Murmur Box – Rehashed

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!

old dogtags

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:

Chemical
Coastline
Where waves break
And stained glass shines

Ancient lotuses
Covered in hard rime
Radiating photic
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!

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!

It (2017) – Criticism/Review

We’ve talked about horror before at Radio Reality City, but never before have we done a full on review! So let’s take a look at a film I watched this weekend, the immortal and widely-known “It”, first penned by Stephen King. This is the second time it has appeared in a visual medium, and for the sake of the review, we’ll be looking at this 2017’s iteration. ITeration. Hell yes.

I walked into the movie knowing nothing but what a lot of the internet said: “It’s good”. I’m not really one for horror, but I do like the idea of terror; the dread that eats away at you and causes fits of paranoia or suspicion among friends. In a journal this past Friday the 13th I described what I think works in works of horror, and since I didn’t know anything about It I went in not expecting what I was getting. So with the word of virality and my own apprehension towards the trope of children combating evil, I walked into the theater with a Monster energy drink and a box of Buncha Crunch.

Before we talk about the actual movie, I’ll have the reader know that I loved The Shining film directed by Stanley Kubrick. I’ve also seen the Creepshow series of short films, also written by Stephen King. To that end, it could be construed that I unequivocally enjoy Stephen King’s work, but that’s up to you. I tend to separate individual works by artists to do away with bias.

Also this is going to be spoiler heavy, so please fuck off now if you’re worried about that.

So, It opens with a bedridden 12 year old and his 8 year old little brother sitting in the former’s second story bedroom. It is raining, so that automatically means melancholy, right? That’s how weather works in symbolism. Rain=bad or sad. Bonding is had when olderboy makes youngrunner a boat and they seal it in wax. It’s foreshadowed heavily that youngrunner is “chosen” by the evil entity when he goes into the basement and retrieves the wax to seal the paper boat. A glowing pair of eyes seems to stare at him from a cabinet, but is just revealed to be bottles reflecting light after clouds break outside for just a moment.

This is the first knock at the way Pennywise works. Fear, paranoia, and desperation. Think of him like a Freddy Kruger or Babadook type monster. Feeding on the mind in order to physically sustain itself.

Nothing happens, but youngrunner is spooked and runs upstairs. Boat is wax-sealed, olderboy and youngrunner have a moment that creates olderboy’s character and then youngrunner goes outside to float the boat in the gutters, following it to see where it goes. I guess that’s what kids did in the 80’s, because there was fuck all else to do. (Yes I know the story is 20 years updated so that the second movie takes place in the 2010’s).

So this kid is running, right, and doesn’t notice this road barrier coming up because he’s paying attention to this fucking boat, and absolutely smashes head-on into it. He drops dazed to the ground, and I start laughing to myself in the theater at this point because I’m not sure why that they needed to shoot a scene where that happens. But I understand as the boat starts to get away from him, eventually just out of reach as youngrunner (named Georgie) watches it fall into a storm drain on the side of the street.

This is where we meet Pennywise, actually 5 minutes into the movie. That sort of surprised me, but his early introduction is required in order to instill the dread into the ‘reader’.

Pennywise is a demented looking clown who talks like an intelligent bum with the soul of Ted Bundy. He talks like he’s luring youngrunner down into the drain, toying with him by holding the boat and keeping a conversation going. If Pennywise weren’t a sewer clown it might actually have been a funny conversation. Youngrunner shows visible apprehension to reaching down the drain to get it from Pennywise, and Pennywise senses this.

At this point I noticed that Pennywise has been staring at Georgie the whole time and drooling every so slightly. Which is a fantastic fucking detail that I think deserves mentioning. Later in the film, you learn that Pennywise literally eats children to sustain itself, and needs to eat to live. So we see him drooling in this opening scene, and for the most part it is just really creepy but quite unsettling when we learn that eat-child detail later on.

Pennywise convinces youngrunner to reach for the boat, and as he does, Pennywise’s mouth contorts in to a maw of sharp teeth, and he TAKES THE KID’S FUCKING ARM OFF. Blood, gore, screaming, whole nine yards, Georgie falls back into the street with blood mixing with rainwater around him. The scene goes on for a few more moments before Pennywise drags him offscreen into the sewer and all that’s left is the puddle of bloody water.

This opening scene is important to describe because it really sets the tone for the movie.

It’s something of a no-no to have gore and children mixed in American cinema, so it was good to see a horror movie (not Deadpool) fully embrace an R rating and not be afraid of it. It was fantastic, and I sat up in my seat, excited to see the rest of the movie.

What followed was a Stranger Things crossed with The Babadook styled adventure. Stranger Things because it’s set in the 80’s and enjoys itself by having some very retrowave musical cues, and the themes explored are quite similar to a Stand By Me children-versus-evil thing. It’s an 80’s movie made in 2017. The Babadook because the entire point of Pennywise is quite similar to how scenes in The Babadook were shot. Also the ‘style’ of monster mentioned above is a very effective one, since there’s only so much of your emotions you can control when under stress.

Each protagonist in It has their own fears, and Pennywise exploits these by appearing as things they are afraid of to increase his own influence over them. During these sequences he appears as the character’s personal fear, and for short moments as the clown that his common form is. This leads the characters to all acknowledge that they’ve been terrorized by the same entity. “The Clown” they all surmise at about the midpoint of the movie.

This group of misfits also has had some run-ins with the local bullies, who themselves have internal struggles that are exploited by Pennywise. The bullies are chasing one of the “Loser’s Club” (the protagonists) before he meets the club, and get off track. Chased loser gets away, and one bully stumbles into a sewer system threatening what he thinks is his quarry. During this, he is confronted by Pennywise. He also dies, so that’s cool, offscreen but before it cuts away we see Pennywise as the clown glitch-walking towards the camera.

The way they shot most of the chase sequences are like requiem, with the camera focused on one point of Pennywise’s face while the space around them moves. It’s a little disorienting, but they make it work. A few jumpscares here and there, but you aren’t being constantly assaulted because more of the story is about how he is terrifying and not horrifying. I point to Lovecraft as I describe this.

This one scene is different, though, and Pennywise glitch-walks (easiest way to make me feel afraid of something). What I mean when I say glitch-walk is that he is clearly moving, motioning forward, but with each step he teleports five feet or so in the general direction of the person he’s after. So you see him stepping, but he’s twitching and staring at you and just appearing closer and closer until… the camera cuts away. For me, that was the scariest part of the whole thing. Jump scares are good for a cheap startle, but they’re without substance. Anyone can be jump scared.

I give a lot of credit to the actors playing the losers, because they did really well. They curse, they yell, and action realistically. I especially liked Eddie as a character because his fear of germs is exploited by Pennywise at one point (appearing as a plague-ridden, deformed hobo), and the screaming he does backing away from the creature is incredible. The kids trade blows about “your mom” and yell “fuck” where anyone would, and to that end I appreciate that the movie doesn’t baby its audience. Like I said with the opening scene, the tone is really set with how seriously they’re taking the making of this movie.

So each scene has a weight, and once you know that the monster is out there it makes you as the observer slightly paranoid to see where he’s going to appear next.

Bearing in mind that we’re going to learn in the second movie that Pennywise is actually an otherdimensional creature that’s lived for millions of years and you can see where King might have taken some Lovecraftian influence. Cosmic Horror is the best horror, and it makes the ending of It so much better.

I’m a fan of action movies for the same reason as I am cosmic horror. I’d prefer a Woo film to a heavyweight Marvel movie any day because Woo films are choreographed beautifully. Marvel movies are real popcorn cinema bullshits, where you go for the spectacle and the story is very secondhand. In well-choreographed action movies, the personalities of the characters don’t just appear as fighting styles. Like in Jackie Chan movies, he’s not an unflappable powerhouse that tanks every punch with a straight face. He winces, he gets his ass kicked, and he scrapes by just as surprised as the audience that he survived. It’s a fight with personality.

‘It’ mixes the two together at the final confrontation. They’ve injured Pennywise a few times up to this point, but the protagonists have all been literally too afraid to actually do damage to him. He’s been too powerful with their fear to be hurt significantly.

The losers force him to retreat into the sewers, and go armed and dangerous into his lair. During their approach, one of the aforementioned bullies is manipulated by Pennywise to murder his dad and demands the death of the protagonists. This hints that Pennywise is running scared and is feeling threatened, so he sends his leader bully to go deal with it. Leader bully gets fucking tossed down a well to death. So that’s good. Kinda ended that threat a little quickly, if you asked me. That scene doesn’t last the 5 minutes the opening did.

So the protagonists finally have him. Pennywise. But wait, Georgie is here in his lair, and he’s alive! Olderboy who’s been looking for him this entire time takes this opportunity to shoot Georgie in the fucking forehead with a sheep-euthanizing gun. Clearly, this was a ruse by It, for a second time this fucking kid gets destroyed on screen. Not-Georgie violently transforms into Pennywise, and the protagonists finally face off with him.

Pennywise makes a few last attempts to trigger the fears of the protagonists as best he can, almost working, but the losers stand fast. He lashes out, tosses a few children into walls, and gets smacked once and recoils. The losers regroup, cautiously stepping towards It, and then realize they can do him in right here right now.

What follows is a 3 minute fucking beatdown on this evil 4th-dimensional clown while he desperately cycles through every fear he can to regain his power. Doesn’t work. It gets his fucking ass handed to him by a bunch of children. So the reason I mention choreography in fighting movies is because this 3 minute beatdown executes on every single person’s personality, mixing with the fear and resentment they have for It while these kids fight with every thing they know.

Just as an example of what I’m talking about: during the fight, It transforms into a manifestation of a female character’s abusive father, causing her to hesitate. To which she responds by sending a length of fucking rebar through his jaw.

I think it’s important to mention this, because this is the payoff for these characters being afraid of It for the entire movie. This is the moment where those bets are off and they have the thing cornered. And it’s beautiful. All these little moments for the entire movie raise the stakes, as It gets more blatantly violent and the losers discover more of the extended plot that’ll play into the sequel, to end with one final absolute “fuck you” to the manifestation of their most extreme fears. “If it bleeds…” and all that.

The movie wraps up with the losers taking a blood oath to meet up with It eventually appears again. Some sideplots are wrapped up, and everyone walks away presumably to meet up in the sequel in two years.

So what do I think of this wonderful 80’s monster flick with a tinge of Lovecraft and a lot of Stand By Me? I think it was fucking great. All told, I went in expecting to be disappointed because when everyone said Twilight was good I was disappointed by that (New Moon was good, though). But it was an amazing little adventure in the small town of Derry, and I absolutely will look forward to the 2019 sequel.

Lovecraft Influence: Event Horizon Levels

Audience Dread: Like My 3rd Breakup so 3/4

Tropes: Palatable and Diversified

R-Rating Worthy: Way More Than Deadpool

Nostalgia Trip: I Want To Watch Stand By Me Now

Beatdown: Like Cleon in The Warriors

Final Verdict: Great Movie Go See It

Poikilothermal Special – Rehashed

october 29th, 2016 in north bend

Audio Version on YouTube!

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!

Poikilothermal – Text

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.

Poikillmethermal – Text

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.

Poised to Kill Me Thermally – Text

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!

Lithium Autumn – Rehashed

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!

Lithium Autumn – Text

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!

Quest for the Torino

We broke down
At the airport
In front of the
No waiting zone

An engine block
Overheated
As a mechanic
Waved to see me

Then the engine wouldn’t start
And he rolled out his tool belt
In the backseat and we worked
On it for half an hour

Opening the overflow
And looking at the radiator
We opened up to take a look
And antifreeze boiled out

We limped into Renton
To find a gas station
All the while
Smelling the bone dry metal

In the ghetto we found
What we needed
An air and water machine
To fill up the beast

And we gassed up while
We were there
Before we continued on
To Seattle Center

Where he wanted to go
To the EMP and check out
A Star Trek themed
Exhibition

Funny how I had never
Gotten the chance to know
This guy very well
Once upon a time

When I was so
Unaware of the stakes
And he was in the midst
Of finding out

And then back home
I drove
And we test drove the
Vehicle he’d drive

All the way back down
To the old country
To the friend who bought it
Back to San Bernardino

A quest for the torino
Can’t complain or
Be drawn from the day
Spent with luck like we
Just hit up a casino

In Seattle and Spanaway
Back roads
In Renton
And dry freeways

Aware of the stakes
We were out that day
For a grand pursuit
Quest for the torino