The Poetry Question

Discovering the Relevance of Words

QOTD: What’re You So Afraid Of?

In the early 1200’s CE, Genghis (Jenghis) Khan called his generals to a conference at his camps in central Mongolia. To any of those who failed to attend he promised, “The same fate as a stone dropped into the water. You will simply disappear.”

Over the next 75 or so years, the Great Khan and his successors made the same offer to the most powerful civilizations that existed at the time. Using the finest cavalry army the world had ever seen, they made good on their promise, and according to census numbers taken by the aforementioned civilizations, after the Mongol storm died down something like 50 million people simply weren’t there anymore.

Fear was a weapon wielded by these men as adeptly as they wielded their bows. They threatened their enemies with the thing all humans fear.

Oblivion.

As I’m sure you can tell I’ve been doing a little light reading. But this isn’t as off topic as it seems. These dusty history books bring up universal themes. They make you think, which I know most people hate, but if you stick with it, can become useful.

Why do I write? Why do I take the time to put these thoughts that very few people will ever see and even fewer will enjoy on paper? I think it has a lot to do with the same reason many central Asian cities opened their gates wide when they saw the hordes approaching. I fear oblivion too. And though no monstrous armies threaten my survival, no one lives forever.

Sometimes, words do.

These words won’t, but some do.

What scares you? Does fear play a part in your writing? Have you faced any horse archers recently? I’d be interested to hear about any of these things.

About Doran Simmons

I'm a writer and a camper and a keeper of fish. I was trained as a flight instructor and work day jobs and write nonsense for public consumption (hopefully).

3 comments on “QOTD: What’re You So Afraid Of?

  1. J. Gabriel Allan
    May 20, 2013

    This reminds me of Shakespeare calling his shot in Sonnet 18.
    “So long as men can breathe or eyes can see/so long lives this and this gives life to thee”

    The Ancient Egyptians also considered words a path to immortality- for as long as a Pharoah’s name lived, so too would his spirit. Maybe this is the earliest foundations of graffiti.

    Chew on that, Old Sport.

  2. Doran Simmons
    May 20, 2013

    I like that a lot. Especially the graffiti angle. It makes me think that the Romans may have co-opted this idea of graffiti as a road to immortality and used it to speculate on who Caesar might be sleeping with. The Romans loved taking things mysterious and sacred and turning them into tabloids. Good thing our society doesn’t do that.

    Back at ya, my Lad.

  3. kiwiskan
    May 20, 2013

    THIS IS MY MARK

    Men seeking place in shifting sands and sky,
    writing I was here on walls of dust,
    as heedless years roll by.

    Like footprints on a lonely beach,
    washed clean by surging tide.
    Hollow whistling down the dark,
    graffiti against the stark
    expectation of oblivion.

    Heroes all, we hold the gate,
    drive back the towering
    giants of our uncertain fate,
    and keep the faith,
    until we can perceive
    the light beyond the darkness,
    and believe.

    – wrote this some time ago – Maureen

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