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!
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.