Category Archives: Homework

The Troublesome Business of Death

Not a creative writing assignment but I’m pretty darn proud of this one. An assignment we were given for my English for Informatics class was to create an infograph. At first, I leaned toward doing something about Vonnegut or Bradbury but I decided instead to do a death infographic, specifically the death of 70 of literatures most influential authors. And well, here it is!

DeathInfographic

 

May I Introduce Pip?

This is Pip!

Pip is 29cm (about 11.4in) tall and enjoys hacking things up with her axe.

Image

You see, for creative writing these last two weeks, we’ve been doing some old school table-top roll playing, specifically the Famine in Far-Go module from the first edition of Gamma World which was release back in 1978. Our professor chose this version of the game in part because, of the location, Far-Go, East Dah-Koh-Tah, better known as Fargo, North Dakota which is only a few hours along the interstate to reach from where we live. He also said he chose it because the rules were at their simplest and even with the simplest version of the game, he did take the educational liberties to remove flying and a few certain aspects just to make the game friendlier for a class of students, some familiar with table-top gaming and some not so much.

Unfortunately, as anyone who’s familiar with RPG’s knows that the whole turn-based playing style can take a little while and we weren’t able to get much play in between the three class periods we gave the game, the first of which was almost entirely dedicated to creating our character.

Which brings me to Pip, my character. Right off the bat, I managed to roll some pretty great stats:

Mental Strength – 16

Intelligence – 13

Dexterity – 9

Physical Strength – 18

Charisma – 12

Constitution – 14

The first day, we also had to spend a good deal of time rolling for our characters mutations, which were quick to alter my characters physical demeanor as they included Radar (though handy as it adds +3 damage to my use of physical weapons, which thrown on top of the +4 I get with such high physical strength, gives my character stellar potential with her axe), which alters the look of my ears and causes me to “blip” all the time, and Shorter. This was a stat we rolls for and unfortunately, I rolled for 29…29 centimeters tall. But thankfully once more with my physical strength, my ability to wield normal sized objects isn’t effected.

My mental mutations started out pretty great though. I rolled for Mass Mind which allows me to link minds with other party members and “borrow” their abilities as well as increasing the strength per person linked, and Light Manipulations which would allow me the occasional use of invisibility for three minutes. But the next two mutations were far more, um, defective. Periodic Amnesia and Seizures. Thankfully, I never wound up being affected by these mutations during play but as far as characterization goes, it’s definitely an interesting combination of characteristics.

 

I won’t prattle on much more about the game as this post would go on forever but I definitely enjoyed it. Probably my favorite homework assignment so far.

Carmen Gaudin Meets Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

Prostitutes whisper from alleyways,
trickling out of apartments and cabarets,
pouring down Montmartre toward the Seine.
Cart wheels clatter against the street,
while shop girls hum to the patter
of tired feet against the cobbled roads.
She’s working her fingers raw with lye
until the cotton between her fingers glows
against the violet of morning.
Curtains of copper curls hide away
the beads of sweat collecting at her nape –
summer beneath the bakery has little charm.

The painter had drank the night away,
drafting a pair of blushing whores in his bed,
before searching Rue des Saules for a café,
where he spied on shoppers strolling by,
heard them passing out demure bonjours.
His legs ached and his eyelids drooped,
and he considered rousing his models,
reclaiming the wool of his mattress.
He dropped a franc and took up his cane,
limping his way toward Saint-Vincent’s
when a splash of copper caught his eye,
through the door of the corner laundry.

“I am Carmen Gaudin,” a quiet voice, shy,
betrayed by the bite of spoiled meat in her eyes,
to which he swore he would change the stars
if she would let him arrest her in oil.
He let daylight tip-toe across the washboard,
set fire to wild tresses snatched by the breeze,
met the mirror and pinned her brown eyes shut.
He spoke very little, she spoke even less,
only hummed a few bars of gospel now and then,
when the hush of the laundry cried too loudly.
Cutting the wood of his brush between his teeth,
he ached to fill every canvas with her.

One of my favorite painters of all time has to be Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Crippled by childhood misfortunes and bad bones, Lautrec stood at just 4′ 6” tall and was forced to walk with a cane. However, unfortunate as his early life may have been, he didn’t let it stop him from pursuing an artistic career and went on to paint some extremely memorable works such as Hangover (The Drinker), At the Moulin de la Galette 1889 and Seated Dancer In Pink Tights. But my very favorite of his paintings is most definitely “The Laundress” which was one of many painting Lautrec did of Carmen Gaudin who inspired this poem.

Deciduous King

He impressed perfection from a distance –
like the memory of a moment over-imagined –
lording over his forest
of choked black walnuts and rotting sycamores.

His trunk stands a skyscraper,
so tall that you could climb to the very top
and pluck the stars from the sky
to tuck into your pocket for when you need its light.

But when you brush the bark,
the beauty sheds away, the more visible the flaws become
until all that’s left
are the knots in the wood and the bark crumbling away –

and an old, scraggly wound
running through the core of the deciduous king,
a markings of revolution
in the seam of lighting that’d deposed him.

Between the back porch and main street

Between The Back Porch and Main Street

Years pass like rogue taxidermists,
change the mundane into artifacts,
guts the novelty of newness
from every timber in a house
and stuffs them back up with dust,
’til grime pours out of every vein
and spills out on the floorboards
which have buckled under years and rain.
Paint chips have weathered into wrinkles.
The breeze sculpts creases and crinkles
in the curtains where the moths have
managed to build their nests .

Funny how a house
stays a home,
even after all the people have abandoned her,
even after no one calls her home.

Thank the honey locust
who could no longer hold the treehouse,

Who puts a treehouse up a honey locust?

Sunk a cavern into the pantry,
chased out all the people,
allowing in the birds and sunbeams and snowstorms
and a family of raccoons who moved into the parlor.

They’ve been paying rent for years now,
gathered a varmints-fortune in rusted bolts,
nuts, scraps of twinkling treasures,
and tucked them safely in the bathroom sink .

When the rain comes, the tub plugged with
dirt and cicada corpses creeps full,
stirs up a film of algae and earth
painting a cloudy tapestry on the surface.
Hydrangeas used to grow in the kitchen window
where now there are only dandelions.

**The point of this particular assignment was to write a poem that showed how beauty changes. I grew up in a community that is shrinking year after year and what stays are the abandoned houses. Nearly 2/3 of the houses in town are unoccupied by my rough count. When I was younger, I didn’t have much to do but explore the emptiness of my town but I learned to see the beauty in nature slowly taking over what had once been so civilized.

We also had to include a picture with the assignment. I chose to use an old photo of a house I particularly liked because I knew it lived in and abandoned. It was also the only thing I could really see in the mornings waiting for the bus, in between my porch and main street.

Between the back porch and main street

Freckles

Freckles

I’ve been trying to count your freckles
with every press of my lips to your cheek –
forehead, nose, arms, shoulders.
I even devoted what seemed a lifetime
in a fruitless attempt to capture the constellation
that’s hiding in the crook of your elbow.
The sky blushes along the horizon,
harboring the suns imminent rise
and I fear that when it does dare rise,
your skin will cease to reflect the stars
and the moon that is your mouth will fade.
Who then will you be?

Anxiety

Anxiety

Sometimes the rush overwhelms me,
taking the stage, cheeks burnt, blood boiled,
the words burst out in a voice I barely know.
Coming down, pulse aflutter, knees weak.
I’ve hardly time the to breath between acts,
a new costume, new Blanche, new lies to spin,
and though I’m chaos, a calm is buried underneath.

Yet there are instances when the rush takes hold,
pulls me under, sinks me in shallow water,
engulfs me in a crowd, drenches my lungs in a small room,
panic seizing my limbs like shackles
toes clenched in wet dirt, drowning on the rain.
There’s regret for all that time lost frozen
under streetlamps and behind parked cars.

I will not weep for what I could not speak,
too frightened to give away a single word –
the best safety lies in fear after all.
It is dull, uneventful, a meek and mediocre way to live,
but at least I took the risk to live.
I’ll raise no banners, stir no pond, nor break a quiet dawn,
but wait ‘til panics pass by for the cover of familiarity.

I hope for this anxiety, pray for it
to wash over me and make me something new,
transform me into someone I don’t quite know.
Perhaps I will enjoy this one, perhaps I’ll toss her off,
step back, and watch the slow fall in reverse,
for that moment of core-shaking clarity when I see ME –
and run from fear.

The Horseshoe Crab

Horseshoe Crab

I wonder if that horse knows
its strutting through town on horseshoe
crabs.
I wonder if those crabs know
they’re trotting through town on stallion soles.

Admire the horse that chose
to redefine the horseshoe and the
crab.
Praise the strength of crabs who strove
to tote the mass of an ambling equine.

Condemn the horse who dared impose
his weight upon the horseshoe
crab.
Reject the nerve of crabs who dared
the throes of losing mollusks in place of mustangs.

I wonder if that horse knows
It’s strutting through town on horseshoe-
crabs.
I wonder if those crabs know
they’ve been chelicerata from the start.

(The assignment with this poem was to write about dopplegangers in some form or another, and this is what came of it.)