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2011

Neck: Rewritten 9.10.2011


A tower you call it.

But I call it the thing of me like
the twisty part of a hanger
from which my breasts
and body hang,
a favorite well-worn garment.

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Enough


    The wall is covered with thorns, Sleeping Beauty's living thorns that resist a prince who shoves his right hand deep into them, intent on unlocking the legend-woman that is his purpose, his life's blood, his reason for being. Sometimes he doesn't know why or even if he's here, and he wanders from battle to battle wondering to himself, " How do I know I'm real? How can I be sure? Is it enough that I ask for water and my squire responds, that I strike with my sword and men fall and die? What if it's all a ruse, an elaborate fake to trick me into believing that I am? But doesn't that mean that I am?"
    He picks up his sword once more and strikes at the thorns that tear through the armor on his arms and chest. So he swings at the dragon that was once a loving god mother, pushes through the bramble, ignoring the heat of her flame. He pushes through the smoke and sulfur that burn his mouth and eyes. For now the thorns and the dragon give way and that is enough.

#1--Louis Simpson
“In the Suburbs”

There’s no way out.

You were born to waste your life.
You were born to this middleclass life

As others before you
Were born to walk in procession
To the temple, singing.


I like the brevity of this poem, thus its its sparing use of image (rather, its concentration on a single image). I really appreciate simple declarative statements
While I believe in using image in poetry (obviously) I think that this necessary element has been placed on pedestal to the exclusion of abstract concepts and dexterity with language. It’s refreshing to see a poet embrace abstraction successfully, as an image doesn’t even occur until the end of the poem in the last two lines. It’s beautiful, still. It’s poetry, still.
I guess that is why I enjoy spoken word so much. It is not afraid to actually say something in plain words, that may or may not be abstract, rather than supplying and juxtaposing image after image and hoping the reader gets it. As poets we do want people to see and feel the words we write, but we are not painters (though there are some artistic parallels). We have the use of words, so that we can plainly convey abstraction and create musical language. Why is it that we are mostly taught to avoid abstractions, rather than being taught the balance between living entirely in the mind and living entirely in the eyes? Or maybe I am misunderstanding.
Even the image provided isn’t ornate and all the information about who “you” is and the situation that brought this reflection on is left out. Suburban life/a procession towards a temple singing, all so boiled down. He could have used a metaphor for “no way out”, “wasting life”, and "middle-class life” but he didn’t. He just said it and it works... for me anyway.

New Version of Land Forbidden | The Beginning

 "Anytime people who are usually ignored decide to credit themselves with recognition, it’s a problem. If people who are often silenced demand a voice, extreme efforts are exhausted to suppress their cries. Whenever there is an emergence of unity from a socially neglected and once dismantled group, those in power scatter for an oppressive solution and attempt to revive the ever so popular “divide and conquer” method. Highlighting subtle differences in hopes to cause the newly proud people to bicker with each other, tear one another down, dismiss what connects us.
Our pride is so intimidating. Knowledge of our power is such a threat. Know that. Be aware of the strength that is held in unity. Don’t fight the urge to unite."






DEBORAH’S MOTHER OPAL | Year 2413, 37 years before The Crisis

“They didn’t think it would ever happen again, the 1970s. So much had been lost, there was so little cohesion especially after the drugs and then the devastation of the ‘justice’ system. Truth was no one expected for crack and heroin and meth to have the effects that they did. No one expected the devastation. Maybe if people had known before what it all really was... But there was still so much anger and so much pain.  And people living in the shadow of death were looking for an escape. And then all the leaders dying… You can’t say it wasn’t purposeful. Otherwise, it doesn’t make no sense.


"Their hypocrisy had  been exposed but for the most part, hearts hadn't changed. Yeah, they knew Black people--and others too, the Jews, the Asians… They knew that they weren't going to stand for the ill treatment anymore, but that doesn’t mean They wanted to treat anyone differently or really believed that They had done wrong. Or even if They did know it was wrong, that doesn’t mean that They cared.

So the leaders were killed, drugs spilled into the streets, and They found other ways of controlling them. The emotional destruction allowed so little togetherness that everyone thought Black people would never recover, even other Blacks. And we almost didn’t, honestly.

“If it hadn’t been for the Continental Wars… we would have lost ourselves in Their madness. And it was madness.”

New writing challenge
250 words/day from now to September 10th
GO!

Imago by Octavia Butler

     Tonight (8/22/10) I just finished reading Imago by Octavia Butler. If you'll look at the one of my earlier posts I've been on a quest/mission/adventure/misadventure on finding Black writers of speculative fiction this book is my first read and I have to say a good one it was. I've been curious about Octavia Butler since a grad student did a presentation on her in my Southern fiction class a few semesters ago. The presentation was on Butler's book Kindred, and at the time I was looking also for southern spec-fic writers. In all honesty, I had never encountered science fiction by a Black writer with a Black protagonist until then, so it really caught my attention. By the way, this is more of a reader response than a book review. Anyway, back to Imago.

      I didn't know it, but Imago is third in the Lilith's Brood/Xenogenesis series (this is always happening to me, I'll come across a book that's not clearly marked as part of a series). Basically Earth has been taken over by the Oankali, after a missile war that destroys a lot of the Earth. The Oankali mate and reproduce by combining with the species of the planet they have taken over through a kind of sexless Oankali called ooloi. I guess I'll have to read the other books to learn more, but I don't feel it necessary, the book stands on its own quite well.

     I guess I expected more indication of which people were of what race, though that would not have been as natural tot he story it might have been overly descriptive though the origin of the people is told about often so that's some indication. Lilith's "black cloud of hair" is the indication gof her race, but I guess that's not the most important part of this story. Imago is the adult stage pf an insect according to wikipedia and that theme of phases, adulthood, metamorphosis, etc. are central to the story. I have to force myself to think more writerly and less literarily. I liked the story, I loved Jodhas even though I just as the human characters resented some of his natural manipulativeness, even though he was the main character I wasn't totally alienated from the resisting humans just as Jodhas wasn't totally alienated because he was partly human. He understood but still had the imperative biological need to do what he did to find mates.

ART WUK

ART WUK: "“EVEN IN LITERATURE AND ART, NO MAN WHO BOTHERS ABOUT ORIGINALITY WILL EVER BE ORIGINAL: WHEREAS IF YOU SIMPLY TRY TO TELL THE TRUTH (WITHOUT CARING TWOPENCE HOW OFTEN IT HAS BEEN TOLD BEFORE) YOU WILL, NINE TIMES OUT OF TEN, BECOME ORIGINAL WITHOUT EVER HAVING NOTICED IT.”
— CS Lewis"

The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain

By Langston Hughes, The Nation, 23 June 1926

[In 1926, the Harlem Renaissance was in full flower; the poet Langston Hughes was one of its central figures. In this essay, Hughes urges black intellectuals and artists to break free of the artificial standards set for them by whites.]
One of the most promising of the young Negro poets said to me once, "I want to be a poet--not a Negro poet," meaning, I believe, "I want to write like a white poet"; meaning subconsciously, "I would like to be a white poet"; meaning behind that, "I would like to be white." And I was sorry the young man said that, for no great poet has ever been afraid of being himself. And I doubted then that, with his desire to run away spiritually from his race, this boy would ever be a great poet. But this is the mountain standing in the way of any true Negro art in America--this urge within the race toward whiteness, the desire to pour racial individuality into the mold of American standardization, and to be as little Negro and as much American as possible.
But let us look at the immediate background of this young poet. His family is of what I suppose one would call the Negro middle class: people who are by no means rich yet never uncomfortable nor hungry--smug, contented, respectable folk, members of the Baptist church. The father goes to work every morning. He is the chief steward at a large white club. The mother sometimes does fancy sewing or supervises parties for the rich families of the town. The children go to a mixed school. In the home they read white papers and magazines. And the mother often says, "Don't be like niggers" when the children are bad. A frequent phrase from the father is, "Look how well a white man does things." And so the word white comes to be unconsciously a symbol of all the virtues. It holds for the children beauty, morality, and money. The whisper of "I want to be white" runs silently through their minds. This young poet's home is, I believe, a fairly typical home of the colored middle class. One sees immediately how difficult it would be for an artist born in such a home to interest himself in interpreting the beauty of his own people. He is never taught to see that beauty. He is taught rather not to see it, or if he does, to be ashamed of it when it is not according to Caucasian patterns.
For racial culture the home of a self-styled "high-class" Negro has nothing better to offer. Instead there will be perhaps more aping of things white than in a less cultured or less wealthy home. The father is perhaps a doctor, lawyer, landowner, or politician. The mother may be a social worker, or a teacher, or she may do nothing and have a maid. Father is often dark but he has usually married the lightest woman he could find. The family attend a fashionable church where few really colored faces are to be found. And they themselves draw a color line. In the North they go to white theaters and white movies. And in the South they have at least two cars and a house "like white folks." Nordic manners, Nordic faces, Nordic hair, Nordic art (if any), and an Episcopal heaven. A very high mountain indeed for the would-be racial artist to climb in order to discover himself and his people.
But then there are the low-down folks, the so-called common element, and they are the majority--may the Lord be praised! The people who have their nip of gin on Saturday nights and are not too important to themselves or the community, or too well fed, or too learned to watch the lazy world go round. They live on Seventh Street in Washington or State Street in Chicago and they do not particularly care whether they are like white folks or anybody else. Their joy runs, bang! into ecstasy. Their religion soars to a shout. Work maybe a little today, rest a little tomorrow. Play awhile. Sing awhile. O, let's dance! These common people are not afraid of spirituals, as for a long time their more intellectual brethren were, and jazz is their child. They furnish a wealth of colorful, distinctive material for any artist because they still hold their own individuality in the face of American standardization. And perhaps these common people will give to the world its truly great Negro artist, the one who is not afraid to be himself. Whereas the better-class Negro would tell the artist what to do, the people at least let him alone when he does appear. And they are not ashamed of him--if they know he exists at all. And they accept what beauty is their own without question.
Certainly there is, for the American Negro artist who can escape the restrictions the more advanced among his own group would put upon him, a great field of unused material ready for his art. Without going outside his race, and even among the better classes with their "white" culture and conscious American manners, but still Negro enough to be different, there is sufficient material to furnish a black artist with a lifetime of creative work. And when he chooses to touch on the relations between Negroes and whites in this country with their innumerable overtones and undertones, surely, and especially for literature and the drama, there is an inexhaustible supply of themes at hand. To these the Negro artist can give his racial individuality, his heritage of rhythm and warmth, and his incongruous humor that so often, as in the Blues, becomes ironic laughter mixed with tears. But let us look again at the mountain.
A prominent Negro clubwoman in Philadelphia paid eleven dollars to hear Raquel Meller sing Andalusian popular songs. But she told me a few weeks before she would not think of going to hear "that woman." Clara Smith, a great black artist, sing Negro folk songs. And many an upper-class Negro church, even now, would not dream of employing a spiritual in its services. The drab melodies in white folks' hymnbooks are much to be preferred. "We want to worship the Lord correctly and quietly. We don't believe in 'shouting.' Let's be dull like the Nordics," they say, in effect.
The road for the serious black artist, then, who would produce a racial art is most certainly rocky and the mountain is high. Until recently he received almost no encouragement for his work from either white or colored people. The fine novels of Chestnutt go out of print with neither race noticing their passing. The quaint charm and humor of Dunbar's dialect verse brought to him, in his day, largely the same kind of encouragement one would give a sideshow freak (A colored man writing poetry! How odd!) or a clown (How amusing!).
The present vogue in things Negro, although it may do as much harm as good for the budding colored artist, has at least done this: it has brought him forcibly to the attention of his own people among whom for so long, unless the other race had noticed him beforehand, he was a prophet with little honor. I understand that Charles Gilpin acted for years in Negro theaters without any special acclaim from his own, but when Broadway gave him eight curtain calls, Negroes, too, began to beat a tin pan in his honor. I know a young colored writer, a manual worker by day, who had been writing well for the colored magazines for some years, but it was not until he recently broke into the white publications and his first book was accepted by a prominent New York publisher that the "best" Negroes in his city took the trouble to discover that he lived there. Then almost immediately they decided to give a grand dinner for him. But the society ladies were careful to whisper to his mother that perhaps she'd better not come. They were not sure she would have an evening gown.
The Negro artist works against an undertow of sharp criticism and misunderstanding from his own group and unintentional bribes from the whites. "O, be respectable, write about nice people, show how good we are," say the Negroes. "Be stereotyped, don't go too far, don't shatter our illusions about you, don't amuse us too seriously. We will pay you," say the whites. Both would have told Jean Toomer not to write "Crane." The colored people did not praise it. The white people did not buy it. Most of the colored people who did read "Cane" hated it. They are afraid of it. Although the critics gave it good reviews the public remained indifferent. Yet (excepting the work of Du Bois) "Cane" contains the finest prose written by a Negro in America. And like the singing of Robeson, it is truly racial.
But in spite of the Nordicized Negro intelligentsia and the desires of some white editors we have an honest American Negro literature already with us. Now I await the rise of the Negro theater. Our folk music, having achieved world-wide fame, offers itself to the genius of the great individual American Negro composer who is to come. And within the next decade I expect to see the work of a growing school of colored artists who paint and model the beauty of dark faces and create with new technique the expressions of their own soul-world. And the Negro dancers who will dance like flame and the singers who will continue to carry our songs to all who listen--they will be with us in even greater numbers tomorrow.
Most of my own poems are racial in theme and treatment, derived from the life I know. In many of them I try to grasp and hold some of the meanings and rhythms of jazz. I am sincere as I know how to be in these poems and yet after every reading I answer questions like these from my own people: Do you think Negroes should always write about Negroes? I wish you wouldn't read some of your poems to white folks. How do you find any thing interesting in a place like a cabaret? Why do you write about black people? You aren't black. What makes you do so many jazz poems?
But jazz to me is one of the inherent expressions of Negro life in America: the eternal tom-tom beating in the Negro soul--the tom-tom of revolt against weariness in a white world, a world of subway trains, and work, work, work; the tom-tom of joy and laughter, and pain swallowed in a smile. Yet the Philadelphia clubwoman is ashamed to say that her race created it and she does not like me to write about it. The old subconscious "white is best" runs through her mind. Years of study under white teachers, a lifetime of white books, pictures, and papers, and white manners, morals, and Puritan standards made her dislike the spirituals. And now she turns up her nose at jazz and all its manifestations--likewise almost everything else distinctly racial. She doesn't care for the Winold Reiss portraits of Negroes because they are "too Negro." She does not want a true picture of herself from anybody. She wants the artist to flatter her, to make the white world believe that all Negroes are as smug and as near white in soul as she wants to be. But, to my mind, it is the duty of the younger Negro artist, if he accepts any duties at all from outsiders, to change through the force of his art that old whispering "I want to be white," hidden in the aspirations of his people, to "Why should I want to be white? I am a Negro--and beautiful!"
So I am ashamed for the black poet who says, "I want to be a poet, not a Negro poet," as though his own racial world were not as interesting as any other world. I am ashamed, too, for the colored artist who runs from the painting of Negro faces to the painting of sunsets after the manner of the academicians because he fears the strange un-whiteness of his own features. An artist must be free to choose what he does, certainly, but he must also never be afraid too what he might choose.
Let the blare of Negro jazz bands and the bellowing voice of Bessie Smith singing Blues penetrate the closed ears of the colored near-intellectuals until they listen and perhaps understand. Let Paul Robeson singing Water Boy, and Rudolph Fisher writing about the streets of Harlem, and Jean Toomer holding the heart of Georgia in his hands, and Aaron Douglas drawing strange black fantasies cause the smug Negro middle class to turn from their white, respectable, ordinary books and papers to catch a glimmer of their own beauty. We younger Negro artists who create now intend to express our individual dark-skinned selves without fear or shame. If white people are pleased we are glad. If they are not, it doesn't matter. We know we are beautiful. And ugly too. The tom-tom cries and the tom-tom laughs. If colored people are pleased we are glad. If they are not, their displeasure doesn't matter either. We build our temples for tomorrow, strong as we know how, and we stand on top of the mountain, free within ourselves.

Send your letter to the editor to letters@thenation.com.
Copyright (c) 1926 The Nation Company, L.P. All rights reserved. Unauthorized redistribution is prohibited.

Mother, In the Event That You Are Gone



Memories can be like broken mirror glass,
sprinkled over the palms of my sisters,
sprinkled over our food like pepper,
sprinkled into our hair like cloves and amber.

Sprinkled into the palms of my sisters
are the pieces of the obituary with your name.
Sprinkled into our hair like cloves and amber;
it's the perfume of my father's love.

The pieces of the obituary with your name
are turned into ashes on the kitchen counter.
It's the perfume of my father's love
that speaks to us daughters when he cannot.

I sweep the ashes off the kitchen counter,
just like you would, into my palm.
His eyes speak to us when his mouth cannot,
but sometimes--this time--it's not enough.

Just like you would I put on pearls instead of
the Memories that can be like broken mirror glass.
But sometimes--this time--it's not enough.
Not when they're sprinkled over the floor like ashes, like pepper,
    like broken mirror glass,

    like cloves and amber.

Dream One




I wake up tied to a chair in a stable that is being used to raise dogs. I don't know how I know it's being used to raise dogs, but I do. The sun is just beginning to set and I can see it and a quickly darkening forest from the open stable door to my left. The stable is entirely empty: of dogs, of hay, of accoutrements, of anything. I am in the last of three stalls to the left of the stable and my head hurts like I hit it on something. The headache is aggravated by the dogs barking in the distance. It is not just a few dogs but a large pack, fifteen or more, and they sound like they're searching for something or someone. It occurs to me that they are probably looking for my friends, and I am afraid. The man that owns the stable and the dog, he's looking for my friends and he's already caught me. I almost can't breathe and I don't want to think about. I fall asleep.
~
When I wake up again it is dark outside though the corners of the stable are lit with flood lights facing the ceiling. It's not a lot of light but it's enough. Enough to see my friend Olutunji also tied in a chair. He is almost blubbering and shaking his head no. His eyes are wide and bloodshot. He's almost as afraid as I am I think but I'm calmer. "It’s gonna be okay, Tunji. It's gonna be okay," I tell him trying to get him to relax because his fear isn't helping me any and if we're going to get out of here we have to have clear heads. There's no way we're going to get by the blood dogs, I think to myself. But we have to try. He can't hear me over his own mutterings all I can make of it are "I'm sorry, I'm sorry," over and over again.
The man walks in and that's when I notice that I'm not tied to the chair anymore I am just sitting on the hay of the stall, waiting. He looks like a mean farmer, like you imagined farmer ___ from the tales of Peter Rabbit who: bald, a wrinkled and scarred face, plaid button-down shirt, suspenders, and olive pants tucked into black work boots. His voice is calm and low. "I told you people I didn't want you here. And now you're going to pay the price." The man hands Tunji a knife. "Boy, if you want to live, you’ll throw this knife at your friend. If you want to live, you won't miss. If you want to live, you'll make it hurt."
Tunji looks me in the eye and we both know. Really, he already knew. If than man doesn't let us leave we won't leave at all wither of us. The only good part of it all is that he didn't tell him to kill me. Tunji and I aren't that close but we've known each other forever through church and our parents. Something in me hopes that the sheer amount of time we've spent in each other's presence will make him hold back for me, but he won't. The man will know the difference. Tunji keeps saying, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry."
He takes the knife and some part of me that is not resigned to whatever pain may come resists. "Please don't do this!" I say against my will and my arm is outstretched in the universal sign for stop. Tunji throws it straight and true and before I know what has happened the knife slices through my wrist like butter, like air.
Everything stops.
Even the man is holding his breath it seems.
I stare at my wrist as slim line of red begins to appear around the circumference. I can't believe he did it, even though most of my mind is telling me that he's my friend and his life was at stake the uncompromising survivor in me, the part of me that begged Tunji to stop when I knew it would make no difference, cannot believe that he actually did it.
I don't move and my hand, that should have already fallen, stays put. If I never move maybe I can imagine that he didn't really do it, that this never happened. Nothing hurts and I think to myself, How long I can stay this way?

The man releasing Tunji from the chair breaks the spell and "I'm sorries" start again as Tunji leaves the stable, constantly looking back over his shoulder. I use my left hand to hold my hand and arm together and gently lower the severed hand to the hay on which I’m sitting. And of course, finally, there is blood and pain and I begin to scream and I can't stop. Underneath my screams I can hear the dogs that had faded into the distance. I can hear them baying and coming closer howling and racing and the man barely has time to shut the stable doors and before he does I can see Tunji running in the distance knowing that time is running out. Just as the man lowers the bar the blood dogs reach the stable and slam against the doors growling and scratching and digging. Anything to get closer. In the midst of my screaming I fall asleep.
~
A girl my age walks into the stall with a silver pitcher and a bowl of warm water and bandages. My wrist had been bandaged while was unconscious and the girl has come to change the dressing. In the stall next to me there are seven beautiful solid black puppies with gold eyes, playing with each other. The girl leaves the bowl outside the stall and uses the pitcher to cleanse the wound. She is gentle and I begin to wonder what the man's game is. When she wrings out a towel over the bowl, a drop of blood splashes into the pitcher next to it. I see it but the girl doesn't see and I cannot open my mouth to tell her. She finishes with me and goes to the other stall with the pitcher of water for the puppies' water bowl I can hear my heartbeat in my ears but still I cannot move to stop her. The puppies lap up the water with abandon but after awhile they lose interest. They begin to amble and sniff at the hay searching for something slowly all the puppies are pressed against the low wooden wall separated my stall from theirs and are sniffing and digging at the hay. "No. No!" I'm finally able to say something, to move.
I turn to the girl and I beg her, "Tell them it's just water! Please tell them it's just water!" The girl looks confused but unconcerned. I have grabbed her arm in my begging and she shakes me off. The color of the puppies eyes are changing from gold to ruby red and their canines grow long and sharp. Their yips and puppy grumbles turn to high-pitched growls and I cower in the farthest corner of my stall.

"TELL THEM IT'S JUST WATER!"

Writing Must Serve



"When the act of writing becomes enamored of itself, puffed up and arrogant, existing for its own sake alone, it ceases to be substantial, perceptive, or fine. Writing must serve the of 'love and honor and pity and compassion and sacrifice,' as Faulkner put it. What can be the vaue of literature that is created at the expense and neglect of others? Literature is a servant; it must serve and when it ceases to perform this function it ceases to be a source of sustenance for the culture and become a rattling husk." 

--Pattiann Rogers from "Degree and Circumstance"

The Purpose of Writing

"Writing must serve the concerns of 'love and honor and pity and compassion and sacrifice,' as Faulkner put it. What can be the value of literature that is created at the expense and neglect of others? Literature is a servant; it must serve and when it ceases to perform this function it ceases to be a source of sustenance for the culture and become a rattling husk." --Pattiann Rogers from "Degree and Circumstance"

Why must it be so?
Why does writing become a "rattling husk" so to speak?
Or why must it be a source of sustenance for the culture?

not disagreeing just exploring...

How to Work Around It?

So...
I just had a great idea. I've chronicled my difficulties with relating to stories that have been dancing in my head since I was like 13 yrs old because of my growing self-awareness and societal awareness, especially in regards to race relations and Wewstern Imperialism/Colonialism/Post-Colonialism.

Illustration:
My sister and i grew up reading (and loving) Victoria magazine, a magazine that exalted everything vintage, shabby chic and 19th c./Jane Austen-inspired before it was really mainstream to do so. However, whenever we would play the game "What is your favorite time period?" we could never pick anything other than the present because as a black person back in time I would have to reach back about 500 years before I came to place that was relatively race-less, thus without modern day racism, and that left me in a time period without indoor plumbing, cars, grocery stores, and other marvelous things I take for granted. Until my early twenties I couldn't see the irony in the above situation. now that I can I'm stuck: do I really want to play at realting to a history, a culture that I would have had no part in as a human being? Do I want to take advantage of my Western propensity for appropriation of other outside cultures only for my own benefit and at my own discretion without regards to the actual mores of the culture being appropriated? In my mind there's this picture of me and my sister dressing up like Jane Austen characters playing tea party and thinking all the while that if I was actually in that time and place I would most likely be a slave, definitely regarded as subhuman, therefore sub-citizen. I wouldn't be allowed to sit in pretty dresses drinking tea and eating various sweetmeats. I would be working my  life to the bone with little to no pay and for people who would see me as an animal, if they chose to see me at all.

How can I write stories based on those people's mythologies? How can I love fashion inspired by that time in history when that time in history isn't really the idyllic picture painted for me but a time of hatred, murder, rape, physical and cultural thievery, and outright genocide? Why would I want to appropriate that anyway?

And then it dawned on me to write from that perspecitve. From the perspecvtive of a girl/woman trying to make the choice between appropriation and just going along  and fighting the Power. Knowing that the world she lives in benefits from her pain and suffering in the present and was built on the pain and suffering of her ancestors in the past and fighting to shake off the picture of that idyllic past, idyllic mythology, to build something entirely new. Maybe in a steampunk/dark Victoriana type setting.

So I am coming... unstuck. I am figuring out how to write the stories that I have had in me since childhood with my new awreness as an adult. And it is good.

Work In Progress: Family Lines Rewrite

Superman can’t believe what he’s seeing. Rather, he can believe it but he doesn’t want to. And he feels this way every time he comes across it. This time it’s in Thailand instead of Metropolis, Gotham, New York, or Atlanta but the basics are the same: the third floor of a condemned building full of children and teens, three years old and up. This one only has boys. One hundred-seventy-three to be exact. Most of the children are Thai, though a few are Korean and Japanese. Four are obviously of European descent, but they aren’t speaking so country of origin remains a mystery. 

Then one of the Euro boys—the redhead—looks at him with eyes he’s only seen on one other person blue eyes that are unmistakable to those who know. After that Superman has to know. He unobtrusively takes some hair samples and a cotton swab with his blood on it from one of the medic stations back to the Fortress of Solitude and he waits while keeping track nightly of where the boy is being taken from the in general hospital in _____ to a children’s hospital in _____. For three days he watches the boy whenever he can, usually at noght metropolis time between 2 and 4 a.m. and doesn’t know whether to hope that his hunch is right or wrong. If he could provide a home for all the children he ever came across in such circumstances but he can’t, not for all of them. Maybe this one will be different. 

---

Bruce looks at his son, his newest addition to the family. Katsuro Wayne. Sixteen and beautiful, an unmarred face masking a deeply scarred mind. His hand runs through Katsuro’s hair, the same auburn as Andrea Beaumont’s. Bruce’s leg tingles and his body begs for him to shift in the rocking chair and find a more comfortable position, but his mind says, Just a little while longer so I can see my son exactly this way.

 And for once he doesn’t think about What If. What if he had done something different, had followed Andrea when she left town so abruptly leaving nothing but a locket for Bruce to remember her by? Kept better track of her whereabouts over the years? Something more to protect the boy that he never knew about? What if he had seen underneath the underneath the way he, supposedly the World’s Greatest Detective, was supposed to? Not that he hasn’t had those thoughts, and not that he won’t have them ever again, but in the end he has always reached the same conclusion. He did what he thought was right and if anything changed he wouldn’t have his other children. Not Dick or Jason or Steph or Tim or Cassandra or Damien. And he wouldn’t sacrifice any one child for another. He’s just glad that Katsuro’s path finally lead him home.

He wishes that he could erase the violation and the pain, wishes that he could look into his son’s heart and mind and fix everything that was broken. The anger—the rage, the killing intent—hasn’t left. There is a large part of him that wants to say fuck the oath and personally—by hand—murder every person that took a part of Katsuro’s soul and every other person that just stood by and let it happen. But for now he is too tired for the anger and the regret. The pull of looking for Andrea, of maintaining his relationship with Selina, and of assuring Damien that he is still just as important and just as loved (biological firstborn or not) has left him emotionally dry. It all will come back when he is better rested but for now the only thing left is a father’s sacrificial love. Bruce presses his forehead to his third eldest son’s forehead and thinks, if I could take it all into myself, I would. Wake up ‘Ro. Just wake up.