Not sure how I got so confused with the posting of the things, but putting this here to go with the backdated Prompt 5 post.
PROMPT FIVE: Write a murder ballad to the hands that wolf you.
First of all to be sure my definition of ballad (a poem that tells a story) is the REAL definition. Off to http://www.poetryarchive.org glossary I go!
Strictly, a ballad is a form of poetry that alternates lines of four and three beats, often in quatrains, rhymed abab, and often telling a story – the anonymous poem ‘Sir Patrick Spens’ and Wordsworth’s “A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal” demonstrate this well.
And from good old WIkipedia:
Murder ballads are a subgenre of the traditional ballad form, the lyrics of which form a narrative describing the events of a murder, often including the lead-up and/or aftermath.
OK. Got the technical. (I don’t know if I will rhyme here though. I can write in rhyme but don’t prefer it usually.) On to the poeming…
This feels like it is the prequel to the last one. “The hands that wolf” is still the assault. They are the only hands that wolf… and saying the phrase “The hands that wolf” sounds like disembodied hands like Thing on The Addams Family only not so benign. Like the horror film “The Hand” and all the damage it did. This is about killing the damager. Instead of killing my guilt at not speaking out and my shame at my part in my own harm, I am killing the hands that held me down in broad daylight.
In real life the hands that held me down were soft and seemed kind before they harmed me… but in this poetic rendition they are monsters big and hairy like spiders crawling about on their own. They are vile and subtle and unwanted.
Because I am me, I have to have a place in my head (as you know if you have read the other four posts about my process). Looks like we are still in the creepy darkness. The assault happened on a sunny May afternoon but the murder feels darker than that. Where am I?
The first place my mind takes me is the scene of the original crime: his bedroom. Following where my mind goes instead of trying to force something different… I see the room empty and the bed and it’s day like in real life, but darker as though the sky outside must be filled with dark ominous clouds of doom… I walk forward towards the bed… everything is gray and sepia in this weird out of focus way… I don’t want to be here or for it to look like this but sometimes I will just go with what I am given instead of giving myself a headache trying to force something else. Moving on…
Again I am trying to figure out how to kill a monster. How do I murder those hands? Shall I just stab them? I think that would be morbidly satisfying. I use knife a LOT in my writing. Would that be trite of me or just a part of my overall thematic arc? I’ll go with arc. I already started writing another prompt that the first thing I did was use a knife. It’s going to be a thing I think. Stabbing it is.
A ballad though? UUUUGGGGGGHHHH… I don’t know if I can like a poem that I do in strict ballad format. The first stanza makes me want to vom ALREADY. So… I had to just write it out in prose as a story and go from there.
Part One: The Scene of the Crime
How did I get here? In the site that crushed my soul so many years ago? Why am I back in this setting? It is as though time stood still and the day is the same only different, darker. Something is missing. HE is missing. I am in this space alone and there is no one else here. This is not MY home. It is a place of woe and suffering and pain that I tried to rebuild to be something more palatable but it only wounded my soul more. Yet here I am.
Part Two: The Hands
I remember the hands. Their force. Their insistence. Their belligerent disregard. They seemed like such good hands. Until they hurt me. Until they held me down when I said “No”. Then they were monsters. They will now and forevermore be the monsters that broke me back then. They are ravenous wolves with claws and spiny fur. Emotionless enemies of my heart. I hate them now. Today I am filled with hate and vengeance.
Part Three: The Hunt
Where are they? I don’t see them even though this is the place that they have lived all this time hidden in the back corner of my subconscious. I want to see them now. I want to know that they are here. The hiding is unnerving. I am trying to be strong. Calling on every ounce of regret and shame I own to pull my the anger up from the bowels of my soul. Using the visceral disgust to push one foot in front of the other. I can’t see or hear them yet. I let the anger at their continued inconvenience build in my gut. I must find them.
Part Four: Laying in Wait
I stop my searching. I sit in the chair in the far end of the room next to the DVDs and CDs and wait. I am seethingly calm. It is a particularly strengthening type of obsessive insanity. I NEED THIS KILL. I need to END THIS. I look at the instrument of destruction while I wait. The dagger is perfect. Its shining metal looks nearly silken in its buffed finish. The blade is a whispered promise of relief. I accept its proposal of imminent death.
Part Five: The Kill
I see them! The hands! They are a two-member pack of five-legged spiders. They are a macabre shadow display forming bird flight on the wall. Eyeless yet all seeing they are nightmares and worries wrapped around the throat of my peace. They must die. I am lightening and wicked justice. I am a fevered jab of infinite purpose. I am covered in the red liquid warmth of their demise. They are not hands anymore. They are minced ruin. They are the chopped repetition of “fuck you” and “you can’t hurt me anymore” and “you’re dead” and “you’re gone” CHOP CHOP CHOP CHOP. GONE GONE GONE.
Part Six: Peace
The clouds break and in the sudden sunlight I am standing splattered crimson victory. I am free. Finally, I AM FREE.
Now… to make the above into ballad format… wish me luck…
What is your process when you write? Is there anything that is your standard “go-to” method? Do you use prompts or just write from your own thoughts? I would love to hear your take on this in the comments!
Thanks for reading! ^_^
I plan on doing the annual chapbook as a perfect bound book and all profits will be divided evenly between Rachel McKibbens’ Outlast Project and the local women’s shelter. If you would like to pre-order this book, you can do so for $15 via PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org and please be sure to include your shipping address. THANK YOU!