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This is what they whisper about,Author's Notes
the unlicensed poets and would-be dreamers,
muttering in the smoky corners of rented rooms
as they share their unformed verses:
they are going on about the dreamskates,
sea monsters that hatch no bigger than a hand
but grow to the size of a house,
two wide flat fins around a bony body
tipped by a long, stinging tail.
and their immature venom,
and the unlicenseable dreamers' liquor
brewed from those tiny tails
to bring dreams as powerful and perilous as seastorms:
this is what they whisper about
to whip up their courage and try it. Sometimes,
growing bold, they honk and trill
instead of speaking, and throw seaweed streamers
at the one who is reciting.
The ones who have actually gone dreamskating
say nothing, neither warning nor praise.
They know that
no words can do it justice.
"Dreamskating" was inspired by a prompt from Ellen Million during my December 7, 2010 Poetry Fishbowl. It also employed my own work on Torn World's sea monsters, and the dreamer's liquor and some other details about dreamskates came from a previous Torn World story, "An Irresistible Attraction." This poem is written in free verse, with a lot of sentences broken across lines and stanzas; it breaks the conventions of Southern Empire poetry and is meant to imply the work of unlicensed poets. Think cheap, backalley, quasi-legal dadaism.
Then on December 10, I found out that Torn World member Valarie Higgins (aka valdary) had passed away. Since I had this Torn World poem fresh on hand, I decided to donate it for public viewing in her memory. She was a source of inspiration to me and many other people, and will be greatly missed.