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The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
Poem: "The Graffiti War"
This poem was prompted and sponsored by minor_architect. It takes a gritty yet whimsical look at a science fiction classic, aliens-invade-Earth.

The Graffiti War

When the Gkarr came to conquer Earth
they took care to destroy
the radios and televisions,
the phones and computers,
so as to cut off communication.
They confiscated books
and punished people for writing.
But they overlooked one thing –

It was not until
the first human slaves escaped
from cleaning alien toilets
and joined the resistance
that we learned why:
the Gkarr marked their territory
with colorful excretions laid out
in elaborate, abstract designs.

So we sprayed our insignia
on every boxcar and building and bridge
all over the city.
We painted the sidewalks and the streets.
There were no police left to stop us,
and the Gkarr didn’t care.

Cell to cell, we connected,
as we penned our plans minutely
into the margin of every neon signature;
every rebel learned to write fast and small
so that from a distance it looked like an outline.
Slaves passed the word cross-country
until the roads ran red with paint.

If the Gkarr caught someone at sabotage
and pressed his face to the pavement
or bounced him off a wall,
there was bound to be vital contact information
right under his nose.

We pushed back the lines,
retook what was ours, and
sprayed paint raucously over their marks
every inch of the way.

When we had finally beaten the Gkarr,
my gang stood victorious over the enemy ship
and the mayor of Chicago
personally handed us the cans
so we could tag the landing gear.

Tags: , , , , , ,
Current Mood: busy busy

10 comments or Leave a comment
From: minor_architect Date: November 4th, 2009 04:06 am (UTC) (Link)
Cleaning alien toilets? There's an education all to itself! ;D

Very cool.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 4th, 2009 04:13 am (UTC) (Link)


... what it really means is:

1) Always keep your eyes open.
2) You never know what knowledge will turn out to be useful.
3) Never forget that servants see and hear everything, and if they hate you, they can ruin your life.
mejeep From: mejeep Date: November 4th, 2009 05:05 am (UTC) (Link)
It shouldn't be as overt as graffiti but covert such as WarChalking, a modern version of Hobo code
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 4th, 2009 06:28 am (UTC) (Link)


In this particular instance, "graffiti" was the prompt. So I looked for an explanation that would make that work. These aliens essentially have a blind spot for big, colorful designs because they think they know what those mean. It wouldn't occur to them that somebody could hide small, dense information in a territorial marker. It would be like a human sniffing a tomcat's pee for an encoded message.
je_reviens From: je_reviens Date: November 4th, 2009 08:43 am (UTC) (Link)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 4th, 2009 07:35 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I appreciate that.
ladymondegreen From: ladymondegreen Date: November 4th, 2009 03:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
I really like this one. The ending made me tear up a little bit.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 4th, 2009 07:35 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I'm glad you found the poem so touching.

I wanted to explore non-standard heroes and still have them enjoy some recognition for their hard work. So, graffiti and gang members save the Earth, with help from some other folks who join the rebels.
ladymondegreen From: ladymondegreen Date: November 4th, 2009 08:11 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

This may also be colored slightly by reading the last parts of A Deepness in the Sky on my commute this morning.

I like the grass-roots heroism as a theme.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 4th, 2009 10:02 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

That makes sense.

Regarding heroism, you might enjoy this:
10 comments or Leave a comment