their former activities in haste
to catch this opportunity.

A dozen guys were dripping wet
and wrapped only in bathrobes,
clearly fresh from the shower.
Another bunch were sweaty
and panting from the gym.

Verne wore a smock with
colorful smears of ...

Is that fingerpaint?!

Kincade and Sanquez were
front-and-center too, and Shiv
realized they were swiftly sorting
the inmates so that the rowdier guys
got washed to the back of the crowd,
leaving the steadies to make an aisle
clear down the middle of the room
from one door to another.

The guards only had to make
a few substitutions of position,
mostly just to put themselves
forward for crowd control in case
things started to get out of hand.

It was weird for them to trust
the inmates enough to allow this.
Shiv wondered who put them up to it,
if it was Dr. G or Dr. Bloch or both.

He glanced at Mr. Lincoln, amazed
by the man's courage, and the supervisor
gave him a look of cool regard.

It was a powerful thing, trust;
powerful, and terrifying, Shiv realized.

Not many of the Peckerwoods
were visible, he noticed, probably
because a bunch of them had tried
to hide their drugs and gotten caught.
The private wing was full up and they
wouldn't have had time to earn back
the option of leaving it on occasion.

Serves them right, he thought smugly.
He had no admiration for idiots.

The buzz and clack of the doors
drew everyone's attention.

"Stand up straight, now,"
Mr. Vanburen whispered.
"Here they come."

Two police officers pushed
the doors wide open, leading
the warden -- handcuffed! --
between them as they marched
down the rows of guards and inmates.

Shiv flinched, at first, and then
the insults boiled up behind his teeth.

But then he remembered something
Boss White had said before meeting
with a particularly rude contact:
White man wants a jungle nigger,
wants to see me act like a savage
so he can think he's better than me.
I show up with a suit and a 'Good day,'
that means I done won this round
before he can open his mouth.

He had, too, and it wrongfooted
the white man so much that they
had gotten the upper hand in
the whole negotiation, come out
with a better deal than Shiv
would have dreamed possible.

So Shiv straightened his back
and lifted his chin and generally
tried to act like he did when he was
representing his boss, even if he
was wearing stupid zebra stripes
instead of his company clothes.

Most of the other guys
were doing the same thing.
Maybe it meant something.

There were only a few jeers
from the back, instantly squashed
by the neighboring inmates before
the rear guards could even get there.

It's just like a bosses' meeting,
Shiv told himself. I've done that,
I can do this too. Somehow
He might be ECR Boy on the inside,
but he could keep his cool on the outside.

The former warden was seething.

"You did this, you lying little punk!"
he snapped as he drew even with Shiv.
"My lawyer will hang you out to dry.
You must be just eating it up. What
do you have to say for yourself?"

Shiv looked him in the eye.
"Have a nice day," he said evenly.

Mr. Vanburen's hand twitched.

After the warden passed by them,
Shiv snuck a glance sideways and saw
the guard's lips pressed into a thin line.

I pushed it too far, Shiv worried,
biting his lip and wishing for a smoke.
It was still gratifying to see the warden
so thoroughly disempowered, though.

Only after the far doors had closed
behind the perpwalk party did
Mr. Vanburen double over,
whooping with laughter.

Verne clapped Shiv on the back
and said, "You sure got him, Shiv."
The other inmates looked thrilled, too.

"That right there was a thing of beauty,
which I will remember for the rest of my life,"
Mr. Vanburen said when he could talk again.
"Pity I can't repeat it without permission."

Shiv grinned back at him, giddy with relief.
"Tell it if you want to, but nobody's
gonna believe that story."

"Thanks," said the guard.

The crowd broke up, then,
and Mr. Vanburen walked Shiv
back to the refuge of his own cell.

"Hard to believe it myself, that
I actually did that," Shiv said
as the guard unlocked the door.

"Then it's a good thing you've got
some other folks who believe
in you," Mr. Vanburen said.

"That's a first," Shiv said,
although it wasn't, quite.

You got potential, Boss White had said
when they met, and Shiv had thought,
I do? but that had turned into
the best job he'd ever had,
so maybe it was true.

"Don't you worry too much about
the warden's threat," said Mr. Vanburen.
"Plenty of witnesses saw you cuffed with
experimental gear. No lawyer's getting him
out of that, let alone blaming you for it."

"I am used to getting the short end,"
Shiv said. "Today was a nice fluke, though."

"You've got Dr. G and Dr. Bloch on
your side now," Mr. Vanburen reminded him.
"Look how much they have managed
to accomplish for you already."

"Can't argue with that," Shiv said.

"Remember that justice
is not the victory of might,
but the vindication of right,"
Mr. Vanburen said. "I know
that it hasn't always worked out
that way for you, but that is how
it's supposed to work."

"Yeah, right," Shiv snarked
as he sat down on his bed.

"If it makes more sense to you,
try thinking about your bosses,"
Mr. Vanburen said. "I know
you've had some bad ones,
and at least one good boss.
Consider the differences,
who's fair and who's not."

Then he stepped out of the cell
and closed the door behind him.

Boss White is a lot better than
Boss Batir,
Shiv had to admit.
Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Vanburen
are hard, but they are more fair
than old Daley ever was

He wasn't willing to rely on that yet,
but he'd wait and see what happened.

As Shiv's gaze roved around the room,
it snagged on the hastily closed notebook
with a corner of worksheet sticking out.

Jumping up, Shiv grabbed it and
opened to the unfinished page
of character emotions.

Oh yeah, he thought, now
I know what ecstatic looks like.

* * *


"Our goal is not the victory of might, but the vindication of right. Not peace at the expense of freedom, but both peace and freedom—here in this hemisphere and, we hope, around the world. God willing, that goal will be achieved."
-- Bill O'Reilly

Coping skills are techniques for stress management.  Until recently, most of Shiv's coping skills were negative, such as smoking; but he's gaining better ones now.  Learn how to use coping skills.

Emotional intelligence breaks down into several areas.  Understand how to cultivate your emotional intelligence and teach it to children.

Here are some worksheets for emotional awareness, forgiveness, and self-talk.  This workbook teaches emotional intelligence to teenagers.

This emotion flower demonstrates relationships between emotions and their intensities.  Shiv naturally thinks in images, so graphic representation of an abstract concept makes it easier for him to understand.

Emotion word cards help people learn names for feelings.  Here are some emotion printables, a list of feeling words, and flashcards. Once you have manipulatives like these, then you can make a word wall and use it for various activitiesManipulatives are physical objects which make it easier to learn abstract concepts, such as reading and math.  Here are some examples.  Shiv's visual and tactile focus make him fond of things he can see and move around.

This chart sorts emotions by intensity.  This one displays smileys of many different emotions.  These can be used in activities for emotional intelligence.

It is important to understand the range of emotional intensity, although little study has been done about it in Local-America.  Here is a chart showing expression intensity for a character.  Here is a blank one you can fill with drawings or collage.

Expectations influence behavior.  This has its pros and cons.  It's particularly crucial to support inmates in good behavior by setting good expectations, because most of them -- like Shiv -- have only heard how bad they are.  Understand how to set clear expectations so people can meet them.

Fairness and justice are critical concerns in the rehabilitation system. Criminal activity indicates a flawed grasp of the social contract and acceptable behavior, which may come from nature or nurture or more often both. Thus, better concepts must be taught and demonstrated. Inmates are unlikely to improve without support, or worse, if prison staff apply rules unfairly.  Ideally, people learn about fairness and justice while growing up, but for the ones who don't, sometimes it's possible to catch up later.  By teaching good character and other life skills, inmates learn better ways of relating to themselves and other people. Then you can do things like walk an offending warden past the inmates and expect them not to start a riot. It wouldn't work in L-American prisons, which are often hellholes; but Norway's much saner system could probably manage it.

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Current Mood: busy busy

21 comments or Leave a comment
thnidu From: thnidu Date: November 24th, 2016 04:17 am (UTC) (Link)
... the door rattled open.

Mr. Vanburen ducked inside,
shut the door, and leaned against it.

Now, that's kinda scary till you read on and see that V. isn't upset. I took it as hurrying to get away from someone (ducked inside) and make sure they stay out (leaned against the door). Not a complaint, mind you, and it makes the revelation of what's actually up even more delicions.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 24th, 2016 04:23 am (UTC) (Link)


I suspect that he's reliving "oh wait till you hear this!" moments from his childhood, when it would have been prudent to make sure his father didn't overhear. ;)
clockworklady From: clockworklady Date: November 24th, 2016 10:14 am (UTC) (Link)

Just sent the BiN amount- I think I need this. So many students, teachers, even a couple of bosses have caused me suffering and never got punished. Seeing that someone cared enough to do something about it makes the difference to me. I'm finally ready to see heroes again after being let down for so long.

Edited at 2016-11-24 10:18 am (UTC)
From: siliconshaman Date: November 24th, 2016 11:54 am (UTC) (Link)
The button on your profile page isn't showing...
sent 60cents [all I had in my account] using the one on your DW account, although it might be useful to provide the option to pay in currency other than $USD.

I wonder if the range of emotions Shiv was trying to draw had an "unholy glee" slot?

From: (Anonymous) Date: November 25th, 2016 04:42 am (UTC) (Link)

this is redsixwing, here on anon

>>"Have a nice day," he said evenly<<


That was well deserved, and flawlessly executed. Go, Shiv, Go!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 25th, 2016 04:46 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: this is redsixwing, here on anon

Yay! :D

He is learning more civilized methods of combat, and he's learning them from the best. And then he's going to be unleashed on unsuspecting society, with a tongue as sharp as his knives.
starcat_jewel From: starcat_jewel Date: November 25th, 2016 08:21 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: this is redsixwing, here on anon

Heh. Somebody needs to introduce Shiv to Regency insults and their contemporary equivalents. People who know me well can tell when I'm clamping the lid down on the volcano, because that's when I drop into Regency-formal diction and idiom.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 25th, 2016 10:37 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: this is redsixwing, here on anon

He's not ready for anything that sophisticated yet. But introduce him to SCA events and the art of repartee practiced there, it's closer to his level. Give him a few years and he'll get the hang of more elegant options. By the time he's ready for boss work, in a decade or so, then yes, he should be able to insult people all the way from "fucking asshole" to "I do bite my thumb."
starcat_jewel From: starcat_jewel Date: November 28th, 2016 11:12 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: this is redsixwing, here on anon

The Shakespearean insult reminds me of a lovely little neologism I encountered a few years ago. "Dudoyer": to apostrophize someone as "Dude".
From: technoshaman Date: November 25th, 2016 05:10 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: this is redsixwing, here on anon

Oh, f*** yeah. I had forgotten that bit. Vanburen's reaction was just about what mine was inside....

That there was the moral equivalent of "Bless yore peapickin' little heart" and there's not a damn thing the very-EX-warden can do about it!

G-d I needed to see that again. Thank you, Lady Bard.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 25th, 2016 07:15 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: this is redsixwing, here on anon

>> Oh, f*** yeah. I had forgotten that bit. Vanburen's reaction was just about what mine was inside.... <<

:D Yeah, I cracked up too.

>> That there was the moral equivalent of "Bless yore peapickin' little heart" and there's not a damn thing the very-EX-warden can do about it! <<

Indeed, that's the exact background; it's part of the Southern culture, and that laps up pretty far into the Great Plains. Boss White has it too. It just sounds a bit different in men than in women.

>> G-d I needed to see that again. Thank you, Lady Bard. <<

*bow, flourish* Happy to be of service.

Feel free to hunt down anyone else who's contributed to Shiv's crappy life and throw them under the bus.
From: (Anonymous) Date: November 25th, 2016 05:03 am (UTC) (Link)
YEEEEHAW! Go Shiv! --alatefeline
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 25th, 2016 05:05 am (UTC) (Link)


I'm glad you enjoyed this. He's a mouthy little thing, but we love him anyway. :D
book_worm5 From: book_worm5 Date: November 25th, 2016 06:08 am (UTC) (Link)
"Now I know what ecstatic looks like." \o/ Progress!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 25th, 2016 06:24 am (UTC) (Link)


Shiv really is coming along well.
From: daisiesrockalot Date: November 25th, 2016 09:49 am (UTC) (Link)
*happy squeaking*
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 25th, 2016 09:54 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I'm glad you enjoyed this so much.

I will get the remaining poems posted as I have time.
mdlbear From: mdlbear Date: November 27th, 2016 07:02 am (UTC) (Link)
Beautifully done! Go Shiv!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 27th, 2016 07:22 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I'm glad this works for you. And I see your turtle making yayhands. \o/
mdlbear From: mdlbear Date: November 27th, 2016 07:29 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

Saw that turtle years ago; it had won a National Geographic photo competition, and I knew as soon as I saw it that it needed to be an icon.

Feel free to gank.
(Deleted comment)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 18th, 2016 11:01 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

>> Oh, my. That was beautiful. ^______________^ <<

Yay! I'm glad you liked it.

>> (Also, I loved the little aside about Verne and the fingerpaints. <<

With some encouragement and support from Dr. G, Verne is now working hard to re-establish former relationships. This will be good for Verne when he gets out, because strong family ties tend to lower recidivism. The fact that Verne is putting in time to learn parenting skills will help reassure his girlfriend that he's serious about being a father.

>> Wonder how long that's going to take to percolate through Shiv's consciousness...) <<

Probably not until someone explains it to him. Shiv sees a lot, but he doesn't interpret a lot of it. His training is as a spotter, so it's primarily about context, route awareness, and threat assessment. Social skills such as reading people or understanding relationships, he tends to suck at.
21 comments or Leave a comment