Friday, February 4, 2011

Combatwords, February 4, 2011: Mischief

Combatwords, February 4, 2011: Mischief

Mischief seems to connote some minor form of playful antagonism. Yet the word also connotes evil and devilishness, so it's a term rooted in worldview. To the Devil, all mortals are trifles—little playthings to be damned and discarded. It's a label used on children—what, to imply that they're little devils? So embedded in the word is a whole worldview.

Combat Expiration: 12am PST, 2/7/2011

Critique Expiration: 12am PST, 2/9/2011

Bonuses/Penalties: +3 if posted by 6pm PST, 2/4/2011, +2 if posted by 10pm PST 2/4/2011, +1 if posted by 2am PST 2/5/2011, -1 if posted by 6am PST 2/7/2011, -2 if posted by 12pm PST 2/7/2011.

The Rules:

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  1. The Things We Do for Love

    It is so hard to remember the first time I saw her. I mean, I know it would have been at that little coffee place where she worked. Pete’s I think it’s called, down on corner of 25th and Park, I just don’t remember the exact date. What is etched indelibly on mind though is when she first noticed me. It was on a Thursday, it was March and the date was the 22nd of last year. I was kind of in a daze, and I just keep looking at her hair the way it fluttered up and down with the force of the hot air. Our eyes caught in the reflection for the briefest second and she quickly turned. My shyness grabbed a hold of my desire and ushered me quickly away. I remember cursing my cowardice as I ran away. “She smiled at you, you idiot, why didn’t you smile back? Why are so afraid?” That night I made up my mind, the next time she looked at me I was going to act like a man, and let her know she was the one.

    The days that followed were so magical and painful for me. Every morning on my way to work I would walk past Pete’s hoping to catch a glimpse of her. “If she sees you just smile at her, don’t be such a pussy” Sometimes I would see her through the window but she was always busy behind the counter. I really started to get a sense of who she was. She was kind of shy like me, not a lot of friends and she rarely went anywhere after work except straight home. I was pretty sure that she really had been flirting with me that Thursday evening because she did not have a boyfriend. She never went out at night and she never got cards or letters from any men.

    With each passing day I became more enamored with her. I was falling in love with her, with that delicate blond hair that she spent so much time on, her seductive grey-blue eyes always hidden from everyone but me, and her sexy but innocent matching lingerie sets folded so neatly in her top drawer. I knew it was only a matter of time now, and she would see me again and we could stop this excruciating dance.

    The night we finally got together was so unforgettable. I spent well over an hour getting ready, because I wanted the moment to perfect in every way. New clothes, hat and gloves, everything had to be just right. I picked the perfect spot , a place where she would have to see me this time. I was not going to leave it to chance any longer. The wait that evening was almost unbearable, it seemed like hours, I was so nervous just standing there. The anticipation was so palpable that I think she sensed it too as she put her hand on the closet door and began to pull it open.

  2. perverse fan of my work
    so fucking in love with my fucking
    dirty bitch words
    he fucks me in e-mail
    I fuck him back
    he likes James Wright
    I like James Tate
    he prefers the word cock
    I'm all about dick
    he spews CUNT
    I hiss pusSsSy
    we break up
    we get back together
    time to comb Dallas Craig's List, I tell him
    he tells me
    to fucking

  3. Savage Disobedience [Combatwords Poem, February 4, 2011]

    How does it feel to attract the whole mob?
    Web intersections by hand and bike rage
    Circles around you. They're calling; you come
    Reaching for drivers like you—they've had it.
    One of them swings at the crowd with truck door.
    Missing, he leaps to the street and flings bikes
    Out of the way and the crowd's confused. Pride
    Strays to an anger—you call out, "hold hands
    Break for the light and the traffic shall pass."
    Spirits of violence giggle, slap off
    Glasses and push you; they're balling threats, fists.
    Shouldn't pedestrians trump their bike ride?
    Shouldn't a carefully argued speech sway
    Cyclists protesting cars... is it you?

  4. Helter Skelter

    The air rang like finest crystal,
    and every bead of foam tossed
    from the curling fist of every wave
    became a prism, catching and reflecting every
    hue that danced and twirled across the earth.
    Her hand and mine were tightly clasped, our fingers
    engineered to interlace.
    Our heels pressed perfect bowls into the sand
    that filled with water where crustaceans paddled
    playfully about.
    The ocean breeze and sun had signed a truce.

    Now you’re expecting her to ask
    “What is that stench?” as we approach
    a lump of squirmy, blackened flesh,
    long dead, collapsed upon itself.
    Then you might think, “Oh, here’s his usual
    repugnant metaphor. A secret
    in this happy couple’s past, forecasting
    their inevitable split.”

    Or maybe you think, “This must be the
    prelude to some awful act of violence.
    The calm before the storm, the lulling into
    complacency. This couple must end up
    tortured, mutilated, violated, brutalized.”
    The light fixtures of our motel are dangling our entrails.
    A filthy couplet written in our blood across the walls.
    Are you surprised when nothing happens,
    when the beach is clean and empty,
    when there’s not a single cloud in that blue sky?
    Are you disappointed when I tell you we grow old together,
    that the ocean of our love does not go dry?

  5. tangled in cobwebs
    my feet track mud on the ceiling
    peeling eggshell paint lead sweet
    i succeed in disappointing
    in this season a poverty
    of plastic promises poorly kept
    too late

    the ceiling is smooth
    except for three dead moths
    trapped in cracks
    modeled in grey powder
    injection molded with optional parts
    with authentic camouflage
    and decaled wings
    just like full-size
    i step carefully
    but i hear their shells
    chitinous crunch
    god. damn. it.
    the things i break
    too late

    i have glue in my jeans pocket
    a metal tube leaking
    and i want to fix the past
    join edge to edge
    align the pieces
    smooth the edges
    but acetone shadows on the wall
    the world upside down
    spilling night across the floor
    tell me
    too late

    and with that
    it's over
    and with that
    i can sleep
    my thermometer sleep
    mercury in a tight ball
    reflecting rejecting
    the mischief i manufacture
    in engines infernal
    i am the broken-winged defect
    the failure in design
    still awake
    too late

    from up here
    the linoleum pattern
    repeats in even lies
    blood rushes to my head
    leaving me
    falling up
    damned by silence
    by myself

    too late

  6. CAVEAT LECTOR: Reading these words, I think, "Aaaaaaah! I've never critiqued a poem (or anything else) in my life." I don't know where to begin. Have you rip out your J. Evans Pritchard and address me as "O Mistress, My Mistress, With Your Shiny Shiny Boots of Pleather"?

    OK. I don't quite know what to say about the story. Mischief too gentle?

    Something about Roxi's poem captured that sense of mischief and deviltry. Lust is the one of the first circles of the upper level of Hell, so it seems more mischief than sin...yeah, you're worse off with gluttony or forgetting to tip your delivery guy than lusting after someone, despite what the Sunday monkeys would have us think.

    This plays to the knife edge, in both word and form, cutting down to the quick of the virtual mating people do online. The only line that stood out as a little awkward was the "time to comb Dallas Craig's List" bit...we were filing it down to a point, and then this hangs out there. But then again, maybe that works, a last jagged splinter.

    "Savage Disobedience" spins around in my head. I like it, both with the sense of those Critical Mass rabid protests with riders and their bicycle chain reactions and echoes of the crowds circling for the kill at Tahrir Square in a calculus of inverted rage (circling the square vs. squaring the circle). Tumbling mischief leading to more and more on Hell's roundabouts...

    In Helter Skelter, some of the first few lines feel a little too self-consciously poetic...crystals and prisms...then it goes uphill quickly. It turns dark and foul, a pretty romantic poem gutted, ground, and sold for use in school lunches. At best, I tolerate fluffy-headed crappy romantic poems (no doubt, there's a special ring in Hell for their authors) was great fun to see one eviscerated...and then you screw with us once more by ending on a fucking happy note! I felt clean and dirty reading it. Excellent mischief.

    I hope I didn't piss you all off too much. Not sure if I'm doing this right, either. But there, it's some sort of critique. Feel free to criticize my critique so I can do a better job.

  7. Room Service is carried out by a quiet army
    Of hardworking women
    Who have silently seen horrible things
    For little compensation
    I'm not saying I'm their champion
    The one who does what they wish they could
    To guests who leave towels on the floor
    And nightstands free of tips
    But I am the one who does what they wish they could
    I put my balls in the upside-down cups in the mini-bar
    Making sure to rotate the glass for total taint contact
    I slip out the smoke detector at night
    Down patterns in the wallpaper
    And into the bathroom
    Where I do some of my finest work
    Silently dipping toothbrushes into the toilet
    Sometimes scrubbing stuck on stuff
    Before putting them back in their rightful place
    I'll hide in the mattress till the tenants strike out
    For whatever adventure they found in a brochure
    Then out I'll slip, and crawl up on the covers
    Fluffing every pillow with a bevy of farts
    Before I leave, on my endless journey
    I'll bounce around the room like a hyperactive ball
    Making sure to touch every surface with my dong

  8. Very nice critique, Hiki (if I may call you that). I liked your piece a lot but feel it could probably end after "Sleep my thermometer sleep" (nice phrase, by the way); the rest of the last 2 stanzas don't add anything to the upside-down mood you've evoked so nicely in the beginning.

    I can't help but wonder what a piece would look like that was halfway between Steven's and Roxi's, maybe combining his more structured narrative with the immediacy of her pillow talk.

  9. rToady, thanks! Yeah, I had edited it down some, but it still needs some serious edits. That's an interesting cutoff point you've recommended. I'll probably edit for the blog in a couple of days, will keep your comments in mind.

    The Humanist - Ugh, that is so gross! I'm laughing my skinny butt off!!! Really conveys that sense of invisible mischief. Terrific! +1

  10. In the name of bringing back rough scoring, here's my critique:

    SMG: Transition was the best part. Opening was ok (got the whole 'impersonating a standard shy loser angle')
    Liked it: +1
    Too slow: -1

    Roxi Xmas: Even though the poem gets repetitious spewing cunt and hissing pusSsSy is a winner.
    Liked it: +1
    More focus needed: -1

    rToady: Helter Skelter: Had its moments; no errors. Didn't feel it though.


    Hiki: I've always enjoyed your word choices and constrained madness in your longer comps. This is a good example of what I think you do really well.
    +1: "god. damn. it.
    the things i break
    too late"

    +1: "my thermometer sleep
    mercury in a tight ball
    reflecting rejecting
    the mischief i manufacture
    in engines infernal"

    -1: Some clumsy word choices & dead ends in the poem.


    Humanist: Funny, but I only needed to read it once. You can weave more in a poem & I expect as much.