He’s a General.
Rules Star systems they say
Scowls storms above
3 inch inset fangs.
Bracelets orbit elbows,
Rings enforce his brows,
Paprika hair floats to his waist–
Adds a promise of bloodshed
Rather than civility.
Two rows from me, a cadet faints
From the arrow of his gaze.
A sheep-like rustle brushes the ranks–
Crystalline fears of his command.
Noticed, he closes the distance
Between us like a battle-cruiser
Swallowing its enemy.
No falter in stance, his eyes
Probe my soul.
You’re not frightened, he says.
No, just repulsed.
Indignity burns his eyes red.
A collective gasp vacuums the air
From the room.
He asks, why do you cater death?
I answer, why do you court ugliness?
Repulsed, we become lovers.
first published Amazing Mar. 1990
Chizine Jan. 2001
Stars as Seen From this Particular Angle of Night anthology, Red Deer Press 2003
This wasn’t my first sale but it was my first truly professional sale, in that I made a whole $38 US or so for the poem, the first time. But I also sold it three times. That’s a pretty good price for poetry. The genesis of this poem comes from a graphic novel called The Ballad of Halo Jones. If I recall, there may even be a song by that name. The graphic novel was about a starfaring woman, in the military, who had many adventures including being on a planet that had time pockets.
I wrote four poems called “Talesen’s Traps” that featured aspects of living in time pockets. Art can generate more art. I did not steal the storyline, yet adapted a scene that was strong and provocative to create a poem, or paint a particular image. Dance is often created from a story, a song, a sculpture. A painting likewise can be created from life, a story, a dance. The muse can touch us again and again, making a piece live on. Thus I also wrote and published the poem “Mozart’s Mirrorshades,” which came from a Lewis Shiner/Bruce Sterling book called Mozart in Mirrorshades.
As Jung pointed out, there is a cosmic consciousness and some is unconsciously done but we build on what has gone before. Therefore, nothing is new, yet everything is. Plagiarizing and copyright infringement is a delicate balance but taking the seed or blossom from one piece of art and planting it anew can create many wonderful worlds.