NaPoWriMo Day 18 – A True Fan

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You must observe the figure
take in the curvature
the refraction of light on chrome
glint of flash on tinted plastic.

You must touch the figure
insinuate your fingers beneath
panels, permeate with life
the lifeless textured plastic.

You must lick the figure
savour the sweetness of the cracks
and edges of bittersweet ratchets
and salt tears of joy and plastic.

Then, and only then
you will become what I have been.
Then, and only then
you will be.. a true fan.

Prompted by yesterday’s NaPoWriMo.net suggestion, and inspired by something that a weird fan said once, on a discussion board. Weird fans are pretty weird.

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“Transform me like one of your French bots”

The Unwritten: Apocalypse #4

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UnwrittenApoc4

Synopsis
“War Stories,” part 3 of 3. Sometimes the closest thing you can find to a friend is your enemy’s enemy. But when Tom tries to enlist the help of Madame Rausch, he discovers that she’s already fighting a war of her own.

Story
The final part of the first story arc of The Unwritten‘s ending rolls in, not concluding the arc at all, but rather setting up the mayhem that is sure to ensue. The Unwritten: Apocalypse #4 brings us back to Wilson’s place, with Bruckner, Miri’s ghost, Wilson himself and the five main characters discussing (or trying not to discuss) plans to take down Pullman and restore (a) reality.
But Tom will have nothing of that, nor will Bruckner or Cosi or Leon, and Wilson is told what he deserves to hear – as Tom sets by himself to meet the only improbable ally he can think of: Madame Rausch, the third, literal, puppeteer alongside Taylor and Pullman. And what do we find out? Rausch knows things. And she’s on no one’s side but her own – or is she?
Mike Carey once again sneaks in some additional subtext in the section titles, this issue plucked from Lewis Carroll’s long nonsense poem ‘The Hunting of the Snark’. Something big is brewing in the future of the series, with Rausch quite probably returning to throw some splinters in everyone’s plans.

Art
The artwork that accompanies the issue, especially in the scenes towards and during the Madame Rausch encounter, is some dazzling and dizzying work from Peter Gross, with finished once again by Ryan Kelly. The parallels between Mingus and her tail around Tom’s neck and Rausch’s new ‘pet’ were subtle, but growing by the panel. And the pages leading towards ‘Grandmother’ are mindboggling. In the best way possible.
The colours, a dominance of dark grey and greens for this aftermath from last issue, are Chris Chuckry’s task. And does he know how to add reds and yellows when the situation didn’t know it needed them (and that first dusky sky is amazing). There are also some really nice touches by letterer Todd Klein, in the section titles and captions for different characters and settings, while the rest of fonts rest untouched this time.
The cover is by the fantastic Yuko Shimizu, though flipped with last month’s due to ‘Careylessness’; check that review for a look at it, and bask in the blood-soaked glory of the atavistic Pullman on this one, being and becoming the sacrificial ox of dark, deep red.

Thoughts (May Contain Spoilers)
The issue takes a step back from the action-filled conflicts of the previous two parts of ‘War Stories’, replacing the gripping with the chilling. It’s slower, definitely, than the encounter with Pullman and the Rakes. But then, Madame Rausch has always taken her time with things, after all. The dialogue, combined with the artwork in and around the scenes with Madame Rausch in her stronghold, are actually quite terrifying, looking back on the reading. Tom Taylor still believes he is no one’s tool, while being used by everyone around him. An issue of intrigue, strategy, and actually disturbing deals – surprisingly not with the regent of Hell. That will come next month, as we get back to the rabbit that isn’t, Pauly Bruckner.

The Unwritten: Apocalypse #4 is now available in shops and digitally here.

NaPoWriMo Day 17 – A comet, they said

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They said it was a comet
smashing into the hardness of Earth
that brought water to the rocks
of our planet.

A comet, they said.
A soaring icicle of light
hurled from other stars
to here. And inside it
the law of the species, the formula
of blood and sap
the tone of every voice.

Water is the perfect key
that unlocks wild shapes.
The water we still drink
was once a train of roaming
light. Dazzling freight
in the darkness between worlds.

(Original Italian by Mariangela Gualtieri, from ‘Naturale Sconosciuto’.)

NaPoWriMo Day 16 – Nuvole

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Fletto i muscoli, e mi libro
nello spazio tra le righe
negli scoli sulla carta
tra finestre e cornici.

Salto da un lato all’altro
indagando tempi futuri
e mondi paralleli rintanati
in vecchie città, incubi
in cui ballano antichi traditori.

Passo di nascosto e mi perdo
nelle strade tracciate e pensate
da orfani, armadilli e razziatori,
vigili sentinelle di altri piani.

Mi rifugio per un giorno, libero
fra le nuvole di pensiero
e di parole – in silenzio.

NaPoWriMo Day 15 – Paralleli

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Ho camminato lungo il fiume, oggi.
L’ho tenuto sulla destra
a distanza di un braccio
e l’ho seguito, in silenzio.
Non ci ho parlato; d’altronde
uno è fiume e l’altro è uomo
una è acqua e l’altra è carne
uno è sassi e l’altro è ossa.

Con le dita ne ho seguito
il corso, tracciando il colle
al di là dell’altra riva,
percorrendo con lo sguardo
la vecchia giovinezza
della cima smussata;
ho sorriso, e mi sono passato
la mano fra i capelli.

Non ho camminato a lungo
non ne avevo il tempo.
Non l’ho seguito fino in fondo
non sono partito alla sorgente.
L’ho lasciato correre
tranquillo nel suo letto,
il fiume verso destra
io nel senso opposto
tornando verso casa.

NaPoWriMo Day 14 – Breathe

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We crouch, soul to mind
sole to ground, hand to soil
inhale, shift eyes, gaze up
prepare – count as

we beat, we strike, foot-
strike toe-to-heel, absorb
the world, the wind, the sound
in flux – flowing as

we flex, propulsion forward
through space extend, time
stop flowing, hold the beat
beat the track feel
the pulse as

we race, hearts pacing
pumping blood coursing
through, rushing by
streaming through veins
heart beating constant speed
building faster
higher peaking

exhale.

The first title for this one was ‘And we run’. But I then remembered a song by Within Temptation called just that, and decided not to. You can listen to it here, though: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhKEVRrSJZo.

NaPoWriMo Day 11 – Findings

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But is it —?
Is the question of knowledge
of the first definition of literature.
It could be a laundry list,
her recipes wouldn’t be,
moving through historically
would be the question
not the matter of reading:
only certain things are admitted.

You’ve also got this word literary
which doesn’t get you very far
but an automatic selection:
this person has literature,
do you have French?
This weasel word literary,
the realm of letters or books,
two is the process
three is the product;
but the question you’re burning to ask,
educated to a certain level,
being told what’s good
in the particular generation -
it would exclude poetry.
If someone’s gone through the trouble
- may I pass round,
shall we just talk through
(rather – jolly good)
(and yes yes).

A spiritual offering:
the depth of a shopping list
if it’s about to launch.
It starts out with we
it can swallow other
fifteen minutes,
you don’t get that in
whole sets of
judgement of the
criteria of the
familiar.

The reveal:
a property, how we read it,
we can find elements;
today we would not,
conventionally.
The product of labour
presented as a question:
is it literature.

Does it make sense? Not that much, really, but still a lot more than I expected. This is a found poem, based on overheard bits of today’s UEA Café Conversation, titled ‘But is it Literature?’. Much as the session itself, the poem ends at the beginning, inevitably.

NaPoWriMo Day 10 – Woman in the World’s Tomorrow

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I am pregnant with you,
woman who will live in the world’s tomorrow.
In a distant year
my flesh created,
my fibres remember,
each day a darkened labour
bodily suffering tamed by will
and sweetened by hope
ineffably.
Now not a man’s seed in me
not an embryo fed by my blood
but in my spirit
lies the eager image of you, woman,
of the you who will be
slowly molded, nurtured
knocking at doors wanting life,
fully formed at last
in auras of freedom and truth
woman in the world’s tomorrow.

I carry you with me, a clear image,
contrast and complement
to my heart’s troubles,
hurting for some many today
hurting for inhuman toils
hurting for dehuman children
or for children kidnapped in war,
or inanimate objects of lust,
oh my discouraged kin, shame on all!
And I hear others shrieking
unknowingly laughing along
and I see others in shock
more self-absorbed than their men
greedy yearning toxic riches.
As if I held you in me
I focus on you, in you, creature of new
on your future features
creature fully true of a life of truth achieved,
a life redeemed of its beastly remains,
as this land grows each day more beautiful
with everyone’s toil a fervent hymn
harmonious hymn of the human spirit.

And I am not alone, more and more
just like me carry you within
and in flashes of blessings
something of your gaze shines through,
the image of you our safety
the image of you our hope
as the world today derides us,
bitter and blind opposes us
oh all you brave and fighting
girls, wives, tender powerful old
in proud labour and still blessed
ineffably,
by your arrival, woman, in the world’s tomorrow
in this sibling shelter
just and good
and finally worthy of glory,
you, harmonious queen of freedom and truth.

(Original Italian by Sibilla Aleramo, ‘Donna nel domani del mondo’. There are many versions online, but I’d rather link to an extract from her diary, from 1959.)