Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Poem: "The Reality of Cruelty"

This poem is spillover from the December 4, 2018 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] librarygeek and[personal profile] mama_kestrel. It also fills the "sunshine" square in my 12-1-18 card for the Summer in December Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by a pool run by [personal profile] ng_moonmoth. It belongs to the Officer Pink thread of the Polychrome Heroics series. It follows "Those Who Have Suffered," so read that first or this won't make much sense.

WARNING: This poem contains some disturbing topics. Highlight to read the warnings, some of which are spoilers. It features spooked centaurs, racial issues, keloid scars, self-harm scars and numeric tattoos on a Jewish centaur, reference to running away from junkie parents, human trafficking, vindictiveness toward abusers, reference to human trafficking via allegedly-therapeutic camp, exhibitionism regarding personal trauma, Holocaust references, history of slavery in America, past chemical warfare with accusations of genocide, probable infertility, use of magic in mad science, existential angst, and other challenges. If these are sensitive issues for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before reading onward.


"The Reality of Cruelty"

[Friday, April 17, 2015]

The front camp held dozens of
support personnel busily organizing
tools and supplies after the raid.

Centaurs and a few other victims
milled around on the green grass,
blinking in the unfamiliar sunshine.

Ansel kept one eye on Turq and
the other one on the centaurs.

He wasn't sure how they perceived
the world, not really, but he suspected
their reality lay somewhere between
the human version and the horse version.

If he could make this miserable day
easier on them, he would do it.

So when the centaurs shied away from
the extension cords strung over the camp,
Ansel pulled aside an electrical worker and
said, "You can't hang things overhead
like that. It's spooking the centaurs."

Even Turq was hunching unhappily,
probably because his deer didn't like it.

The electrical worker looked around
at the skittish victims, then sighed and
began taking down the overhead cords.
"Tell people to watch their step," he said.
"We'll mat these, but it doesn't always help."

Ansel had seen the mats at the county fair,
and they did help cover the thick cords, but
he had still tripped over some. "Okay, I will,"
he said, and walked through the camp.

"Thanks for making them take those down,"
Turq said. "The lines bugged me too, but
I didn't want to make an issue of them."

"That's what you're here for, Turq,
helping us spot things that might scare
the other survivors," Ansel reminded him.
"Please don't count on me to spot it all."

"All right," Turq said softly. "I'll try
to be more open about stuff like that."

Sunlight slanted through trees just starting
to leaf out, or in the case of the redbuds and
the pears, beginning to open their flowers.

Ansel spoke to some of the staff and
the centaurs, making a point to tell Sorley
because his stiff movement would make
tripping more of a risk and a misery.

Turq tagged along, doing his best
to reassure the other survivors that
they were safe in the front camp.

Then they spotted another group
of centaurs, people they hadn't
seen back at the complex.

The first was a black girl with
long sable hair, whose horse coat
was nearly the same chocolate as
her human skin, then dusty charcoal
down her lower legs and her tail.

Where her upper and lower parts
joined, a thick keloid scar wrapped
around the left side of her back
all the way to the front, leaving
only her right side smooth.

The second had a buff coat
with lighter cream dapples and
a blonde tail, but her head hair
was long and black and wavy.

She gave them a wary look,
her eyes startlingly green in
a heart-shaped face. Then
she sidled away from them.

The third was harder to see,
because she kept hiding behind
the trees. Her skin was tawny-fair
and her almond-shaped brown eyes
hinted at Asian heritage, although
her short hair was auburn.

The equine body below that had
the broad black-and-white stripes
of a zebra, with faint shadows
lying in the white areas.

All three of them were
sneaking looks at the people
with the pink and blue hair, though.

"Hi, I'm Ansel, otherwise known as
Officer Pink," he said. "My friend Turq
is a fellow survivor. We're here to help,
if you need anything. Watch out for
the extension cords, they're coming
down from overhead and will be
covered by ground mats later."

The black girl turned to face them.
"I'm Harriet," she said. "That's Miriam
pointing her butt at us -- she doesn't like
people very much. Behind the trees
is Kim Van. She's just shy, and she
doesn't speak English all that well."

"Pleased to meet you," Ansel said.
"If anyone in your group needs help,
we have trauma-informed medics, or
first aid supplies you can use on your own."

"We're not really injured," Harriet said,
then lowered her voice. "Don't hassle
Miriam about her arms, though."

"What about --" Ansel began,
but Miriam crossed her arms,
and that gave him a glimpse of
laddered scars and a line of numbers.

"Oh they did not," Turq snarled
under his breath, then went on in
Chinese that sounded even worse.

Harriet shook her head. "No, she
did that to herself. Miriam said that
if history was going to repeat itself,
she'd highlight it so that nobody
could pretend they didn't see it.
She almost got culled for that."

"She's Jewish?" Ansel asked.
Icy shivers spilled down his spine,
untouched by the warm spring sun.

"Yeah," said Harriet. "Between me
and her, we had a lot of family history
on how to survive shit, you know?
Sometimes it helped. Sometimes."

"My foster parents are Chinese-American,"
Turq said. "They taught all us kids, too.
I don't think I would've survived without it."

"If Kim Van doesn't speak English well,
do you know her native language, or
where she came from?" Ansel asked.

"Vietnamese, I think," said Harriet.
"She doesn't talk about home much."

"That's okay," Ansel said. "It would help
to know origin points, so we can try tracing
the routes of human trafficking, but you're
not obligated to help us with that stuff."

"It might help people get home, though,"
Turq said. "Ansel found my family."

Harriet shook her head. "Not gonna
help," she said. "I can't swear to it, but
I think Kim Van's family might've sold her.
You know, those places that advertise
'Hot Asian Babes' ...? Like that."

"That sounds awful," Ansel said.
"What about you and Miriam?"

"Someone grabbed me off the street,
but I never saw who," Harriet said.
Miriam got nabbed right out of
some camp for crazy girls."

"Okay, I'll alert people to check
those routes," Ansel said, typing
a note on his combat computer.

"My foster parents sold me --
not my real ones that I'm
attached to, just ones that
got paid to take care of me
for a while," Turq confided.

"That sucks," Harriet said. "I
ran away from my junkie parents
when I was twelve, and made it
about a year on the street before
I got caught and wound up here."

"I'm sorry to hear that," Ansel said.
"We'll help you find a better situation
if you want, but for now, you can stay
with the other victims if that makes
you feel more comfortable."

"Yeah," Harriet said. "Getting
split up is usually ... bad."

"If you choose to talk about
what happened to you, we have
Emotional First Aides available, and
I'm gathering evidence," said Ansel.
"You're not obligated to tell us anything,
if it hurts too much, but if you decide to share,
then anything you say can and will be used
against your captors in a court of law."

Harriet got a glint in her eye that would
have worried Ansel if he saw it in the street.

"You got one'a them perp books, or
a lineup or something?" she said. "I can
talk off the top of my head, but pointing's better."

"Yes, pointing out specific assailants would
make the evidence stronger," Ansel said.
"Here are some pictures I took after the raid."
He touched his combat computer to bring up
the display. "Please refer to them by the number
that they're wearing for identification purposes,
along with any other name you know them by,
and then list what they did to you or others."

"Thirteen," Harriet said at once. "I heard
someone calling him Dr. Bernhardt. He
did this to us." She waved at her horse half.
A long pause, then she added, "Twenty-three,
she's some kind of nurse. But I don't
recognize most of these people."

"We didn't see you back at
the compound," Turq said.
"Maybe you were held in
a different cell block, and
it had different staff too?"

"That sounds likely,"
Ansel said. "Give me
a minute and I'll pull up
pictures of other suspects,"

He sent a request, and soon
his screen displayed new images.

"Thirty-one, thirty-two, thirty-three,"
Harriet said. "They're nurses. Forty
is a janitor but he likes to bang us
when nobody is watching."

Kim Van ghosted up beside them.
"Likes Asian girls," she said, pointing
to another picture, "as long as we're quiet."

Hoofbeats thumped on the grass, and
Ansel turned to see Miriam approaching.

"I'm taking evidence against the people
running this compound, if you want
to contribute to that,," Ansel said.

Miriam touched the first picture in
the row. "Odie Lee Doggett," she said.
"Garbageman. He disposes of biohazards
and medical waste, like horse heads and
people parts. He doesn't care as long as he
gets paid. He's a real schmoe too. He lives
in Ava, and his neighbors think he's normal."

"Thank you for telling me," Ansel said,
taking notes as fast as he could go.

Miriam quickly got ahead of him anyway,
rattling off names and numbers and
other details about the employees.

"Excuse me, I'm having a hard time
keeping up with you," Ansel admitted.
"May I send for an official recorder
and someone to run it? They can
take your statement if you want."

"Yes, and get me a photographer
while you're at it," Miriam said.

The other girls sidled away,
and even Turq twitched at that.

"Some other centaurs were
very particular about avoiding
pictures," Ansel said carefully.
"We would be very grateful for
the photographic evidence, but
please think before you decide."

Miriam bared her teeth in something
very unlike a smile. "Oh, I decided
a long time ago," she said. "I want
everyone to see what they did
to me, so they can't unsee it,
so they can never forget."

Well, that explained the tattoo.

"All right, then we'll support
your decision," Ansel said
as he sent out a request for
the personnel and equipment.
"Would you like a tent for privacy?"

"No," Miriam said, stretching out
her arms. "I want to feel the sunshine
on my skin. They kept us in the basement
and we hardly ever got to see the sky."

"Maybe just a screen, then, so that
other people don't have to worry about
getting caught in a picture," Turq said.

"That should work," Miriam said.
"I don't have bad memories about
screens the way I do about walls.

"I'm sorry you endured such awful things,"
Turq said. "I hate that anyone could
do such evil and just ... not care."

Miriam shrugged. "Being a Jew,
one learns to believe in the reality
of cruelty and one learns to recognize
indifference to human suffering as a fact."

"Not just Jews," said Harriet. "My ancestors
came over on the slave ships, as livestock.
Our family tree went back to stud books.
Slaveowners used to say that niggers
couldn't feel pain or be civilized."

"Cockamamie nonsense," Miriam said.

"In Vietnam, the American soldiers
sprayed stuff ... killed crops and trees,"
Kim Van said. "People still get sick
from it. Long time, nobody cared.
There's a court thing now. Or at least
there was before I got sold here."

"There still are," Ansel said. "A big case
declared the use of defoliants a war crime.
Current ones claim genocide because
of the effects on later generations, which
is now starting to make a rift between
Vietnamese and American victims."

Kim Van nodded. "My family,
little brother had hands like --"
She made a mitten shape.

"I'm sorry to hear that," Ansel said.
He opened and closed his fingers.
His family had gotten lucky, but
he knew others that hadn't.

Miriam leafed through the pictures
on Ansel's combat computers.
"Where are you hiding, you
schmendrick?" she muttered.

"Looking for someone in particular?"
Ansel asked. "Maybe I can help."

"Carl Bernhardt, maddest scientist
in the lab," said Miriam. "He comes
from a family of actual Nazis."

"That could add hate crimes to
the charges," Ansel said, bringing up
a row of pictures including that one.

"That mengele didn't pick me because
I'm Jewish," said Miriam, tapping the image
of Bernhardt. "That's him. He messed up
my cycles, though. The human half and
the horse half don't agree on what to do
or when. I heard some lab techs saying
that I'm probably infertile because of it."

"I'm sorry for your loss," Ansel said.

Miriam shrugged. "I was broken
even before they bought me," she said,
turning her arms to show off the scars.
"Some of these are really old."

"We could get you a shirt
with long sleeves," Ansel said.
"You must be chilly out here."

"No," Miriam said. "No long sleeves.
My great-grandfather never covered up
his numbers. I won't hide mine either." She
looked pensive. "He used to tell stories and
play games with me -- taught me how to spin
a dreidel. He's probably dead by now."

"Maybe, maybe not," said Ansel.
"We'll help you find your family if
you want to reconnect with them.
Until then, you're welcome to stay
with the other centaurs for support."

"I do want to find my family, but I
don't want to lose touch with my herd,"
Miriam said. "It helps to be with people
who survived some of the same shit."

Ansel could well imagine how that
might change someone's whole reality.
He had seen how the veterans clung
to each other on his grandfather's farm.

Miriam was still paging through pictures
on Ansel's combat computer. "You
missed some of them," she said.

"I know, we couldn't get everyone,"
Ansel said. "Some wouldn't be at work
today. Anything you can tell us about
other people who hurt you might help us
to track them down and arrest them."

"I can, if you have a sketcher," Miriam said.
"There's one you can't miss, though -- he
has a nose and long ears like a goat."

"Okay," Ansel said, making a note.
"What else can you tell me?"

"Ammon did stuff other than just
the science, some kind of magic,"
Miriam said. "He helped to make
Pogonip and a few of the others,
but I haven't seen him for years."

"Are you sure about what he did?"
Ansel said. "Using superpowers
to hurt people is very illegal, but
it can be harder to prove."

"He never touched me, not
personally, but he hurt others --
and I know mengele when I see it."
Miriam spat the word like a curse.

"We'll document everything that you
can tell us, and try to cross-check it
against other evidence," Ansel said.

Then he noticed that Turq was shaking.

"Are you okay?" Ansel murmured,
lifting a hand toward him but not daring
to make contact in case it spooked him.

"No," Turq said. He edged away
from the girls, but let Ansel follow him.
"That man -- Ammon. I think I know him.
Saw him. Didn't catch a name, but the ears --
can't be many of those running around."

"That sounds right," Ansel said.
"Distinctive features can help us
in identifying suspects to hunt."

"What he did to us --" Turq rubbed
his hands over his arms. "Most of it
was science stuff, and Bernhardt did
that, drugs and radiation and so on."

"Yes, you told me some of what
happened to you," Ansel said.

"But there was -- some other stuff too,
I was pretty strung out at the time so it's
hard to say," Turq went on. "Look at us,
though. Every member of my cohort has
some weird shape, not a normal animal,
and we all have freaky superpowers too."

"You think magical input contributed to
the mystical nature of your manifestations,"
Ansel said. "That would make sense."

"Yeah," Turq said. "They didn't cut us up
like they did the centaurs, but -- but look at me."
He waved a hand. It was shaking. "My hair.
My caney. Nebuly's myrstag, Saffron's felydd --
somebody made us this way. Somehow.
They had to put it in us, and -- and science
wouldn't warp us in the same ways."

"So far, the other reported victims include
primal soups based on wild or domestic species,
and then the centaurs," Ansel said. "We haven't
found others who resemble your cohort."

"I don't think we're the only ones to escape,"
Turq said. "At least, I hope we're not. We got
some pretty radical abilities -- my teleporting,
Nebuly's vaporous form. All the cryptic critters."
His shoulders scrunched. "I have so many forms,
all of them animals but this one, and that impacts
how I think and feel about things. Sometimes I
wonder if -- if I'm still human, in my soul."

"You are still a person, Turq, even if
your shape changes and your personality
is influenced by what happened to you,"
Ansel assured him. "Never doubt it."

"I guess," Turq said. "I just hate
that creepy goat man for what he
did to us, and Bernhardt is a bastard."

"All right, I'll put down that you believe
this Ammon was involved with your cohort
as well," Ansel said. "How are you doing,
though? You don't look good right now."

"I don't feel good," Turq admitted.
"My whole body is shaky, and I'm cold."

"Step into the sunshine," Ansel suggested.
"We've drifted under the trees here."

Turq glanced up to see branches
full of pink and white flowers overhead.

Their beauty made a surreal contrast
to the horrors of the day, almost like
something from an alternate reality.

"Yeah, okay," Turq said. He
followed Ansel into the light.

"Look for things that are different,"
Ansel coaxed. "You are outdoors.
The grass is green. The sky is blue.
The spring flowers smell wonderful.
You're not stuck in a dungeon. I'm here.
I will stay with you and keep you safe."

Turq leaned against him. "Thanks,"
he said. "That helps a little bit."

"Do you need to take a break?"
Ansel said. "We can, if you do."

"No, I can manage," Turq said.
"We've got work to do. The centaurs
need us to help them through this."

"Okay," Ansel said. "It's your choice."

He noticed that a policewoman was
approaching with a briefcase recorder.

Ansel made all of the introductions,
carefully explaining that Miriam wanted
to document her experiences in detail
while the other centaurs probably wouldn't
want photos and might not talk as much.

Miriam was fascinated by the briefcase unit,
which could not only record both audio and video,
it had multiple soundtracks to capture background
and voice input separately for later mixing.

Sometimes geeking out over equipment
helped take people's minds off their troubles.

"My name is Miriam Stern," she began,
stepping out where the camera could
get a clear look at her half-equine body.
"Listen and I'll tell you of my tsuris ..."

Ansel tipped his face to the sunshine
and tried to keep himself grounded
in the present as Miriam spoke
about the horrors of her past.

Turq leaned against him for
comfort, and Ansel draped
an arm over his shoulders.

They might have to deal
with the reality of cruelty and
the indifference to human suffering,
but at least they had each other
to soothe the inevitable stress.

That kindness was just as real.

* * *

Notes:

Harriet Mosely -- She has chocolate skin, dark brown eyes, and long black hair with just a little wave. She has small high breasts and little definition of waist or hips. She is a centaur, a dark bay Dales pony whose chocolate coat is almost the same shade as her skin, with black legs and tail. Her feet have a small amount of feathering, mostly behind the hooves. She has a thick keloid scar that goes across much of her back, down the left side, and across most of the front; only the right side has a smooth juncture between human and horse. Harriet belongs to the centaur herd rescued from the Umsetzung Complex. She is 15 at the time of rescue. She was 13 when she came to the compound, captured off the street. She was 12 when she ran away from home due to poverty and substance abuse in the family. Strong and hardy, Harriet can carry a lot of weight for her size. She has survived a lot. She faces hardships with courage. However, her life has given her a nasty edge -- she can be downright vindictive, and she uses her intelligence to find cunning ways of reprisal.
Origin: Mad science torture. Carl Bernhardt cut her in half and spliced her upper body to the lower body of a Dales pony mare.
Uniform: None. She is kept nude in captivity.
Qualities: Good (+2) Courage, Good (+2) Hardy, Good (+2) Smart, Good (+2) Strength
Poor (-2) Vindictive
Powers: Average (0) Centaur, Average (0) Super-Constitution
Compared to ordinary humans or horses, centaurs have enhanced strength, speed, and stamina although not necessarily in super range. Generally, if a centaur and someone else have the same rank, the centaur is more powerful; if the other person has one rank higher, they're closer to equal. Most of the surviving centaurs have an additional superpower which helped them to withstand the trauma of their creation. The more common ones include Healing, Regeneration, Toughness, Super-Constitution, and Super-Immunity. Some of them also have Super-Strength or Super-Speed, and they are stronger or faster than other centaurs.
Vulnerability: Anemic.
Due to Carl Bernhardt's erratic practices, centaurs also tend to have physical problems. In Harriet's case, she has bouts of anemia. She needs a diet with extra iron. Blood loss can cause more serious problems for her than average, although so far she has managed to survive the mad science torture.
Motivation: To be free.

Miriam Stern -- She has tinted skin, green eyes, and wavy black hair. She has a heart-shaped face with wide eyes and a large nose over a small pouty mouth. Her shoulders are broad, tapering to a narrower waist, but she has minimal breast development so far. She has scars from self-injury on both wrists, and she managed to tattoo her lab serial number on her left forearm, CM-H4-014. Miriam is a centaur, a silver dapple buckskin Morgan with a buff coat marked with lighter cream dapples and a blonde tail. She belongs to the centaur herd rescued from the Umsetzung Complex. She is 14 at the time of rescue. She was 11 when she was taken from a summer camp for mentally ill girls, and from there wound up in the compound. Miriam is loyal, but very picky about choosing people to bestow that loyalty. She had generational trauma from the Holocaust and a tendency toward self-harm, even before mad science torture left her with sexual abuse and other personal trauma of her own.
Origin: Mad science torture. Carl Bernhardt cut her in half and spliced her upper body to the lower body of a Morgan mare.
Uniform: None. She is kept nude in captivity.
Qualities: Good (+2) Loyal, Good (+2) Memory, Good (+2) Snarky Wit, Good (+2) Spunky, Good (+2) Strength
Poor (-2) Mental Health
Powers: Good (+2) Constitution, Average (0) Centaur
Vulnerability: Reproductive issues.
Due to Carl Bernhardt's erratic practices, centaurs also tend to have physical problems. In Mariam's case, her human and equine cycles don't get along. She has an erratic cycle with miserable symptoms and little if any actual fertility.
Motivation: To vex people with her continued existence.

The silver dapple gene acts only on black hair, turning it lighter, sometimes with dappling. A silver dapple buckskin can wind up buff-colored with paler cream dapples and a blonde mane and tail.

Prison tattoos can be made with very minimal equipment.

See Miriam from the back and the front.


Tran Thi Kim Van -- She has tawny-fair skin, almond-shaped brown eyes, and short straight hair of auburn red. She is slender and delicate, with a heart-shaped face. She is a zebra centaur with broad black-and-white stripes and narrower, fainter shadow stripes in the white parts. Kim Van belongs to the centaur herd rescued from the Umsetzung Complex. She is 16 at the time of rescue. She was 12 when her impoverished parents in Vietnam sold her to human traffickers, which soon led to the compound. Kim Van's grasp of English is patchy, and which contributes to her timid nature. She is quiet and easygoing, which makes her popular in a very skittish group of peers.
Origin: Mad science torture. Carl Bernhardt cut her in half and spliced her upper body to the lower body of a plains zebra mare.
Uniform: None. She is kept nude in captivity.
Qualities: Good (+2) Easygoing, Good (+2) Graceful, Good (+2) Quiet
Poor (-2) Timid
Powers: Average (0) Centaur, Average (0) Extended Lifespan
While Kim Van doesn't have true Immortality, the Extended Lifespan applies to keeping her soul attached to her body during illness or injury. It doesn't improve healing, just grip.
Vulnerability: Poor fat storage.
Due to Carl Bernhardt's erratic practices, centaurs also tend to have physical problems. In Kim Van's case, she has difficulty storing body fat, which leaves her more vulnerable to cold weather and to deficiencies in fat-soluble vitamins. She needs a diet with higher fat and protein.
Motivation: To be good.

Vietnamese names place the family name first, then the middle name which may indicate gender, and finally the personal name.

Plains zebras have wide stripes, sometimes with faint shadows, and include several subspecies. Zebras can be challenging to manage and are vulnerable to cold.


Odie Lee Doggett -- He has fair skin, brown eyes, and short hair with a beard and mustache. His hair was brown but is now going gray and also receding. Odie Lee lives in Ava, Missouri. He works at the Umsetzung Complex. He specializes in disposing of biohazards and other medical waste. Motivated by greed, he doesn't really care what goes on, as long as he gets paid. He does care about what people think, though, and wants his neighbors to view him as a normal guy.
Qualities: Good (+2) Redneck, Good (+2) Strength
Poor (-2) Greedy

Ammon (Leonard Schmidt) -- He has pale skin, black eyes, and short hair so bright a red that it's almost orange. He has long narrow ears and a divided nose, like a goat. He used to have horns, but those were removed to make it easier for him to disguise himself among humans. Usually he combs his hair over the stumps. As a mad scientist, Leonard works well in a hierarchy, equally comfortable giving or taking orders. He hates working alone, though. He has sophisticated tastes and fussy mannerisms.
Origin: Leonard's parents performed nefarious rituals in hopes of gaining supernatural powers. They didn't, but their son did. (Put demonology on the list of things not to do while pregnant.)
Uniform: In the lab, Ammon wears a white lab coat. In ritual, he wears robes suited to the occasion. Off duty, he wears sophisticated men's clothes, usually a suit of white or pale gray, but occasionally red.
Qualities: Good (+2) Flexibility, Good (+2) Hierarchy, Good (+2) Mad Scientist, Good (+2) Psychopath, Good (+2) Sophisticated
Poor (-2) Working Alone
Powers: Good (+2) Demonic Sorcery
Limitation: His demonic energy tends to leak out around him, giving him a creepy aura. This makes it difficult to conceal his true nature. It is easier when he uses his abilities regularly, thus lowering the amount of energy carried in his body. When he doesn't practice for a while, it builds up, becoming increasingly difficult to conceal even from ordinary people.
Vulnerability: He takes double damage from Angelic Powers or other goodly energies.
Motivation: To strengthen the grip of Evil on human souls.

* * *

"Being a Jew, one learns to believe in the reality of cruelty and one learns to recognize indifference to human suffering as a fact."
-- Andrew Dworkin

A variety of mats and bridges can cover electrical cords to minimize tripping, but some have a fairly low profile while others make a pretty big bump. Most still have edges that can snag feet or wheels, which is why some sites prefer to string their cords overhead to keep them out of the way.

Spooking in horses can be caused by many things, including overhead rope or power cords.

Keloid scars are more prevalent the darker the skin gets. Know how to prevent and treat them.

(These links are intense and some are also graphic.) Cutting is one type of self-harm that people sometimes use as a negative coping technique. Here is what cutters and their supporters say about self-harm; it's always best to get an inside perspective on issues if you can. There are questions you can ask to help someone talk about cutting if they have trusted you enough to let you know in the first place. In some cases, tattooing and other body modifications may overlap with self-harm. The Hurt Yourself Less Workbook is my go-to resource for this issue, designed by self-harm survivors so they know what works and what doesn't. There are many other coping skills that people have found helpful instead of hurting themselves. Browse some tip sheets tailored for different people who might know someone with self-harm issues.

(These links are disturbing.)
Mail order brides constitute one form of human trafficking. While more common in places like China, it also happens in America.

Schmoe - This means a stupid or naive person.
-- Jewish Slang Words

Cockamamie - This means ridiculous.
-- Jewish Slang Words

(These links are heinous.)
Slave breeding occurred in early America, and rape of slaves was common throughout the trade. Especially after shipments dwindled, the institution of slavery relied on reproductive exploitation.

(So are these.)
Agent Orange was a form of chemical warfare, primarily against Vietnamese but also affecting American troops. Here a Vietnamese group attempted a lawsuit, but it was dismissed. In T-America, the lawsuit proceeded and use of defoliants was ruled a war crime, with damages owed both by the government and by the corporations, because they "knew or should have known" that the chemicals were harmful. Subsequent charges of genocide have been laid due to hereditary effects. Those cases are still slogging their way through the court system, creating a schism between Vietnamese and American victims because the former have grounds to claim genocide while the latter do not.

Shmendrik - This means that the person is a jerk, but MUCH bigger than a normal jerk. He is the master of all jerks.
-- Jewish Slang Words

A dreidel is a Jewish top. Learn how to play the dreidel game.

This is a briefcase audiovisual recorder.

Tsuris - This refers to troubles, troubles that are so big that you beat your head in trying to pronounce this word to tell someone about them.
-- Jewish Slang Words</user></user></user>
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, ethnic studies, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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