Friday, September 24, 2010

CombatWords, September 24, 2010: Sanity

CombatWords, September 24, 2010: Sanity

They say Cthulu will make you insane, but what does insanity really mean? An inability to function? Cantor's diagonal proof made him nuts and Gödel thought everybody was trying to poison him except for his wife. Those two were hardly incompetent. But then what do we mean by insanity? It's commonly claimed that the religious are insane; but what about atheists? They can't really disprove God, even if it can't be proven either. Do we give them a pass, because they're such damn good rationalists? Everybody is deeply irrational, so how can insanity be the opposite of reason? Use any angle you'd like, so long as it's theme-relevant.

Combat Expiration: Midnight, 9/26/2010

Critique Expiration: Midnight, 9/27/2010

Bonus: +3 if posted by 7pm PST, 9/24/2010; +2 if posted by 11pm PST 9/24/2010 and +1 if posted by 1am 9/25/2010 PST.

The Rules:

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  1. Infinite Slope

    The building looked like a bar code-
    a black and white grille
    of parallel lines.

    He grinned
    -his teeth fencing in
    the panting cur of his tongue.

    Steel carved the sunbeams into slabs
    -laid them out across
    the cement floor to bake.

    Segmented earthworms-
    unlucky enough to be stranded onstage
    when the curtains of rain lifted-
    crisped on the concrete outside.

    Beneath the floorboards
    of a corrugated steel shed somewhere,
    millipedes stripped the last bits
    of gristle from the bones.

    He paced back and forth in his room
    -tracing and retracing his steps,
    no longer noticing
    the notches on the wall
    -that horizontal row
    of vertical slashes
    scratched across

    the cinder blocks.
    Finally he stopped
    and took a bow
    -bending low at the waist,
    soaking up the applause that
    rattled down the hall

    like a stick dragged endlessly across
    steel bars.

  2. The Love Song of Abdul Alhazred

    The night beetles speak your name
    In a whine over the dessert

    It intoxicates me, thrumming sound
    Burrowing into the funnel of my ear

    Alia, they say, I dream, I sweat

    The pen scratches across papyrus,
    But my mind is singing, I know not

    What I write, the smell of you
    From across the fire, infiltrates

    Alia, I think, I dream, I sweat

    What they think of what I write
    A thousand years from now

    Is the dirt of my toes, my sandals,
    Compared to your flashing eyes

    Alia, I fret, I dream, I sweat

    The old ones may come, but
    I do not care, they are nothing 

    In your light, they may come 
    And hang my mind with my guts

    Alia, Alia, I say, I think, I sweat

    In the night, the beetles fill the tent
    My mind is only in your eyes 

    Their legs scrabble across my flesh
    And my pen ends it's journey

    These words are made to be catalyst
    To madness, in of, that,

    None of them, not one, will ever
    Really understand,


    And nor will I 

  3. Infinite Slope
    I dig it +1
    "panting cur..." +1
    great physicalness (in the descriptions) +1

  4. Get yer asses out there – that’s what they were telling us. Get out there, and get yerselves blowed up like everybody else, is what they were really saying.
    XO comes down and tells us, get ready, get yer asses ready and right quick. He’s slapping lazy boots off chair backs, kickin and spittin -get yer fukin asses ready, get movin, get yer asses to the trucks, MOVE MOVE MOVE.
    Our feet drag, we shamble, create delays one stretch and scratch and rubbed eyeball at a time. Then Sergeant R says: Let’s get this shit over with, and we speed up a bit, but just for him.
    Get yer asses out there – out to the road, they mean, fuckin dirt road of death. That’s where we’re going, where everybody goes, coz that’s the only way to get going anywhere, unless you fly, and we’re just legs, so we never get to fly. We hafta take the road. The road is where we’re going now, coz somebody said they had to get somewhere, even tho we told em taking the road would get you nowhere. But they said they hadda get, so we let em go, and lo and behold, they got themselves blowed up, just like we said was gonna happen.
    So, they got themselves blowed up, and out went a squad of QRF, and wouldn’t you know it, the QRF gets there and gets blowed up, too. So they got two smoking trucks out there now, and the QRF squad calls for somebody to come get THEM, and out goes the other QRF squad, and sure as hell, right there in the same spot, BOOM, and now there’s another truck down on that narrow piece of shit road.
    Well, now they got three trucks there, smoking in craters, and night’s coming, and they ask for somebody to come get them, to rescue the rescuers, and this process, no shit, goes on FOUR MORE TIMES, and what do you know, BOOM, they’re out with seven, SEVEN fucking trucks in craters. Well, the helos go back and forth all evening, picking up the dead and lucky SOB WIAs, leaving the rest of them poor fuckers out there to guard the trucks that ain’t smoking in a crater, trucks that can’t turn back coz to the front of em and to the back of em are holes filled with metal and fuel, on a road that’s rising cliff on one side and droppin slope on the other.

  5. So, it’s our turn to go, and don’t we all know it, cursing all them gone before us, and we’re just reluctant mites on a falling scab, going out into the sunset to rescue the rescuers and all their predecessors. Our one blessing, it’s a short drive, and just outside of sight of the FOB there’s the whole mess of em. Sergeant R stops us a good 300 meters from the conflagration, and we walk up on them kids, and they’re all anxious and white, sweating silver in twilight. They’re happy to see us, even tho we’re looking down on them for being such dumbfucks.
    Sergeant R, he’s taking stock, and he asks the seventh set of guys, what’s going on, all the way down, till he gets to the original assholes that got us all out here in the first place. Sergeant R talks with them awhile, and they show him the contents of their canvassed cargo trucks, and he comes back laughing like hell, and we ask what’s so fuckin funny he can laugh when we’re all out here in darkness, and he twitters down and says: “Boy’s, that’s the Provincial Reconstruction Team started this whole thing. Today they’s supposed to deliver a second load of shovels to the town up the road - they delivered the first load day before yesterday.” And Sergeant R keeps chuckling to himself, coz he knows the villagers been putting them shovels to good use, and now the PRT knows it, and now we all know it, but only Sergeant R is laughing.
    Sergeant R, he tells everybody to abandon their trapped trucks, to load up on ours, and he crams them full like Mexicans in a minivan, and he asks for the radio, and he calls up to higher, and tells them we’ve fallen back, and the enemy are everywhere, and we need air support ASAP, and to bomb the road choked with craters and trucks. We sit back a couple clicks and watch them flyboys blow all them trucks, and the craters, and the shovels, blow them all to hell, and that fucking road collapses down the cliff side, and dams up the river a hundred feet below with trucks and earth, and we watch it all burn, and we whoop and holler, coz Sergeant R took out the road, the only road, and it would be a long time before anybody would hafta go anywhere again.

  6. Infinite Slope

    +1 unique descriptions of sunlight
    +1 re-readability
    +1 for creating a visual- could see the sun rectangles over his body, in the cell

    Love Song

    +1 for making my skin crawl with beetles


  7. Lust Lacker

    distinct voice: +1
    more microfiction than poetry:-1
    reminds me a bit of David Foster Wallace: +1

    For myself

    making assumptions about Lovecraft-iana: -1

  8. pp: Strange, eerie piece. The repetition works well to make it feel like a song, or incantation. I'm not sure about the last line though; feel it could end a lot stronger than you just sort of muttering about feeling confused.
    Liked +1
    Effective use of repetition +1
    Beetle imagery, wonderfully creepy +1
    Weak ending -1

    LL: This is a hard piece to like. The voice is abrasive from the get-go, and indulges in all kinds of war cliches I've read a thousand times before. It's also very confusing, but not in an effective "Making a point about how war is confusing" kind of way. Overall I'm inclined not to give this any points.

  9. That above comment was by R.Toady, as is this one; I didn't mean to post anon but I'm on my gf's computer and forgot that her settings were different than mine.

  10. didn't know it was a poetry venue, honestly...and it's been a redundant theme chock full of cliches, I'm afraid...I've been stuck on ground hog day for awhile...home next summer or fall or maybe even winter...

    sadly, this is a mostly true the blowing up the road bit...that's the fiction...


  11. rToady: agreed on the ending, lacked punch in context. I guess I was thinking of the "Necronomicon" as an unrequited and misunderstood love poem, but I see your point, and despite intending the baffled-ness at the end, it could have used something more (get out the red pens). Thanks for your insight.

    Lust Lacker: well despite the misunderstanding, I do hear the voice in what you write, and while despising the policy that got us there, I appreciate you risking your ass, and then taking the time to post on a poetry throwdown...I think there's great potential for first person views of our current wars, great emotion and epiphany that the public for the most part has forgotten...keep developing that voice, and either make it more extreme or more prosaic...I referenced DFW earlier, and I think I was referring to his ability to write from an immersed idiosyncratic tone/voice/dialect in some of his pieces... at that point I wasn't assuming you were actually in the war...knowing now that you are I would encourage you to keep notes and keep telling your story...and have candy ass civilians like us keep critiquing it...Jargon can be powerful, incantation like, but you've got to let us in a little more...


  12. LL: I didn't think we were limited to poetry, don't feel bad about using prose to tell your story.

    Maybe you need to just find a different voice to tell the story with that will give it the uniqueness it needs to succeed.


  13. Rtoady: I enjoyed your poem immensely. You showed creativity in almost every line, opting for new combinations of words instead of old lazy language.

    This one in particular got me:
    Segmented earthworms-
    unlucky enough to be stranded onstage
    when the curtains of rain lifted-
    crisped on the concrete outside.

    My favorite sounds happen in the last two lines when it hits the c's. I think you could eliminate the part about 'stranded onstage' because it becomes almost too contrived when it links with the curtains. Maybe just say the worms were left exposed. It is almost the same idea as being stranded on stage, on display for all to see.

    I regret missing this one. Having just read some Lovecraft, I was ready to roll.