From The Jackals To The Shepherds 39: Seven of Spades


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The poet this week is Edith Södergran

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Battlebards Tracks used:

Elven Dirge – Farewell – Score Music – Philippe Payet

Portents of the Future – Prophecy of the White Witch – Score Music – Lois Paton

Elven Dirge – Fallen Petals – Score Music – Phil Stokes


For a long time, we were at war with The Jackals. But now, we’ve driven them off, and we have this – a year of relative peace. In this moment, there is an opportunity to build something.

A week has passed.

Some of our younger members lived their entire lives in the city, before the Jackals came. Winter comes to them foreign and in another language. As the wood of our homes creaks and cracks in the dry frozen air we translate to them, and tell them what to expect from short days and long nights. The soldier and the farmer would have been the best to tell the children how the cold was an enemy to fortify against, that can be beaten, or how the snow blankets the fields, only to melt and water crops months later. With their deaths still heavy on us like the spindled icicles hanging over our heads, we make do.

Everything frozen, solid unmoving, unchangeable, brittle and breakable. The river’s mud once held Ezekiel’s attention but try as he might to crack the shell of ice, his trowel pulls only solid slivers from the black river’s banks. Implausible fish bloom in the depths, mercurial flowers light up the coast; we know red and yellow, the other colors,— but the sea, the unseen outlet of the river’s progress, that’s most dangerous to look at. What name is there for the color that arouses this thirst, which says, the saga can happen, even to you—

As the temperatures plunge further every day we restrict our movements, freeze ourselves inside. Cooped up, the children run and scream and set off the nerves of their caretakers. It might be nice to give them a chance to play outside, but half an hour of bundling up with small fur jackets and mittens and hats and scarves and thick pants tucked into stiff boots with woolen socks on, wrapped up until the children are as muffled as the snowy ground they stomp on. The Creature remains completely unaware of their presence deep in its cave. Their forms are so padded The Beast cannot smell them from its home in the woods. Only Eileen, who has been with us a long time, watching from a window as her eyes roll with ocean turbulence, looks on.

The footprints that the children leave in the thick snow blow over with wind in less than an hour, large dunes of snow build up between shacks, drifts close in on doors. The red sun rises without intent and shines the same on all of us. We play like children under the sun. One day, our ashes will scatter— it doesn’t matter when. Now the sun finds our innermost hearts, fills us with oblivion intense as the forest, winter and sea. Back inside & shivering, Yuen hangs up a dripping sock near a weak fireplace.

That the stars are adamant everyone understands— but Eileen who has been with us a long time won’t give up seeking joy on each river wave or peace below every gray stone. If happiness never comes, what is a life? A lily withers in the sand and if its nature has failed? The tide washes the beach at night. What is the fly looking for on the spider’s web? What does a dayfly make of its hours? (Two wings creased over a hollow body.) Black will never turn to white— yet the perfume of our struggle lingers as each morning fresh flowers spring up from hell. The day will come when the earth is emptied, the skies collapse and all goes still— when nothing remains but the dayfly folded in a leaf. But no one knows it except for Eileen who has been with us a long time, and she cannot begin to warn us.

We begin a project this week. The blood red plants that bloom in the snow must have something in their veins to ward against the cold. On even the harshest days when our breath hardens our lungs and the wind numbs our fingers the moment we walk outside, the flowers still pop and ooze. Locked inside to fight the cold we have little else to do but wonder, and see if this is something we can learn to benefit us in the cold months ahead.

And a week passes.

Thank you for joining us for the thirty ninth episode of From The Jackals To The Shepherds. If you like this show please give us a rating on iTunes, tell a friend, or share us on social media. As always the intro for the show was read by Dave Lapru, who is also our mapkeeper. You can find Dave on twitter at plantbird, and I’m at leviathan files. This week’s poet is Edith Södergran. Please consider visiting our website at Riverhouse Games dot com, or supporting this show and other Riverhouse Games work on Patreon at patreon dot com slash Riverhouse Games. Music for this episode was provided by Battlebards dot com.

Listeners, I have a favor to ask of you. In these times there’s a lot that needs doing in the world, and we have to stand up as a people and make our voices heard. I ask that you make a few phone calls to your representatives about issues that matter to you. I’ve been using a great website at 5 Calls dot org which provides critical issues, background information, contact info, and even scripts to read while on the phone. Thankfully my representative’s offices have been polite and personable when I call, but if you’re worried about it, or if you experience phone anxiety, there’s an app you can download called Stance, which allows you to pre-record your statement, which it will then deliver straight to the representative’s voicemail. You can also use ResistBot, a free service that emails or faxes your representatives based on text messages you send through the service. Calling makes the biggest difference, but it’s a smart strategy to cover your bases. A polite and persistent approach across multiple mediums is the way to go. Today I’m calling to urge my representatives to CLOSE THE BOYFRIEND LOOPHOLE FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE GUN BANS

As we piece together the terrible personal histories of the mass shooters in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs, once again we are reminded that the majority of mass shooters have a history of intimate partner violence and domestic abuse. Extensive data have shown that people who abuse and threaten partners and family members are even more dangerous when they have access to firearms. In fact, abused women are 5 times more likely to be killed by their abuser if the abuser has access to a gun.

Although keeping guns out of abusers’ hands reduces gun violence, major loopholes in federal gun safety laws allow users to readily access firearms. For example, federal law does not consider an assault domestic violence if the abuser and victim were in a dating relationship without living together or having a child together. This so-called “boyfriend loophole” leaves thousands of abusers able to legally purchase guns to use against their victims. Also, although it is well known that stalking is a reliable predictor of future violent behavior (76% of women murdered and 85% who survived a murder attempt by a current or former intimate partner experienced stalking according to one study), federal law does not consider misdemeanor stalking as a serious enough crime to limit an abuser’s access to guns. Furthermore, federal law does nothing to restrict an abuser’s access to guns during the most dangerous time for victims of domestic violence, the period when a victim has left their abuser and filed for a Temporary Restraining Order. Until the restraining order is permanent, violent abusers can easily buy and use a firearm.

Lawmakers in the House and Senate have proposed several bills to close the boyfriend loophole, protect victims of stalking, and limit abusers’ access to deadly weapons. Congress must act now to prevent perpetrators of domestic abuse from accessing deadly firearms.

Please make your calls to help make our world a better place. Thank you, I love you, and I’m proud of you in advance.

And until next week, I hope your week goes well.

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