Wednesday December 22nd, 2010

The exercise:

Safe and sound under my parent's roof once more, I bring you this prompt: the flood.

Had a smooth trip over to the island this morning as we thankfully beat the Christmas rush. Now to sleep in the same bed for the next five nights and get some rest before heading home to finish up the renovations. 

Both of my sisters and my brother-in-law will be arriving on Friday and then the whole gang will almost be here. Unfortunately my oldest sister's partner won't be joining us, as I believe he'll be with his family in San Francisco.


In the basement,
Up to my knees,
There's water
Where it should not be.

The streets are gone,
They're rivers now;
Let's turn the car
Into a scow.

The rain won't stop,
Our end is nigh,
So I guess I best
Say goodbye.


Zhongming said...

The flood

"Oh my god, Jimmy, you're look fabulously great in that white blazer outfit!" Jane and the rest of her family commented with a large wide smile across their face. 

"Is the size right for you?" We are currently having a promotion of "buy two get one free". Would you like a second piece so that you can have another for free? I recommend that you add on this yellow ribbon tie so that you'll look more outgoing. I think it goes well with your white blazer. Maybe a small rose on your right pocket will add a special dimension to the whole image. 

So the salesman just keep going on and on... Non-stop. He flood Jimmy with all kinds of questions and suggestions. It left Jimmy wondering what's the best possible option for the upcoming prom.

Greg said...

@Zhongming: Nice take on flood, definitely not what I was expecting. I think I've met those kinds of salesmen!

@Marc: It sounds like it's going to be a fun Christmas then! I'll be over at Mark's parents for Christmas (so I probably won't have internet access on Christmas Day) and then, weather permitting, my parents will come and visit on Boxing Day.
I don't often see the word scow so it was a pleasure to see it turn up in your second verse! I love the story your poem tells :)

The flood
Pestilence emerged from the river, his wetsuit dripping with something chocolate-brown and oily, and pulled the respirator from his mouth. Famine, eyeing the rapidly rising water-level, started to speak, but Pestilence cut him off.
"Something's gone wrong," he said. "I was just giving the fish one of those interesting diseases that don't show up until people start eating them."
"Right," said Famine slowly. "So this toxic sludge you're swimming in...?"
"Isn't mine. But it is killing things, and you know what... he's like about accidents. Let's just go."
Famine looked unhappy, shifting his weight from foot to foot.
"Well, it's like, I can't, can I?" he said quietly. "Your sludge--"
"It's not my sludge!"
"Yeah, well, it's killing the phytoplankton in the river. It's causing a fish-famine...."
"Teapot." Pestilence stared at Famine.
"That's not how you're supposed to use that word," said Famine, but Pestilence was already looking over his shoulder. The river was now in full spate, bursting its banks and flooding the roads and nearby houses, and Death had arrived, unscheduled and irritated, to oversee what happened next.

summerfield said...

marc, your poem reminded me of my days in manila during typhoon season. excellent poem.

zhongming, gheez, salesmen. and i'm attached to one. blah-blah-blah. can i say "teapot!" when i'm tired of listening to him?

greg, today, i compared myself to 'pestilence'. i went to a tea store finding it devoid of shoppers, odd at this time - the busiest shopping day of the year. the saleslady thanked God that at last they have a customer. whereupon i told her, just you wait, i'm like pestilence, i bring people in where i shop. and indeed before i finished paying for my purchase, the shop was suddenly brimming with shoppers. but i don't want to be pestilence; i want to be famine!

so here's a true story.

Manila, May 1960

The day started with beautiful sunshine, vivid blue skies and just a touch of breeze. But my mother, having lived in the farm for most of her young life, thought there was something odd in the air. She was supposed to have washed the sheets, but she changed her mind and she said she would do it tomorrow.

We went about our chores around the house and, as usual, at noon, we sat down to eat lunch. Simple stewed fish and boiled rice. Mother kept saying all morning that there was something odd in the air. The skies couldn't decide if they were blue or gray or a mixture of both colours. Then we noticed that water was flowing inside the house. Outside, the streets suddenly became flooded.

Mother said, "The river is rising in the middle of the day?" High tide at noon wasn't normal in our place. Also, my mother commented, there is a strange noise with the rising water which by now is ankle deep for her. I was seven and small for my age so my feet were above ground when sitting. Still, we continued to eat.

But within two minutes, the water rose to her knee and almost to the bench we were sitting on. She ordered us to carry our own plates up the stairs to the second floor of the house. By the time we finished eating, just at the top of the stairs, all of us, the water inside our house was almost near my mother's waist, her skirt billowing in the water as she carried some footstuff from the kitchen.

By this time, the strange noise that came with the steadily rising water was replaced by the noise of panicking neighbours. The old lady in the house behind us wailed and asked God for forgiveness and to save her soul. She yelled at her grandchildren: "You little pests, come up here and pray with me. It's the end of the world, you sons of a bitch and all you can think of is swim in that stupid flood!"

Another neighbour turned on their radio and tuned in to the news. Apparently, hours earlier, there was an earthquake in Chile and what we were experiencing was a tidal wave, the tail-end of the much larger scale tsunami that formed across the Pacific Ocean.

Marc said...

Zhongming - I like the alternative take on the prompt.

Greg - oooh, Death arrives! Very exciting.

Summerfield - thanks for sharing that story. And holy crap did I ever laugh at what the old lady said to her grandkids.