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Etherwind
Apr 22, 2008
Probation
Can't post for 747 days!


Soiled Meat

BlackFrost posted:

Flash rule: Must be a haiku (can be longer than three lines, to meet the criteria of the thread. So just go 5-7-5 over and over). If someone deems this rule as "Terrible Garbage" then too bad, this is the loving THUNDERDOME bitches.

Challenge accepted: I'm in. Master Buson, guide my hand.

Flash prompt: your poem must have a rhyming scheme, but must not include the same rhyme twice.

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Etherwind
Apr 22, 2008
Probation
Can't post for 747 days!


Soiled Meat

You never said you were in explicitly, and your phrasing of the prompt was ambiguous. If you'd wanted me to take your prompt, maybe you should have been clearer? :getin:

Editing it after the fact doesn't save you.

Etherwind
Apr 22, 2008
Probation
Can't post for 747 days!


Soiled Meat

STONE OF MADNESS posted:

^ Clearly you two now have to Thunderbrawl for the haiku prompt..?

Symptomless Coma, I'm calling you out!

One story, one time, one thousand words maximum. You can pick the prompt, because I'm loving hard, and sebmojo can judge if he is willing. Winner gets the haiku prompt, loser takes the other's prompt.

Do you accept?

Etherwind
Apr 22, 2008
Probation
Can't post for 747 days!


Soiled Meat

To be entered on my inevitable win over Symptomless Coma:

So Haiku have to be self-contained, which makes building a narrative out of them quite challenging. I ended up forgoing the kigo in quite a few of them, and in others I broke with the modern perception that the juxtaposition must be common.

Etherwind posted:

Memories

Sun falls out the sky
Dark the moon above the trees:
I can only smile

A man in Kobe;
We drank throughout the daytime
He offered to pay

I asked why that one
He said all was politics
His smile like my smile

Where and when the deed?
Above the Shirakawa
Red upon white sand

Kyoto is strange:
No love for men or women
Only rented time

Tea shop on the street
I sat and watched them go by
Family not mine

Little girl in bow
Mother in many colours
Father dressed in black

Three days spent watching
Same routine lends peace of mind
Yet not only peace

The house was quite small
Family shrine was well tended
Dead worth more than food

Picture on the wall
Important men shaking hands
Woman in background

I see many things
Patience lends me perspective
But I must be slow

The door opened wide
Knife in my sleeve for the girl
In wrong place, wrong time

"Are you a Kami?"
I stood beside the small shrine
She held her prayer sticks

I went to pass by
She was next to the photo
Her parents stopped me

"Does daddy love you?"
I did not want to know it
Still she gave answer

Back out at the bridge
I studied the water-way
An old reflection

When I was a child -
Made to learn too many things -
I thought I was loved

To envy the young
Is the curse of all the old
Sometimes a blessing

I will ask a priest:
When bad karma inspires good
Can sin make virtue?

I knew who paid me;
Money is thicker than blood
And less freely spilled

Photographs I took
Old memories go with new
Not all can sit well

The letter was short
"Above the Shirakawa"
White river blackmail

They came on Monday
Overhead the sun was bright
It was too peaceful

The first guard fell down
Politician screamed and ran
His car a bonfire

The second drew out
My razor flashed in his eye
The river soothed him

That last shot hit me
I felt a river wetness
Not Shirakawa

I caught him quickly
"Who are you?" he tried to ask
"I am the Kami"

I held him over
My blood rolled down his pale face
Made white sand redden

"Do not touch the girl
"I will find you like these men"
I had become death

As I left the scene:
"You will not see nightfall, bitch!"
Time tests promises

Sun falls out the sky
Dark the moon above the trees:
I can only smile

Edit: forgot word count, 339.

Etherwind fucked around with this message at 12:19 on Jan 10, 2013

Etherwind
Apr 22, 2008
Probation
Can't post for 747 days!


Soiled Meat

SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

Aaaaw poo poo bro, I love concrete. Meis, you'll be wanting to use the [ code ] [ code ] tags or SA's formatting will ruin it. Also, you can't use forum code inside the [ code ] blocks so you can't use bold/italics etc.
pre:
          Look On My Works, Ye Mighty, And Despair
The tag you want is [pre].

We use it all the time over in Traditional Games when we're making ou- guys? Guys?

Edit: To clarify, everything between [pre ] and [/pre ] is rendered without first going through the preprocessing to strip white space. So you can use an arbitrary number of spaces, tabs and any other special characters that would normally be stripped out, and use them in any position you like. However, unlike [code] the tag does not interpret all the contents between the tags as literals, so it still searches for matches on forums codes and smilies.

Etherwind fucked around with this message at 20:43 on Jan 10, 2013

Etherwind
Apr 22, 2008
Probation
Can't post for 747 days!


Soiled Meat

Symptomless Coma. You don't impress me. Much. So you've got the words, but haven't got the touch. And don't get me wrong, yeah, I think you're all right: but that won't help you win in this long, hard, lonely fight.
I am so sorry.

Etherwind posted:

Conversions

"So this gay guy-"

"Tell it to me straight."

I blinked. He watched me across the neck of his beer, head tilted like he wanted my complaint. "You got a problem?"

"The joke doesn't work if the guy's straight."

"Then it's a lovely joke." He downed the drink and tossed the empty bottle into the trash, all casual ease, then leaned against his folded arms. A new tattoo of a cross was angry red on his wrist; I felt small, sitting beside him. Not like the day we met, clueless freshman and sophomore veteran, but that was before I got to know him... and his priest.

"You got something against the gays?" My voice was shriller than I wanted it to be, but he ignored me.

"You've told, what, five dick jokes, a couple blonde jokes, an observation about motherfuckin' coffee joints, had a crack at the President and talked poo poo on that Jersey crew."

"You liked the Jersey joke!"

"Yeah, and that's sad." He flashed an even smile from his uneven face. "But look, that's a lot of clichés. You want to be that kind of comedian? Stale as this poo poo?" He kicked the cooler.

"I'll tell another joke."

"What? No!" He punched me in the shoulder. "You a pussy? You can make anything work."

"Maybe you can." I rubbed the bruise. "People laugh at anything coming out of your potato-man head."

He grinned and grabbed another beer, cracking it open against his knuckle callous. "You think your Emo rear end gonna get any less laughs? Look at you. More black on you than Chris Rock, and you're the palest motherfucker I know. Never mind the lipstick."

I smiled like I was laughing, glad he noticed. "I don't know why you bother with someone like me."

He softened around the edges, kept the humour. "Community outreach. We take all kinds of sinners."

As he held my gaze I grew warm. It was difficult hiding the thrill I felt, but my new Church would not approve.

"So tell it straight," he said, breaking the spell.

"How about I tell it gay, so you see what I mean?" He nodded, sat back.

"So this gay guy goes to church. As the offering basket is passed, he drops in a big wad of bills. When the basket gets back to the priest, he sees the money and says 'Someone was very generous today. I would like to ask the person who gave this to stand.'

"So the gay guy stands up, and the priest tells him 'We appreciate your generosity, so I'm going to let you select your three favourite hymns.'

"The gay guy says, 'Sure: I'll take him, him and him!'"

He just shook his head. "Won't work with a straight guy," I repeated.

"No, it won't because it blows. All the same, you could have made it a woman."

"Then the religious-"

"gently caress religion. New York has gay marriage now; there's nothing to lose."

"Christ... and coming from a Catholic!"

"What's funny is funny." His second creed. "That ain't. Even if it was a woman."

"So now it doesn't matter whether it's gay." I was on my feet, my drink bounced off the trash with a feeble throw.

"It never has. Look, sit your rear end back down." He glanced at where my beer spilled, corrected himself. "Clean that poo poo up, then sit your rear end back down. I'm gonna have a cigarette, then we'll make you funny."

I mopped up while he went outside. He came back with a big smile. "Tell me why the joke works."

"You said it didn't." He grinned at me, urging me on. "Because the wordplay, it's a clash of perspectives. The audience expects him to choose songs, but instead he chooses the congregation."

"Your problem is they can see it coming. You're all upfront with the guy's intentions." He did a mincing walk as he said it; I reached for another bottle. "When you talk about him being gay, the stereotype hurts the joke."

"Okay rear end in a top hat, how do I fix it?"

"Little old lady." He laughed at my confusion. "Tell it again, with a little old lady instead of a gay guy."

I had to admit, he made it bearable.

Etherwind
Apr 22, 2008
Probation
Can't post for 747 days!


Soiled Meat

SurreptitiousMuffin I totally owe you a brawl from earlier and really loving want to, but I have a small novel worth of poo poo I have to write for this weekend (no joke: if I thought I could manage both I would). Is this a one-time offer, or can I murder you next week?

STONE OF MADNESS, cool poo poo, could you drop me a preview via PM if you get it done before then? I am hungry for pain.

Etherwind
Apr 22, 2008
Probation
Can't post for 747 days!


Soiled Meat

Symptomless Coma posted:

And I would like to see proper epic poetry. A real narrative. Long, epic simile. Iambic pentameter.

By the way, I'm curious: in the event you'd actually stated your intentions like a real man, would you have accepted Dactylic Hexameter adapted to qualitative meter? It's the closest equivalent to Homeric verse. Iambic pentameter is loose by comparison.

Etherwind
Apr 22, 2008
Probation
Can't post for 747 days!


Soiled Meat

I'm believe I'm familiar with it. English is stress-timed, while I think Ancient Greek was mora timed? I was really just going to stick to conventional stress timing (by which I mean no major loving around with stylistic quirks) and use the following ghetto approximation:
pre:
The first four feet can either be dactyls or spondees.
The fifth foot is frequently a dactyl.
The sixth foot is always a spondee.

If the second foot is a dactyl, the two short syllables must be part of the same word-unit.

If the fourth foot is a dactyl, the two short syllables must also be part of the same word-unit.

Commas may appear after the:
	First syllable in the third foot ("masculine" caesura);
	Second syllable in the third foot if the third foot is a dactyl ("feminine" caesura);
	First syllable of the second foot
	First syllable of the fourth foot (common with preceding);
Like, I'm no Walt Whitman, and have no illusions that would necessarily have been good, but it was an interesting idea to me.

Etherwind
Apr 22, 2008
Probation
Can't post for 747 days!


Soiled Meat

Yeah, that matches what I know. The idea was to go stressed -> soft -> soft for dactyls and soft -> soft for spondees. The opening line I was kicking around was:

"Sing do I to my muse, low my voice dipped 'gainst her pale darkness"

You're probably right in that it's way too ambitious to work on in such a short deadline. Like, in the inconceivable situation that I find out I've lost my Thunderbrawl on the 12th, I would only have a day to do three hundred words of that. In a parallel universe where Symptomless Coma kicked my rear end, I'd have to go with iambic pentameter to stand a chance.

Etherwind
Apr 22, 2008
Probation
Can't post for 747 days!


Soiled Meat

Symptomless Coma posted:

I think the universe wants you to write your Dactylic Hexameter, and has shaped events accordingly...

It's the only explanation.

Real talk, last night I had a chat with SurreptitiousMuffin, and Dactylic Hexameter is totally not going to happen. I did about five lines of it as a trial run (the prerequisite invocation of the Muse) and the end result plain didn't work, especially since it took forever not to work and I have a whole bunch of stuff to do for tomorrow night.

Just so you don't feel cheated, here's what I ended up with:

Sing do I to my muse, low my voice dipped 'gainst her pale darkness
In offering, soft penitent pleas, susurrus as her sweet breath.
Calling her down only now, when my need is greater than my pride
Tarnishes all loving words said to her during my youth's days
When I more freely wrote, wooing her with syllables half breathed.
Come down here that, gentle and kind, you might see me worthy to save.


So I'm going to go with your original request for Iambic Pentameter; if you don't like it, Thunderbrawl me.

STONE OF MADNESS posted:

Finally, it's 'callus'. 'Callous' describes behaviour or thoughts and you know what it means.

Ugh, auto-correct. Can't believe I didn't catch that. Thanks for the feedback!

Etherwind
Apr 22, 2008
Probation
Can't post for 747 days!


Soiled Meat

While you're here, a quick question. You specifically requested really long similes like Homer did, and given an unlimited word count I'd be fine with that, but I'm having to keep it below 1000 words. Will you accept stuff more compressed like:

Now Cleon fair removed his helm and laughed,
Stentorian as booming voice that once
Against the edge of all the earth was raised.


Does that work for you? I figure since you beat me fair and square, I should try and make something to satisfy you.

Etherwind
Apr 22, 2008
Probation
Can't post for 747 days!


Soiled Meat

SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

"I THINK THE SADDEST RHINO IS A BAD RHINO AND I CHALLENGE HIM TO A LOVECRAFT-HORROR-3-PART-OFF"

Saddest Rhino, you gonna take that poo poo? He's calling you out!

Etherwind
Apr 22, 2008
Probation
Can't post for 747 days!


Soiled Meat

Here you go Symptomless Coma: 982 words of Iambic Pentameter that draw from Homer, with influences from Virgil, William Blake and the Epic of Gilgamesh. I even managed to squeeze in a nod to Dante. Included are the long list and extended simile that you specifically wanted, and I've tried to adhere to the conventions of the form while telling a story that isn't utterly formulaic. Whether or not this wins, I sincerely hope you like it, as you earned it.
pre:
My voice upraised toward the sky in song,
I call my patron Muse. In youth I would
Frequently write soft words to earn your smile,
Yet now I tarnish every syllable
Invoking you for competition's sake.
The gods of Thunder rule this work be now writ:
With heavy heart to them I must submit.

Sing we the song of Cleon's fall with Urn.

Tyger, profane Tyger, burning brightly,
Through forest deep and dry it stalked
Sly Urn and Cleon both, their men long dead
And bronze made molten ruin. Cleon ran
With Urn within his arms and screamed in fear.
Betrayed they both had been, and now the beast
Might burn the towns and kill again. Yet first
It came for Urn the sharp of eye, its mark
Upon his flesh and hunger on its tongues.
Fair Cleon could yet hurl him down and flee,
Hero not he, but bonds of purpose held
The men together fast, as did memory.

	Met they within the charnel house, once home
	To Urn the sharp of eye, all people gone
	As ash upon the wind save he. Sly Urn
	With bow accosted Cleon from afar,
	Demanding "Who are you to come this way?
	Dressed bright in bronze and fair of look are you,
	But none know more than I that evil walks
	Aflame with grace. Be gone before I shoot
	This barb into your heart!" Not idle was
	His threat, for many men had met their end
	Unknowing whence the blow had came, or how
	So small a man could shoot so far and true.

	Now Cleon fair removed his helm and laughed,
	Stentorian as booming voice that once
	Against the edge of all the earth was raised.
	He was a man still young and strong, untried
	By world, untroubled he, for hopelessly
	The path ahead appeared to have no end.
	"A target fair I am to you," said he,
	"Without this guard upon my head. Might you
	Let loose against a man still garbed in bronze
	And cut him low, then you may be the sort
	To aid this fair villain. For murderous
	The course upon which I set out today."

	Sly Urn beheld the truth, many the times
	Deceit tried creep into the hunter's home.
	Like poor Tiresias blind-struck, mere chance
	Left him alive but changed for worse compared
	To who had he in youth once been. Also
	Like poor Tiresias blind-struck, skill rare
	Had come in wake of tragedy, the bow
	The means allowing Urn to years survive.
	Unlike Tiresias blind-struck, no god
	With gift or curse had come, his sight still keen,
	Still clear the gaze of Urn the sharp of eye.
	"The beast you seek: I saw it long ago."

Tyger, profane Tyger, burning brightly,
Through tree and smoke it came for them, narrow
Its eye and fierce its roar. 'Neath canopy
In darkness Cleon stumbled far, heavy
The load of Urn the sharp of eye. For miles
Too great to count he gave a great account:
Onward he pressed when breath had left his chest
And only fear endured. Not only fear!
For kinship held to him when hope had fled
As like a lover holds when lust is spent.
Hero not he, Cleon bereft of bronze
Ran from the boughs and saw the cliffs distantly.

	With men in tow across the land they searched,
	Until at last its tracks Urn spied upon
	The sand beside the cliffs: glassen the steps
	Left by the beast. "Now soon," said Cleon bold,
	"Revenge will come for Urn the sharp of eye,
	Too long delayed." Sly Urn was not impressed.
	"For what, or whom," asked Urn, "do you this quest
	engage? Some death? Or glory offered you?"
	Again fair Cleon laughed, then mirth dispersed
	Lest he offend. "This task," said Cleon low,
	"To win the praise of maiden bloody, queen
	Of all within the stormy northern bowl."

	Said Urn, "The deed alone shall satisfy;
	Your reasons are your own. Of deed let now
	We speak. What means the beast can pacify?
	There! See it moved away from sea? Perhaps
	A fear we can exploit?" Fair Cleon smiled.
	"No need," said Cleon sure, "have we of surf
	Or rain to quell our prey. Advised am I
	By queen of blood that flame cannot endure
	With kin, so suffocate the fiend in fire
	And see it snuffed." Sly Urn was not impressed.
	"Let us but hope," said Urn, "this queen of blood
	Is right. The blaze takes all it gives its mark."

Tyger, profane Tyger, burning brightly,
Through moonless night the pair it chased,
On Urn the sharp of eye its brand. At edge
Of rock fair Cleon stood, there leaning out
To hear the pound of wave on stone as like
The axeman counts the time in beats of drum
With growing dread and tightened gut, waiting
For rare reprieve or time at last his weight
To drop. His legs atremble, Cleon held
Against his breast sly Urn so small and still.
Hero not he, as glowing flame close came
Cleon bereft of bronze stayed resolutely.

	In forest deep and dry a trap was set
	To catch and kill the seething beast. Know all
	Who read these stalwart names how great their work:
	Pallas the still, Nestor the old, Stephan
	The worthy, Callias serene, spartan
	Astro, the tall Alexander, Echo
	The simple, Lucas, son of Callias,
	Sly Urn and Cleon bright in bronze. All ten
	Began the night arrayed against the fiend.
	How long they hid! Until at last they heard
	When Urn the sharp of eye drew breath and cried
	"Tyger, profane Tyger! Burning brightly!"

	At once the men to trees set light; behind
	The smoke the Tyger slunk. Sly Urn was pale
	With memory rekindled, now he looked
	Upon that hell again. The moment stretched,
	The fire toward the sky climbed high, all coughed...
	Then crashing came the Tyger through the wall.
	Tyger, profane Tyger, burning too bright,
	Made strong by forest set alight, so grew
	That beast of fire, titian and dark. To ash
	Went eight in flash of hate, and Urn
	Blinded. Cleon shed bronze, raised Urn, and fled.

Tyger, profane Tyger, burning brightly,
Approached its prey. As tongues licked rock and scorched
His back, fair Cleon gave decree: "No man
So brave should fall alone!" So then he leapt
To death with Urn, and down into the waves
The Tyger plunged with both, at last snuffed out.

The ocean wept to feel blind Urn embraced,
Her tears of salt welled up to flood the land,
And touching Urn upon his ruined face
Restored his sight, with kiss retreating back.
Hero, he woke as dawn then broke, at peace
To hear fair Cleon's laugh upon the bay.

Etherwind
Apr 22, 2008
Probation
Can't post for 747 days!


Soiled Meat

Martello posted:

Is this the same Etherwind I see?
He who quailed and quibbled so?
A warrior now, casting words like arrows.
Poetry like the mightiest army marching in the sun.

Sing we the song of Etherwind the man
Misunderstood by those who would quick judge,
A man no less; came he to make his prose
More durable than bronze, his poesy
Far better than the weakness he dared show.

Etherwind
Apr 22, 2008
Probation
Can't post for 747 days!


Soiled Meat

I could have sworn the lower limit was 300. Did it get upped after the post was first made?

Etherwind
Apr 22, 2008
Probation
Can't post for 747 days!


Soiled Meat

The totally redundant haiku thing I did was written with 300 words in mind. If you thought that too, I'm guessing the lower word count was raised between the prompt and now.

Etherwind
Apr 22, 2008
Probation
Can't post for 747 days!


Soiled Meat

Erik Shawn-Bohner posted:

I think thunderbrawls should be in-thread, and there should be no limit to how many you can do. You just have to pay X money to do them. A tab is kept until the end of the month, and you must donate that amount to a charity of our choosing (must provide screenshot proof) at the end of the month or face a ban from TD. Maybe forever, maybe for the next month. Something along the lines of $1 USD to challenge someone, and they can pay $1 to accept on their tab or you can pay $2 to cover their tab and yours (along with picking the prompt), and they're the dick for not writing for charity. If someone wants to sponsor a fight, they can put it on their tab.

No offence, but I honestly think this is a terrible idea for a whole variety of reasons. Bullshit ahoy:

Firstly, who picks the charities? What if the ethics or institutions underlying the charity conflict with those held by one of the writers? This is more likely than you think, especially the more one knows about the charities in question (Amnesty International springs to mind as an example).

Secondly, introducing money to things complicates them really quickly, as with it you introduce the inherent social imbalance on which capital is predicated. While I could afford to pay that, I know people who couldn't afford it given how tight their margins are (enough money for simple food, rent, gas, electricity and Internet and little else). It puts an opportunity cost - no matter how minor to you and me - on what should be undertaken freely.

Thirdly, it distorts the competition. It's one thing to let the contestants sort out the details, and quite another to say "He who writes the cheque picks the prompt."

Fourthly, as foreign as it may seem, some of us prefer not to talk about our charitable donations publicly as a matter of principle, and participation would force that.

Fifthly, I'd be prepared to bet it'll put new people off participating in Thunderdome. Last I heard, that was still a concern.

Lastly, there's the issue of monetising what should be a conflict of honour. :black101:

All of this seems reason enough to not do it, especially since there's nothing stopping a pair of brawlers from agreeing to do charitable donations. They could even agree to make it a wager!

Etherwind fucked around with this message at 19:14 on Jan 13, 2013

Etherwind
Apr 22, 2008
Probation
Can't post for 747 days!


Soiled Meat

Humour will not be permitted after the revolution, comrade. :saddowns:

Etherwind
Apr 22, 2008
Probation
Can't post for 747 days!


Soiled Meat

budgieinspector posted:

Everyone always says that it's Babby's First Meter, but for some reason I'm wired to default to tetrameter. Adding that extra foot makes everything sound off, to me.

I think most people are wired to tetrameter, but that's what makes Iambic Pentameter so strong: it forces you to think hard about what you're writing, and to include enjambment. The real difficulty lies in making sure the regional stress pattern you follow when speaking actually corresponds to English proper, since there's substantial variation between how stresses are placed on words regionally and how they're supposed to be placed.

Case in point, "frequently". FRE-quent-LY, right? Turns out that it's meant to be pronounced fre-QUENT-ly: the confusion comes from different accents elongating the first "e", which makes people pronounce the "y" to match. This is apparently incorrect.

You can imagine what a pain it is for a Scottish English speaker (from near Glasgow) to write stressed poetry: we pronounce "computer" as "c-mpu-r." Means loving going over that poo poo with a fine-toothed comb.

Etherwind fucked around with this message at 00:14 on Jan 14, 2013

Etherwind
Apr 22, 2008
Probation
Can't post for 747 days!


Soiled Meat

STONE OF MADNESS posted:

Really, though, why would you do this? It's not like any of us is born region-less, and though I'm hardly well-versed (Ha! Ha!) in prominent poets, I imagine a great loving many of them write to a local idiom and gain recognition as a poet from x.

Sure what you describe may be the correctest possible approach to English, but at the same time it suggests that only English speakers of a certain region and class are capable of natural, fluid self-expression and everyone else must imagine their words spoken in such a tongue, and that can't possibly be right, can it?

Well, it's for this reason (among many others) that I prefer a descriptivist view of language.

Unfortunately that presupposes an audience familiar with the patois with which you are writing, and unless you're fortunate to start with one that's very widely known, you're necessarily restricting your audience or otherwise rendering your work parochial. Like, for my poem, if I'd gone with the rhymes and rhythms that feel natural under Scottish English I'd probably alienate most of the readers in this thread unless I also specifically adopted a Scottish style or setting to contextualise it.

Like, how many Scottish novelists or poets are you familiar with? Now, of those, how many's work does not predominantly involve Scotland in some form? Of those remaining, how Scottish is the voice they employ?

Etherwind
Apr 22, 2008
Probation
Can't post for 747 days!


Soiled Meat

STONE OF MADNESS posted:

I mean, there have to be heaps of American poets that don't give a poo poo about proper English stresses, right?

They have the advantage of being part of the nation whose empire spans the world, though. Like, seriously, it's very easy to take that poo poo for granted.

Edit: putting a sock in it, sorry.

Etherwind
Apr 22, 2008
Probation
Can't post for 747 days!


Soiled Meat

Peel posted:

Etherwind: Intervention (The Heirophant)

People picked you up on the ‘not unlike’ already. Watch for little things like that you can tighten up (and the rest of you). Creepy in a good way. However, you went too far towards leaving things unsaid for my taste.

This solidifies what I think my biggest problem has been so far. Like, I can write out a story that's direct and to the point with its details, but what I love most in fiction are those stories that make you work to construct the full story and acquire clear understanding. It's probably no surprise that my favourite novel is "Peace" by Gene Wolfe.

For Thunderdome I've been intentionally avoiding those areas where I'm strong and focusing on the areas I really suck, and conveying a lot of narrative and background through small references is something I want to get better at, along with finding a voice to fit that style of storytelling. It's also helping me shift the rust from not writing in a long time (Sitting Here gets credit for some great help there).

Thanks for the criticism!

Etherwind
Apr 22, 2008
Probation
Can't post for 747 days!


Soiled Meat


I'm struggling to find the words to adequately convey how much this seems inappropriate. Much in the same way as you had trouble making sense of the prompt, I find it hard to wrap my head around your dismissal of the style when similar material gets published on a fairly regular basis. Admittedly, it's pretty niche stuff, but to say it's invalid is to make the mistake of putting too much weight on your personal tastes. I sympathise, as there's lots of poetry I really don't enjoy, but I think you're making a mistake that's potentially detrimental to your experience of the poetic corpus.

Anyway, enough genteel words:

Put up or shut up! Either have the balls to call it poo poo and tell me why, or let it pass. None of this weak purgatory poo poo.

Edit: unless you're just trolling, in which case, well done.

Etherwind fucked around with this message at 05:19 on Jan 14, 2013

Etherwind
Apr 22, 2008
Probation
Can't post for 747 days!


Soiled Meat

twinkle cave posted:

And yes, it is VERY niche, if some journal that handles this at all exists (CHALLANGE).

Off the top of my head, I'm pretty sure Arcadia does epic poems. They're in Oklahoma. A friend showed me an issue a while ago, he liked it specifically because it handled that niche stuff.

Edit: http://www.arcadiamagazine.org/
Edit: Apparently they're paying their writers now. I thought they were a non-profit. So there you go, a place to submit an epic poem and get paid.

Etherwind fucked around with this message at 06:02 on Jan 14, 2013

Etherwind
Apr 22, 2008
Probation
Can't post for 747 days!


Soiled Meat

twinkle cave posted:

Let us part friends sir, or at least until we are next called to splatter the ground with each others blood in the THUNDERDOME.

We're cool. Thanks to you I'm seriously thinking about submitting that poem (or a redraft of it) to Arcadia. I wasn't going to bother because their website said they only pay with a copy of the magazine, but I've been informed that's out of date.

Etherwind
Apr 22, 2008
Probation
Can't post for 747 days!


Soiled Meat

Prolonged Priapism I'm going to say straight-off that it's not clear to me what you're satirising. That's not to say that I don't like the underlying idea of death-as-entropy anthropomorphised and watching with growing discontent at the state of the unfolding universe, I'm just not sure what it's meant to be a stand-in for, and what the satire is meant to be criticising. I can think of a few things it could be (satirising all of existence as just a game seems like a good bet, or maybe satirising the prompt like a meta rear end in a top hat), but they're all shots in the dark. Maybe that's the point.

So first criticism: satire must be grounded, whether at the start or (better) becoming clear through the piece. I don't feel your piece achieves this.

Following on from what I said earlier, my second criticism (more a quibble) is that the definition of death is a bit broad, but paradoxically underutilised. You explicitly equate all entropy with death, and while this is a fine expansion of the subject, you never really follow the implications through, death's ruminations on all things tending toward him aside. I feel this could have been expanded upon: it's fertile ground.

So those are my high-level thoughts and first impressions. What follows is highly subjective: with that caution, let's tear in.

Flash rule: Must be a satire.

Round n Excellent title.

Tick
Flowering of space-time-force
Tock
Macro dimensions crystallize
Tick
Ah, three plus one.
Tock
My favorite

I can't help but feel you missed a perfect opportunity to use Iambic Pentameter (I swear, I'm not a fan boy) and work in some serious literary allusion. Do you remember the old Shakespeare sonnet

"When I do count the clock that tells the time"?

If the segments of death's stream of consciousness between each tick had been stylised to match the rhythm of the clock, it'd have been really evocative, especially since it's the only place in the poem where we're directly privy to death's thoughts.

I was initially confused by the break in subject between each line, and think you could have better used a formatting trick to make the juxtaposition between death and time more explicit. As it is, though, setting up the association between death and the passage of time in the first stanza is very appropriate and I think you handled it well, as it thematically signposts what's to come.

I can see why you went with "three plus one" dimensions (since your average reader is not going to be familiar with poo poo like manifolds and String Theory), but given that you go into some some pretty in-depth jargon, I feel you maybe should have gone full-out with the scientific detail there. You wouldn't have lost anything.

Overall a good introduction: you've got me interested.


Death watched intently An important motif: we'll come back to this.
/ / - / -
As infant matter and its opposite
- / - / - / - / - /
Warred in the blackness
/ - - / -

The first and third lines have a nice rhythm together, and that second line could well be blank verse depending on how you place the stresses.

Attracting, repelling, touching
- / - - / - / -
Annihilating
- / - / -
Orderly matter, both kinds
- / - / - - /
Flashing away to energy
/ - - / - / - /
Death was increased The second motif is well introduced.
/ - - /

The first four lines have a good rhythm and strong hooks, and the last line fits well into the rhythm you're building up while making a thematic break to what's come before.

A happily messy aftermath
The soup was thin now
And of only one kind
But it was not without order

Then here it feels like the rhythm falters. The first line is good (though you could have kept with the theme and used "afterbirth" instead of "aftermath"), but the other three stumble a bit, and lack strong hooks. I think I've said enough on rhythm for you to get a general feel for how I read the poem, so I'll focus on other concerns.

With some scientific background it's easy to see why you went with "soup", but I think it's the wrong word to use there. If you'd been developing the image of the universe as a meal for death it could have held, but on its own it feels plain next to the high imagery you've been weaving so far. That last line, about order, seems redundant given your reference to the orderly state in the preceding stanza. I think you'd have been better served with something like "intent", which would have better implied some plan afoot...


Death watched intently And then you go and use it in the next stanza!
As hydrogen slowly massed
Barely detectable clusterings
Now diffuse clouds
Now tight knots

What is death intent on? He doesn't do anything until the very end of the poem, and at this stage he doesn't have any real impetus to act. I think it's clumsy word choice. "As hydrogen slowly massed" is a great line and the poem could have done with more words like "massed", evocative of scientific terms while describing something entirely different. Excellent use of repetition with variation to suggest change and key back to the theme of time progressing, and good contrast between "diffuse clouds" and "tight knots." However, then the stanza ends without a final line to ground it, which feels like a break with the style so far.

Less homogenous, yes
But clumping produced heat
And Death was increased

This feels like padding. You could have taken the sentiment of the last two lines and put them on the end of the preceding stanza, to better effect.

Death watched intently
The cloudy knots were thinning
No - clumping further!
Clumping locally!
And under the pressure

The stars were lit

Taking the two proceeding stanzas as one, since they're directly linked. The phrase "Clumping locally!" feels clumsy, especially since "Clumping together" would go well with the repetition of the preceding line while conveying the same idea, and would have added some nice consonance in context with the lines above and beneath it. I'm on the fence about "The stars were lit" being on a line of its own. I get that it's a momentous event you want to give weight to, I'm just unconvinced that a hanging line is the best way to do it. Props on the enjambment, though: the poem could do with more of it between stanzas to link them together and further add to the onward rush of time.

Their fire was Creation
Complex helium
From simple hydrogen
Death was decreased!

Okay, so you've capitalised "Creation" like you've been capitalising death throughout the story. This is a good way to introduce another force at work within the universe, but you stumbled by not going on to anthropomorphise it in the same way. I get that this is a poem about death, but more concrete clues as to the nature of its adversary would have helped maintain the narrative. This aside, the inversion of the first motif is good, and lends dramatic weight to the introduction of an opposing force. It's an interesting dualism: creation against entropy.

But as a forge
Gravity is inefficient
The stars Created, yes
But much greater
Was energy lost as light
A fair enough trade
After the initial shock
Thought Death
As he increased

Would have been nice to cut back to a first person account from death for its reflection there. The engendering of death as male is begging for you to engender creation as female, and would have added a whole new set of subtexts to the story, but you never deliver.

Totally unrelated to the criticism, but why is death shocked by the emergence of new forms of matter? Actually, maybe this is relevant: you're assuming a degree of scientific literacy from your audience, so it's fair to also assume they'll know that the formation of matter under a dimensional set up like we have is demanded by the underpinning mathematics. This seems to sit at odds with death's expressed familiarity with the set up (it is, after all, "My favourite"). I totally accept and condone this omission for the sake of drama, so don't take this point too far to heart.


Death watched intently Now he has reason to be intent on something
As twenty-five new forms
Were birthed in the young stars

More allusions to motherhood.

Most distasteful, to be sure
But Death increased all the while
And the stars were slowing down.

I feel you could have brought the two preceding stanzas together, or otherwise added a comma to the end of the verse before this one to make the enjambment more explicit.

Then they began to explode!
Ah, how Death increased!
How silly to have worried!

He saw immediately
That new stars would form
But what of it?
So much energy ceded to him
For what? For what?

All of this is again crying out to come from death's perspective rather than the omniscient narrator. I think that's something you could have done with the poem: threaded death's perspective (which is established as limited) with the narrator's description, which would have helped keep the urgency. If you're going to anthropomorphise something, you might as well make use of it, and showing is better than telling.

Cold fury, then
As he saw what the suicides
Had bought dear

Sixty-Six new forms!
Very orderly
Though many were unstable

I'm feeling a subtext of order versus chaos, or disorder, with the latter naturally tending toward death's side. That's another thing that could have been developed more explicitly to complement the narrative.

Unthinkable! Blasphemous!
Yet Death had increased
And continued to increase
What was this gambit?

I get that you employ the word "gambit" in the sense of "calculated move", but the poem's story would gain some weight by having an implied stake. On the other hand, you may intend this solely to play up that it's all just another game, which works and ties in well to the title.

Death watched intently
As infant atoms formed molecules More allusions to motherhood!
Complex structure
But at a cost
Always Death increased

In light of this stanza, I think you deployed "complex" too early in the poem when you used it to describe helium. Here it has impact. Especially well handled is the introduction of this notion of cost, and there we have an underlying theme of the poem: all creation is made at equal cost. Dualism! If only this had been further explored, you'd have greater conceptual space to conduct an exploration of death as an entity.

Death saw the gambit, now
New stars, heavy stars
Would coalesce from this dust

Death watched intently
As the heavy stars formed
Waited for their ignition
Creation at their cores

Nothing!
The new stars were stillborn! Mother metaphors everywhere, but still no mother.
Too cold, too cold!
Nothing but rocks
Leaking the heat of formation
The gambit had failed
Death was increased!

Death watched languidly A new motif
As the true second stars
Collapsed and ignited

This motif is good: it better describes death's passive observation and state of mind. The problem is that it clashes with the previous use of "intently"; I expected it to be a contrast, but "languidly" is not a good contrast with "intently". I'd consider revising the first motif to something that better describes paying active attention, rather than paying attention with unexpressed intent to action.

But they were nothing new
Nothing to fear
And still Death increased

Death watched languidly
As the light of true stars
Fell on a fraction of the stillborn
And their surfaces warmed
Still Death increased

Death felt a pinprick
Cast about for its source

"Death felt a pinprick" is a line that would have worked well on its own. It gets the point across, no pun intended, and does it in an evocative and succinct way.

A stillborn star?
No, new structure
At its surface
Self replicating structure!

Not sure about the repetition of "structure", there. It sets up this idea of life being just an extension of what's come before, but the repetition so close feels clumsy, like it's drawing attention but achieving nothing.

Death watched furiously
As the replicators multiplied
And spread
Their messy processes
Increased him always
Faster than before
But their ordered internals More references to order being anathema to entropy.
Were the ultimate affront

So this was the true gambit
Such audacity!
To increase him
By building pockets
Where he could be murdered!

And here's where the poem smacks into a wall.

How can death be murdered? Give us some context. How does this threaten death? How can it harm him? "By building pockets where he could be murdered" is a muddled image that tells us nothing. If death is everywhere (and the poem drives this home over and over again) then how does excluding him from "pockets" (I'm assuming this is where you're going with the idea) murder him in totality? And - explanation aside - how can you take such a great idea and introduce it with such little gravitas?


This went beyond
The Spirit of the Game
Beyond the implications
Of Conditions Initial
This was a cheat!

Seemingly Random Capitalisation is Not a Good Thing. "Of conditions initial" seems out of place with the rest of the stanza and its flow.

Death could never be decreased
By this insane process
It was true
But the irreverence on display
Was too much to bear

I feel duped. The opening drew me in with a promise of hearing death's observations, and how we're just getting told them. Come on, man.

Death watched insanely
As life multiplied and branched
Always he increased
Even life increased him
As it lived
As it died
But this was forgotten

"Insanely" is poor word choice: he doesn't act insane. Irrationally, sure, but not insane. It's especially poor in context with the preceding stanza, where you describe what he witnesses as "insane".

He'd seen the possibility
Right from the start

No he hadn't. Look, sorry, but you just spent ages setting up how totally blind-sided he was by the whole thing. If this was an intentional contradiction to achieve some kind of effect I'd be totally down, but it doesn't seem to work that way.

The Gambit within the Gambit

Why is this capitalised? Think before deploying your proper nouns, and use them consistently. If you want to stress "gambit" to make clear the metaphor of the universe as just a game, you should have capitalised all the preceding appearances of the word. This just feels like you're trying to add drama to a dramatically weak line. My suggestion is to remove all other capitalisation - apart from that for death and creation - and render the first "gambit" within this sentence in lower case. "The gambit within the Gambit" better stresses the message you seem to be going for.

Ah, they awakened now
Self aware creatures
Aware of death

Death cared little for death
The ending of a process
At a specific level of abstraction

Confused imagery. You've anthropomorphised the concept of death, and now you're having him refer to himself as apart from himself. For this to work you really need to handle it a lot more clearly.

But these creatures feared death
And though they had not yet named Death
He knew they would
And they would scheme

Death sure is quick to see all this coming after being caught off-guard.

Against their petty death
Against his ultimate Death
They would lose both battles
Always
That was obvious

See, now you go and use the two different types of death in an evocative way. This is great, but you should set it up more smoothly.

But how disgusting
To waste an entire Game If you're going to do this, pick "Game" or "Gambit" and stick with it to better build the metaphor
An entire Universe A proper noun deployed in the general context doesn't read well
On a bad joke aimed at him

Executed by little machines
That would presume to
Take up their master's Standard! Who is their master? Or mistress?

It was time to interfere
Time to break the rules
As his opponent had broken them

Here comes the pay off for all the effort you went to stressing the passage of time!

Death hadn't interfered
In a very long time
Not for many Games
But this was personal
And he could use a challenge

After all
Spare the children and the rod spoils

This is a terrible ending. What's terrible about it is that it could have been so good if you'd worked in the idea of a female opposite, built on dualism, 'cause then "children" and "rod" would have taken on a whole new layer of symbolism. If you're not going that way, a wheat and scythe metaphor would probably go better, being more evocative of death. As it stands, you don't even tell us what death is going to do, which makes the rod pretty limp.

Overall I like this poem, but it feels like it has issues it needs to get past to really grab me by the balls. I think you could have benefited from stricter structure in places, used that to hone the imagery and progression of events and build real urgency. It doesn't need it, but right now it falls to the hazards of free verse.

I would love to see you redraft this piece, and hope at least some of the crap I've thrown has stuck in an interesting pattern.

Edit: I stepped away to make a cup of tea and go to bed, and realised I'd entirely ignored the most important part of any poem.

Man, I don't know how to break this gently: your poem doesn't really stir an emotion in me. Not humour (of which satire usually has a component), but at least not morbidity. The closest it comes is a feeling of detached interest, and while that suits some parts of death's observation, it doesn't really fulfil what poetry is mostly all about.

So it's kinda bloodless. It doesn't have to stay that way. You've got an awful lot going for it, and with some firmer grounding of the narrative in the perspective of death, you have the potential to inspire wonder and dread. With the right turns of phrase you can have us feel death's smug satisfaction, contentment, surprise, anger, bitter determination and then wicked cleverness. Give the old skeleton some teeth!

Etherwind fucked around with this message at 20:22 on Jan 14, 2013

Etherwind
Apr 22, 2008
Probation
Can't post for 747 days!


Soiled Meat

I did a year of English Literature when I was at university (different system from the USA), and it solidified in my mind the fact that not all criticism is good and not everyone with a degree - even a PhD - knows what they're talking about. Way too much criticism in higher education becomes people with their pet theories on a subject pushing them on students as though they're true, and subsequently marking appropriately.

A good teacher can teach you a perspective or model of analysis and then mark you on understanding it without demanding it become the thesis by which you approach all literature. You know that Fitzgerald quote about the sign of an intelligent mind being able to hold two opposite ideas at the same time? It's also the sign of an excellent critic and teacher, especially if they're trying to teach a creative process to their students (such as composing poetry).

Etherwind
Apr 22, 2008
Probation
Can't post for 747 days!


Soiled Meat

I'm in for the next prompt. Make it good.

Edit: just a heads up, there's a good chance I'll need to submit really early due to scheduling. So if this ends up being really involved I will curse your name!

Etherwind fucked around with this message at 16:15 on Jan 15, 2013

Etherwind
Apr 22, 2008
Probation
Can't post for 747 days!


Soiled Meat

I'm still in. That's surprisingly open.

Edit: whoa. Sitting Here, you didn't have to buy me this! You really shouldn't have!

Etherwind
Apr 22, 2008
Probation
Can't post for 747 days!


Soiled Meat

Suggestion: after this prompt, all deadlines come in the form of EST so it stops being a thing that constantly causes discussion (and sometimes confusion). I'm in the UK, and I'd take EST just to have a consistent time zone; better than having to check what gasoline-huffing, lead-in-the-water part of our gay earth we're giving a gently caress about this week.

Etherwind
Apr 22, 2008
Probation
Can't post for 747 days!


Soiled Meat

Thanks for the critique, it pretty much confirms a lot of what I was thinking. Good catch on the "had came", it's a typo that I totally missed on the reread (should be past perfect tense).

My plan for the revision is to change the poem to remove the in-jokes (apart from the stuff about the bloodied maiden, which can stand on its own even without being a Dante-styled call out to Sitting Here). The first stanza will remain, slightly changed, since the invocation of the muse is an important part of the form. There are a few sections where the scansion is rough around the edges and needs cleaning up - you totally called that right - and others where I need to decide whether the lyric play works like I wanted ("with Urn within" was intended for consonance). "Let loose" was in the sense of "Allow to loose," which was a comment on Urn's restraint and inaction across the years, but I can see how that's confusing imagery and therefore bad; the other stuff you flag up all needs tightening.

So bullshit aside, there's one point you touched on where I want to solicit further feedback. Let me explain what I was doing and why, and you can tell me what you think.

"Blinded. Cleon shed bronze, raised Urn, and fled," is the only line where I (intentionally) violated the Iambic Pentameter rule that the second foot should almost always be an iamb, and it also starts with a trochee. The idea was to make it seem like a sharp disconnect from the preceding flow, and therefore draw the reader's attention. So the scansion I intended goes: trochee, trochee, iamb, iamb, iamb. It's also very short and blunt with the action, light on imagery, which was another intentional break. The overall effect was to try and subconsciously set up the message "Oh poo poo, things just got real, here comes the climax."

Does this work? Is it worth keeping like it is, or should I rework it? Anyone and everyone is welcome to comment on this, but please direct feedback to PM so as not to clutter the thread (this includes you please, Prolonged Priapism).

Etherwind
Apr 22, 2008
Probation
Can't post for 747 days!


Soiled Meat

1746 words, influenced by King without being completely derivative. Vonnegut's fourth rule help me squeeze this one in under the limit; I tried to follow rules one, two, three, six and seven to varying extents. Being totally honest, I wrote with his other eight rules in mind.

Edit: If I'm allowed to claim rules from that second list, I'll call three, four, six and seven.

Edit: Unquoted. Wish someone had said earlier.

Nightmares

I'm not the simple girl they think I am.

I.

I'd gone to bed early, exhausted. One moment the clock on my dresser said eight, the next I struggled to see through half-shut eyes, paralyzed and afraid. The effort was painful - like forcing my face through a two-inch hole - but I managed to make out the time: just after one. I shivered and sweated, my chest heavy, and in the corner of my eye a silhouette stretched over the covers. I choked as it turned toward me, then fell back through the hole.

II.

When I woke the room was bright, the clock back at eight. Distorted talk radio blared from its tinny speaker. I was more tired than before, but any hope of rest went out the door as it opened.

"Constance! Get your lazy rear end up!" My grandma. "You ain't paid to sleep!"

The door slammed. I groaned. I was due at the diner in an hour, but gently caress her anyway. I stumbled out of bed and into the bathroom, leaned on the tiles as the shower washed away the worst of the night. I took too long, ran behind with my make up, but I still had to avoid her conversation as I left the house.

Canton is a lovely town, too far from New York to be anything but another also-ran, the kind of disappointment that makes them say "I thought you meant the city." The diner was opposite Planned Parenthood, and Pro-Life protesters littered the sidewalk as I ran through the kitchen door.

"Joe called in sick." The manager was Hailey, and her bad news always came with a smile. "That means you're scrubbing dishes."

"I bus tables."

"Not today you don't," her eyes turned hard, "unless you want nine-oh-five on your sheet again. Put on the gloves." She watched me go to the sink - cheeks hot to the touch - then headed out front.

"Tough luck," the fry cook grinned.

I ignored him. Since high school I was used to the phrase, used to sucking it up and doing my best when I got the blame and some rear end in a top hat got the handshake. It was still hard not to cry as I scraped the first plate and plunged it into brownish water.

My teachers had told me I was set for bigger places than Canton. Even if I went to St. Lawrence, they said, it would be on scholarship, and a degree would open up the world. I had a way with words and a head for reading critically. I could escape my childhood problems through academic success. Not that it mattered: my deadbeat mom could suck dick for heroin, for all I cared.

Then I flunked the SAT, twice. The first time they believed me when I said I felt tired, sent me to the doctor and scheduled a resit. People can be kind when they think you have prospects. The second went worse than the first and - just like that - nobody gave a gently caress. Part-time work as a waitress was all I could manage.

For five long years.

III.

The street lights were flickering when I got home. In my room I stripped off the uniform and threw it in the corner: it would lie there another couple of days. My hands were red and my mind blank as I stared up at the peeling ceiling, sat on my bed in a cramped room that felt tighter than my skin. Not for the first time, my eyes went to the bottom drawer of the dresser. I locked the door first.

The gun was cold in my hands, a snub-nosed revolver, petite and black with two bullets in the cylinder. I'd found it at a gas station not long after flunking the second time: everything I was taught had told me to turn it in. Instead I'd driven home. On really bad days I would study it, comforted by the thought that I could go out with a bang whenever I wanted.

"Constance?" I jumped, thrust the gun under my pillow. My grandma was annoyed. "You need to go talk to that polack."

I glanced over to next door, a single window illuminating the dark. I didn't know the owner, Pryzbylewski: he kept to himself.

"Tell him he needs to mow his lawn or I'll report him!" My grandmother was a bitch to everyone. "You hear me?"

"I hear you; go away." I didn't like how petulant I sounded, and fumed as I threw on fresh clothes.

Outside the lawn was badly overgrown, the low house crouched above the grass like a waiting predator. I banged the screen door for minutes. Eventually a gaunt, middle-aged man peered through it.

"Who are you?" he asked in a whisper, all thin spectacles and worry.

"I'm Connie. We're neighbors." I was aware how I looked, hair greasy and sweater faded. "You need to mow."

"My gardener is sick. It can wait."

I was too tired to argue. "Whatever, mow it or we'll report you to..." I didn't know who. "We'll report you!" I turned away in embarrassment.

"I'll pay you to do it," he quietly called after. "Fifty dollars?"

I stopped. That was more than half what I earned in a day. "You for real?"

"Fifty dollars," he repeated, "if you cut it." He shut the door.

IV.

Later that night it returned. I strained as static filled the room, tried desperately to reach for the clock on my dresser. Fear held me - curled on my side - until a sharp head leaned into my mute but screaming face.

After that, it was nearly evening before I made it back to Pryzbylewski. A note on his door directed me to his mower and the compost heap; I went to work.

Why was I having nightmares? Too many reasons. I'd read about sleep paralysis - before my grandma cut the Internet - and knew the symptoms. The April sunshine made the last two nights less frightening, but I worried as I struggled through the back lawn.

Pryzbylewski was surprised when I knocked and asked for water.

"You live next door." He realized how tired I felt and let me into his kitchen, reluctantly, telling me to keep my voice down with a glance at the ceiling.

"Someone sleeping?"

He ignored the question and gestured to the tap. "Help yourself." Everything about him was subdued, reserved, his hair shaved close, shirt plain. I caught a glimpse of a hallway as he left through the other door.

I finished the job in another hour, and by then it was dusk. Inside I knocked on the door and waited: no response. I called out his name as I turned the handle, hoping he would appear.

The hallway was dark and my eyes adjusted gradually. I felt my skin prickle, then realized: the walls and ceiling were covered in crucifixes. All sizes blanketed them, some with tortured figure and some plain, all made of metal and firmly secured.

I was about to leave when I saw light, followed it with growing dread into an elaborate study. Books were strewn across the floor, shelves stacked high, but my eyes stayed on a row of unlit candles against the opposite wall. Newspaper clippings were stuck there - covering more crosses - and when I read the headlines, pale, I recognized local obituaries.

"What are you doing?"

I breathed as he came into the room. "I was looking for-"

"Here's your money." He was frosty as he handed it over, pushed me to the door. "Now get out!"

Back home I shivered, thoughts on the shrine as I gave the pay to my grandma. As I left the room she asked, "Are you going to the funeral?"

I stared at the floral pattern on the back of her chair. "What funeral?"

"I tried to tell you yesterday: Mrs. Williams passed.

"The funeral is tonight!" she called, irate, as I went into my bedroom and locked the door. I looked out at the single lit window across the fresh cut grass; it was a long time until I slept.

V.

The last night it came I was not so far gone, and I could see the clock clearly as the white noise pressed down. From the corner of my eye I saw it slink toward my bed, all angles and points, razor hands held up in font of its head - no face - until it reached my side and I felt buzzing pins bite into my legs. I gasped, choked, wanted to scream, groped feeble and blind as it leaned in-

Then I felt cold metal.

I sat up suddenly and without a word. It recoiled and glared with its needles as I held the gun, streaked in sweat. I pulled the trigger hard, heard the click of the empty chamber, and it ran for the wall, paint like water as it passed through. I watched it flicker across the grass and up the side of the other house until it vanished into the roof.

Pryzbylewski answered the door quickly that time. "You need to leave."

"There's something in there with you!" My hand was in my pocket.

A look of panic crossed his face, and he hurried me inside, into the study, where the candles burned. "I don't know what you think you know," he whispered as he shut the door, "but keep quiet and-"

I had the gun pointed at him, and he went silent, still.

"What is it?"

He didn't answer.

"How long?" I needed to know.

"Five years." He sounded resigned. "It followed me from-"

I don't know why I killed him. I just pulled the trigger, and he hit the ground hard, moaned. As the moment stretched a static hiss flared overhead, but Pryzbylewski laughed. "Metal stops them."

"Them?" I was dazed.

He nodded, coughed up blood. "In the city, I tried to... tried..."

I cleaned the gun and left it on the floor.

VI.

I washed and changed long before the cops arrived. It felt too easy to lie, and I didn't believe I'd got away with it until they announced they had someone in custody. He owned the murder weapon.

I don't feel guilty.

Meanwhile, I got religion and redecorated my room, the only two things I've done in years that my grandma likes. Lately she's been tired; I sleep soundly. The inheritance money should be enough to get me out of Canton.

Etherwind fucked around with this message at 23:47 on Jan 18, 2013

Etherwind
Apr 22, 2008
Probation
Can't post for 747 days!


Soiled Meat

Suspending bullshit for a second: I strongly recommend Iain Rankin if you're looking for extremely well written crime fiction that reads smooth as glass. His Inspector Rebus series is definitely an exemplar of Scottish fiction, and you pretty much can't go wrong with any of it (though the older novels aren't quite as good as the later ones; he got better with practice).

If you want to give those a spin, I recommend "Hide and Seek", "Black and Blue" and "Resurrection Men."

If you want to investigate his more recent books, I recommend "The Complaints" and "The Impossible Dead" as a pair of of good crime novels that don't involve Inspector Rebus.

Finally, nowhere near as good, I'm quite fond of "Witch Hunt", which stands entirely on its own.

Edit: for a different take, Ian Banks (that is, Ian M. Banks when not writing Science Fiction) is enjoyed by quite a few. "Whit" is always good, if not quite as famous as "The Wasp Factory."

Finally, well, there's always "Trainspotting" by Irving Welsh if you can stomach the way it's written. The only thing I'd say is that it paints things much grimmer than they actually are, very much for shock value, and some of the Scottish English in it is pretty suspect.

This concludes the prostitution of my country for your amusement.

Etherwind fucked around with this message at 04:21 on Jan 20, 2013

Etherwind
Apr 22, 2008
Probation
Can't post for 747 days!


Soiled Meat

SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

While we're in a writing mood, the current Glenn Beck GBS thread has turned into an amazing short fiction rodeo about life in a libertarian hellhole and I feel like Thunderdome should get in on that action.

This is pretty fun. I did a hack-up of The Book of the New Sun for a warm-up, and then gave it a shot for real. Everyone else should get in on this while it lasts.

Etherwind
Apr 22, 2008
Probation
Can't post for 747 days!


Soiled Meat

budgieinspector posted:

"The funeral is tonight!" -- No, it isn't. The wake or viewing might be, but putting people in the ground at night just ain't done in upstate New York. At least, not in cemeteries.

Everyone look at this scrub who's never been to a funeral at night. Pro-tip: cremations can happen at any hour.

Otherwise, yeah, the redraft works better for the ending.

Etherwind
Apr 22, 2008
Probation
Can't post for 747 days!


Soiled Meat

So I got paranoid and ran it past some people I know in up-state NY and they all said it was cool, they didn't even think twice about it. That said, it's trivial enough that if it sticks out to more than one person I might as well change it.

Etherwind
Apr 22, 2008
Probation
Can't post for 747 days!


Soiled Meat


The general response was "If the funeral's at night, it must be a cremation." None of them really thought anything of there being a funeral at night, and all of them said they figured that meant cremation. The Catholic in the group said that he new it meant she wasn't Catholic, because no priest would hold the funeral mass at night.

It's like, I don't know what to tell you? Nobody seemed to think it was a thing.

Etherwind
Apr 22, 2008
Probation
Can't post for 747 days!


Soiled Meat

Sitting Here, I am still super busy, but I'll be back for the competition after this one. Knock 'em dead.

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Etherwind
Apr 22, 2008
Probation
Can't post for 747 days!


Soiled Meat

#thunderdome on irc.synirc.net is ready and up. Register your nicks (/msg nickserv help) and I'll do all the behind the scenes stuff; Judges, tell me what you want the welcome message to be.

Edit: I'm busy for the next four or so hours, but I'll be around later tonight to do all the book keeping.

Double edit: I'm assuming that the original three will basically run the channel with S-ops, and the worthies will have A-ops, while anyone who's won will have h-hops, and regulars voice. If anyone needs a primer in how to do poo poo on IRC, Google it and then hit me up.

Etherwind fucked around with this message at 19:39 on Feb 2, 2013

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