Steampunk fiction, reviews and interviews

#MythpunkMonday: The Mythos Of Pain

Happy #MythpunkMonday!

It feels appropriate at this time of year, in my dark Mordorish little corner of the earth, to talk for a while about things other than the joyous and the beautiful. There is much here in life that is ugly and that stings, that hurts the flesh and the soul and when our Northern winter comes, bringing with it long stretches of cold damp weather, illness and isolation, many of us are forced to sit in company with these grim beasts for weeks or months on end. That’s not to say that winter cannot be a blessing, and to many it is, but today I’m going to talk about the issues for those for whom it definitely isn’t.

How we deal with pain depends on many factors – the nature of what pains us, whether it is curable or not, whether rest helps or is detrimental, whether medication or analgesics are available or useful, whether we have free will to choose our own path through pain or whether it is thrust upon us by well-meaning Others…

Pain is usually a signal that something is wrong somewhere and no form of cure can be complete unless it recognises first the cause of the pain it is trying to eliminate.

I live with RA. For me pain is usually a sign I have done too much and need to slow down, in those cases taking analgesics and pushing through only makes things worse. Occasionally, it can be a sign that I have been too inactive and need to do more, in that case painkillers can help.

The stories we tell ourselves and eachother about pain are important because they shape our expectations of ourselves and others. If we only listen to tales like that of Elija under the broom tree, we will labour under the assumption that all and any pain is an indication that we need to rest, indulge in self care and remain passive until the pain is passed. On the other hand if we only listen to stories of tenacity like that of  Demeter, for example, we are likely to carry the idea that all pain is something that can be pushed through and overcome by sheer force of will.

Both these extremes are, in my opinion, dangerous. Personally, I prefer stories where the cause of physical or emotional pain is brought to light and examined, where possibilities are left open, where many paths forward and back are visible and viable.

Mythpunk, with its postmodernist roots, can speak into this space effectively, can question and ridicule the notion one a ‘one size fits all’ philosophy for dealing with pain; the pain that cries ‘stop! enough!’, the pain that is the sweet release of hidden things, the pain that says ‘move, now, come on, get going,’ the pain that harms, the pain that heals, that births or ends, the pain that needs to be put in its place and told ‘pipe down, this is being dealt with, hush now and let us get on with it’… and all the other types of pain, they each deserve their recognition and their voice.

Here’s an extract from two of my own mythpunk pieces that deal with the subject of pain, both mental and physical, the first is from The Painter’s Daughter, which is currently published in Invisible The Mystery Of Hidden Illness and the other is from Ado which you can find in my own mythpunk collection, Mahrime: Mythpunk for monsters.

The Painter’s Daughter

The little demon jabbed the quill spike hard into the soft, pale flesh of her arm.

Out leapt a tiny spurt of paint.

Then slowly, and with the girl in thrall,

He dragged the rainbow colours out

In swirls and spirals, tree cassyn pathways to guide the flow of all that weary weight into traces of beauty and scope.

Here was a dream in flesh.

Here was pointillized pain.

Here was inside out for all to see and staining no one but herself; surely, no words would be needed now . The world would smile and nod its head at her, as they knocked shoulders in the street, and whisper

‘ah, so, that is how it is with her, mm, we understand now why she walks so slow and dares not speak. How could a child do otherwise, with so much colour inside?’

So she stepped out.


With the bird quill tucked behind one ear…


Ado : When all is lost

“But look, ” she said, “we are still here.”

“No we aren’t” I said “There is something left that was not destroyed, but it isn’t us.”

“Look,” she said.

I kept my eyes on the sunrise.

For brief seconds there was beauty. The smoke seemed to bleed through the light like the flourish of a dancing hand – a love letter on pink paper.

For the space of a breath, the thousand fragments cart wheeling on the breeze were pale moths journeying to find the moon.

Up and Up.

Catch them, they crumble. They are only the little grey ghosts of all the things we loved. Echoes that stain our fingers and nothing more.

“Don’t tell me this is love,” I said. “Don’t tell me this is the plan.”


Thanks so much for joining me again for another #MythpunkMonday, do feel free to jump aboard and share your own / others work or thoughts using the #MythpunkMonday hashtag or in the comments below. Big blessings to all who struggle, at this time of year or any, it is tough but together we can support eachother and make space for our voices to be heard.

10 responses

  1. Happy MythpunkMonday to you🥰 I do so hope that this winter doesn’t treat you too harshly.
    I couldn’t agree with you more about the two extremes of pain ‘management’ (odd in itself when extreme is my default setting😳) I find folk who press their expectations onto others and condemn them for their inability (or refusal) to react to pain as they do; their preferred extreme, especially damaging.

    Thank you for sharing the wonderful excerpts from The Painter’s Daughter & Aldo. They are exquisite. 💖
    I’ve read both a fair few times and still feel as I always do when perusing the most perfect poetry; that I’ve barely begun peeling back its layers. I love them.💖

    This: Here was pointillized pain. Is magnificent. I had to stop reading and go back to the beginning so that I could happen upon it again, in context, exactly where it should be.❤️

    Catch them, they crumble. They are only the little grey ghosts of all the things we loved. Echoes that stain our fingers and nothing more…


    Liked by 1 person

    November 11, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    • smithandskarry1

      Aw, thankyou lovely! Wintery-season blessings your way too! 🙂 I’m a pretty extreme person myself, lol, but yes indeed, I think it’s scary the power folk have over eachother where pain is concerned, be it physical or mental. Aw, you’re most welcome I’m so so glad you liked the extracts so much, and thankyou for all your lovely kind encouraging and supportive words, they mean so much! 🥰🥰

      Liked by 1 person

      November 12, 2019 at 1:29 pm

      • Aw, thank you! 🥰😁 I think you’re right…it is.😔
        Oh, I did! 😻I adored them…and you’re very welcome 🌹❤️🌹

        Liked by 1 person

        November 12, 2019 at 5:05 pm

  2. Love this.

    Liked by 1 person

    November 12, 2019 at 12:28 pm

    • smithandskarry1

      Thankyou so much, beautiful soul, you know that means the world to me! xxxxx (and lookie lookie, Zakarrie learned me wordpress emojiis! lol) 🥰😍 (wanna take bets on how long I can keep this up before I make a mistake and send someone something horrifically inappropriate and offensive?!? 🤣🤣)

      Liked by 1 person

      November 12, 2019 at 1:33 pm

  3. I love your poems. Beautiful works about difficult subjects. I understand the challenge of arthritis. Mine is PA rather than RA, but that clinical difference hardly matters when it hurts. I’m blessed that I had a doctor who found a path to send mine into remission and I hope the same can be true for you one day as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    November 12, 2019 at 9:26 pm

    • smithandskarry1

      Aw thankyou for your lovely words David, they mean so much! I’m really glad you found a doctor who set you on a path to recovery, that’s fabulous. They seem to just throw pain killers at you round here, but I’m not a huge fan of taking them tbh, because I often find I then over do it and suffer more the next day, lol.

      Liked by 1 person

      November 15, 2019 at 10:02 am

  4. I couldn’t agree more both on the pain management and on the possibilities of mythpunk for handling these topics that are hidden or ignored in so much else. Me, I’m 100% Demeter, though whether that came naturally or was the story told to me, I no longer remember. It’s what has made reaching the point of impossibility so hard. I can no longer push through and yet that’s the only way I know. I teeter between the two extremes, pushing too hard then crashing and the rest is just as harmful as the pushing.

    Evocative words for a complicated topic. As usual, I appreciate your poetry.

    Liked by 1 person

    November 15, 2019 at 1:27 pm

    • smithandskarry1

      I totally identify with that – I was Demeter, and I’ve realised now that this was a story told to me even before I was born, my name means ‘warrior’ and I was always told that because of that I was ‘brave and strong and a fighter’ so took that on as something I had to live up to I guess. It wasn’t until a few years back when ‘pushing through and not making a fuss’ brought me to deaths door that I began to unpick the logic and the harm that idea can do. It gave me such a jolt to think I nearly lost everything just because I didn’t listen to what pain in my body was telling me. So it’s taken a lot of uncomfortable unpicking of threads but I’ve shed the Demeter cloak now and I’m trying just to sit with pain when it comes and listen to it and judge what response is needed – I’m learning to say ‘no I can’t’ and frame that as not me failing others or myself but just taking time for self-care (a warrior won’t succeed if their armour, sword, shield, steed etc are broken or dysfunctional is the new story I’m starting to tell myself) It’s not easy though is it? lol. Especially when no one ever says ‘wow what an amazing woman, she really takes care of herself doesn’t she?’ no, the world only seems to value us when we are pushing beyond our limits, everywhere I turn I hear / see ‘she was such a strong woman, such an inspiration, she kept pushing even when she was ill/ heartbroken/ dying / pregnant / starving / etc etc’ It troubles me enormously that this the only story we are telling eachother.

      Liked by 1 person

      November 18, 2019 at 8:19 am

  5. Yeah, I know. A VERY late reply, but I just found this. Super hugs. I’m glad you didn’t succeed in killing yourself by pushing through. It’s so easy to do.

    I’m lucky in that I have people in my life who recognize the strength required to keep going and to keep a positive attitude. I really should appreciate them more, but when they tell me I’m strong, since I haven’t grown to accept the narrative, it just makes me uncomfortable, like somehow I’ve convinced them of something that isn’t true. We really do a number on ourselves, don’t we?

    On the other hand, I like your analogy. If you do research on the European knight, especially, they required a whole team of people to care for them and their equipment. They even required a pulley to get onto their horses, and yet they were considered the strongest of the warriors by most even though when knocked off their horses, they were much like beetles in plate armour :).


    January 19, 2020 at 10:27 am

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