So many eye-patches and clockwork hands,
ivory legs with perfectly hinged joints.
The lignum vitae walking stick that points
to war-wounds earned in blood on Afghan sands

borne stoically. So much pain and loss
the backbeat of a world of great machines,
the backwash of its energy. This means,
I think, that if we found our way across

to that world, or they find their way to ours,
there would be envy, not unmixed with pride.
That they had hurt so much, that on our side
we’ve had it soft, that our vast mirrored towers

our cleaner air, flushed skin, are children’s toys
for Eloi far too weak for smoke and noise.

This one is for elisem who made some good points about steampunk’s slightly fetishistic appropriation of disability. And the fact that I am sitting here slightly wasted on pain control for an extracted tooth and my arthritic knee reminds me that we all have sooner or later that degree of liminality which comes from being part alive and part dead, part whole and part not. And reminds me, pace autopope and yuki_onna that as that awful old reprobate Willie Yeats said ‘Out of the quarrel with others we make rhetoric; out of the quarrel with ourselves we make poetry’.


About rozkaveney

Middleaged, trans, novelist, poet, activist
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4 Responses to STEAMPUNK 5

  1. girfan says:

    Very nice poem. 😀

  2. elisem says:

    I love you, Roz. Thank you.

  3. deliasherman says:

    You’re a wise woman, Roz. And, I think, very, very right. Plus, lovely, thoughtful poem that makes me want to write a story.

    This mini-flap may be the making of Steampunk, the Literary Genre.

  4. ffutures says:

    The funny thing is that when you look at the literary sources Steampunk is based on, e.g. Victorian / Edwardian SF, there’s none of the disability stuff at all. If anything characters are invariably either clean-cut sportsmen with a strong right hook etc., or sinister foreigners and totally beyond the pale. About the only cripple I can think of off-hand is Natas, the sinister anarchist genius of The Angel of The Revolution, who is simply physically frail as a result of being tortured by the Tsar’s minions and pretty much destroys the world to ensure the end of his reign.

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