Today we’ll be taking a look at a poem I wrote back in November of 2016, called Warsxzaw. As normal, I’ll be giving a little backstory before I dive into it all, as to let be understood what is likely another one of my more cryptic poems.
This is a poem about that grey relationship of mine from Year Two. Where I dated someone who was colorblind, and so made me try to come up with poems that were particularly concerned with tones and hues. As such, I thought of the weather in Warsaw, Poland and analogued it to the grey days you have when you’re monochromatic colorblind. Grey days give way to rain, and so that became a fixture in the poem as well.
Since Warsxzaw is written nearly a year after the better part of that relationship, this poem tackles the idea of permanence and the importance of place. This poem is about the place.
There was always the
There was always grey
Threatening to drain
Onto the small world.
From heavy nebulas
In the heavensya
Where mist rolls
To aerosol ticks
Through open sky,
Past trees and
The ticks land
On wet blacktop,
Crawling in cracks
Under car tires
Driving over roads.
This first motion takes great care in describing the world, and how devoid it seems to be of color. In fact, it seems to host parasites in the rain that drops and crawls everywhere it can get. This is a world that isn’t hostile, but it is infectious.
Here we also see the first mention of my inspiration directly, in Warsaw.
Droplets of glass
Grey land, and
Run into gutters.
All taking place under warxaw clouds
On oily, wet black top
Then the ticks are made of glass, and they smash against the blacktop. The blacktop is oily, making a very obscure reference to the fact that oil commonly has a film of color on its surface. More street features. Another reference to Warsaw in warxaw, meant to raise the question of why this particular movement is occurring.
In sun, in rain,
In black ice day,
The promise that wherever you are, if you’re under a thin veil of glassy rain, walking on oily blacktop streets and sidewalks, and beneath a grey sky, you have always been in Warsxzaw. Warsxzaw isn’t really a place, then, it’s an idea. The idea of what it’s like to be colorblind and looking at the world from a perspective that only sees shades and lights.
There was always the wet blacktop.
But this poem also references the change in time. Warsaw becomes warxaw becomes warzaw, finally. The connective idea of Warsxzaw brings their respective times, places, and perspectives together in this unity of an idea.
Being colorblind must be like being in Warsxzaw. So much grey, so much rain that you feel on you hands, to look down and see the black and white tones crawling all over you, crawling all over the world. How stark that must be.
I wish I could see it like that sometimes. That’s gonna be it for this interpretation of Warsxzaw.
This poem is part of a long-standing series that seeks to see things from the perspective of monochrome colorblindness, which if published would result in an incredibly strange collection of stuff. Monochroma is the flagship from the set, but it’s not going to be the one I tackle next. I think it’s time for a change of pace and a looking at a poem from a different era.
Next up to be rehashed is going to be Hawaiian Corvidae. This poem is about sacredness, about islands, and best of all, about crows.
I’ve finally stopped fiddling with my 100D long enough to sit down and take a look at part 1 of a 2 part sequence called Deathwish! Now, this poem, Death6ish, started in a way I can’t remember at this moment, but it tumbled way out of control and found itself glassed with references to Destiny as well as a pretty neat 6-line set that punctuates the entire piece.
As usual, including link to the full poem, but we’ll also be looking stanza-by-stanza.
“We planned out harvest
And we knew what we
I love August. August is when everything starts in Radio Reality City. It’s summery, and autumney, but not quite both yet. I’ve written about the feeling before, but not so well as I have in this poem.
So what have we here? Quatrains, with a single rhyme set in the latter stanza displayed here. This stanza sets the scene and also fleshes out the expectation for what I’ll be getting at. See, I can’t remember why I started writing this poem, but I know it was partially an exercise in visuals. I carry this theme heavily throughout as we’ll see.
“Yet this doesn’t feel like home
This endless sunshine and white
Clouds in the ocean blue”
Alright, here’s the introduction of the conflict. This very clearly lays out the discord between the speaker and the weather. The happy, summery weather, I might add. According to tropes, this could mean the speaker is uncomfortable with happiness. We also see a reiteration of the blueness of the sky, compared to the ocean this time. Pretty generic stuff in imagery there.
“We work with what we’ve wrought
When the weather rots
And clouds enrage
At the prospect
Of having not rained
These are the seeds we’ve got
Growing relicous vines and fruit
With a taste that makes cheeks hot
Against an autummnal chill”
Hey now, this is getting good. We’re introduced to the overall theme of the poem in that 6 w-word line, and then we see the personification behind it raining. Okay, cool.
We’re also now exposed to the idea of crop-rearing, and the word ‘relicous’ is thrown in there. I’m going to be perfectly honest, that’s not a word. It’s like the title, where I kinda make it out of the things one would expect root words could attached to.
In this instance, I’m treating the word ‘relic’ as an adjective. Very old vines and fruit that warms you up as you consume. At least I think that was my intention, because I don’t have the notebooks necessary to tell me if this was actually intentional on my part.
“These seeds that grip and root
Entrench and shoot
Through the dirt
And cobble rocks”
Still sticking with the quatrains so far, and this one implies the seeds from which that relicious fruit has grown. Little rhyme along AABC in this one.
“Cherry plot ploughshares
Beaten into swords to defend
Our fields from thieves
Looking to steal our bounty”
Now this stanza is a good one. This is the crux of the whole thing, the theme, the everything. It’s a good knock at the conflict here. Ploughshares beaten into swords in order to keep safe the crops. There is an enemy of some description.
Skipping ahead a few stanzas:
“Meadows in infras and yellows
And fierce copper fields
Rife with ripe-wroughts
Shimmering in somber breeze
We work with what we’ve wrought
More of that imagery I was mentioning earlier. And then we get a tercet playing off of our central theme. It’s autumn, the harvest is going well, and hell, we’re rhyming a little bit!
“When the wind cannot still
And our ploughs
Beaten back again will
Work the ground now colored
Charred and hazel”
Harvest is being harvested. There’s no need to fight at the moment, and we’ve really broken from the expected quatrains and now we’re entering the penta-dimension. We’re also keeping a rhyme scheme going here as we continue along, much more voraciously than before. ‘Still/ will/ hazel’.
Swords stand like gargoyles
In the eroding chill
Above a bounty of copper crops
Bearing delicious hot fruit
Our livelihood and sustenance
The month is over and now we’ve formed swords again to save the things we’ve worked to make. Vermillion was such a good choice, that line in its entirety ‘brave vermillion’ deserves its own poem. Copper, infra, reds, yellows, and straight up vermillion. It’s November now. Harvest is over.
“No matter what
Come bad crops
Or storms nonstop
Hell or high water
And we end with a note that echoes the references made above. We work with what we’ve wrought.
I had this poem introduced as part of the workshop class I had last year, and in it someone interpreted this poem to be of farmers in the modern day of some description. Where, I really only liked the imagery and needed a way to thread it together. This was one of those poems I wrote that initially had no meaning. As time has gone on, I’ve seen so much in this little world I’ve made.
Time is not measured outside of those months, so this could be anywhere on the world.
It also doesn’t mean that crops are the things that are literally being defended. I wanted this poem to invite as many personal interpretations as possible. Even the ‘brave vermillion’ could reference bloodshed. Doesn’t have to be an item being fought over. Could be ideas, sentiments, or perhaps something else entirely.
The title is the telling part. Deathwish with a 6 where the ‘w’ should be. To connote the 6 w-word line, but also just the word deathwish thrown in there. What does it mean?
That’s exactly what it means. If you work with what you’ve wrought, you have a deathwish. Then is it entirely a good thing that these people are fighting off thieves for their own good? Are they simply surviving? It opens up so many questions, but it also leads to the reason the title is such an oddball.
You don’t need to just survive. The folly is doing just that, working with what you have.
Maybe it’s the capitalist in me, but that must mean there can always be more included with what you have, and you should seek to take it. Though, the farming interpretation was a good one, it’s not what I was going for. Sorry, Larry.
This poem also has a sequel titled Deathw7sh II, along the same chords, but an entirely different direction. We probably won’t be rehashing that one until we get midway down the barrel. Death6ish also has a prequel, called 1eathwish. Which keeps the themes intact but sets them against a perspective looking more cynically on why this specific aphorism is a deathwish to follow.
There is also a follow up to the overall series in Autumnreach, meant to be a part of the overall story but from an entirely different point in the universe, but connects it to the Poikilothermal set. 1eathwish is one we might be getting to later on. I think it’s equally as, if not more, powerful compared to Death6ish. This universe also also connects up to the ‘Knight’ series. We’ll be exploring that much later.
Hope you’ve enjoyed this rehash. Death6ish is a bit of an anomaly where everything started very uncertain and fell into place to make something really meaningful.
Next up, we’ll take a look at Warsxzaw, a poem coming out of the November Era III, or November of 2016. This one also deals with rain, but it also deals with different eras and first dates. How exciting!
This one is a poem. And like poems it’s weird and layered and from a particular point in my life when I was feeling especially bitter about old blood and all the fun stuff that comes with past flames being present ash.
I can see this poem was published in August of 2016, which would place it right between Year II and Year III in my internal head canon. This one may have very well signaled my growth as a person, or regrowth from what I thought I was.
Because the title takes some explaining, and I’ve already done some of that, let’s take a look at the first stanza.
“Doesn’t feel like years have passed
Since I’ve seen you last
Yet there you are”
Pretty self-explanatory so far. Nothing abstract about it at all. Stanza 2 looks to radically depart from this.
“In between streets
Running in the urban dark
In between backlight of
Dim, orange street lamps
Like you’re the dark
Pupil of an haggard iris
With a backpack
Full of [bronze piano wire]”
Now at this juncture, you should be able to tell that this poem was not a technical exercise like Murmur was, but this one was more about the specific diction. “Haggard” sticks out, as it isn’t often I use it at all. The imagery evokes something like out of the film ‘Altered’, or if you’ve ever seen the box art for its initial release, it’s incredible eerie. I meant this stanza to evoke that feeling of looking at something alien, and the first stanza was intended to frame that revelation to come in the form of time passing. Familiar… but not quite.
The last three lines in this stanza specifically make me wonder, still, what context are we seeing this being in? What implements does it carry? Stanza 3 does a good job at more clearly revealing what’s going on, and who this could be about.
“Your hair is blonde now
Your hands are cold
Uncovered by gloves
Or something warm to hold”
Is this a poem about an ex? This is a poem about an ex.
Ooooh, and I can taste the bitterness that flowed through me as I wrote that last line. No more hand to hold, huh? Still makes me laugh how dramatic that is, but everything so far in this poem has served a purpose and hasn’t quite yet lost me in its content. I think for this stanza to have worked, I would have needed some slight preamble to reference, possibly, differently colored hair and how it’s changed.
Here I attempted to meet the eerie feeling with no longer knowing someone with a sighting of something that shouldn’t be. Does this poem have Lovecraftian pretensions? Quite possibly!
Stanzas 4-7 are as follows:
“Besides your tools
And your devices
Found from drifting
Up late nights
Like you have
In the core
Of your distinct
They all could have been put together to make a stanza like number 2, but I enjoyed the irregularity I was conveying through line structure and mood rather than meter.
One of the important things in art is to have intention with what you’re doing. As such, I can relate to you now and let you be the judge of whether or not I succeeded in my goal of making this poem of an odd tone and make it very bite-sized.
“With a weathered hoodie on
And joy ride jeans
Covering the jaunt
From infrequent rain”
This last stanza is weak. Pitifully weak, and I can’t right now tell if that was intentional to its writing at the time, because it can very well be interpreted to have been that way. Mostly, I was trying to wrap up the poem at this point, and my method of doing that was to circle the content back around to the description I gave earlier.
Without any structure on the back end, I think this poem could work but I would very much need to include some more content. The descriptions I give are rather unbacked by any kind of attachment I could have spent time laying earlier in the stanzas. I feel that I neglected to make those connections, and that this poem is a lot weaker than it should be as a result.
What does this poem mean to you? In the end, I’m filled with this cosmic horror -ish feeling like I mentioned with the Lovecraftian influences. For a poem so small, I enjoy it for what it is and even though it’s rather weak, it’s still a lot better than the others its stacked up against.
In the end, the title was meant to refer to how long no time at all can feel like when you see someone has changed so much. Years and years have passed by.
Hope you’ve enjoyed this little article. These rehashings are pretty fun, and I’m getting more and more into them as we go along. Still a ton of catalog left to go, and things are only going to get more flagrant and expressive as we go.
Ohhh boy, now we’re getting deep into what made Year II special.
The murmur set: Murmur, Palpitation, Irregular, Flutter, and Arrhythmia all revolve around this tiny microcosm I’ve built that starts with stained class and moon crabs.
This was the kickoff point for Year II, autumn of 2015.
We’ll take it from the top, beginning with Murmur.
Okay, this one we might go piece by piece because the first stanza is a headscratcher: “I calculate, analyze, and extrapolate/ I weigh the odds, perceive the risk/ Make motions when I see fit/ Carefully measured in every decision”.
Tonally, to set up the entire poem, this was a strange move on my part. The second stanza would have much better started the piece: “You ushered me to accept my brand/ That which I had neglected for years/ I never had thought of it as pretty/ But it’s a tag that can save my life”.
This one is pretty nice and stylistically thought through. Brand being a set of dog tags. Why, like the ones pictured!
Symbols in this one are heavy and nearly immediately hitting. We get from stanza three a butterfly wing, and art on white walls. We’ll hold off on discussing the rest of the symbols until we’ve gone into the stanza’s content and look at word choices.
Stanza 4: “With fortune in hand, this brand/ I commanded destiny to shape/ Willed the reality with my grasp/ Grappled situations into submission”
Where the meaning is possibly the brand giving the user power? Some kind of comfort? Drive?
Stanzas 5 and 6 goes on to describe how the spoken-to of the poem is responsible for providing that drive in one form or another.
This stanza is where we get to the plot, which I will be putting in a blockquote so the form can be read better:
So set me upon the crowded beach
Of glass grain arrays of the domain
So set me there on that coastline
Let me search for glass to bind
Oh, man, this one gets my creative blood boiling. This is probably another one of the best stanzas I’ve ever had the opportunity to pen.
We’ve got a lot of internal rhyme mixed with an ABCC style end rhyme, and a 9/9/8/7 syllable set in iambic meter. This is likely the most technical stanza under my belt.
As well as having that moniker, this stanza also sets into motion the real density behind what makes this boxed set what it is. We now have a crowded coastline and the goal: the search for glass.
With the follow up stanzas going back to reference the butterfly, the white blanched walls, and the desire to use this brand to expose the truth. It’s interesting to see that sentiment reflected in me as far back as October 2015. Not often you can see the rings in the tree of thought.
We also have a line that references “war prizes” which isn’t a main part of this box set, but it is another piece. You can check that one out here, but we won’t be discussing it any further in this rehash.
We end this poem with two stanzas discussing what we do with the things we make, and how we get to the point where we make them. Worth also putting here in blockquotes:
But I’m reminded again of the brand
To my face I put a hand to feel
The beat of its wings, recalling
My memory to make these things
Meant to ground the poem. That in all the binding of glass, there’s so much to remember and immortalize. You have to remember where you came from to keep going.
Palpitation was created as a later response to Murmur, 11 months later, and sought to expand on the pocket dimension I elaborated on earlier. Of coastlines and all that stuff.
Starting with the first stanza: “It wouldn’t be that memory/ Of stained glass dust now/ Scattered upon those grains/ Before the windows disintegrated”
So we can see that since writing Murmur, my perspective on the subject content has changed quite drastically. The memories aren’t responsible for the destruction of the windows we made from the glass I once found. We follow that in stanza 2 with the description of the moon and tides, and in stanza 3 we get even further with tidepools and the residents of this odd place: moon crabs. Which, if you’ve never owned and taken care of moon crabs, they’re adorable.
The reason I specifically included them was because of the handy lunar and tidal references, but also because moon crabs look otherworldly. If you felt like the world of the Murmur Box was not of this rock, then I hoped to drive that point home by mentioning the purple and orange creatures.
Stanza 4: “It would pierce the pressure/ In my chest/ It would relax all tense urge/ Of needing to make these things”
The speaker from Murmur is now dead. Now that the speaker is dead, there’s no need to continue to bind glass and relive those memories in pursuit of creation. Life goes on without them, “No more murmurs/ but palpitations”.
This one is rather short, so I’ll be taking only stanza 2 out of it: “Every beat/ Of an ocean’s heart/ Is a violent swell/ To crash apart”
So the titles aren’t anymore in reference to the feeling inside, the murmur of emotion when you need to make things to cope. This is the march of time idealized as an ocean with a pulse. An irregular one, but a pulse nonetheless. Even though there is no one there, it lives on.
Where we close that section of the story with more of the ocean’s blood. Murmur written in 10/15, Palpitation written in 9/16, with Irregular and Flutter following in 10/16. The next one was written in December of 2017.
The realm of the Murmur Box is now ancient. Time has been kind to it, preserving the coast, but it’s much different now.
“Infinity is our half-life” says the speaker now, referencing “our” as if the speaker is now the coast itself. At least, that’s how I choose to look at it.
With stanzas 2 and 3 being blockquoted:
Where waves break
And stained glass shines
Covered in hard rime
Caffeine and dopamine
We circle back to the lotuses first seen in Palpitation. It’s been a long time, but this is a familiar sight. It’s covered in sheer ice, but they’re still shining somehow.
The green ivy on the inland beach is now silvery with the cold, and stanza 5 also in blockquotes:
Pogonip in canopies
Lake bath bombs, glittery
Its shape slowly swirling
Through the high leaves
This place is even more ethereal now, but not even the moon crabs are here. It’s been completely overtaken by whatever nature claims this place.
We throw in a reference to the series so far, and then end in the last stanza: “Shape of the waves/ Beating on return/ To the same coast/ But stained differently” We never quite reach the unhinged capacity of Murmur, but the tale has lived on through 2 years.
It’s been a journey filled with moon crabs, tidepools, butterflies, lotuses, the heart of an ocean, glass as sand, and etheric glittery fog in the canopies of crystallized trees. Now that I’m reading it back, this place has definitely seemed to age as time out-of-poem has progressed.
I sit here wondering what backstory is relevant. I mean, how do you start explaining the inspiration to something so… out there? I supposed I’ve done it before, but this one is so much simpler that it almost doesn’t bear mentioning. Almost.
Murmur was a love letter. About being told I should wear my dogtags because people in my life suddenly cared about me. Those tags harbored medical information that would be vital to EMTs if I ever found myself in the care of professionals. That person wanted me to wear those tags, which has already seen so much history in my life, and that woke up a ton of thoughts about what history those brass tags might have yet to see. A year later, I had formed a different perspective, and had updated tags. And a year later, still, my perspective on them had changed again.
The titles are references to heart conditions, which is what I had described the feeling of romance as before. When you look at the person you love and for no other reason does your heart kick into gear, and your eyes dilate. It’s an irregularity. A murmur of the heart in a strictly metaphorical sense. My lungs are the things that are messed up, not by heart.
But long after Murmur was written (as you can see in the timeline), the series no longer had that specific connotation. We’re still worried about symbols like the butterflies as kisses, and the brand as my dogtags. The Murmur Box moved on as a place, and it evolved the whole way through the experience that was those years.
That being said, there are more iterations to this series. I know for a fact there’s at least two more I have to write. But I’m running out of synonyms for heart conditions.
I’m glad I took a look at these! The timeline was a real trip to look back at again, and I’m happy to have stumbled across that one technical stanza in the midst of this convoluted plot. I’ll have to do something with that one.
Hope you’ve enjoyed this rehashing! This one’s been in the works since Arrhythmia was written in December. This one has been particularly interesting to look at, with a lot more content referencing itself than the last one we went over, Solar Flytrap.
Next up: we’re looking at Years and Years or Death6ish! Have yet to decide!
From the off, you might notice this poem has a significantly different bend than ones you might be used to from me. I have roughly three themes I enjoy writing about consistently: romance, abstractions, and aggression. As I said above, this is one of those aggressive ones, and I don’t really write about it terribly often. I bend more toward romantic poems or writing about a place I’ve been, so even if this is in my top 3 themes it’s still rare for me.
If you follow my journals and listen to my song recommendations, you’ll find that this poem is a result of a classic writing exercise. This is a rewrite of the lyrics to “Nobody Speak” by DJ Shadow. The tone set by the song set the stage for a spin-off, in terms of meter and demeanor.
And one last bit of business to describe: this poem, if you’re wise to my other influences, is very much drenched in inspiration from DOOM 2016. Love that fucking game. I set out to write a poem that describes the feeling of power as well as being boastful as in “Nobody Speak”. So this was my shot.
Stanza 1 is great, stanzas 2-8 not so much. I think I suffered from a real pacing issue here right at the start, in that this kind of lyric/poem needs zero context. Cripplingly, I added context, and kept adding context, until context decided it would suck on some nourishing gravel and die in the dirt covered in its own bodily fluids.
Stanza one: “Start running/ Door’s open we’re coming”, while I think is effective as establishing what the stakes are immediately, could have done better as a tercet. The poem wastes no time making sure the reader knows that the narrator is the one to be afraid of. But the next 7 stanzas that follow kind of wallow in it ineffectively.
Then stanza 9 goes “We will chainsaw you in half/ Motherfucker/ We don’t mess/ But with mess in your death”, which I think does well with the meter and rhyme I’m abiding by. It describes that violence while having a grip on pacing, finally.
What continues is similar rhyme sets, and even more internal rhyme. Instead of describing it beat for beat like you could read in the poem itself, I’ll discuss the metaphors I opted for and go over if I thought they did what they were supposed to.
This is one after stanza 9 I really enjoyed: “We will pull your spine/ From your chest/// Beat you with a wrench/ Break your horns and/ Slit your throat/ With their ends” for the not just glory kill reference to DOOM 2016, but the very smooth Bioshock reference as well. We also have almost a nonsensical set in the first two lines. I intended that to evoke the brutality of the scene. Yes, it’s about reaching through a chest to tear out a spine. Pretty literal, really.
There’s also this set some lines later, “We’ve got machine guns/ That fire rockets/ And gauss rifles/ In our pockets” that’s a reference to fantastical weapons as well as the unrealistic expectations of carrying them all at once that old school FPS games wonderfully cater to. I think that’s part of the intrigue: some things don’t need to be explained. And some things don’t need to be drowned out by context.
We also have these two curious lines later on that go “Our divisions in the visions/ Of breaking your body”, and at first that definitely looks like I vomited something out to make a rhyme happen. Hopefully it doesn’t look like that to you, because I intended that to come off as an explanations of the different ways the extremely powerful have at mind to tear asunder their opposition. Divisions in the visions they have, kinda thing.
And we’ll end picking apart the actual text of the poem by going over the last 5 lines briefly. “We don’t speak/ We communicate/ In the corpses/ Of demons we leave/// ‘Fuck out of here'”. I think this one was really well done. Probably the best part of this whole poem outside of stanza 9. The whole silent protagonist thing is popular in these games, especially DOOM, so I wanted to riff on that as well as pay homage to the inspiration from that song “Nobody Speak”.
All in all, this poem started aggressive, lost me right afterwards, and brought it back around. If this one were to get a remaster, the first thing I’d do is chop out those intermediate build-up lines because they’re awful. Maybe not on their own, but awfully structured.
Though, if you can look past that, I think you can see this poem for what it is: nothing more than a love letter to a franchise that soaks itself in wanton destruction. It’s cathartic and also quite a lovely mindset to have when faced with an obstacle.
It’s actually one of the driving forces behind achieving, to me. “Do not go around. Go through.”
So this poem speaks to that attitude, that aggression that comes with drive. Don’t go around, go through your obstacle. Make sure your other obstacles know what you can do. Each one falls easier than the last.
In other words: “Make ’em swoon”.
This rehashed was a little short, but then again this poem is really quite literal. Not a lot to unpack, and I hope you’ve been able to enjoy taking a second shot at it. I walked away knowing that the sequel will be wayyyy less contextual.
Been a while since we’ve done one of these! But these are fun, and since I’m feeling incredibly broken let’s go to a place that is broken. The inspiration for Somewhere Else, the place a very long drive away, the place that is isolated for good reason, Ellensburg!
I haven’t stopped harping on about this place lately, which is especially true because of my recent visit which culminated in fuck-all. But we’re here to talk about poetry and why we write it, so let’s break down why I wrote something at all inspired by such a dull place. And hey, if you’ve found this post because you searched up “Ellensburg” then I’m sorry for all that. Onwards!
Let’s start with the title: solar flytrap. Apart from the easy connection to the Venus flytrap plant which eats insects who cross its maw, this one is an obscure title, like many of my other obscure titles. I get the title from two different connotations.
“Solar” comes from the period in which I visited Ellensburg, the summer. In that it was really hot for no particular reason, but I also liken this part of the title to why I decided to connect the word flytrap, after all; it is most certainly part of a larger phrase.
“Flytrap” itself is a good way to look at Ellensburg, but that wasn’t why I decided to use this word. No, this one was inspired by a song I was listening to at the time by Solar Fields, simply called Flytrap. Last July as a whole was a time of demon-slaying and some incredibly impactful life reconnections. It has a lot of internal connotations, to me the song represents the hopefulness in perseverance. Continuing to succeed, and not just continuing.
The two words together, Solar Flytrap, means to me “trapping of the sun by things with wings”.
That’s what Ellensburg was when I properly visited it the first time. The sun was trapped, and so were we, in this place that twisted continuously into Kittias Valley. This left me with a romanticized image of the city, and it’s what made me (and still makes me want to return).
So after being struck by its placement and existence, it became the direct inspiration for what Somewhere Else might look like.
We get a hint of this in the lines “As you pass through a portal/ Through a shield/ You emerge in a meadow/ Dead, yet an oasis of brick”. The portal is a direct reference to going to Somewhere Else, which is what crossing the Cascades into Central Washington feels like. Alien but so familiar.
What follows is a description of the city itself and what I think. No rhyme scheme, no specific meter, and no real hinge that looks to structure besides the line scheme. Quatrain sets interrupted by the line, “Themselves for what?” which asks why this place exists.
In the lines following it, mentioning sword and shield, and the last stanza of the poem which reads “Beyond the pass/ Beyond the shield/ Unto dawn they cut/ Their teeth on the field” which is also a direct reference to another poem I once wrote about the Cascades, which references the mountain chain as a shield against the weather of the west. Snoqualmie Pass, in particular, is what I’m talking about. The weird journey that terminates at a place unlike the one you were in even an hour before you arrived.
So maybe this is all part of a Bite Back series, huh? Maybe. Nature is beautiful, and it does a great job of persisting. Such as the Solar Flytrap.
What would I do different, given all this information and some more perspective? I would probably take a crack at making the meta reference more overt, but also more approachable, because clearly no one is going to read ALL of my work and connect the dots. I could keep its meter how it is and also not institute any kind of scheme for rhymes. I might pick up the mysticism factor by quite a lot, but that might be just about it.
I’ve selected to cover this poem since it relates to others I’ve already rehashed, but I also find myself in a time as uncertain as that one. Familiar faces, new ones, and quite a lot of experience backing the will to proceed. I hope things continue this way, and perhaps I might produce a poem called “Lunar Groundclear!” Who know what whacky things might happen next in Somewhere Else. I do know that the next rehashed might be a big one.
Thanks for tuning in, and please check out some more content up at https://radioreality.city! It’s a fun little place, and I’ve only just gotten started rehashing my work, so if you want to know what makes certain things tick, stick around! There’s ever more to come.
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.
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:
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:
80 miles per hour.
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.
“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!
This one is the heavy hitter of 2014. THE poem of mine that was first ever published in something I didn’t put out, or was a part of putting out. Virgo Olympus. And it’s layered, and it’s angsty, and it’s broody, and it’s fucking perfect.
Virgo Olympus was the culmination of a lot of teenaged bullshit that got all wrapped up into a nice set of 21 stanzas. I wasn’t into drama, drugs, alcohol, skipping class, or any of that junk when I was in high school. Nothing too out of the ordinary, to be honest, which is what makes my current trajectory interesting to myself to look at every now and then. Let me regail you with the tale that was my first break up and what that led to!
I dated my first girlfriend from May 20th 2013 to July 4th 2014. Putting the dates in perspective like that makes me see it as an entirely new brand of pathetic. At that time in 2013 when we met, my family and I hadn’t even established well in Washington yet. Barely being here for 5 months at that point. She introduced me to a lot of weird and wonderful things of this place, and her interests were so strongly developed that I slowly felt myself want to become less of myself and more of her interests. You ever feel that? Because at that point I didn’t have a very well developed sense of self, it was really easy to say “I’m just going to try to be what you like” and so I did.
Then that July 4th when she offed me I was heartbroken, obviously. Stupidly, I should say. Everyone’s first breakup is a strange little cascade of regrets and blunders and non-closure. I really didn’t know why she split, as things were going well, and so we went zero-contact. This was a difficult thing for me.
I was feeling such anguish (so I thought) and sadness (I believed) that I thought I would never feel such a thing again. While I was sort of right, I did what I thought would be neat. I started writing down what I was feeling when a wave of grief hit. Figured I’m only going to have my first breakup once and that I should fully embrace this wellspring of void, writing out the sensations as they developed.
This was before I had even thought about writing poetry seriously. I was still doing that Avian American thing, I think. But then my life took a different direction during that summer.
Just about a month or so after that 4th, I got into contact with someone I hadn’t spoken to in a while. Former classmate who had moved, actually, halfway through Junior year of high school (would have been December 2013). I was housesitting, lonely, and was somewhat sick of letting these thoughts get to me. I reached out on facebook to see if anyone would like to chat, just to kill some time. In retrospect, I don’t know what part of me thought that was a good idea, but hey it worked out. This would have been late August of 2014.
Then there was this new girl in my life. I was interested in her, and she in me, and suddenly everything about this state was new and pronounced and took on a new fantastical meaning. I was more strongly identifying in myself, driving, developing my independent interests, and there was her.
Totally different from my first relationship. This was new and exciting compared to the vanilla schoolyard affair that was my first relationship. At this point I could go places on my own, visit her, and all manner of in between. I was no longer mourning the loss of a relationship, I was fully submersed in this brand new flavor of worldviews and interests and things I could tack on to myself. I was “punk rock”, for sure. Long hair, and large ego. She complimented me well.
Virgo Olympus was written on the floor of that girl’s bedroom on October 5th, 2014 at 1:34 AM. After a night on the town and with her, everything changed.
The poem itself was my first crack at a literary poem, nothing meant to woo somebody. It was an attempt to capture those powerful feelings in a way someone could see the journey through that night. Intimacy, Olympia, the nightlife, the people, the context. Everything I thought was going to be burned into my skull, but one of the first memories I was afraid to lose.
Shall we dissect it? Yeah buddy!
“When a long time becomes a year
When it used to mean a week
Tides transitioning, ever bending
Towards an old wooden moon”
Makes reference to fragility of the moment, as well as how much smaller things seem to be getting to me. The last two lines were spoken by a man by the name of Theo, who was dressed in a tuxedo, sitting on the sidewalk, with pigtails, a big beard, and no glasses, singing about the most random things he could string together while playing a music box eerily. Reap on ye fucking reaper man.
The next stanza follows up with reference to him, but also starts with the line, “Apothic red wine and dark coffee”, which we’ll be revisiting in a moment.
Stanza three opens up about the scent of the streets, the stale smoke and bad salvia. And then we see our first hit of sexual content with “this bed is warm and intimate”, which seems a little blunt, perhaps? I wasn’t thinking much when I was writing this, nor did I ever edit it so maybe if I revised this I’d make the sexuality a little more subtle.
I make more attempts to sound smart with the line “Vagrants walk with barons here” but that stanza also hints at the possibility of people being more than what they seem.
Yet what follows is a description of the fantastic sights and sounds. Capitol, food, and the constant smoke that seemed to emanate about the place. We see red wine again, referenced as people stumbling around drunk. It was late that night when we were wandering.
One reference was extremely stretched thin, and like with all things public and sexual I’m somewhat uncomfortable even opening up about it but fuck I wrote it so I’ll own it. The lines “Virgo and sagittarius in the city skies/ Disappeared once inside” are a direct reference to two things. Virginity, and the zodiac symbol of my first girlfriend (she made a big deal about it). NOT MIXING THEM TOGETHER. I was referencing the two disappearing once our night on the streets was over. “Our” being, me and the new girlfriend.
So yes, the poem is also about virginity and losing it. Specifically my experience losing it. That title Virgo Olympus? That’s exactly what you could think it means!
Great! Now that’s out there for the whole world to see. Moving on. So there’s a “synthetic android” riff that was also something Theo said in his ramblings. I wasn’t able to record much of them but I do have some recordings I’ve picked through. That was just one of the things I remembered at the end of that night. But it also gave way to a thought of the smoke and “organic switchboards” being part of some chemically thing. Honestly, I didn’t reach very deep on that side. I was more concerned with balancing images of intimacy with that of the city.
A lot of the poem is a vivid imagination of the emotions at play, although it’s pretty verbose. I think that side of it was a product of me trying to sound like I knew what I was doing when it came to poetry. It was good enough for Pierce College’s SLAM in 2016. I did a reading of it! Not meant really for reading out loud.
We see a lot of the imagined stuff in the smoke, wine, stars, abstraction. We have a philosophical thing with the dollars at the music box, but I don’t see it as very powerful.
“Reality on a strip of paper” is quite literal. The original design for the Reality in Radio Reality City came from a guy who asked me that night what my favorite word was. To which I replied was “reality” since the Xilent song of the same name just dropped at about that time. He drew up the word in a fantastic script and gave the piece of paper to me. I have it pinned to my wall right this second.
The next stanza describes a jacket, shootings, and stabbings. That the person who originally owned the jacket was someone of questionable virtue. I think that’s what I was getting at, but not a lot comes across, now that I read it again.
Here we go, last three stanzas! We can make it now that we’re 1,500 words in!
This is where we get to the ultimate intimacy in the poem, referenced still vaguely as “Hands in hands/ Clothes on the floor”, and we also get that red wine again, a glass half empty. Perhaps it is to mean that the wine is the city itself, and everybody is drunk off the scene? Ha ha!
“Wine mingles with coffee”, evening and morning. Kinda trying to circle back to the beginning without saying it, but the ultimate stanza gives us the time of day.
Midnight. “Into tomorrow, we’ll be revived/ The city will breath, so will we”. Every android is a part of the city. Now we find out what it’s all about.
That each person interacting with the surroundings of the nightlife is really a node in a vast circuitry. Switchboards, old wooden moon, reality. What is reality here?
That’s the heart of Virgo Olympus. All these things so memorable happening in the depths of an impossible machine.
Man, I almost lost myself reading through it again, but I didn’t give myself enough credit to what I was doing three years ago. Bang up job, if I do say so myself!
And I do!
Hope you’ve enjoyed this deeply personal, long-winded mess around with what kicked off my interest in poetry. First one I wrote for realsies, and the first one published outside of self.
It’s amazing what patience and time can do for interpretations.
While the Mount Si series has a wide umbrella of poems under its shadow (fucking wordplay, yes), today I’m going to zoom in on a set of three I wrote to the sound of a single song. Poikilothermal, Poikillmethermal, and Poised To Kill Me Thermally. Let’s start with the beginning!
Before we go any further, the song I have in mind is “Kill Me” by Xilent, and here’s a bit of background on what meaning it has to me. So back in August of last year, 2016, I was housesitting through a connection I had through my then-girlfriend. This place was in North Bend, owned by one of the coolest guys I’ve come to know, who also got me into photography. Thanks, Erik! This place wasn’t labyrinthine or overtly ornate or anything like that, it was just a home. But it was a good one.
Two stories tall, nice backyard space, and plenty of pretty damn cool furnishings. You see, the owner was a traveler, and also had some time on his hands. He was so deep into photography that his walls were covered in canvas prints of photos he’s taken around the world. Downright impressive, I always thought. That kind of house.
The backyard stares directly up at Mount Si. I made it a point whenever I was there to stand in the backyard and look up at it. Admire it. My girlfriend always called it her mountain, so I should call it mine too, right? It developed its own meaning to me.
So picture me, writing, PS4ing, in loungewear, and finding out that my favorite artist has just dropped this track out of nowhere on a compilation album. Probably three days into this housesitting venture, and I was struck by that lightning that one movie talked about. The first 40 seconds of “Kill Me” burned into my head one morning as I stood in that backyard and stared back at the body of Snoqualm.
The song itself begins airy, ethereal, and rises with an incredible energy in that strange Xilent way. It infected everything about the cold, because it was cold. It crept into everything about mountains, because I stood before a mountain. And every time I found myself at that house again afterwards, it was different. Every time I housesat again, I would brew tea or coffee in the morning and walk outside to see the cloud covered peak of those Cascades. However cold, however light, I loved it so much. It’s not often that I can find myself so near a natural force that takes me.
So the entirety of Poikilothermal is actually modeled off of the opening notes of Kill Me and their progression. The words themselves model the feeling I was so taken by. Icicles moving across the lungs and breathing deep with me. The “Sun smashing” in dawn and lighting up its face so wonderfully. Takingly, once again, for lack of a better word.
One of the final lines includes the word “Kjempen” which is Norwegian for “Giant”, itself the title of another poem describing an aspect of North Bend and my housesitting experience there.
And the photo up top is the mountain itself. A photo I took with my girlfriend’s family on one of my first trips to North Bend. Of course I miss the place.
This poem explores more the feeling of wanting to stay and admire the peak. “White walking” being a reference to the undead from Game of Thrones, yes. I throw a lot of references in to wanting time and space to stop to capture the moment and enjoy it forever. That’s what a lot of writing is, but there are things I write about only to capture the feelings because I know they won’t happen again. Was it the same feeling as when I climbed Mount Si? Not at all. I wasn’t content to be entranced then, I was on a mission.
In Poikillmethermal I constantly reference what it looks like rather than what it feels like in the last poem. This poem is progressively dark in imagery and tone, which sets the course for this series of Poikilothermal. Especially seen in the titles.
The climax. We’re beyond taking inspiration from the song now. It set the course, but it will not get us to the destination.
Naturally I did take the title of the song and apply it to the thoughts of wonder I was having. Poikillmethermal was written a month after Poikilothermal, and so Poised to Kill Me Thermally was written another month after that. December, January, February, respectively.
We complete our upward spiral into oblivion at the behest of being lost in the mountain. By this point I had been reading up on Everest and developing an interest in the stories of people lost on 8,000 meter mountaintops. So I took the story and I made it darker. Now in this poem we find out what the snow on the mountain is made of. “Dry blood and bone dust”… “Made from thousands/ Of other adventurers”. So I acknowledge that it is fatal to dwell on things.
At least I think that’s what I was getting at.
Still, every time I listen to Kill Me, I remember Mount Si and those North Bend memories. I do love the place. Every time it comes up on an agenda or map I get excited knowing I was there and have some really fantastic memories. I might even start watching Twin Peaks. Who knows.
So yeah! I have a lot of poems about Mount Si and North Bend, but this set was special since it tackled the crisis of not wanting to dwell but wanting to capture. In the end, I think I’m just another adventurer. Another frosted skeleton on the side of the mountain pass to warn others. But I secretly loved giving myself up to the snow.
This has been a breakdown of Poikilothermal, Poikillmethermal, and Poised to Kill Me Thermally! Thanks for tuning in, and if you liked what you’ve read, twist the dials to Radio Reality City and have a listen!
This poem was a weird one. Not just for the title of “Lithium Autumn” (the fuck is that?) but for its inspiration and how it actually turned out. What’s cool to me is that creativity turns on from whatever tap you want it to. This tap was turned from Artificial Intelligence and ancient intelligence.
If you don’t wish to have another interpretation stuck in your head, read the poem at the link below first! If not, forge ahead!
Since this poem is such a weird one I guess I’ll start with the title. Part of the wording here in the 10th line it says “wine-colored spirits” which was a description akin to those that appear in ancient Greece works. I had been playing with the idea of incredible amounts of color, partially having dated someone who was total color colorblind, but also listening to a series called Radio Lab for an environmental studies class.
This was an episode of Radio Lab that was concerned with the idea that the color blue isn’t terribly naturally occurring. And that the perception of something would mean being aware that it existed. So in this instance, the Greeks most likely didn’t have a sense developed for the color blue. Where in their environment would they see it? Well, the sky and Mediterranean are obvious ones to point to. Though, when these entities are described in ancient Greek literary works, most commonly you see the phrase “wine-colored”, due to a deeper purple color most likely being seen by those Greeks.
Dealing with color and using it on its own to describe things can be an exercise in futility, because why would you describe something? To me, the color has the connotations. Like how some marketing using the color red has been shown by some psychological reports to be linked to hunger, color in art has its own meanings.
Based off of that idea of wine-colored blues and “my red isn’t the same as your red”, I came up with an autumnal scene on the verge of winter. What clear skies you would see on a wonderfully cold day such as one, say, in Western Washington. The amber leaves, the bloodshot tips, the silvery frost fog and glaze on the dead leaves. I’m in love with autumn, that’s no secret. So the challenge for me is to make autumn constantly an original thing like I’ve talked about with themes like death.
Every one has to be different. Else it becomes a cliche.
So this one is different when we reach the 4th stanza, “Where an android’s/Corruption”. What was once a color intensive scene of autumn is now introducing an android to the mix. Where the hell did that come from?
Two things, actually. Firstly, and least interestingly, was the Google AI DeepDream code. An AI that will take an image and reinterpret the images it detects into something you can see in a “deepdreamed” recreation of the original. This effect was popularly used on the San Francisco scene in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Search for it on YouTube, it’s pretty wild.
If you’ve ever used the AI, you can see what the next stanza is getting at: “Building temples/And seeing wolves”. That’s what the AI does, it fabricates things.
Out of the boring grey (described in the poem Elisabeth Ungrey), the AI “makes lines of rainbows as roads to the cities its eyes constructed”. Ending with the lines “A corrupted/Deep dream”. Corrupted in the eye of he who too closely holds the original image dear. Being afraid of change, to put it less verbosely.
Now what’s the second inspiration for androids? It’s an awfully specific word. I could have said program, software, exo, any number of things. I chose android because the androids are a driving force behind the city in “Virgo Olympus”. This poem is a callback to the plot thread that Virgo Olympus started.
Because Virgo Olympus was about something so dear to me at the time, this poem is about the destruction of the original image. The original things held dear. They have changed and you should let the reinterpretation enter your mind just the same.
In this sense, I believe Lithium Autumn to be a poem about doublethink and eagerness to see change.
On top of what I think is a gorgeous first stanza, but hey, I’m my number 1 fan and also the only person best at hating my own work. So this is one I like! I believe this is one of the strongest caliber poems I have loaded.
Plenty layered, but easy to understand when you break it down. I’ve been told before that a lot of my earlier work (see early Year Two) has the problem of having too much personal meaning to me and not being able to be parsed by anyone else easily without explanation.
With this poem I can definitively say I’ve broken the mold, and I think I’ve gotten a little bit better at describing autumn as it appears in new circumstances.
Hope you enjoyed this little breakdown of Lithium Autumn!