Jolokia Simulair – Rehashed

Today I’m going to be cracking open a poem I’ve once used to describe my abstracter works. One of my secret favorite titles I’ve ever had of all time – possibly deserving a follow up just for the sake of having another poem with a similar title.

As usual, original text of the poem can be found here.

Let’s first unpack that title: Jolokia Simulair. Some of the titles I come up with are portmanteaus or include root words where they ought not to be, and this one used a couple of odd conventions to get to what you call the entire piece. If you open up Google and pop in the work ‘jolokia’ you probably arrived at the bhut jolokia pepper, the ghost pepper. This was intentional, on my part, and I’ll explain why later. Simulair is a bit of a different story, as it is a sort of compound word I came up with. Simul-air. Simulated air. Simulair. Jolokia Simulair. Ghost pepper simulated air. Spicy!

What follows the title are 5-line stanza sets with irregular rhyming patterns and syllable counts, meaning the whole thing is unstructured. Off to a good start.

Stanzas 1 and 2:

“Electric charged
Processed water
Ran through rubber
Pumps and plumbing
Now seeps from vents.

White knuckle on a wheel,
As if gripping tighter
And tensing on pedals
Would make it easier
To see lanes in the road.”

So there’s already electricity, water, rubber, driving, visibility concerns, and a road to worry about. Like I said, unstructured. I could have made it much easier to communicate to the reader that these stanzas are about driving in low visibility, but I was really stuck in an age of being vague back in May of 2016. I think I found being vague charming without realizing that it made things hard as fuck to focus on.

The next 11 lines:

“5,280 feet.
80 miles per hour.
422,400 feet.
3,600 seconds.
118 feet per second,

39 in a blink.

Gold grains in the wind,
Less than dust,
Blinking away in lanes
Hundreds of feet
At a time.”

The first stanza and its envoi is about how far you travel when you blink while driving 80 miles per hour. This second stanza of the 2 is a little deeper, and I’ll say what I think it COULD mean, since it could mean two entirely different things. The overall effects of consuming a ghost pepper product (spiciness effecting bodily functions) was something I was going for with this piece, so it is possible that the “gold grains” are literal grains of ghost pepper salt. “Less than dust” makes me think that it might be rain, and if you’ve ever driven in a hard rain you can figure how low visibility factors into this poem. It’s hard as hell to see when you’re on a freeway rolling along at 80mph.

Stanza 5:

“Beside, kicking up mist
To the windshield,
Raging metal bulls
Surround and charge
In a blinding stampede.”

Here we compare the car to a raging bull. Pretty apt, I’d say. The allusion is to when you’re driving behind a vehicle in a previously described hard rain, their tires kick up water from the roadway onto your wind screen. So this “blinding stampede” is really the fury of tires on a freeway.

We’re going to look at only a few more select stanzas because high word count is not what I’m going for right now. That being said, the stanza following the previous one takes a break and gets really strangely wordy. Stanza 6:

“Chlorine in the pipelines,
Quaking relative to
Parallax rocket jet frames,
Tilted relative to angle a
Sunroof open to storming.”

Since it’s taken that we’re talking about bulls in reference to automobiles, I’m not sure what the hell to do with this stanza. Like I said, maybe I just wanted to throw a bunch of words as part of an excuse to flesh out the scene? But nothing’s really getting fleshed out besides “chlorine in the pipelines”, since I could see that as being some kind of caustic blood that makes such a beast run. Because of chlorine gas and all that fun stuff that melts your body. If I made Jolokia Simulair 2: The Simulairing, I would definitely be a bit more strict with my wordiness. Usually I reserve that for a comprehensible part of a poem, not a mini rant.

We get a lot more detail and good scenage in the following few stanzas, but stanza 12 is where it’s at:

“Gold dust dunes kicked up
In wake of rushing aurochs
And their blood as it spills
From the wounds
Driven through typhoons”

This is probably the single clearest stanza in the entire poem, and to my eyes the most powerful one. In retrospect, this is what the entire poem should have been built around. Let’s see, gold dust (see: rain), and rushing aurochs (see: raging bulls). But what about their blood? And wounds? And typhoons? Typhoons because of the weather, and because it rhymes with wounds. Blood? That might have to be explained by the end of the piece!

“Steam wrought warmth
By hooves as they take form
As pistons of velocity,
After torn to leak and bleed
And spray flash vapor seeds.

Ghost pepper spice of a meat
Vehicle melts permafrost and
Runs between gold dust lanes
Over new jungles and careens
After others in blinding steam.”

While it seems pretty vague still at first run-through, the ending stanzas here can be put together if you’ve got everything else so far that I explained above. Blood being the mist, ghost pepper spiced bulls shattering through hoarfrost and roads on their way by way of gold dust lanes. In my own canon, I saw the bulls as ghosts first and foremost, and the ghost pepper was a device to explain how they look when they run through mist. Jolokia, ghost bulls, and Simulair, blood and speed.

That’s a mouthful. So… backstory? Backstory!

This poem was written after my first visit to North Bend, in the era of Bladed Pens. It was rainy as hell on the freeways, and this entire poem was inspired by elements of my visit. Ghost pepper salt was something I tried, since I had been staying in a house where the owner was into butchery and grillmastery. Got me thinking about bulls when I saw the steam kick off of tires on the road back last May.

So that’s Jolokia Simulair! If I had another shot at it I would definitely tighten down the diction and not have stanzas where it all gets away from me, but hell I can’t really be mad about it as is. Together, I think it still stands. My favorite part is still the title.

Thanks for tuning in to this rehashing! It’s been fun!

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