Author Topic: To slay a jabberwocky  (Read 3138 times)

Don Coyote

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To slay a jabberwocky
« on: January 06, 2015, 12:00:13 am »

Before the sun rises, my retainers ready me for battle.
My panoply in its full array, or cap-a-pie as they say in days long gone by,
Is in a form so archaic as to seem antique,
Yet in construction anything but.
From my cap to my shoes, to include doublet and hose too,
Of spider’s silk, of maidens’ hair, of ancient’s kevlar, and of silver spun,
And with magics woven within to be proof against beam and blow both.
All to stanch the hurts I shall certainly receive,
To blunt the blows of my beastly foes,
And to save my flesh from searing blasts
Of both beams of light and breaths of dragons.
My armor is as black as the shattered ship from beyond the heavens
Its ore wrestled from walls of metal harder than iron.
With gold and iron it is inlaid,
Glyphs, runes, and symbols in formulae and equations
Describing geometries possible and impossible,
Inscribing names of demons, elementals, and angels,
Reminding all named of pledges and allegiances hard won
By generations beyond number with blade and with book,
Blessings of war, of strength, of luck, and even against rust.
Strapped to my arm and suspended from my neck, my shield.
Stories told by elders long past
From the door of an ancient’s war machine it was cut.
An inch of ancient’s steel, solid and massy,
A bulwark of my body as I am shield to my people.
A field of green, a tower crossed by lance and sword,
The blazon of my clan is painted thereupon.
A squire lays in my hand my long lance,
Thrice three feet of ash.
Once white wood now long stained scarlet,
Once more ready to drink deeply of dragon’s heartblood.
Girt at my waist, a sword and a dagger,
A pair matched they are not.
The dagger, short and stout,
Ancient bronze, nicked and notched,
Only one sapphire remains of the rumored thirteen,
Twelve lonely cavities like empty eye sockets leering along the blade as adornment
Opposite rests her adopted sister.
A weapon I won in a card game as a wager.
The mysterious masked loser of it remarked,
“Moth wings, moon beams, and rathe that were mome
Forged and folded until the form of a blade they were fixed,
Or at least that were what the man what sold me it said.”
To my eyes like plain steel it seems,
But upon advisement of a sage, into battle
I shall wear it. For
      Tis grand
   To against a dragon fight
   In defense of people and of land.
   Prepared to strive day and night,
   I stride out of the gate with lance in hand.

Beaming brightly the sun beats down as I stride to meet the beast.
Five fathoms, or more, or less, its form hard to see,
It stands shrouded in silvery shadows stinking of smoke and sulfur.
Rearing to deliver its challenging roar,
From its gullet a thousand gears rattle, if not more.
Upon shield with spear, I bang out a reply so thunderous as to sunder windows.
(This monster for a month has people and stock massacred.)
Lifting its head and lithe body sucking in air
I brace myself behind my bulwark to receive
The blast the beast is about to breathe.
A sickly-sweet smelling smoke
Of thick shadows spew from shaded maw
Hammering my ecranche as it holds fast guarding my flesh from harm.
My feet dig into the cracked and dried earth, pounded dense by decades of traffic,
Tenebrous tendrils twine around my targe
Trying to entangle my arms and feet.
I discover to my grim amusement, this dragon’s breath can feel pain,
As an engraved invocation to an illuminating angel blazes into solar incandescent
Beating it back with the a sacred heat greater than any brand,
Screaming and sizzling the shadows and smoke retreat.
I speak my thanks as I speed to the great serpent’s side.
Blinded by the bright blast of light, the beast should be easy enough prey.
I cast my spear like the gambler tosses dice, with the hope that luck is at my side.
Crimson spar flies from my fingers.
Whether due to lady luck’s love or long lance’s blood-lust
Deeply into its side my long dart digs
Stabbing between the serpent’s shinning segmented scales.
Yet now is not the time to call “Callooh” or “Callay.”
      It is not dead!
   Sans lance the beast I must slay?
   From ground on to spear on to head
   I leap like a game I must play.
   And hope after this blow the dragon is dead.

Stout spear unsprings to fling me upwards.
Like a bolt from a crossbow, I fly to bring my quarrel
To the rattling ravager’s high head to finish the deed my lance began.
Wraithly ropes of shadow-stuff, thick as a wrist, in the air writhe.
Sprouting from the serpent’s scales like hair,
And entwining together to impede my serpent slaying endeavor
They weave a net, trying to wreathe me in the wind.
With gleaming glaive cleaving gashes through gellid shade
I force my way through the wraith-rope forest
Hurtling ever down to the fiend’s head.
Frigid foliage can barely check my flight.
How far away the sun’s hammer heavy heat grows.
Gladly battered by the sun’s bold light would I be
Than feeling the clammy caress of this creepy hair
The sun soon left in the distance, as shadows screen out the light.
Not prepared for the this flight
Nor expecting the loathsome serpent to violate
Nature’s laws as much as man’s.
Distance and time distorted by this damned thing’s presence.
Had I expected this, from ground to lance to head I would not have lept.
Much more pleasant it would have been to keep pugilistic heroics grounded,
Than cut through this nightmarish net of nasty congealed shadow-stuff
Yet at the time I thought it
      Would be fun,
   And even if I should die
   A grand poem might be spun.
   Even if my folk think this a lie
   I’ll tell this tale when all is done.

I marveled in the dark, at how sharp moon’s light looks.
In songs and stories how soft they say moonlight is.
Here, now, smothered by serpent’s smoke and shadow
What seemed simple steel, now like hard edged moonbeam slices the shadow.
Softly, slowly, a sound beyond sound grows.
First one, then two, then more, much more
Soft moth wings? No, hard moth wings.
As if against a billion windowpanes batter a billion moths.
It surrounds me. Slams into my skull.
Make it stop. Make it stop.
Sword slams into serpent scales
Sibilantly shearing slices free.
Shards of armor, cogs, gears, cable, conduit
Flying freely far into the fetid dark.
Deeper I hack. Harder I slash.
Mothwing’s maddening melody grows louder.
I have begun monologuing.
I am outside myself.
I report about myself.
My body has found its own rhythm.
Hack and slash, cut and chop
Madness melody moves my body metronomically.
One and two. One and two. ONE and TWO.
A ragged rent through the ravager’s hide
Has my moonbeam blade battered beneath its head.
Wiping sweat from my brow seeing for the first time
The swarm of moths within steel
Trapped beneath the sword’s surface, the source of the maddening song.
Now I understand what the ragged gambler said of this sword won as a wager.
Scores of moths flittering furiously added fervor to my blows against the fiend.
And my face is bathed in moonlight scattered by moth wingbeats.
Crisp illumination shines in the wreckage of my path.
Pooling around my ankles are the putrid petrochemical laced
Fluids seeping and flowing from ruptured veins, conduits, and pipes.
Caused by the sizable hole I cleaved through the ceiling?
Dozens of these damned monsters I have destroyed,
Yet this serpent is significantly more strange than any I have ever slain.
Above, the gaping hole knits back together; gobs of shadowstuff binding scales.
Scintillating moonlight shed by my sword shows my only options,
Each way looks just as likely to lead to somewhere.
Curiously curved and pulsing walls of metallically colored chitin enclosing me,
I carry on down, deeper into the bowels
      Of the beast.
   With pulsing metal sheened walls
   Picking my way through its last feast
   Wondering at how the beast is so unsmall
   And how much further to go, at the least.

Long did I walk downward, deeper within the dragon’s body,
With my mute companions: sword, dagger, and shield,
Lance left lodged in the lithe dragon’s side.
Were it not for the blade of moonlight and mothwings,
As bright as full moon’s night,
A dark and treacherous walk it would be.
The weird winding passage is much larger than the witch-thing seemed from without,
Filled with the foul fumes of its seeping phlogistons,
And the over-ripe remnants of cattle,
As well as rubble from houses and keeps.
(This beast, is as fond of houses as horses and humans.)
Clearly seen are these chunks of men, beasts, and buildings,
Yet hard-edged shadows, provide for superior places to slink.
Their sneaking muffled by the burbling of the beast, they had me surprised.
A chitinous collection of their clawed tentacles gave only a chatter of warning
Before I heard a whine long unheard by me,
Hot beams of light ionized the air as they lanced out from all around me,
How this beast became host to drones with lasers I did not stop to wonder.
Fortunate it was this morn against such arms I girt myself,
Despite no reports regarding the ravening beast possessing such dangers,
A sage named Prudence advised, “Protection from laser would be prudent.”
Time for thought I did not have,
But monsters demanding to be slain in abundance I did.
Scarlet, crimson, and other shades of red beyond counting lit up the long hall.
Shield discarded, a crawler crushed beneath,
Armor scored with searing bolts.
Turns out a blade made of moonbeams can bat those back.
And a dagger cast of ancient’s bronze deeply digs into metal-woven chitin.
A dozen split open from dagger, spraying shadow-stuff-blood
A dozen more blinded by reflected bolts,
(Why anything would shoot lasers from its eyes, I’ll never know)
A great battle on any other day it would be,
But today it was an annoyance,
For soaked through were my boots with ichors.
And close to the hellish beast’s heart I hoped I was getting,
Or doomed to walk within winding ways I feared.
But now alert for more chittering, my advance slows.
Dragon slaying is not supposed to be
      This hard
   Not this trudging within the beast.
   Although I am the peoples’ ward,
   I’d rather be enjoying a feast,
   At least I am not bored.

Its heart, my sword’s anvil to hammer upon.
Gore like flint-fire sparks and flies from my blows.
Each hewing strike echoes down quaking corridors.
Thin rivulets flow, grow into rivers.
Raging torrents of quicksilver and oils
 Rushing from fissures riven by my reaping blade.
To the bone I am chilled, bathed in the blood of my foe, by combat rebaptised.
Are my sins washed away by the expungment of the monster?
Or merely compounded with its crimes of reaving my lands?
The beast’s body around me rumbles
As the chitinous walls of its corridors begin collapsing.
Now ‘tis foolish to do anything but flee
As the crumbling walls seem to be caused by the recompression of the creature,
Else I am expanding from a size I did not know I attained,
For the walls are closing in, much more so than they are crumbling.
Reverie interrupted, once clear upon this I will contemplate.
And so,
Through waist deep blood I wade
To hew upon the nearest walls
   With my gleaming moon-blade.
   Under which the chitin falls.

Epilogue
   
Before the sun rises, I ready my child and heir for battle, and reflect
Back on the strangest of serpents I had to ever slay.
Although I have aged long past anything considered prime
My decrepit condition is more caused by the cancers
Flooding my body from my ill-fortuned bath in filthy phlogistons.
Whether ‘tis right to right wrongs with weapons,
Despite decades of slow death,
A dragon had to be dashed till it lay destroyed
Such as my doom is to die in defense of land and people.
Even as it is that of my doughty daughter.
Whether the beast was evil or was a mere beast,
The woe it wrought, wrathful or not, had needed stopping.
In the end it matters not,
Although its ruin repaired it still had its revenge upon me.
      But now
   My tale may be ending
   But hers is just starting.
   And so with grace and little pain
   I yield the stage, content to not be main.
      

Mesozoic Mister Nigel

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Re: To slay a jabberwocky
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2015, 12:54:23 am »
Wow! That was literally epic, and also really excellent. I got crazy chills at the end. Amazing, and so, just SO well-done.
“I’m guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk,” Charles Wick said. “It was very complicated.”


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Re: To slay a jabberwocky
« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2015, 12:56:08 am »
God, man. Those last four lines brought tears to my eyes.

Quote
   My tale may be ending
   But hers is just starting.
   And so with grace and little pain
   I yield the stage, content to not be main.

Seriously, bravo. Have you considered recording it as a spoken piece?
“I’m guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk,” Charles Wick said. “It was very complicated.”


Don Coyote

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Re: To slay a jabberwocky
« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2015, 01:47:58 am »
Thanks. I'm glad the intended epicness came through, and I am really glad the last four lines gave you chills. This is the product of my last quarter's poetry class. As in this was the only thing I worked on for 2.5 months. It still feels a bit rough, and I'm planning on adding some more to it later to be used as my submission to a few universities' MFA programs.

I've thought about recording it, but I don't have the set up to do it justice. I feel it needs to be heard in person without amplification, and I don't know how to fake that with a dinky built in microphone. It's an exhausting, but fun piece to recite, and I've had good reactions the few times I've done readings of it in public.

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Re: To slay a jabberwocky
« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2015, 05:18:18 am »
Thanks. I'm glad the intended epicness came through, and I am really glad the last four lines gave you chills. This is the product of my last quarter's poetry class. As in this was the only thing I worked on for 2.5 months. It still feels a bit rough, and I'm planning on adding some more to it later to be used as my submission to a few universities' MFA programs.

I've thought about recording it, but I don't have the set up to do it justice. I feel it needs to be heard in person without amplification, and I don't know how to fake that with a dinky built in microphone. It's an exhausting, but fun piece to recite, and I've had good reactions the few times I've done readings of it in public.

It begs to be spoken out loud. I actually read through it aloud on the second reading, and it was really great.

I can't wait to read the final version, I hope you'll post it here.
“I’m guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk,” Charles Wick said. “It was very complicated.”


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Re: To slay a jabberwocky
« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2015, 05:19:36 am »
It is rare that I see a poem and just go "FUCK, THIS IS GOOD". This one really hit me though.
“I’m guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk,” Charles Wick said. “It was very complicated.”


Doktor Howl

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Re: To slay a jabberwocky
« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2015, 02:23:40 pm »
DAMN, COYOTE
Forgiveness encourages your enemies to sucker punch you again tomorrow.

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Re: To slay a jabberwocky
« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2015, 06:09:51 pm »
Wow, this is great, dude!
EoC, you are the bane of my existence.

EoC doesn't make creepy.

EoC makes creepy worse.

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the afflicted persons get hold of and consume carrots even in socially quite unacceptable situations.

QueenThera

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Re: To slay a jabberwocky
« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2015, 06:04:27 pm »
This is very good stuff. Reminds me of the things I have heard about Numenera, at lest in terms of its setting premise.
Often incoherent. Tends to ramble on about various topics.
Hopes to get beyond that.

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Don Coyote

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Re: To slay a jabberwocky
« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2015, 08:33:47 pm »
Thanks everybody for the kinds words. It's nice having people outside of my poetry class dig my work.



This is very good stuff. Reminds me of the things I have heard about Numenera, at lest in terms of its setting premise.

I wasn't going so far as Numenera, but I was going for a similar feel.


But I've been stumped for the last two months on where I want to go with this, where to expand it. I'd like to at least double it in size, with the possibility of expanding it, as a whole not necessarily this particular sequence of events, to around 2000 lines or so.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2015, 08:43:17 pm by Don Coyote »

axod

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Re: To slay a jabberwocky
« Reply #10 on: April 23, 2015, 05:56:25 am »
Bump - bar level up!
just this

Don Coyote

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Re: To slay a jabberwocky
« Reply #11 on: May 29, 2015, 02:48:49 pm »
Trying out soundcloud with a reading of this poem.
Stay a while and listen to my shitty voice.
https://soundcloud.com/ian-woolley-9/to-slay-a-jabberwocky/s-a3vkA

I did this because I forgot to ask my wife to record my reading of a selection that was published in my university's magazine.

Mesozoic Mister Nigel

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Re: To slay a jabberwocky
« Reply #12 on: May 29, 2015, 04:36:07 pm »
Love this poem. I definitely think it lends itself well to spoken form.
“I’m guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk,” Charles Wick said. “It was very complicated.”


Don Coyote

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Re: To slay a jabberwocky
« Reply #13 on: May 29, 2015, 08:49:36 pm »
Love this poem. I definitely think it lends itself well to spoken form.

Thank you. It was definitely written to be spoken. I'm glad that comes through.

I'll be making recordings of all my other poetry over the next month. It's fun, and it helps to hear to places where the prosody breaks down or the content jumps. I noticed some of that in "To slay a jabberwocky." It's going into my submissions to the universities I'm planning to apply to for their MFA programs.

Don Coyote

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Re: To slay a jabberwocky
« Reply #14 on: October 09, 2015, 05:09:56 am »
Something I feel dumb for not noticing is the parallel, beyond the obvious protag fights a dragon, between the this and last portion of Beowulf. This gives me some ideas on how to expand backwards, but I also don't want to do too much of a retelling of Beowulf. It's really weird because the two things foremost in my mind were the armoring sequence in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and "Jabberwocky."

I'm also plannig on including a mad man in a desert sequence, because this is a post-apocalyptic tale.
« Last Edit: October 09, 2015, 05:12:24 am by Don Coyote »