Log:May Parlor Poetry Reading

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May Parlor Poetry Reading

Of Keys and Cages


Zillah, Grey, Ophelia, Cardinal, Oliver, Haruki, Layne, Rorschach, Tom, Tristan, Jo, AJ, Damion, and Gisa

2 May, 2017

Professor Tristan Darrow held a tea accompanied by the reading of poetry written by those in attendance.


Rented Victorian House

The parlor of the old Victorian style house that has been borrowed for the event has been set up with several small tables surrounded by comfortable antique chairs. The windows allow in the afternoon light. A small string quartet has been hired to play music and the soft sounds of the classical instrumentation can be heard throughout the lower level of the house. There are several gathered already, seated here and there throughout the room, availing themselves of small tea sandwiches, biscuits, and other treats along with the selection of teas. Several have brought sheafs of paper or small books with them from which to read.

Tristan stands near the entrance, greeting those who arrive as they filter in and directing them toward the refreshments and seats that are set up around the room as well as taking the names of those who wish to read or perform.

Layne skulks quietly in, feline eyes quite, quite active behind slightly tinted glasses, tracking movements, peering into corners. Yes, feline.. it's another damned cat. Though this one has some distinctly Darkling tendencies about her, more like an Antiquarian kitty. And a twitchy one, at that. She doesn't pause near the door, but instead skitters away from it by a good handful of feet before pausing, head turning right, left, taking in her surroundings. The people. All of it.

One might think a cat would be stylish and cool, but neither is evidently the case with Layne. That skirt hangs to her ankles, mostly shapeless and a dusty sort of grey, the woolen cardican worn atop her blouse dark blue, letting very little of the shape beneath it reach the eyes of any onlookers. She seems to take it all in, then edges her way to a chair away from the windows, and settles into it, somehow taking up more room in the chair than it looks like she should be able to.

Oliver arrives with Haruki, shepherding the young magician in through the door and looking around the place. He winks at Tristan as he slips by. Once inside he looks for a place to sit.

faepose Oliver winks one of those glowing milky blue eyes at Tristan and carefully moves past him carful not to scratch him with the tip of a one of his black glassy horns.

Haruki's dressed up, in so much as he's in a nice wine-red dress shirt, and a magician's top hat. He enters with Oliver and is shephered towards a seat. He's carrying a notebook with him, and a bit distracted by counting numbers on his fingers. "A-bra-ca-dab-ra. Five." He's likely been driving Oliver nuts the whole car ride doing this.

Rorschach was oitering for a while out back having a smoke waiting for his nerves to calm down. It was a nice place and the punk looked entirely out of place. It was nice, clean, fancy, presentable and he was absolutely none of these things. His hand was shaking lifting the cig to his lips a last time before being discarded. He signed something back to Cardinal and Zillah before heading in I can't remember but I'm almost certain the last time I was at a place like this I was arrested for tresspassing. One or both of you got bail money incase they change their mind right?

Grey slips through the door of the Victorian house, his hands tucked into the pockets of his coat, shoulders hunched up so that the turned up collar is able to block part of his ears from the chill outside. He steps over towards Tristan once inside, "Nice place."

Cardinal is not dressed up. Cardinal is so not dressed up that one might wonder if she knows what dressing up might entail. Tonight's attire consists of bright purple chucks, black jeans and a white tee with a scrawl of words over her chest reading, "Every act of creation is first an act of DESTRUCTION. Picasso." She's even got some old school bracelets in stretchy plastic and jangly alluminum in black and shimmery pastels on her left wrist like some poor creature stuck in the 90s. She's at least in good, comparable company. With a jangle of those bracelets, she cheerfully signs to Rorschach, No cage can keep us, buggy! Let 'em try to lock us up! She presses a kiss to both his and Zillah's cheek and, if Tristan isn't quick, he'll get one too as she makes her way in. It's only polite at fancy schmancy shindigs, right?

Tristan is dressed in one of his typical suits, a charcoal grey, finely tailored and well-fitting. His collar-length hair is neatly combed, his all black eyes meeting those of Oliver steadily, unblinkingly at the wink that he is given, one brow lofting just slightly as he doesn't seem to recognize the man. The nearly marble-skinned Darkling follows the progress of Layne around the room, studying her for a moment before he turns to greet Grey. "Poetry twice in one week," he comments to the man quietly. "I'm impressed." There's a flicker of a smile across his lips. The sudden approach from the red-headed girl that he's never met, replete with kiss to the cheek draws a black-eyed stare for a moment. "A pleasure to meet you," he tells her, a hint of amusement in his tone. "Friendly town," he comments to Grey.

Haruki's so busy trying to write his poem. It doesn't seem to be going easily, or well for him, his brow furrowed as he puzzled over the paper, and continues his counting. Rearranging words about. He does spot faces he recognises, waving over at Rorschach and Cardinal and Zillah, but poetry takes priority.

Tom is exactly where he should be, by the way he walks; he's here for culture, and also free horse dovers, if you catch that meaning. Where there's sandwiches, there too will be mother O'Leary's favorite shining boy, even if he is dressed peculiarly for the event. Halfway between dressed up and dressed down; the top half of his Court-appropriate black suit, and grubby torn jeans, and a really fancy set of sunglasses blocking out green cat eyes. Trust a cat as well to find one of his own kind who's twitchy to saunter over to and sniff. He does, in fact, sniff in Layne's direction, hovering near her despite her best efforts to edge to the side. "Hey there." He offers something from his pile of treats. He got here early to see the bug, but also to get the good sammiches.

Zillah also does not look like she belongs here - it goes with the rest of the crew that she rolls in with. The shadow is dressed, as she often is, like she raided the wardrobe of The Craft or maybe made out at Stevie Nick's yard sale. Velvet. Leather. A bit of lace. It makes up the layers of jacket, babydoll dress, leggings, combat boots. Amusement in her eyes, for bug and bird alike, and fondness. Cheekkiss, kisskiss. They'd have to catch us first, she adds in her own signing, before waggling fingers to Tristan as they go through. Fingerwaggle to Haruki, and then a blown kiss to Tom, as she trails behind those she came with.Snagging a tea sandwich, and secreting away a half-dozen biscuts before taking a tea. Mmm, tea.

Oliver gets up and steps over to shake Rorschach's hand. "Heya, brother. Good to see you." He gives the guy the brofist before returning to his seat.

Layne doesn't have the kind of cat-ears pictured in your average manga. They do not sit atop her head, they are not capable of movement. But they -are- fluffy. And that fluff gets oh-so-much fluffier when a Tom cat saunters up to sniff at her. He is regarded atop the tinted glasses, which seem intent on sliding on down her nose anyway. "Um." It's Layne for hello.

She looks down at the bit of food. Up at Tom. Down at the food. One hand lifts, reaches out, pauses.. then snatches, though in the wake of that very feline movement, the darkling blushes. No delicate pinkening of cheeks, this. It's more like.. a beet. A cough, and the Lefevre girl is then both pushing back into her chair and shifting her arms out a bit to expand to fit more of the space. It is her chair, you see.

"I've a bad influence on my life." Grey replies in regards to the poetry in two weeks comment, then he watches the passage of Cardinal with a bit of an amused smile, "Very friendly, it seems." A hand reaches out to grasp Tristan's shoulder, giving it a squeeze before he moves past him towards the seats, finding himself a place to settle for the evening of poetry.

From some doorway other than the front entrance, though not seemingly timed with Rorschach's arrival, Ophelia steps into the room of arrivals. In one hand she holds a chipped, china saucer, in the other she holds a mismatched, china cup of tea that's not quite full, though not nearly emptied enough to leave it suggesting pessimism. She harbors no particular attention on anyone in particular, yet she appropriates more than enough time on each individual to border on instrusive staring from across the room, before moving to take a seat on the edge of a wing-backed chair. No greetings. Only tangled dark hair and smudges of darkness beneath her eyes that suggest sleeplessness or inordinate violence.

Haruki's solely focused on his poem. He's stuck on a line, which he stares at, as if willing it to change of its own accord. Which definitely isn't happening. He looks around to see where Oliver's got to.

Cardinal flashes a bright smile to Tristan which is readily turned to Grey. The other unfamiliar man gets only an air-kiss, a pucker of those shimmer-glossed lips, before her attention is moving on to consider the rest of the room. Tom and Haruki get finger-wiggling waves, but those fingers are swiftly busy snatching an assortment of sandwich corners, intent on trying every variety on offer. If there's tea? Yes, she'll take some of that, too. Amazing how much she can tote when she puts her mind to it, a fine spread settled before her once she plunks her skinny butt down at a table. At once, she sets to thoughtful nibbling. Very serious work, determining which sandwich is best sandwich.

Once the majority of the guests have settled themselves, Tristan moves to the front of the room and the musicians quiet so that he can speak to those gathered. "Thank you all for coming. My name is Tristan Darrow and I am a professor of Literature and Poetry. Having recently moved to the area to take up a position in the Fall Semester, I thought this would be a pleasant introduction to Fort Brunsett and Tamarack Falls. So I appreciate your coming out this evening to share with us. And thank you to Merrilyn, Lucy, Brynn, and Jess, our string quartet, for the entertainment. Without further ado, our first performer tonight." He gestures toward Rorschach, indicating that he should step forward. Then Tristan retreats back off to the side.

Next to come in is Damion. The big dragon glances around the room once he's in, trying to spot where Rorschach and the others are. Once he spots the bug, he immedietly heads towards him along with the shadow and bird. He claps Rorschach on the shoulder then says, "Hey brother. I didn't miss your poem, right?" And....then the bug is being called forward. "Ah, guess not." He moves to sit with the others, falling quiet.

Rorschach cracked a wry smile at Cardinal that warmed. He wasn't less nervous but he was feeling better about it. There was no effort into his attire, not that he had much to choose from. Beaten Doc Marten boots with laces wrapped around the ankle a few times and locked with a bike chain, black jeans, beat to shit standard issue biker jacket with a white inkblot butterfly painted on the back, and a vintage Skinny Puppy t-shirt. Oh yeah, hella dressed for the occasion. Who let him in here? For those that were hot on the street art scene, the jacket would be definiativly notable and explain pretty much everything as local vetted street artist... wether that street volunteered to be 'arted on' or not. Oy. He followed Zillaha nd Cardinal in pausing at Tristan and looked not at him but his shoes momentarily, then his hands, and finally up to his face. He got a nod and Oliver got a fist pound before disappearing back stage.

Cardinal's sandwich practically falls from her fingers--though it does manage to find a plate--as the host gestures to Rorschach first, requiring that she promptly applaud encouragingly, bracelets jangling their muted--iridescent!--enthusiasm.

Air kisses, for him? Grey is double-amused by that, giving Cardinal a smile the projects that amusement in every crooked line. But then Tristan is bringing this meeting of the poetry society to order and he's turning his attention forward, applauding when the first one is called up.

Zillah, seated beside of Cardinal, holds her sammich in her mouth as she claps. Shifting things around then, so that she can do one of those ear-piercing fingerwhistles. Seriously - who let this crew in here? She leans back, watching the stage with antici......pation for her favorite inkblot to reappear.

AJ is late - just barely - but she is late. And it's probably not by accident, in this case. The fox, whose ears are atop of her head, and do turn just as a foxes ought. She's dressed in a fairly big sweatshirt, featuring a Beauty and the Beast image across it. Beneath that, cut off jean shorts, and fishnets. Becuase, really, the summer believes it's going to be hot out any moment now. Soon as she's in, she slips to the side, sticking towards the back, out of the way, out of sight. This is not her sort of jam. And it's clear she's feeling more than a little awkward showing up here.

"Shhh." That's Layne. She might be shushing Tom, regardless of if he looks about to speak. It might be a general sort of shhing. But she shh's like only a librarian can shh. Though, in the wake of that, she nudges her chair further into a nice, quiet, dark little corner, and henceforth tries to fade from sight as much as she can without resorting to use of Contracts.

A tall backdrop hung over something rather large in the background which, unceremoniously looked like a painting in the abstract just covered in random words. Each feature spray painted into being like graffiti with serifs, and various efforts of expression fonts and energies in the brush strokes. The room went dark, and then one spotlight fell on the Cockroach/Punk that was standing on stage gathering his nerves. How he was going to do this was going to be interesting. There was music that started, a solo acoustic guitar and behind him on that backdrop lit up singular parts of the frantic painting behind the poet translating the sign language. His brow furrowed and lights and hands relayed This is an Ode to Forgetting

Tom snaps his fingers like a poetry-slam aficionado, which -- who would have expected it of Tom? Astonishing that his gesture is vaguely in the realm of appropriate, even if this is far more literary than slam-like. For once, shockingly enough, the cat is holding a lot of his chaos in check, no doubt some small gesture towards Rorschach more than the hosts. But it's also interest in poor Layne, who no sooner tries to use her fluffing manner to stake out her seat or seats, than Tom rushes to get the nearest seat as if to state in unspoken interest that if she's going to claim it, he's going to try to find out what's so great about it. He's at least friendly enough to semi-whisper at the silent other-cat, "The good sandwiches have FANCY CHEESE.'

Haruki gives Rorschach a thumb's up and a smile, trying to show his support. Is there clapping? He joins in with that, and then quietens when appropriate. He watches Rorschach, on stage. Tries to focus on what he's doing.

Jo comes in just after AJ, and heads straight for Ophelia. She offers the woman a kiss on the cheek and sits down beside her.

Once her applause are done with, Cardinal, having spied a fox in Disney-themed clothing, draws both of her hands to her mouth and blows a shimmery kiss across the room to AJ without one little lick of reservation. As if they were old, familiar friends. And then looks back to the stage area before she can witness any response. Nope. Don't wanna see how the bitey fox reacts to that.

The signs came slow enough that they told story in prose with the music. Small spotlights illuminating words on the painting behind him making sentences out of chaos somehow giving it order. The expression of the punk changing and shifting with nostalgic, and worn on his sleeve scars of painful memory, or the holes where memory used to live.

I know how to lie still when wind

makes grass writhe against me like snakes.

I want snakes to carry me away.

I’ve always been too big for this,

even before my first kiss

trapped me against a garage,

its peeling paint scratching new

patterns into my back.

I tried to read lines on skin.

Looked for maps out of myself.

I’ve wanted to get carried away

for days. Not even the gale

that foreshadowed the storm

that tore a tree out of ground

can come close to lifting me.

Too much in my pockets I suppose:

an assortment of keys to locks

that have long been forgotten.

Maybe forgotten isn’t the same

as lost, and lost isn’t the same

as dead. I forget dead folks all the time.

The space they used to take up is filling

with something like air but breathable.

Just the other night, a silhouette

arrived clothed in a moment I couldn’t recall.

Even cities I’ve seen and seen are naked and new,

a coterie of streets named 'I Thought I Knew the Way'

and 'Her House Used to Be Somewhere Near Here'.

With that the speaker highlighted in the bulletin as 'Rorschach' cracked the knuckles on one hand then the otherunder his chin and nodded his head to teh audiecnd, turned to look at the painting, and waves his hand at it killing the lights as if a queue. The stage was cleared and lights back for the next presentor.

The fingerwhistle, or the ear-piercing quality of it, is punctuated by the sound of Ophelia's china saucer, hitting the floor and shattering into shards of Ima-cut-you. She gazes at the shards but remains on the edge of her seat, at least literally, her attention sliding from the host, Grey and Cardinal, to the first to address the group formally.

Haruki watches the poem, and once it's finished he joins in the applause, automatically. But the noise and everything else is a bit overwhelming, and how can anything compare to that at all. If Rorschach does happen to look his way, he'll sign 'amazing' or something similar. And since he's seen exactly what he came here to see, he slinks out, the words of the poem still bubbling around in his brain.

Jo claps for Rorschach. It's rather loud, as that was an excellent poem, but even so, Jo seems, if not sedate, then at least restrained. And approving. "Are you well, Miss Ophelia?" she asks the woman beside her.

Delightful! Shattering to accompany the acoustic guitar. Cardinal decidedly approves of Ophelia's addition to Rorschach's performance, casting a bright-eyed smile the woman's way every so briefly before turning her attention back to the bug's fingers as he signs. She doesn't pay much mind to the background, intent on watching the performer instead, getting more from his movements than she could from the translation. She signs back, Maps out of myself, with a furrow of her brow that may well mean she's been moved, that she gets that. When he finishes, she lifts her hands to shake them, a not-quite-silent gesture of applause within the deaf community, her bracelets ringing out her appreciation.

Snap snap snap snap -- oh, others are applauding and whistling. Tom registers that it's become acceptable to be louder and he yowls, as his hands go up, "RAISE THE ROOF, WHAT WHAT." Never do that. Cat, do not do that. Or what he does next, standing up, circling his chair, studying his chair, sitting back down again. Standing up. Circling the chair. Sitting again. This could take awhile, now that that's engaged in his kitty hindbrain, even if someone else will follow Rorschach's performance. With his luck, someone will think he's volunteering.

With one hand holding the remaining cup of tea, instead of applauding, Ophelia lifts her cup as if in toast to Rorschach when he finishes, then takes a sip. Jo's arrival and cheek-kiss earns her a sidelong look but not the expected pulling away from the contact between almost-lips and cheek. There is a fleeting, upward curve Miss O's pale lips directed to Jo before she lowers her cup to her palm as a makeshift saucer. Those who miss the shards on the floor will have to test their own good or bad fortune. Back to Rorschach, whose presence earns more than his share of attention, potentially familiar, though not in the Biblical sense.

Tristan steps forward once Rorschach has finished his performance, applauding for the bug with a steady clap of approval. "Thank you," he says, while Rorschach's props are gently moved out of the area in front of the room. He says, "Our next performer," and then gestures toward Cardinal, indicating that it is her turn to step forward.

AJ looks with that cautious gaze around the place. Looks like she's gone unnoticed! Which is good. But then there's a red bird blowing her kisses. AJ scrunches up her nose, doing her best to look displeased by such an action. But, really, she's more just embarassed. Thank god Rorschach is up soon! And while she surely cannot read sign language, she can probably read English. She stares at the words being translated, and, when the man finishs, she smiles, and applauds. As there's a 'next' being called, that next being Cardinal, AJ moves quick to snag a drink, then find a spot to sit

Damion leans back in his set, watching the performance, eyes shifting between the signing and the illuminated text of the jumbled chaos on the painting. There's a faint smile on his face as he listens as well, and when the bug finishes up his poem, he claps his hands briskly. Then he glances at Cardinal and says, "Good luck." Not that he knows her well. Or.....wait. Does he know her at all? Whatever. ONce the bug comes to the table with him, Zee and the others he offers him his hand. "Good job up there, man. Thanks for inviting me."

Zillah's eyes stay on Rorschach, watching his hands, flicking to the artwork behind him. Put together, she clearly finds it beautiful. And worth her applause as it ends. Warmth, appreciation, in those dark eyes. Eyes that move to Cardinal, as she's announced to be next. Clapping for her as well, and trying not to shatter any more expensive china with a mess loud whistle. "Hey, D," is offered to Damion, hushed.

Grey glances in the direction of the breaking saucer, his brows arching upwards towards his hairline for a moment before turning back to read the words of Rorschach's poem. Polite applause is offered, once more, for both outgoing performer, and incoming.

Rorschach was lost not in nerves but emotional maelstrom. But he stopped to give Cardinal a hug passing her to take teh stage he vacated. He went back to join his crew lingering by Zillah and giving Damion a fistbump managing a smile and a kiss to her cheek. His blue eyes were locked on Cardinal with a grin. He was proud of her. So proud. It ws something to see their people have a voice and an audience that fortified him.

Cardinal doesn't need her mouth for what she's doing next and thus shoves the remainder of that little tea sandwich into her maw as Tristan gestures to her, smiling with her mouth full at the host. Thankfully, she's swallowed by the time she makes her way up to the front, nothing marring the closed-lipped, shimmer-glossed smile she casts about the crowd. Her mouth doesn't open, but her hands lift to start signing. Unlike Rorschach, she's prepared no slideshow to help everyone follow along. A wide-eyed look to Zillah, though, might be a modest plea for assistance before the performance begins in earnest.

Cardinal signs, "I'm going to make this up as I go. Wanna help me out, pretty shadow?"

A sip of tea, and then Zillah is getting up to her feet. First, to plant a kiss on Rorsch's cheek. Holding his face for a moment in both hands, before she turns to Cardinal to give her a nod. She moves towards the stage - but in the shadows, so the focus is on the redbird instead of herself. Fingers flying into motion, before going still.

As Tristan calls Cardinal up, and as Zillah makes to go translate, AJ slips over to Tristan. He's in charge of this thing, right? She leans down to murmur to him. If anyone's watching intently (particularly those lip-reader types), it sure might seem like AJ is requesting a chance to go up. This is not done without red climbing up the fox's neck and into her ears. Yeah, she's blushing just talking about going up. Should be wonderful, right?

Cardinal signs a gesture of gratitude toward Zillah before letting the crowd see all her nerves, her eyes going wide as she shakes her arms out, worry knitting her brow. Then the redhead takes a deep breath and... just lets whatever wants to come out come out. She doesn't speak with her mouth, but neither is it only her fingers which do the talking, her whole body, her facial features, the cadence of her movements all tell the story, speaking of struggle and self, of finding a rhythm, of finding a problem. In the middle, she pauses, letting her limbs fall slack as she looks to the crowd, exasperated, lost... before she erupts into movement again, signing the remainder of the poem with a madly passionate fury, a joy for being alive, her whole body rising as she speaks, hands held higher, eyes lifted as if she's signing about flying. When she's done, she spreads her hands, smiles a bit more reservedly than usual and dips into a bow. Her exit is preceeded with a big kiss to Zillah's cheek in gratitude for the--surely incoming--translation. Then she's gone. Back to her sandwiches. Back to being part of the audience.

Just in time to watch someone perform via sign language: a golem. Or, for those what can't see past the Mask, a sturdy, five-and-a-half-foot-tall woman with gnarly hair struggled back into a braid, wearing a t-shirt that reads IF YOU CAN'T SAY SOMETHING NICE, SAY IT IN YIDDISH. Clearly, Gisa is making her way through her store's stock. Or you can blame Kyle. One of the two. In any case, she trundles into the room, her messenger bag across her body, and stops just inside the door, off to one side, silent and watching.

Cardinal signs her poem, to be translated however the shadow might like. "I used to think I needed a key. That I had to puzzle everything out and fit my teeth into the dark, unseen places just to turn out alright. But every groove I fell into just held that lock tigher, build my cage stronger, kept me happily distracted from any actual happiness." Here's where she pauses, possibly just for effect, possibly needing a moment to figure out the rest of her poem. "I used to think I needed a key until I realized that the same people who have the keys are the ones who hold the locks, and they don't want me to be free. Freedom requires fighting, requires breaking, demands that every door be torn from its hinges and thrown aside without waiting for permission. I don't need permission to be happy. I don't need permission to be free. Let them keep their keys. Their locks won't stop me."

Jo curls up in her wing chair next to Ophelia and watches everything. Cardinal's performance has her leaning forward, watching all of it avidly and trying not to drip tears. Her applause is hearty and she's forgotten herself enough to have left restraint somewhere else.

It's not until Cardinal leaves the stage - and pays her with a cheek-kiss - that Zee offers the translation. Her voice lifts up, strong and sure. Passionate. "I used to think I needed a key. That I had to puzzle everything out and fit my teeth into the dark, unseen places just to turn out alright. But every groove I fell into just held that lock tigher, build my cage stronger, kept me happily distracted from any actual happiness." She pauses, in a mirror of where the other woman had. "I used to think I needed a key until I realized that the same people who have the keys are the ones who hold the locks, and they don't want me to be free. Freedom requires fighting, requires breaking, demands that every door be torn from its hinges and thrown aside without waiting for permission. I don't need permission to be happy. I don't need permission to be free. Let them keep their keys. Their locks won't stop me." Defiant, victorious, her tone there in the end. And then the shadow in the shadows is slinking back to the table of friends. And tea. Tea is love.

When AJ comes over to Tristan, his eyes leave Cardinal for a moment and he nods to AJ, murmuring something back to her and jotting something down on a small pad, likely his list of those who are going to go up and give their performances. Then he turns his attention back to Cardinal, studying every movement in much the same way he watched the words illuminate as Rorschach gave his performance, attention focused on the performer rather than the translator. Though, once the translation is received, he applauds both the performer and the shadow, moving once more to step forward. Only once Zillah has taken her seat does he then say, "Thank you," then turns to Ophelia and says, "Would our next performer please come up." There's a little dip of his head of familiarity to the woman, before he withdraws once more.

Cardinal isn't a bashful creature, not one prone to blushing, but to witness Zillah perform her words so well? Color erupts upon her pale cheeks as she applauds giddily, gratefully. As soon as the shadow is close again, she presses in close, snuggling one of the darkling's arms between both of her own for a moment, savoring this wonderful commingling of excitement, affection and gratitude. Life's good.

Rorschach slouched forward in his seat watching his fellow signer intently, fingers steepled under his chin, brow furrowed. He put his open hands in the air twitching in silent, but emphatic applause. Because that's how they roll, and stood up to welcome her off the stage with open arms and a broader grin. There was much signing; short sentences and thoughts but with a clarity of emphasis.

AJ delivers her message to Tristan, then steps back, to find a place to sit. Oh, look, Damion. AJ goes and sits next to the big man, and offers him a tight smile, before she turns to look back up to Cardinal. There's no real joy on AJ's features. No appreciation. Mostly just anxiety. And then when Cardinal starts, well, AJ turns to look at Zillah. The words start to come, and so she looks back to Cardinal. She scrunches up her nose in distaste, at the start of the poem. A few moments later, as she listens, her expression shifts. Uncertainty. Uncertainty is better than distaste, right? Still, she doesn't applaud. She doesn't say or do anything. Just stays sitting, with that uncertain look on her features.

Rorschach signed So fucking proud of you. That was bad ass. Breath. You did awesome.

The chair. THE CHAIR IS DAUNTING THE CAT. No matter how Tom tries to sit on it, it's just not working for him. He manages to get all the way through the combined talents of Cardinal's words and Zillah's interpretive reading, snapping along -- but not being able to SIT RIGHT even though this is His, it has him hopping up again and eventually picking up the chair he's struggling with from that back-row spot and, well, moving it. He drags it from its neatly-rowed place. Is Tom gonna run off with it? Hard to say. At least, until he and the chair are backing out of the room.

Damion applauds as well, smiling at Cardinal. "Good job, there." Not really anything else for him to say, apparently. He glances at Zillah. "And good reading by you, Zee. You worked well together." He settles back in his seat again. He seems to be unusually quiet. Maybe it's the crowd. Or not wanting to interrupt the performers.

Cardinal lifts her chin with pride at the combination of praise from Rorschach and Damion, a little shoulder-bump given to Zillah. She might revel in it a little more if she weren't distracted by the cat eloping with the chair. No judgment. Just observation. Wide-eyed, curious observation. And then a little signing to those at her table, clearly a question given the inquisitive arch of her brows.

Cardinal wonders, signing, "Think I'll be invited to the wedding?" Of Tom. And his chair.

Zillah happily takes those armsnuggles from Cardinal, twisting her head so that she can kiss the other woman atop the head. "That was beautiful," she says softly as she waits for the next wordsmith to take stage. The shadow is in a little circle of people she adores - yes, life is good indeed. A beaming smile up to Damion, before she's side-eyeing the cat and chair. Well. At least they didn't start a fistfight, this time?

Given that the seats are scroll-armed parlor chairs, Tom doesn't get very far with said chair as it's difficult to get through the door, and one of the caterers politely encourages that the star-crossed lovers part ways. The house is rented. The furniture is not leaving the premises. Tom may just have to move in.

After Tristan looks her way, Ophelia hands her teacup to Jo, a significant motion if one measures the bearing and glance she gives as she does so. She moves to a space near where Tristan and Grey are located, her too-thin back to a wall rather than leaving anyone present unaddressed, or with access to her back. She holds no paper, no cards, what she speaks is memorized. And as she speaks, it is in a voice quiet enough to make those without excellent hearing or on the periphery of the room perhaps miss some of the words. Pale hands clasped in front of her, she begins to speak, though rather than in a poet's tone and cadence, that of a storyteller.

"A secret is a strange thing."

"There are three kinds of secrets. One is the sort everyone knows about, the sort you need at least two people for. One to keep it. One to never know. The second is a harder kind of secret: one you keep from yourself. Every day, thousands of confessions are kept from their would-be confessors, none of these people knowing that their never-admitted secrets all boil down to the same three words: 'I am afraid.'"

"And then there is the third kind of secret, the most hidden kind. A secret no one knows about. Perhaps it was known once, but was taken to the grave. Or maybe it is a useless mystery, arcane and lonely, unfound because no one ever looked for it."

"Sometimes, some rare times, a secret stays undiscovered because it is something too big for the mind to hold. It is too strange, too vast, to terrfying to contemplate."

"All of us have secrets in our lives. We're keepers or kept-from, players or played. Secrets and cockroaches -- that's what will be left at the end of it all."

From there, the barest of pauses precedes Miss O's transition into a potentially disconnected Part the Second, with more cadence than the initial tale-telling. But the two have the potential of a hint of threat or mystery, or invitation or of disturbing introduction that may make her fewer friends than those edging toward another camp.

"Did you hope I wouldn't notice

You gave me empty words to drink?

Well my tongue's tasted more lies,

Than you would ever dare to think,

You're not the only one,

With truth like poison in their veins,

Whose ribs are shaped like cages,

Holding tightly to the pain,

I know the bitter flavor,

Of a heart that's given up,

Before my lying lips,

Had Even touched that wretched cup,

And when hyou pour a glass,

Of words to cover what you hide,

Perhaps don't leave your secrets,

clinging tightly to the side."

This spoken, she makes an odd little gesture, touching two pale fingertips to ther forehead, beneath each eye, to her pale lips, and finally to her badly scarred throat before making her way back to her seat without waiting for any response.

A casual lean against the wall, her bag strapped across her body still, and she folds her hands across her stomach. Fortunately she's not in the doorway, so she and the chair-fighting cat are not in a collision course. Gisa raises a hand toward Rorschach, signing Peace in greeting, as they usually do. Then her attention turns -- one guesses -- to Ophelia. And she listens.

Each person that has gone up gets the same applause from Grey, it's hard to tell if he's actually paying attention to the poetry itself, or just using this as a chance to people watch with unabashed interest.

Rorschach found that a little on the nose. But a Cockroach would, irradiated or not. To the sighted one antenna twitched thoughtfully. His eyes pressed closed listening to the words, one hand finding Zillah's while the prose sprouted seed of thought into bloom of contemplation. There was, as a gesture for the hearing, a steady clap to follow. Bit on the nose, but she wasn't wrong.

Jo doesn't applaud. She's holding a teacup, after all. She does, however, use her free hand to demonstrate a little-used skill. She sticks two fingers in her mouth and whistles shrilly and very loudly, several times.

Cardinal's animated nature all but dissipates when Ophelia sets into her tale-telling, as if speaking of secrets demanded a hushed audience. Tea and sandwiches and shadow-snuggling are forgotten that she might listen, tilted forward and held in thrall, until something within Part Two of the performance strikes a chord. Her hands lift with a muted jangle of cheap bracelets as she signs an impassioned call-back of, Break that cage, as if cracking ribs might be a good thing. When the poem concludes, her usual cheer resumes in an eruption of applause followed promptly by a return to her sandwich-tasting as she looks about the room.

Once more, Tristan applauds when Ophelia finishes her recitation, giving her a little nod of his head again. Straightening, he moves forward and says, "Our next performance will be of a musical nature." He gestures for AJ to make her way up to the front, giving her the cue that it is her turn to make her way before those gathered. When Jo whistles, shrilly, he glances over in her direction, then toward Ophelia, grateful perhaps that she doesn't have china in her hands at the moment this time. Still, there's a twitch of something akin to amusement on his lips.

Oh no! Jo's shrill whistling, even if encouraging, skips Ophelia over the shards of shattered saucer in surprise and perhaps an appalled expression. Either way she ends up stumble-limping -- who knows if the shards bit through her boots or not -- away from where she was sitting, leaving the teacup for Jo to finish or set aside and skirting to the farthest reach of the room, somehow fitting behind a floor lamp for the time being.

This is not AJ's scene. And when story time starts, it shows so clearly. A few lines in and her eyes are already drifting off. She's trying not to be rude, but it's so very hard for the little fox. She just looks bored, and modestly tortured. But then part two comes, and her eyes shift back to Ophelia. Her eyes narrow a touch, and she pays more attention now. Now, she squints, and seems just a little confused by it all. When it ends, the look doesn't fade. She's really the worst possible audience member. But at least she's not whistling! She does glower a Jo, before her attention is back to Tristan. And oh, he's saying her name. Her eyes go wide, and she sucks in a breath. "Wish me luck," she murmurs aside, to Damion. Then she rises up and steps to the front of the room. "Uh... hey... everyone..." she says. Nerves and anxiety building up in the redhead. "I'm going to sing... Because, uh... you know. Breaking out my cage... or whatever..."

Damion smiles over at AJ and whispers back to her, "Good luck, hon." And then he settles in to listen to the fox sing.

Zillah's fingers lace with Rorschach's, and she holds the cockroach's hand with firmness, and affection. Listening, as Ophelia's words wash over the crowd. And then giving AJ her attention as its due. The little gaggle of misfit toys may not look like they belong, in such a fancy setting, but they certainly are giving due attention to more than their own poets. A turn of her head, a kiss to Rorsch's forehead, and she settles back in for tea and free food. And that is never anything she neglects. Clapping a hand against her thigh in encouragement for the woman on stage.

Cardinal applauds all too enthusiastically at AJ's remark about cage-breaking, though it's brief as she's quick to sign an amused, Whatever, up at the fox who might actually be able to puzzle that gesture out if she were looking this way. With that, she happily settles back into sandwich-munching silence, eagerly watching AJ, happily surrounded by her beloved oddballs.

Jo notices that she's being glowered at. She promptly offers a facial expression that says more clearly than words that she has no fucks to give and that she's not interested in AJ's opinion, by simply turning up her nose at the woman. She offers Ophelia her teacup with a warm smile, and a "That was lovely and had the true ring."

Jo notices that she's being glowered at. She promptly offers a facial expression that says more clearly than words that she has no fucks to give and that she's not interested in AJ's opinion, by simply turning up her nose at the woman. She then gets up and strolls off after Ophelia. She has a teacup to deliver.

Rorschach looked up to Gisa entering and warming a smile to her signing with free hand Peace. Join us, pelase He was seated with Cardinal, Damion, and Zillah presently. There was always room for one more. A smile warmed to her, though his other hand was still twined around the Shadow's; his legs pulling up in a fold under him that shouldn't be a comfortable way for anyone to sit. Who really expected him to be conventional anyways. His head swiveled back to AJ curious what teh Fox might be up to.

AJ's quiet for a moment, after she gives that little introduction. Nothing coming from her, but breathing. Breathing is good! Can't sing, without breathing. Plus it might help the red flush that's invading her cheeks! "So, uh, this is... a piece bit of a song. There's supposed to be music and background and s-.. stuff. It's by Purity Ring," she says, her voice faint enough to call into question if she can actually project her voice. Then she's quiet, and one more deep breath. The redhead's ears lay back on her head. Her eyes fall shut. She takes a moment to channel some bit of serenity. Even her twitchy tail stops twitching! And when she finally does come out, her voice is haunting and distant, and she clearly possesses some natural talent.

"Get a little closer, let fold... Cut open my sternum, and pull... My little ribs around you... The rungs of me be under, under you...

I'll cut the soft pockets, let bleed... Over the rocky cliffs that you leave... To peer over and not forget what feet are... Splitting threads of thunder over me...

That I might see with my chest and sink... Into the edges round you... Into the lakes of quarry's that brink... On all the edges round you...

Get a little closer, let fold... Cut open my sternum, and pull... My little ribs around you... The lungs of me be crowns over you...

Get a little closer, let fold... Cut open my sternum, and pull... My little ribs around you... The rungs of me be under, under you..."

When the song concludes, AJ stands quiet and still for a few moments, eyes still closed. She opens them, but only after she starts forward. She goes back to her seat without looking at anyone at all.

The room is quiet for a few moments after AJ finishes singing, and then there is applause in the room. Tristan continues to applaud and then makes his way back to the front of the room again. "Thank you," he says to AJ as she returns to her seat, applauding along with the rest of the audience. "And to close out our performances for the evening, I will take my own turn. It's only fair, considering I asked you all here to give something of yourselves."

Damion reaches over to give AJ a pat on the ehad. "Good song." Then he goes back to watching the stage.

One doesn't move while a performance is underway. So Gisa doesn't. While AJ performs, the golem is completely still. Then she tips her chin up to Rorschach, and comes to take a seat... well, just in time for the final performance. The empty chair at the table, and she seats herself therein, her movements deliberate and considered as a rabbinical response. Thank you, she signs to Rorschach, much easier than accidentally speaking over the emcee or a performer.

Somewhere between the end of AJ's talented, a capella singing and Tristan stepping forward to announce he would conclude the performances, Miss O steps out from behind the floor lap and settles the side of her thin form along the from of the door toward the back of the room, opposite where most arrivals entered.

If the night has a theme, it's most certainly cages--and maybe even their opening--by now, and the Bodhisattva in the audience most certainly approves. Cardinal leans forward as she listens to AJ, as if the summer singing were as much siren as fox. After a few bars, she starts rocking as if dancing, eyes half-lidding like she might be imagining herself elsewhere, pale face turned toward the moon. Blink blink. When the song ends, she's a little slower to express her appreciation this go-round, needing a second to bring herself back from whatever far-off place she'd let her thoughts drift to, but the applause does come, paired with a warm smile for her fellow redhead. When Gisa joins the Table of Misfits, Cardinal turns a bright smile her way, a sandwich triangle lifted in toast. As she resumes nibbling, she looks to the front again, gaze set intently on Tristan.

"Shut up," AJ mutters aside, to Damion. She side-eyes the big man for a moment, and debates elbowing. Just to make the message clear. Because surely, surely he must be mocking her. Or maybe she's just always bitter and ornery. Her eyes lift up, to focus on Tristan.

Tristan waits for a moment so that refills on sandwiches and other things can be fetched before he moves to recite:

Even the hourglass is made of sand

And no matter how small

We slip through the center

Drawn inexorably

With the tide that ebbs and flows

Washed upon your shore once more

Only to be pulled back under

A ship steered true yet slipped its moor

Are the lights in the sky above

Or reflected only on the surface

Wil'o'wisp on open water

No true star to be our guide

So above and so below

No up nor down

Only the infinite stretch of time

And the memory of you

Slipping through my fingers

It isn't a terribly long poem, and it is delivered quietly, in comparison to some of the more effusive displays. However, once it is done, he dips his head to those gathered and says, "Please, avail yourself of the sweets. Don't hesitate to take some home with you." He doesn't glance at those who might have already absconded with some of the biscuits. "And thank all of you for coming." And with that cue, the string quartet picks up the quiet music again.

Zillah claps, once more, for Tristan. And does not at all shifty eye as she is not glanced to. Nope. Not at all. There's a bright smile from the shadow, and then more little sandwiches. And tea. "I love tea," she intones to those at the table, as if this is some great kept secret of the velvet, leather, laceclad shadow. "This was a good night," she adds.

As Tristan finishes his recitation, Ophelia's gaze settles from across the room upon Grey, food and drink, chair and dear friend abandoned. There is nothing to be read in her expression safe for observation, assessment. Eventually as those present begin to stir, nibble, drink, chatter, laugh, argue or depart, her people-watching expands to the larger population of the room and event.

This time, AJ isn't squinting, or trying to count how many threads are in the carpet. Neither confused, nor bored. It would seem she understands Tristan's poem. At least, she understands enough that it leaves her frowning at the man. And so she sits there, frowning, and not making to abscond with food.

Rorschach furrowed his brow with a wry grin clapping for their host and eloquent delivery. He turned to the table Hear that, Z? He gave me permission to take you home. He waggled his eyebrows. Looking to the table he signed slow enough so Damion could catch on to what he will and someone could translate it out I'm really glad you could make it. Cardinal, bad ass job, woman

A small wave from Gisa toward the unknown which is Cardinal, and she settles in, the chair creaking slightly as she leans back in it. It's impossible to tell exactly where she's looking, on account of the whole 'only has eye-flames in her eye-pits' thing, but her face is turned toward the stage area, so one assumes her attention is pretty solidly on each performer. At the end, she raises her hands a bit and clunk clunk clunk. Some people clap, Gisa sounds like she's banging earthenware jugs together in appreciation. Probably why she doesn't clap very often. It's an odd sound.

Cardinal finds something of herself in Tristan's poem, too, signing to her table-mates with obvious approval, Slipped its moor! and then adding, Whole fucking world is breaking free, even if not all the escapes in the evening's entertainments were presented as good things. She claps happily for the host once he's done, but is quickly looking to Zillah to nod her agreement. And set right into chatter. As much as one who only opens her mouth to eat can be said to chatter, fingers moving about quickly. I bet I could make a killer ice cream with this tea. We should abscond with some. Dry. Not that I'm opposed to pilfering a teapot. Just the liquid... Her bright-eyed attention flits to Rorschach with some more nodding. You too! That was amazing! I knew you knew how to pull the meaning out of everything.

Unlike the others, Grey doesn't applaud for Tristan. Instead he just waits for things to sort themselves out before he gets to his feet. One hand reaches into the pocket of his coat before he makes his way in the direction of the host once again.

Once everything is done, Damion glances at AJ and grins. "What? I liked your song. What's wrong with that?" He looks back to the others at the table, "This was fun. Glad you invited me to see it, Ror." He stretches his arms over his head, then eyes Rorschach. "Are you planning on doing more things like this?" He raises a hand toward the Golem. "Hey Gisa." He looks back to the pair signing together, "Mmmm. I guess our type of folk don't have a lot of happy things to talk, or sing, about."

Jo puts down the teacup in order to listen to Tristan and applauds for him, offering another whistle. Then she strolls out of the house, looking very thoughtful, but not terribly social. In fact, she's walking a little swiftly.

"Hello, Damion," greets Gisa, and she folds her hands on her bag. "I don't necessarily agree. I think there is plenty joy and hope to be found." The Dawn would, after all. She brings with her the scent of petrichor and the sulphurous edge of a match just being struck. "But I do not perform. I only remember the joyful poems." She rolls her shoulders easily at that, a tectonic gesture.

Now that his hosting duties are predominantly over, Tristan takes some time to survey the room. He finds Ophelia toward the back, peoplewatching. He lends a small nod to Jo as she makes to head out, following her progress for a moment before he notices Grey approaching and turns to meet him by taking a few steps in that direction while conversation and dining resumes.

AJ eyes Damion, obviously uncertain. At least she's not glaring at him? Probably no glare because she's still frowning, over the poem. "Lots of things to be sad about," AJ mutters out. Then takes a breath. "Well, if you want someone to read a joyful poem for you," she starts, her eyes shifting to Gisa. AJ doesn't know sign language tonight, so, no real watching those types. "Apparently I perform at weird poem whatever the fuck things this is..."

"Poetry twice in one week." Grey repeats the comment from earlier, offering Tristan a grin before looking around at those that are still lingering. He then leans towards Tristan when he's close enough, dropping his voice to murmur something to him.

"Oh good," Zillah chimes to Rorschach. "Because after that little display, I was at least hoping to take you to..." her voice trails off as she leans in to whisper something into the roach's ear, before leaning back, looking smug. Sip tea. Nibble sandwich. He did say to help ourselves, the shadow signs to her favorite bird, grinning widely. Maybe not the teapot, though. Only if there's, like, a security deposit that he might not get back. Considerate, the shadow, and animated as she signs. You both were amazing. Thank you, Cardinal, for letting me voice your words. It made me... There's a gesture of her hands, like fireworks bursting.

Ophelia pushes away from the door frame, turns and exits into rooms beyond. The lack of greetings or farewells could be construed as quite rude.

Damion eyes Zillah as she whispers to the bug, but doesn't say anything. Then he just winks at AJ. "Mmf. This has been fun... but I think I'm going to be heading home here in a minute. Ror, don't stay up TOO late with your lady friend there, hear?" He glances at the others. "It was nice seeing you all. Feel free to stop by the gym and see me sometime." Then he's rising to his feet.

Cardinal nods in firm agreement with 'not the teapot.' The caterers here are too sharp. Didn't even let Tom take his chair! She shakes with silent laughter when Zillah's fingers explode into make-believe firewords, signing another, Thank you, to the woman, expression a little softer this time. At Damion's parting words, she cuts a look his way then over to Rorschach, giving him a very stern look which might, outwardly, suggest agreement. Those who can read her fingers know better, though, as she very determinedly tells him, You stay up as late as you want, okay?

Rorschach squeezed Zillah's hand back and arched one eyebrow. Then his brow furrowed curiously, and then both antennae lifted off his head, one in a question mark. Both eyebrows lifted up after that. He blinked again and his head tilted to teh side and he shook his head as if considering some weighty thought signing, oddly I'd have dove for that. Possibly return the favour. Don't think it'd have the same impact . He stood up, eyes ZIllah and gave Damion a hug. He looked to Cardinal and steepled plotty fingers together with an eyebrow waggle and mischevous grin I'll bring you the cliff's notes and make you proud of me. Promise He looked back to Aj and Gisa offering addendum on teh conversation I thought the song was badass. Very visceral. And Gisa, you don't have to perform. Speaking honestly is the performance and makes it more genuine. I'd love to hear it on teh stage or whatever. I mean half mine have a body count but I write about what I know. I live in a shitty neighbourhood

"Indeed," Tristan says when Grey repeats the comment from earlier in the evening. He leans in as well, tipping his head to listen to whatever it is that is murmured to him. There's a faint flicker of something across his lips before he murmurs back, giving Grey a questioning glance.

Grey shrugs a bit, smiling at Tristan once more before he murmurs something else. Then he nods his head towards those that are still lingering, "I'll let you get back to your guests."

"Night, King... we should hang out some more... sometime?" AJ asks, with just a tinge of uncertainty. "I mean, if I'm going to work for you, and all," she says. Then she blows out a breath. Sort of agitated. "Night," she says, again. Then her eyes trail around, to the people speaking (signing) a language she doesn't know. She just stares for a minute, clueless, before she finally just drifts over, to Cardinal. She leans down, and kisses the woman's cheek. Then she turns, and fixes a kiss on Rorschach's cheek. No teeth or nothing! Then she's standing back up. "Hey, thanks for... uh... hosting or whatever," she calls over to Tristan. AJ herself is going to head for the door, after that.

"I do not care to perform. It is for some to witness." She rolls her shoulders just as easily as before, and then raises a hand to wave to Damion as he states his intention to depart. "I have many thankful and joyful poems, but for the theme of the evening, a brachot is most sensible." She would insist she can't sing, but she can daven, she's got over a hundred year's experience, and the easy melody of what follows, however briefly, is clearly something she's sung a thousand thousand times. Like so many things that the buggo has heard her say before it begins with Baruch atah Adonai, and she signs along with the brief snippet of prayer/song: Blessed are you, God our Lord, King of the Universe, who releases the bound. Because if anyone is going to have a prayer for no longer being in servitude? It's gonna be the Jews.

Zillah's lashes are fluttered towards Damion, the very picture of innocence. "It was good to see you again, Damion," she says with warmth to the man. Her brows waggle at Rorsch and Cardinal, before there's more little sandwiches enjoyed. A girl's gotta eat.

Cardinal's eyes narrow faintly at Rorschach's offer, considering the context. She seems to be approaching a decision--likely one of acceptance--when her thoughts are siderailed by the kiss to her cheek from the bitey fox. Blink. Blinkblinkblink. For someone so quick to give out cheek kisses, this one from AJ surely seems to have caught her off-guard. By the time she looks to the woman, her back's already turned. Whatever else there is to consider and witness, it goes unwatched, uncommented upon as the redbird frowns at the departing fox.

Tristan dips his head to AJ and says "Thank you for coming," when she calls over to him, momentarily distracted from the conversation that he was having. Then he turns back to Grey, shaking his head. He then allows the staff to finish attending to the guests and make sure that no furniture manages to wander away, or china, for that matter.