Side Effects Of Mediocre Poetry

A project I worked on for one of my anthropology classes has provided me with a great deal of material, some comic, some not so much. Ever since I scrapped the Drunken Poet’s Campout story last week, I have been unable to shake the ring and rhyme that has infected the muse attempting to safeguard my sanity during the conflict inducing, merry making season that is upon us. So, this week’s Friday Fictioneer prompt seems a good reason to share some of my research on the history of human conflict.

How humans express what matters most to us is an important area of study for anthropologists. Art, in its many forms, attempts to help us understand ourselves as well as the rise and fall of civilizations throughout recorded time. I use writing and photography to make sense of the world around me, since Apple has pretty much ruined music for me.

Many art forms have been used to commemorate the conquests of great civilizations, dance, painting, photography, poetry. Cultural artifacts curated in museums around the globe, where acts of treachery and bravery are on display for all the world to see, give us a magnificent pictorial record of humanity’s triumphs and tragedies. The ancient war depiction at the Karnak Hypostyle Hall is the standard by which war scene art is measured.

The horrors of war are at our fingertips. So, why do we continue to ignore the warning signs? I don’t have an answer. I can only guess it has something to do with mediocre poetry.

Wrong All Along

Greedy and Stingy sittin’ on the sea

F-U-S-S-I-N-G

First came land

Then came chattel

Then came tribes with a sabre rattle

See what I mean? That is enough to instigate a playground scuffle.

alfreds-ships-fighting-the-danes-897-web-1
King Alfred’s ships fighting marauding Vikings: Battle of Ashdown 8th January 871 AD in the Danish Wars: picture by Harry Payne

 

Thanks to Rochelle, who rallies the troops, and her childhood pal Lucy for this inspirational prompt. More Fictioneers are here. For my 100 word story, look out below!

lucy-sol
Copyright Lucy Fridkin

Landfall

The commander commands, “Pillage the village! Plunder the town! Turn the world upside down!” Teams move out from the shoreline.

Beyond the buildings and parking lots there are miles of unexploited territory. Orders are to fill ’em full o’ lead and kill ’em good-n-dead. Players are motivated to show what they’re made of. They gouge the stoney ground and feed their bloody lust. They crush the citizens into dust.

It matters not the weapons at their disposal. They simply use what’s on hand for the grand proposal, until vulture and vermin victory spied. The battle is over and everyone died.

*****

Interesting Links:

http://www.metmuseum.org/connections/war_and_conflict#/

http://www.bowdoin.edu/~ktravers/projects/heijiscroll/intro.html

http://www.pacsa-web.eu/about-us/

http://www.colorado.edu/csilw/arapahoproject/dancemusic/ghost1.htm

http://learner.org/courses/globalart/theme/3/index.html

http://www.britishbattles.com/danish-wars/battle-of-ashdown/

http://www.berghahnbooks.com/title.php?rowtag=BrauchlerCyberidentities

Credit: Bayeux Tapestry animation by David Newton
Music and sound design by Marc Sylvan

 

 

American Caricature

Yesterday I wrote a great story for this week’s Friday Fictioneers prompt. It was funny. Very funny. It was a really, really great story. And so funny. Taking my writing cues from the new leader of the free world, I can say that readers everywhere would have thought “Campfire Girls All Grown Up” was a great title for my great story about old childhood friends who had met life’s challenges head on with the support of their group which they now called The Drunken Poets Society. This great, really great, story takes place at the twenty-second annual Drunken Poets Campout. I was all set to hit publish. Then last night something happened. I went with my son to see John Cleese and Eric Idle in their Together Again At Last…For The Very First Time North American Tour.

If you don’t know who these guys are, what cave have you been living in?

The two comic giants played to a sold out house at the Majestic Theater in Dallas. The first act got off to a slow start. What else would you expect from two old farts? Still, it was entertaining and informative. For instance, I did not know that the first PBS station to broadcast episodes of Monty Python’s Flying Circus in the U.S. was KERA in Dallas, Texas.

Two red armchairs cushioned the iconic, and well-worn, actors as they reminisced about the good old days of Monty Python. Name dropping mixed with comedy sketches and songs, it was like sitting at the knee of a profane uncle and loving every minute of it.

What this has to do with my Friday Fictioneers story, you may be wondering. Or not. Well, last night in my sleep, Eric Idle came to me and said, “Campfire Girls All Grown Up isn’t funny. In fact, Honie, it stinks. Then he sang me a song he’d written just for me. I can’t share it here due to copyrights, quid pro quo trade negotiations, Brexit ex post facto, ipso facto e pluribus unum and all that, but suffice to say, it was really, really, great. Really.

So, this morning I woke up a little hung over curiously sober, and in the light of day I decided to embrace the absurdity of being American. Here’s my new and improved story.

campsite-jwf
Copyright Jan Wayne Fields

 Isolationism

I read the news today. Oh boy! Frackers and hackers have surrounded the backpackers. Obese schizophrenics protest en masse. No one knows for sure what has offended them today, but they are armed with selfie sticks, free with every purchase at Starbucks.

I experience fever then chills then uncontrollable laughter. Nausea follows. I want to run, sleep, and vomit all at once. I call my doctor’s office, calming down on hold while I sing along, “Billie Jean is not my lover.” The virtual nurse comes on the line.

“If this is an emergency, please hang up and call 911. Goodbye.”

***** 

Thanks to Rochelle and her trusty companion, Jan, for this week’s prompt. Check out more FF stories here. Thanks for reading.

Once Upon A Mistake

bjorn
Copyright Björn Rudberg

Julianna’s big sister had entertained her with bedtime stories for as long as she could remember.

“Is this going to be one of your ‘he sold his car to buy strings for her cello and she sold her cello to buy snow tires for his car’ stories?”

“My god, JuJu, how much do you think cello strings cost? No. Just listen. You haven’t heard this one; I promise,” Marie whispered. “Devon was a handsome cellist. He played here with a chamber orchestra before you were born.”

Marie closed her eyes, summoning her courage.

“Nine months to be exact.”

 

*****

Well, there you have it. My 100 word story prompted by the genius, the poet, Björn Rudberg. Rochelle Wisoff-Fields is the name of the dame who keeps Friday Fictioneers rockin’ and rollin’. Check out more FF stories here.

A Long Overdue Book Review

This time last year I was in the grips of some extraordinarily difficult subjects. Human trafficking, child soldiers, the prospect of accepting a less than stellar grade in forensic anthropology (I don’t know how I managed a B). The 2016 spring semester, now a distant memory, loomed large with its 15 credit hours including another round of statistics. So, when the holiday break rolled around I decided to enjoy a little “lite reading,” and treated myself to Carrie Rubin’s medical thriller, Eating Bull.

eatingbull

Carrie is fearless in her use of fiction to drive home the very real epidemic of obesity in America. Her characters are ordinary people, doing ordinary things, but forget slice of life; Eating Bull is a big ol’ slab of reality. Jeremy, the teen aged protagonist’s struggle tugs at your heartstrings, but the circumstances that contribute to his family’s dysfunction are only part of the story. Murder most foul and its sadistic motivations pierce theme after difficult theme and provoke the reader to examine the medical establishment, bigotry, and a society poisoned by consumerism. Eating Bull is available here. Find out for yourself what happens in this award winning novel chock-full of suspense!

 

 

 

Trouble At The Lollipop Guild

crook-roof
Copyright Sandra Crook

“Gumdrops?!” The line foreman’s voice reverberated into the rafters.

“Yes, it’s our only option,” replied the union rep.

Just last month the members had agreed to a pay cut in order to afford roof repairs before winter. Some of them even volunteered to haul materials from the shipyard on their days off. Now they were expected to retool before Christmas for a new confection just because the president demanded they increase production or shut down permanently.

“You’ve ruined us,” said the foreman.

“The output of suckers is only one every minute. Gumdrops will make you great again,” promised the rep.

*****

Friday Fictioneers are here again. Rochelle Wisoff-Fields is the boss and Sandra Crook supplied this week’s prompt. Thanks, Ladies! **Late addition** I just realized that Sandra provides the prompts that prompt me the most to speak my mind and try to use humor to make a point. For that, Sandra, I am truly grateful.

*****

It’s Veterans’ Day here in the good ol’ U.S.A. and as a veteran, a woman, a person of conscience, hell, just a human with a pulse, I would be remiss if I did not remark on the bizarre events that occurred this week here in the land of the free. Politics is not my thing. I abhor fakes, frauds, predators, and provocateurs. Who gets what and how much, that’s what politics means to me. I have been unrepresented for so long that I have learned how to get by (with a little help from my friends, of course). It occurs to me that we’ve been looking for leaders in all the wrong places. Many people work diligently every day to serve their families, communities, and the greater good in the world at large. It is these servant leaders who deserve our respect, but even more, they deserve our cooperation and participation in the business at hand. What is that? The business at hand is this:

Talk to your kids about civility. Talk to them about sex and sexual predators. Listen to your kids. Model the admirable qualities that you want them to demonstrate, because you can be damn sure if you rely on government to foster civil behavior, well, prepare to remain dysfunctional. Too many children have no idea that they matter to anyone. Too many children operate in survival mode and become adults who struggle with chronic crisis.

There are no words of dismay or disgust that have not already been written or shouted about American politics. So, I cannot see the point of regurgitating vitriol for the sake of having my say. What I can tell you is this: Be encouraged by the fact that there are plenty of people who share your pain. Lead by example. Do not relinquish your self-respect. Ever.