Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "At the Heart of Repentance"

This poem was written outside the regular prompt calls. It fills the "Libel" square in my 5-1-20 card for the Sumerian Me Bingo fest. It has been sponsored by [personal profile] janetmiles. This poem belongs to the Berettaflies thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.

"At the Heart of Repentance"

[Monday, December 15, 2014]

Dear Mr. McCoy,

I am writing to apologize for
the disrespect to your person and
privacy by the journalistic field of
Easy City, extending in some cases
to libel or other grave violations.

As a concrete apology, I offer you
an equivalent amount of space
in the Ponchartrain Times as
prior items published about you,
your family, house, & concerns:
comprising some 38 column inches
and 350 square inches of photographs
throughout the newspaper's interior,
as well as two quarter-front pages,
one above the fold and one below.

You may compose the content
yourself, obtain it from others, or
assign Ponchartrain Times staff
to create material on your behalf.
The topics are entirely your choice
so long as they suit the scope of
this paper and its new legal standards
(see attached guidelines & changes).

I hope that this humble apology may
in some way lighten the distress that I
and my colleagues have caused you.

Jean-Paul Chartres,
Editor in Chief

"That's really, um, wow,"
Haruko said, dragging
a hand across his face.
"You were right, Devon,
I needed to see this one."

"I'm glad you agree,"
Devon said. "I was
a little worried that it
might be too much, but
it sure sounds sincere."

"It does," Haruko said.
He looked at the next page
of side-by-side excerpts from
the newspaper's guidelines.

It had banned the purchase of
previously signed consent forms,
and even required permission
from private individuals featured
in articles reprinted from elsewhere.

At the bottom, a handwritten note read,
Sacrifice is at the heart of repentance.
Without deeds, your apology is worthless

"So, will you accept the apology?"
Devon wondered, looking at him.

"I don't know," Haruko said.
"I mean, I believe it's sincere.
That's a lot of money -- I've bought
classified ads, space is expensive.
But what would I do with it?"

Devon shrugged. "Whatever you
want. The letter was clear. You
could ride your favorite hobby horse
on the front page if you pleased."

"I don't have a hobby horse,"
Haruko said. "I try to avoid
attention. I don't even know
where to start with this."

"Look, it doesn't have
to be about you or anything
connected with you," Devon said.

"That's a good thing," Haruko said.

"You could print a rant, but I doubt
that would appeal," Devon said.

Haruko wrinkled his nose.
"Definitely not," he said.
"I saw Paparazzi Pizza --
that is so not my style."

"No, that's Ashley's style,"
Devon said easily. "Think of
worthy causes -- or even things
tangentially related. Didn't you talk
with the Journalism Department
over at Loyola a few times?"

"Yeah, that was Stylet's idea,"
said Haruko. "Those guys were
so steamed about what happened.
They acted like I'd caught someone
not washing his hands in a clinic."

"Of course," Devon said, nodding.
"It was a failure of a basic principle.
That's cause for serious concern."

"So I could ... what, ask someone
at the university to write about
journalistic integrity, and the paper
would have to print it?" Haruko said.

"Yes, exactly," said Devon. "Now
just keep going. What else?"

Haruko thought about it,
mulling over the possibilities.

"That rose association gave me
some good advice about protecting
botanical property," he said. "I bet
most folks don't know that. I could
ask them to summarize it."

"Which might discourage
thieves," Devon pointed out.

"Yeah, okay, I'm writing
that one down," Haruko said,
rummaging in the end table
for a notepad and pencil.

"Soup etiquette, if you're
looking for ideas," Devon said.

"Anything to keep people off of
Ashley," Haruko said, scribbling.

"Maybe something about
your grandfather that you
choose?" Devon said softly.

"I don't know if I can," Haruko said.
"It's all still raw, and the memorial ..."

"Made it worse, yeah," said Devon.
"Abraham deserved so much better."

"Huh," said Haruko. "You know,
there's an idea. I've made dioramas,
but I can't bear to sell them. Pictures,
though ... I might be able to handle that."

"The newspaper did offer you the services
of their staff," Devon said. "You could
look at their photographers' work."

"I'll do that," said Haruko. "I just don't
know if I could go through with it."

"Looking isn't a commitment, it's
just research," Devon assured him.
"How do you feel right now?"

"I think ... this actually is helping,"
Haruko said, a note of surprise
creeping into his voice. "Thinking
about what I want to say, what I
think is important, not other people
talking about me behind my back."

"That's good," Devon said. "I was
worried that they'd stolen your voice."

"For a while," Haruko said, twirling
the pencil between his fingers.
"But I think I've got it back."

* * *


"Sacrifice is at the heart of repentance. Without deeds, your apology is worthless."
-- Bryan Davis

The Ponchartrain Times is a daily newspaper in Terramagne-America primarily focused on local interest in Easy City, Louisiana.

Lake Pontchartrain borders Easy City.

Certain words relating to information appear frequently in newspaper names. A typical title contains one or more of these words, often combined with a location or topic.

Libel is a form of defamation expressed in print which exposes someone to public contempt or ridicule, damages their reputation or profession, and so on.

Newspapers often measure text and ads by column inches. New Orleans and Louisiana newspapers list prices from $19 to $182. For instance, at $100 each, 38 column inches in the interior would add up to $3,800. Photos may be measured by column inches, square inches, or page fraction. Larger articles, especially on the front page, are often measured by page fraction. The front page is the most valuable part of the newspaper, usually with half-page or quarter-page articles. The portion above the fold is more valuable than below the fold as this is what people see in a newspaper machine. So you can see that the total would be quite high. However, the topics would likely be of interest to readers, especially if Haruko ever puts his own name on anything, so the newspaper still gains something.

Apologies need several parts to be effective. Things will inevitably go wrong between people, and you need to understand how to repair your relationships. Here is an example from the kink community. Follow the steps to earn back broken trust. Even in the best-run offices, sometimes things go amiss. To avoid a negative impact on clients, explain the situation and offer a concrete apology. However, understand that faking either an apology or forgiveness tends to make matters worse instead of better. Some people demand an apology even if obviously insincere, while others don't want to hear it unless it is genuine.
Tags: community, cyberfunded creativity, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, safety, weblit, writing
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