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.
And with that, we move on to Palpitation.
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”.
We continue with Irregular.
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.
And on to Flutter.
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 march of Murmur continues in Arrhythmia.
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!