Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "Until One Is Committed"

This poem is spillover from the June 5, 2018 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] librarygeek. It also fills the "powers" square in my 6-4-18 Dark Fantasy card for the Winteriron Bingo Adventure fest, and the "In My Life" square in my 1-31-18 Love Songs card for the Valentines Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. It belongs to the Mercedes thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.

"Until One Is Committed"

Alfonso Durante was
having a field day with
all the extra soups coming
into Mercedes these days.

They made good pictures,
and sometimes good articles
if he could catch them doing
something outrageous, which
took time but not a lot of effort.

Soups were always up to something.

You could take that to the bank,
as his father would say, and
Pops was a smart guy.

Alfonso's work was too hot
for magazines like Soupçon,
but he could make good money
at places like In the Soup.

Nacre was having a field day
with all the civil rights issues
flaring up in Mercedes now.

She networked with friends in
the National Hate Crimes Office,
acquaintances from SPOON, and
even tentative new allies among
the supervillains exploring town.

Everyone seemed to agree
that keeping a lid on it
was a very good idea.

Except for the forks, of course,
but if you couldn't take the heat
you should get out of the kitchen.

Nacre had no trouble with that.

Alfonso had been stalking
a soup named Nacre for over
a week, because she wore
a dexflan catsuit that covered
her whole body except for
her luminous pearly hair.

That meant nobody knew
anything about her outside
of her cape work, not even
her general appearance.

If he could just get some skin,
that would be worth a lot of dough.

Nacre had been surveying
prosocial features around town,
especially watching for places
with soup-friendly features.

The Clovis Botanical Garden
had the usual array of benches,
accessible drinking fountains,
and a very colorful mural.

It also had a teleport landing pad
tucked between two benches
in an out-of-the-way spot.

Alfonso managed to get
some good pictures of Nacre
in her costume, but nothing
more revealing than that.

So he followed her into
the Clovis Botanical Garden
in hopes that the low trees
and grasping bushes might
incite a wardrobe malfunction.

She was lithe and quick, though,
deftly avoiding potential traps --
and she noticed his tattletale flash.

Nacre managed to spot the jerk
stalking her and then drawled,
"You know, it's really creepy when
a man follows a woman around,
hoping to get her clothes off --
especially when he hasn't
even told her his name."

"I -- I'm Alfonso Durante,"
he stammered. "I'm a reporter."

"Well, I have a hard enough time doing
my job without wishy-washy men underfoot,"
said Nacre. "Until one is committed, there
is the chance to draw back, which kills
countless ideas and splendid plans."

She cupped a shimmering pearl of
energy in the palm of her hand,
ready to throw at him.

Alfonso shuddered.

He hadn't thought of it like that,
hadn't imagined unmasking her
as any kind of commitment.
He just wanted a story,
not a relationship.

His wife would pitch a fit
if he cheated on her, and
she was bound to find out.

If Nacre threw a pearl
at him, that would make
the news for sure, and she
was notorious for her use
of protective restraint.

Nacre put a hand on her hip.

She'd had enough of people
who wanted to chase and tease
but never follow through.

"This means a lot," she said.
So unless you are ready
to make a commitment
to be in my life and help me
deal with the big challenges of
making the world a better place,
stop trying to take my mask off."

"Sorry, gotta go." Alfonso slung
his camera behind himself and fled.

"Yeah, that's what I thought
you'd say," Nacre muttered.

* * *


Alfonso Durante -- He has tinted skin, mahogany eyes, and curly black hair cut short that still sticks out in awkward tufts. He also wears a close-trimmed moustache and beard. Alfonso is the second cousin of Faramundo Durante. Alfonso is married with five children: a son (12), a son (11), twin daughters (8), and a son (4). He and his wife Faqueza are trying to get pregnant again. They live in Mercedes, California. Alfonso does not speak Spanish and looks down on people who do. He has a big hectic family and loves them all, even when they drive him up a wall. As a journalist, he focuses on finding stories that people don't want him to tell, which is sometimes an asset and other times a serious nuisance. He views official explanations as dubious at best. He has a particularly bad habit of picking on anyone and everyone outside what he considers "normal" -- homosexuals, poor people, soups, people of color who can't or won't assimilate, etc. His journalism also gives Alfonso ready access to sporting statistics for his hobby of fantasy sports. He fields imaginary teams in football, baseball, and basketball.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Muckraker, Good (+2) Constitution, Good (+2) Family Life Is Never Boring, Good (+2) Fantasy Sports, Good (+2) Persistent, Good (+2) Skeptic
Poor (-2) Picks on Outcasts

Nacre (Margo Aardbol) -- She has sorrel skin, brown eyes, and short nappy brown hair. She is petite with subtle curves. She is currently 27 years old. Her grandparents moved to California from South Africa. Margo speaks Afrikaans, Chinese, English, and Spanish. Her mother is a doctor and her father is an engineer. Margo is a graduate student at the University of Southern California studying toward a degree in Executive Master of Leadership. She has certificates in Social Innovation and Social Justice, along with an internship in the Social Change Leadership Program. As a superhera, Nacre travels around the West Coast defending civil rights. She has a particular interest in protecting other soups. She excels at nonviolent conflict resolution, and prefers protective restraint to combat. Her upper-middle class background makes it impossible to tell her race in costume, but it also impedes her ability to connect with less-privileged black people.
Origin: As a tween, Margo got her ears pierced with solid mother-of-pearl earrings, billed as hypoallergenic. Not long after that, she developed superpowers.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Activist, Good (+2) Athletic, Good (+2) Emotional Intelligence, Good (+2) Upper-Middle Class
Poor (-2) Relating to Lower-Class Black People
Uniform: On duty, she wears a dexflan bodysuit printed in a pixelated black-and-white pattern with a pearly sheen and glossy black shoes with thick soles. Her gizmotronic wig is opalescent white-blonde and glows when she turns it on. Off duty, she wears fashionable women's clothes.
Powers: Expert (+4) Pearl Powers
Nacre can create pearlescent shields to deflect attacks, either partial slabs or complete spheres, that withstand force up to being rammed with a car. She can also enclose someone in a sphere of suspended animation, which can last up to six hours. She excels at withstanding criticism and other irritants. She heals well, too.
Motivation: "At root, a pearl is a 'disturbance' -- a beauty caused by something that isn't supposed to be there, about which something needs to be done."
-- A to Z Quotes

aardbol -- earth; globe; terrestrial globe

Afrikaans is a language spoken in South Africa.

Degree Requirements (16 units)
PPD 640 - Leadership Foundations: Competencies and Core Values (Fall)
PPD 641 - Leading Individuals, Groups, and Teams (Spring)
PPD 642 - Strategic Leadership of Organizations (Summer)
PPD 643 - Leading Transformations Across Sectors (Fall)

• Policy formulation, communication, and implementation
• Human resources
• Participatory methods in planning and policy
• Alternative dispute resolution

Certificate in Social Innovation
The certificate consists of 13-15 units of graduate courses depending on the electives chosen.
Required Courses (7 units)
• BAEP 591 Social Entrepreneurship
• PPDE 580 Social Innovation
Elective Courses
• PPD 688 Business and Public Policy
• PPD 689 The Nonprofit Sector and Philanthropy
• MOR 555 Designing High Performance Organizations

Certificate in Social Justice
The certificate in Social Justice consists of 12 units of graduate course work.
Core Courses (8 units)
• PPDE 664 Seminar in Social Justice and Public Policy Units: 4
• PPD 616 Participatory Methods in Planning and Policy Units: 4
Elective Course
• AMST 560 Readings on Race and Ethnicity Units: 4
• SOCI 642 Sex and Gender in Society Units: 4

* * *

"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe's couplets: 'Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it! Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it.”
-- W.H. Murray, of the Scottish Himalayan Expedition

Here is a site map of the Clovis Botanical Garden in Mercedes, California. The entrance has metal flowers on the gate. The park includes paths with benches, drinking fountains, a mural, a teleport landing pad, and other features.

In the Soup is a Terramagne-American tabloid that prints sensationalized stories about people with superpowers, often negative, though they also cover lighter fare such as weddings. It pays well enough for dishy photographs to attract reporters, but soups dislike it so much that they routinely call it a "ragazine."

*in the soup
Fig. in a bad situation.
(*Typically: be ~; get [into] ~.)
Now I'm really in the soup. I broke Mrs. Franklin's window.
I make a lot of mistakes. It's easy for me to get into the soup

Tabloids are technically newspapers, but the term also applies to gossip magazines. They are notorious for lying and causing other problems.

A muckraker is a type of reporter who investigates nefarious events. They are more common in Terramagne-America than here.

Paparazzi are photographers who stalk famous people. They are less common in T-America than here, but there's no getting rid of them entirely. T-American celebrities have responded by stalking them back.

A tattletale flash is a light that fires shortly before a picture is taken, not for illumination, but to alert subjects that they are being photographed. T-America requires reporters to use such a device, except in certain types of covert investigation, which requires a special permit.

A wardrobe malfunction involves an inadvertent display of the body, usually intimate parts. With soups, however, it can refer to slippage that reveals areas normally covered by a mask or other costume parts.

Unmasking is a major feature of superhero literature. Some people hunt soups with the intent of stripping off part or all of their clothing to expose their identity. T-America society tends to take a dim view of unclothing anyone without their consent, but Nacre has found a unique interpretation to discourage it. Supervillains tend to be more direct in expressing their disapproval. Conversely, some people know the identity but keep the secret and help superheroes get by.

Commitment is a foundation of healthy relationships. It can apply to friends and coworkers as well as romantic partners. People may fear commitment for various reasons. Men are notorious for this, although it happens with women too. Understand the keys to commitment, how to make a commitment, and ways to strengthen connections with others.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, fantasy, fishbowl, life lessons, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing

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