kestrel

kestrel, walking
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2019-01-22 03:00:37 (UTC)

Writing Experiment

I decided to put "drunken writing" to the test. I started writing this evening while downing a bottle (a typical 750ml bottle) of red wine, and then writing during the process. I accepted prompts from friends of mine in lieu of personal inspiration. I ended up with a sketch of a prose narrative short story, and two short Pantoum form poems. All three are recreated below.

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Prompt: "What's something you'd like to see legalized."
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Opens in a courtroom, with the verdict being read out loud to those in attendance. The protagonist is a community organizer, a woman listening intensely to the judge’s words. The ruling is in favour of the plaintiff. It is revealed that it is a criminal case of police brutality against a number of residents in the same neighbourhood.

The cop is guilty of police brutality: 1st degree assault, and a host of other crimes obviously linked to the cop abusing their authority and powers granted by their badge. The courtroom is awash in murmurs and ejaculations from the crowd. The cop stares daggers at the protagonist. It is also announced that the cop’s sentencing is being delayed until the following week, a full seven days away. The cop’s gaze shifts to one of anger to one of a predator on the hunt. The protagonist leaves the courtroom, amazed and relieved that the case she had spearheaded actually resulted in an historic conviction. It is very rare that complaints against officers result in convictions.

The protagonist and a number of her friends convene at a diner to decompress after the trial, and conversation begins round the sentencing. It was a jury trial, and the conviction resulted in part due to the protagonist’s community organizing efforts. It is also known that the results of this trial will put the protagonist and the police department at odds with one another, since it is clear that the officer was not acting alone. Will it have a chilling effect on the rest of the police district? It is difficult to say beyond mere speculation. Meanwhile, as the discussion intensifies, police officers enter. They approach the diner counter, and demand to see required license paperwork. Their gaze shifts to the table of organizers, and lingers on the protagonist. The resulting exchange foreshadows some future difficulties for the organizers. After glancing at the paperwork requested, the police officers leave.

A series of small encounters with police officers as the days pass by are highlighted. The protagonist endures plainclothes officers trailing her in her own neighbourhood, as well as an increased uniformed police presence in the neighbourhood her organization covers. At the same time she’s being tailed and harassed, there are other organizers from other parts of the city that want to support her efforts, and reach out in solidarity. It is late autumn.

The protagonist is approached by a number of neighbours regarding an abandoned set of apartment buildings northeast of town. The police had done nothing but erect some fences to prevent vehicular traffic but it has since fallen in disrepair, as well fallen prey to drug addicts who use it as temporary domiciles and squats for drug abusers.

It’s resolved that these apartments will be investigated for habitation. The goal is to occupy one or more of the buildings, transitioning them into affordable community housing via “legit squatting.” The protagonist and her compatriots hatch the plan to investigate the following day, wearing hi-vis vests and hardhats.

The next day comes. It is raining steadily. The protagonist and her fellow organizers begin scouting a set of buildings in the abandoned apartment complex. Through this process, it is made clear that the protagonist and her fellow organizers are part of a horizontally-organized affinity group. The protagonist isn’t some kind of “head honcho.” She is one of several organizers who communally agree upon courses of action, though there are detachments within the main affinity group. The protagonist and the three members of her detachment investigate one building for soundness.

The building they investigate has a relatively intact lower floor. Evidence indicates that several of the rooms have been used as “shooting galleries” for drug abusers, but it is currently unoccupied. The second floor is in notable disrepair, with a handful of apartments with water damage from leaks or obvious roof damage. It’s resolved to mark this building as a low priority for an initial occupation due to the amount of renovations immediately needed. The general focus of this encounter is to indicate the cooperative process used to assess building fitness for use as a living space, and establish that the protagonist isn’t the only one in charge.

Upon exiting the building, the protagonist and her group notice that police cars have gathered. They approach and announce that they are acting on behalf of the concerned members of the community in search of affordable housing, and there has been little in the way of trespassing, and definitely no deliberate property damage.

Upon seeing the protagonist, the cops become more belligerent, stating they haven’t received complaints from the [absentee] landlord, but that trespassing is obvious. The organizers counter that the absentee landlord has left the property deliberately vacant for over a year, and the result is that drug use and vandalism are overrunning the area, and the neighbourhood, with the abandoned complex being the central hub and locus of activity. The police flatly deny this is an issue, even after organizers present shovels full of used needles, used condoms, and other evidence of illegal activity.

This all comes to a head as the guilty police officer is spied sitting in a squad car. The protagonist points him out, and insists to know why the guilty cop is permitted to remain on patrol. The cops back off their accusations of trespassing soon after, and disperse. The organizers also leave the scene soon after, motivated by threats from law enforcement and the fact they want to compare notes on their various investigations.

After the investigation, the group leaders convene at the diner once again. Although reports for a couple of the structures seem promising, the general consensus between all affinity group members is that any of the buildings currently investigated will require considerable renovations to get working.

The protagonist is bicycling back home (of course), as it’s a mild evening. Dusk is approaching. They pass the vacant property and notice the convicted police officer stalking just inside the fence. They pull over and hide their bike in the brush, spying on the officer. They enter one of the buildings, and the protagonist approaches closer. They hear sounds of a scuffle, and verbal abuse on behalf of the cop. Creeping closer, it’s clear to the protagonist that the cop is assaulting a man inside. The protagonist takes out their digital camera, shooting video of the cops car outside the complex with detail of the license plate, then audio and finally video of the officer assaulting someone. A woman’s screams are heard, and the cop is seen attacking a woman through the protagonist’s video screen. The protagonist watches as the initial victim is knocked out (or worse), then the officer attempts to rape the woman victim.

Frantic, the protagonist grabs a large pavestone from the grounds and finds her way inside. The video camera is tucked away or dropped in favour of the pavestone. While the cop’s attention is occupied with the woman he’s assaulting, the protagonist approaches and hits the cop in the head with the pavestone. The woman victim scrambles away, while the cop recovers and the protagonist attempts to retreat. The cop regains his footing and draws his service firearm, shooting the protagonist in the shoulder or leg.

This injury causes the protagonist to fall in pain, and the cop approaches. He goes on a tirade about how his life has been ruined ever since the protagonist summoned him to court, how could some “frigid bitch” like her cause him so many problems, ruin his life, etc. He tumbles to his knees, bleeding from his head, but still approaches the protagonist. He cocks his pistol and aims at the protagonist’s head. The woman previously attacked has since picked up the pavestone and hits the officer once more. He falls to the ground, and drops his pistol. The protagonist scrambles to pick up the pistol herself, and, shaking, aims it at the cop.

He recovers somewhat, and retreats to the body of the man he previously knocked unconscious, haphazardly using him as a shield. The woman victim, incensed at the cops behavior, screeches in anger and attacks the cop. The cop drops the man, and redoubles his physical assault on the woman. As he reaches for the pavestone and the woman victim is screaming in fear, the protagonist unloads the service pistol on the cop, who drops to the ground dead from several gunshots.

Everyone is aghast, and the male victim is regaining consciousness. The woman victim flees the scene. The man is insensate. The protagonist is faced with the choice of what to do in this unlikely situation: facing justice when turning herself in; finding some way to conceal the body (but this is complicated by the presence of the officer’s car on the scene); fleeing and simply dumping the weapon in the river, etc. The man regains his senses, and then freaks out as he sees the corpse of the police officer and the protagonist holding the gun.

The protagonist tells the man, “get out of here, and don’t come back.” She stumbles outside, and kicks her phone/camera which is still in the dirt. She grabs it, throws the pistol in the nearby overgrowth, and then flees.

She passes the cop’s car while heading back to her bicycle, and looks inside. The keys are in the ignition, and several empty beer cans are in the front and rear seat. She hatches a plan and sends a text to one of her friends, stating she wants to meet them at “the spot.” This is security culture. Her friend knows exactly where to meet her.

***

It is now two weeks later. A hand turns a news dial on the radio to a local Pennsylvania talk radio station. The emcee is abuzz with news of a rare find. A Baltimore cop was found dead in the trunk of his own car in the hills of central Pennsylvania, just days before his sentencing for conviction of a host of charges related to police brutality. An autopsy revealed death by gunshot, but the bullets were from the officer’s own gun while they were suspended from duty. Furthermore there was a copious amount of alcohol in the officer’s bloodstream. Authorities are currently carrying out an investigation.

The protagonist has moved to New Mexico.
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Second prompt: A small collage depicting a large eye next to a raised hand holding a goblet, with the words, "Regular ritual of remembrance religiously recreated by reworking real-world objects which Resulted from this Rite."

This is a Pantoum form poem, written in about 10 minutes.
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21 january 2019

A TOAST

Heretofore I propose a toast
Though this wine need not be water transformed
I think we all can agree I do not boast
When I say to this process I've warmed

Though this wine need not be water transformed
In some arcane or delusional religious rite
When I say, to this process I've warmed:
An alcohol-fueled evening in which I write

In some arcane or delusional religious rite
Many erudite souls deliberately craft their words.
An alcohol-fueled evening in which I write
Scarce hold a candle to their verse, flurried upwards

Many erudite souls deliberately craft their words.
But myself, I profess I am but a tinker masquerading
As a wordsmith, with verses fitted best by drunkards
Not cognizant of the consequences my lyrics might bring

But myself, I profess I am but a tinker masquerading
Heretofore I propose a toast
Not cognizant of the consequences my lyrics might bring
I think we can all agree I do not boast
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Third piece: it's a response to the first. A reader prompted, "I gotta mention that I would be fascinated to see you write another pantoum that expresses the author's confidence in their ability or importance. As a comparison piece, I think it would be interesting."
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21 jan 2019

PROFICIENCY

I am a poet of accomplished proficiency
Nary a verse lacking verve graces my page
My pen is mighter than the sword, though choosy
Of the scribes I target in the space of this age

Nary a verse lacking verve graces my page
Men are in awe, women left in wanton desire
Of the scribes I target in the space of this age
Since their efforts compared to mine simply expire

Men are in awe, women left in wanton desire
As my command of language is beyond comparison
Since their efforts compared to mine simply expire
As a late-blooming daffodil: then brown, then crimson.

As my command of language is beyond comparison
Thou shouldst simply drop thy pen in resignation
As a late-blooming daffodil: then brown, then crimson
Since, word by word, there is no superior concoction.

Thou shouldst simply drop they pen in resignation!
I am a poet of accomplished proficiency
Since, word by word, there is no superior concoction.
My pen is mightier than the sword, though choosy.


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