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"Tales of the Twilight Menshevik"

Stories in this series:

Sisters under Their Skins
Midnight Sun
A Year in the Life
October 6: A Night 2 Remember
A Day's Work
Late Summer Interlude
The Time the Twain Shall Meet
Message to a Grandchild
Ergo Bibamus 1: Eat, Drink and Be Merry
Lights in the Dark
Between the Woods and Frozen Lake
Ergo Bibamus 2: There's a Tavern Near the Town
Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Someone Blue
Valentine Allsorts
The Ballad of Trish and Henry
Rogue's Fairy Tale
Magneto, My First Love
To My Dark-Haired Lady
The Raven and the Oriole
Trish -- A Rapture

Val and Ray at the Movies
March 2002
July 2002

Tales of Future Twilight
Ergo Bibamus 3: Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes
They Will Always Be Penny and Max to Me
Getting to Know You
Fourth Thursday in November
The Iceman's Tale
Pictures at an Exhibition
The Survivor Has a Different Kind of Scar

Twilight Yet to Come
Hang on to Your Ego
Strange Headfellows
Sonnet for Magnus
Between the Winds

DISCLAIMER: This is an unauthorized work of fiction using characters that are (c) & TM by Marvel Comics Group. No profit is being made on this poem, so I'll invoke The Marvel Readers' Bill of Rights (for the full text see "Stan's Soapbox" in some of the May 1998 comics, e.g. GENERATION X #38):
"8. The right to practice scripting and drawing our Marvel characters for your own pleasure and amusement."
The poem is (c) Tilman Stieve ( 2001. You can download this and copy it for your entertainment, but don't sell it for profit, or Marvel will set their lawyers on you. Please do not archive this on your website without informing me first.
The Raven and the Oriole belongs to my series, the Tales of the Twilight Menshevik, where it fits both into the main timeline (and thus to its continuation into the future, the Days of Future Twilight) and the Twilight Yet to Come.
You can find the Tales archived on "Fonts of Wisdom," "Down-Home Charm," "MissyRedX: The Average Website" and "Stacy's Fan-Fiction Page."

The Raven and the Oriole


One day she learned she was a special woman
With inborn powers that transformed her life,
She found that she could change into another --
A welcome gift in that embattled time.
And so the woman who was known as Raven
Became a spy and rushed to join the struggle.

The end of war brought no end to her struggle
For she became a mercenary woman;
Thus working for the highest bidder Raven
Deceived them all and made a successful life
When trouble came she always caught the time
To deftly flit from one employer to another.

But she grew weary, yearned to find another
And she no longer saw a purpose to her struggle
Until she met a most beguiling woman
With blinded eyes that could see forward into time
To future threats to their existence; her own life
Irene Adler gladly pledged to Raven.

Her new conjugal state agreed with Raven,
As they grew ever more devoted to one another;
Their common son they had to banish from their life
(This painful choice forced on them by their struggle),
But then they raised a stray-found girl to be a woman:
The three lived through a very happy time.

Their happiness proved not immune to time
Rogue's problems made her leave her mother Raven
Who also was aggrieved that the young woman
Threw down her cause pursuing the dream of another.
And worse, Mystique, now doubtful in her struggle,
Was not allowed to save Irene's life.

Her leman's death cast deepest darkness on her life,
And Raven mourned her long until the time
Val Cooper made her a soldier in her struggle
Although this service first sat ill with Raven,
She came to see how she was cared for by another --
that Val loved her and she could love this woman.

Unceasing struggle left deep scars on Raven
Until in time she dared to love another,
Embracing life with Val as her new woman.


When mutants were the focus of growing fears
And doubts were cast on Homo sapiens' future
Val Cooper won her boss Bob Kelly's trust,
Advised him on this subject very well.
To halt the threat the Senator and Val
In laws and weapons placed their hope.

A registration act was Kelly's hope
With force enough behind it to conquer fears,
To build this force became the task for Val
Who gathered arms and agents for the future;
Here Raven Darkh÷lme helped her very well
And thereby won the younger woman's trust.

Val then discovered she'd misplaced her trust,
That Raven worked in secret to foil her hope,
But learning more about them she saw well
That mutants just like she had fears
Of not surviving through wars into the future --
This realization opened the eyes of Val.

When she reviewed her old assumptions Val
Became more willing to bestow her trust
On mutants for the sake of a common future --
X-Factor became the symbol of this new hope.
Val worked with the others to conquer mutual fears
And press-ganged Raven to join her struggle as well.

In private things did not begin so well:
Mystique toyed with her heart incensing Val,
But coming to know her she allayed her fears
And she proved worthy of Val's reviving trust.
At last suspicion was overcome by hope
And love made them a couple for the future.

Alone no longer they journeyed into the future:
For Raven gave her love as a man as well,
From love came daughters, first Irene, then Hope.
The parents, Mama Ray and Mommy Val,
Grew stronger in their loving trust
And banished their old ghosts and fears.

Rejecting fears Val gave Mystique her trust
Instilling hope in her to love as well,
So parents Val and Raven face the future.

The form of this poem is called a sestina (or more correctly, what you see here are two sestinas, one focusing more on Raven, the other more on Valerie). I got the inspiration (and the freer metre) from a poem I found in a collection of science-fiction stories, Saul's Death by Joe Haldeman. (collected in his Dealing in Futures, 1986). According to my old encyclopedia, the sestina proper was first used by the 12th-century Provenšal poet Arnaut Daniel, later becoming most popular in Italy and Spain. The body of a sestina consists of six stanzas of six lines each, where the six lines of one stanza don't have to rhyme as such, but where all six stanzas have the same six end-words for their six lines. The order has to go through a prescribed change, so if one stanza has the sequence 1-2-3-4-5-6, the following one has to have 6-1-5-2-4-3. The tricky part comes at the end in a tercet, where the six words have to be incorpurated into three lines, in medial and final positions. Joe Haldeman also used another variant accompanying his novel Forever Free (1999), where instead of a tercet you find a single line -- a six-word sentence consisting only of the end-words.

Valerie Cooper, Destiny (Irene Adler), Senator Robert Kelly, Mystique (Raven Darkh÷lme), Nightcrawler (Kurt Wagner), Rogue, X-Factor are (c) and TM Marvel Comics.
Irene and Hope Cooper are (c) Tilman Stieve.


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