Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "Not a Tame ..."

This poem is from the December 5, 2017 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] alexseanchai. It also fills the "extraordinary" square in my 12-3-17 card for the [community profile] genprompt_bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] janetmiles. It belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics.

"Not a Tame ..."

Mrrhow the Mercurial
looks out at the softly falling snow
and feels ever so glad that she
doesn't have to be out in it.

She has more than enough memories
of being stuck out in cold wet weather
from the alley days before Riposte
brought her into his home.

She may not like all the rules,
but she definitely likes the fireplace.

Ay, there's the rub.

Mrrhow the Mercurial
is not quite like her siblings --
Napoleon and Cayenne are wild
in ways she simply is not.

She finds herself trapped between
need and desire, wanting to be herself
and yet not wanting to walk alone.

It itches under her skin when
strangers pet her and say that
she's remarkably tame for a rescue.

She finds Riposte ...
not altogether disagreeable,
and he has introduced her to
Officer Pink and his partner Boots,
who are every bit as interesting.

Her curiosity has not killed her yet,
but not for lack of trying.

Mrrhow stretches in front of
the fireplace and cleans industriously
between the pink pads of her toes.

She does not like baths, but
neither does she like being dirty.

It is a dilemma, like so much else
in the muddle that has become her life.
She does not know what to do with herself.

She has met others, wild of type,
like Phantom, the white tiger
who performs stage magic.

It is awkward to have
a soul just the same size in
the body of a small domestic cat.

She has met others, tame of heart,
like Princess, the pink poodle who
wears jewelry and sometimes a crown
and called her barbaric.

Mrrhow may not be civilized,
but she is not a dumb animal,
and she can see that civilization ...
has things of some value.

She lies beside the hearth
and listens to Riposte reading
from a book he thinks they will enjoy.

She doesn't care about the children,
and the witch is ridiculous,
but the lion ...

Ah, now.
There's an idea.

She may be domestic,
she may even become civilized,
but she is not a tame ...


* * *


Phantom -- He is a white tiger with dark stripes and blue eyes. He performs in a traveling circus called Flannery Lear's Amazing Menagerie & Extravaganza. As a result, Phantom has a strong sense of circus culture and loves the life. He's nowhere near as good at dealing with outsiders, and reactions like, "Eeek, a tiger! Why isn't he on a leash?" greatly offend him. He usually drawls back, Eeek, a monkey. Why isn't it on a leash? But onstage, he's a natural, reveling in the lights and applause. Although Phantom started out performing in the big cat show, it never was much of a challenge for him, so after his superpowers manifested, he approached the magician and asked to team up, which has worked out great for everyone. As their styles began to diverge, Phantom developed his own big-top routine and hired a human assistant for the speaking role, but the really impressive one is the sideshow where he addresses a small crowd with telepathy. Most folks prefer to avoid mental contact like that, but there are telepathy fans and they adore entertainers. As a hobby, Phantom enjoys learning about the history of circus life, wild animals, and other topics though videos, books on tape, or having people read to him. He can read short things like warning signs, but larger blocks of static text bore someone whose visual cortex is keenly attuned to things that move. He likes marquees, though.
Origin: He grew up in the circus, working for the big cat whisperer. Then the circus got some new special-effects materials including fireworks and smokescreens. Zetetic exposure from that caused several folks to manifest superpowers, including Phantom.
Uniform: None. He goes nude. He's fussy about never wearing a collar or a leash "like a housecat."
Qualities: Good (+2) Circus Culture, Good (+2) History Fan, Good (+2) Stage Magician
Poor (-2) Dealing with Rubes
Powers: Good (+2) Super-Tiger
This meta-power includes Phase, Super-Intelligence, Telepathy, and Telekinesis.
Motivation: To impress people. He adores attention and craves admiration.

Princess -- She is a registered poodle, originally a show dog with many trophies, both conformation in the Best of Breed category and novelty shows in the Fun & Fantasy category. An enthusiastic performer, she still likes showing off in front of a crowd. She has also become a fan of royals around the world, including both human gentry and canine champions. This has led her to explore genetics. It has also made her something of a snob.
Origin: A new brand of longer-lasting fur dye caused a number of pets to manifest superpowers, including Princess.
Uniform: She customarily wears jewelry and other ornaments in her fur, and that's what she considers the marks of civilization. She dislikes wearing a collar and leash because it mats down her fur, but will tolerate them when leaving the house. She particularly likes the tiara and gown that she wears for performances.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Poodle, Good (+2) Royalty Fan, Good (+2) Showmanship, Good (+2) Student of Genetics
Poor (-2) Snob
Powers: Average (0) Pink Fur, Average (0) Super-Intelligence, Average (0) Telepathy

* * *

"Ay, there's the rub."
-- Hamlet's soliloquy by Shakespeare

“He’ll be coming and going” [...] “One day you'll see him and another you won't. He doesn't like being tied down — and of course he has other countries to attend to. It's quite all right. He'll often drop in. Only you mustn't press him. He's wild, you know. Not like a tame lion."
Mr. Beaver, in Ch. 17: The Hunting of the White Stag
-- The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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