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!
Original text of the poem can be found here: https://radioreality.city/2017/11/09/solar-flytrap/.
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.
This poem, then, is part of the set about the land surrounding the cascades. This includes, but isn’t limited to: Kjempen, and the Poikilothermal set, as well as Cutis Anserina, Teeth of Cascadia, and Teeth of Olympia. If it is a mountain, it has teeth to bite back at the weather to protect what lies there.
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.
Tomorrow is an open mic at Pierce College and I intend to go. I’ve edited and prepped that poem “Alter Egoes” I mentioned a bit ago, and I must say I’m increasingly happy with how it sounds. I’ve said to death: political bullshit is way too easy and at the same time way too difficult to pull off these days.
If you’re picking on Trump, Putin, the CEO of EA, Kevin Spacey, Germany (still getting hate over that Nazi business last century), and North Korea, you could find that you have enough material to work with to be done with everything else that comes with writing political: subtlety, satire, nuance, all that jazz. And on the flip side of that coin, if you stay too subtle, you come out with something nobody cares about or understands. But stuff from Voltaire, and papers like “A Modest Proposal” hit their mark all-too well. Makes a hard act to follow.
In the scope of political writing, I used to swing towards Hunter S. Thompson’s view that the American Dream is dying. No longer what it used to be. Nowadays I’ve found that I’m developing more interests outside of purely writing, and with that comes a bit more awareness of the system I’m operating in. Some artists, such as Rage Against the Machine, exist in a weird grey area where they sound like whiny pricks while at the same time putting out really good messages like “Testify”.
This world is a real pay to play one. I’ve heard it described as dog-eat-dog, but I don’t believe it’s that cutthroat. There are clear cut boundaries of things you should fuck with and things you shouldn’t fuck with. We’re not as savage as to be permanently in a ‘kill or be killed’ scenario. But you put in your dues and get a seat at the table, where all the fun stuff happens. But “writing political” these days is either: “fuck the right” or “fuck the left” or “fuck libertarians”. It’s not complex.
I still think it is an awful idea to associate with any one group, to let your representatives champion a cause you agree with into oblivion.
With such, I’ll use all this when I deliver my short little poem Alter Egoes tomorrow.
I’ve written political before, but it’s either too vague or too blunt. No in between. My poem Blame Me didn’t exactly hit the mark I was going for, and it warrants another look later on. Other poems veil the issue I’m trying to discuss behind layers and layers of metaphors, never really touching on the issue that even I’m too afraid to directly speak about.
Radio Reality City believes in expression over censorship. So I’ll be tackling both, and talking political. It’s actually quite a thing for me, because usually I’m too absorbed in things fantastical or unnatural. A lot of my poems tackle some very peaceful things. I’ve never been so content to rock the boat, and maybe the political climate is the cause of me wanting to adopt and announce my views.
Everybody else is. Why should I feel the need to stay quiet?
I’ve talked with my dad about this at length. He’s got a lot of differing opinions when it comes to stuff like this, but we have some lively, rather scholarly talks about it all. The consensus among the two of us is that there’s a fear of simply becoming someone who is loud and has an opinion: at best ignored, at worse chastised.
Today, with the light control and random Fridays, I’ve decided It’s far worse to not say anything at all. Why exist if I’m not going to communicate on the grandest scales I can? I’ll leave it up for worlds to interpret what I say and what I mean.
There’s a fear of being called out, being challenged, being taken to task, and in this day and age even more so there’s a fear of physical injury if words reaches far enough. When I changed every username I have online to JakeThomasShaw, I decided that I was worth my life in words.
Not everybody wants to die for what they believe in, however, and I wholly agree that willing to do so is a much more intensive thing. It’s really easy to yell agreeable things into the void, but disagreeing is dangerous.
There are things in this life that are strange, that are bizarre, that are completely out of the question, and individuals act like it’s all too common.
Equifax is a recent wound inflicted by the system, but we’ve sort of forgotten about all that already haven’t we? I might have just reminded you that over 10 million people’s personal data has been compromised.
There’s so much to cover. That’s why I write. I write to remember the things worth having experienced. Maybe one day when I’m 60 I’ll start looking back at all these poems, all this writing and all these op-eds, somewhere far in the future. Where now I have no idea what I’ll be doing next week, I’ll be 60 years old looking back at today. So much space and time gone by. 40 years later, it’s 2057. So much has changed. 9 more presidents. My 22nd Century Group stock will probably be worth something by then. And I’ll be looking at these poems. About relationships that even now I’ve forgotten the point of, about political events that in months won’t matter, about scenes in nature and in cityscapes that I’ve experienced and thought them too beautiful to ever let go of.
The truth is, you should be, so that in 40 years you can look back and be proud of something.
What will I have covered by then? This is Jake Thomas Shaw, The Host here at Radio Reality City. Thank you very much for tuning in, and hopefully you left with something nice in your ear.
Consume reality. Radio Reality City!
I write poems
To think wit’s soul
But in books
A plot mechanizes,
Every poem is up
And some see
What they want to,
Who reads my poems
Walks away with
Is there music in
Rhymes or ciphers
I waste time
After my mind decides
How to write it
And there it is
As a savage burn
A sprint to see
Who’s closest to figuring
Radio Reality City
It doesn’t matter
What I mean
When I write about
Thor and Lorelei
No catalogue matters
By its references
So long as the content
Is artful as a poem
And another project
Looms over the city
If I live to capture memories,
Watashi ga nani ka
Experiencing for its sake
And intending art to slake
A need for me to tell you
Of obscured Reality
And I don’t know which
Memories are cheating
I know my mortal fleeting
Coil longs for a legacy
Of the things I’ve done
And passions I’ve had
Maybe you know
Who I am
Or have been thanks
To two too
Interpretive and seeing
I am Jake Thomas Shaw
I am Radio Reality City
I write to remember
With a small hope
That when I’m gone
Beautiful still is November
And someone can see
What is Reality
I am destined to live
To interpret simulacrums
Of others’ expression
We are yet so blind
To any other
Too different to live
Too unique to die
As we quietly wonder
The question of: why
Are we all here?
A poem of memory
Interpreted by a
For all I know
I hope what happens
When you fix this is see
It’s not just about
Obscura and confusion
No tangible codes or
All things than can be
Distance makes and breaks a lot of things
It chains our reach and clouds our heads
For there was that Bellingham girl
Waiting for me it seemed no matter what
We exchanged letters of love
Where messages lost in translation
Delievered mixed messages
Distorted words to a person unnerved
Every day one received and one sent
To a girl I thought was beautiful
But the words were wind-whipped
They had to walk a hundred miles
And by the end the words were tired
Distance makes and breaks a lot of things
And it broke the words that made us
If only I could have held you every night
Maybe things would be different
And words over inches would mean more
Than the ones who’s feet were always sore
Restraining energy to make the voyage
They were never meant to be hitchhikers
But they did anyways with head held high
And I thought I was savoring this life
Words over inches
Wax sealed with a red fleur de lis
What was better
Shot with a Canon EOS Digital Rebel XS; f/5.6; 1/80; ISO-400; 50mm. Duct tape and cardboard, penned with sharpie, mounted with a safety pin.
Art made for art’s sake. In the midst of a punk phase, what kind of meta reference would I make? This one.
Pen click mimics
Of a drawn
Ready to slash
Into flesh and
You have its
In every meter
Book chapter verse
A brilliant burst
Part present futures
For now there is thirst
And I know you’ll pick
The right words
Or for worse
For art’s sake
Long live portable 11
And all the things
Even the pitiful
Pins to put things up
So much loose paper
Pens and pencils
Meaning all what you make
I wanted to write a limerick
But I don’t know dick