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.
Stanzas 1 and 2:
“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!