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Archive for the ‘Seattle’ Category

Yesterday, I received my Voter’s Pamphlet for Washington’s August primary election. At the federal level, we’re voting for a senator. There are a total of thirty candidates vying for the seat, so it’s a packed primary.

Packed with what, I cannot say in polite company.

(more…)

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sparrows greet us
escalating commuters
as we rise to the surface
grey-faced warriors
morlocks in the dawn
they sing to us from
guano-stained signs
hopping word to word
to teach us their lyrics
of sunrise and birth

bird-sparrow.jpg

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Evening shadows
gather beneath the cedars.
Beyond the garden fence
the dogs stir and pace
preparing for the nightly trespass.

Trooping into my garden
the raccoons are confident
unfazed by snapping teeth
beyond the fenceline.

Full-throated threats
voice present frustration.
Irregular
urgent
they disquiet my peace.

The interlopers
unperturbed
disappear into the gloaming.
The dogs
with disconsolate growls
return to their beds.

Night draws the shades.
Trees sigh in the easy breeze.
The moon rises
small and bright
limning dark conifers.

Far off
a distant siren
rouses the sentries.
One lifts her muzzle toward
dark clarity
issues a low, rising note.

Her partner joins
adding contrapuntal lines
to calm, focused song.
They take a breath.
A new verse begins.

The mournful howls
echo memories
of pack
of wild
of ancient blood.
Unhurried
restrained
they salve my soul.

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I walk through the gloaming, the sky above me reddening toward night, through shade made deeper by dark, shaggy cedars and pale clad lindens shaking in the gentle breeze. It is a new place for me, but it is an ancient place, a storied place that still bears its ancient name:

Leyktud

Red Paint

The water of the spring seeps up from the ground, the source now collared by a ring of stone. Within the ring, the water is clear, but beneath the surface the stones are clad in the ochre velvet of accreted minerals. As the water gathers and flows quietly out the carved channel, the minerals oxidize, rusting, and paint the ground with a spill of red clay. The alluvial mud is slick to the touch, watery. For millennia, the People of the Inside and the People of the Large Lake came here to collect the wet, red earth, mix it with tallow, and make a bright, orange-red paint suitable for ceremonies and markings.

The springwater trickles down the slope to join the creek that used to run down to Green Lake but which now, sadly, has been capped and diverted to a less salubrious destination. But for a short distance, as I walk the paths beneath the trees, it is still wild (in its gentle way) and free.

I imagine it how it was, not so long ago, before the arrival of the Bostons (as the European-bred settlers were known). I can see thick-boled conifers, dark cathedral columns rising from the earth’s heart to hold up the red, sunset sky. Salal leaves, rough and leathery, grab at my shins, urging me to partake of their sweet, blue fruit. The breeze, wending its way past branch and fern, might taste of woodsmoke from a nearby camp. Frogs chorus in such numbers that, were I with a companion, we would not be able to hear each other speak.

But we would not speak, for this is a place where words are unnecessary, where the thoughts of men are unneeded, and where our hand only diminishes what already is. As the sun sets and the birds of daylight sing their last, I know I have found an immortal place.

This is Licton Spring.

k

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Fish or cut bait. Poop or get off the pot. Split wood or lend someone the axe.

During the run-up to a novel project, there comes a time when I must put down the books and pick up the pen. My problem, though, has usually been knowing when I’ve reached that point, that moment of sufficiency when, though I certainly don’t know everything about the pertinent subjects, I know enough to get started.

Now is that time. (more…)

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Bloedel Reserve, Bainbridge Island, WA

I walk to work
The same hour each day
And make a time-lapse film
Frame by frame
To capture the passing year.

Buildings fall into vacant lots,
Rise from the rubble.
Storms flash overhead.
Cars blur past
Dreary commuters
Taking dreary steps
Toward dreary jobs.

But along the sidewalk,
Sweetgums grow
Tall, stately, serene,
Life in the grey and black canyons.

In winter, they sleep.
I walk wet pavement
Beneath dark, dripping skeletons.

With springtime sun,
Acid green buds
Burst open in an eyeblink
To shake new leaves
In the morning air.

My summer path leads
Beneath crinoline branches,
Silken leaves rustling,
Lazing in the light.

Autumn comes and the sun,
Tired out by long days,
Grows tardy.
The sweetgums sport fall fashions and,
For a few brief frames,
The sunrise and I,
Bleary-eyed,
Collars turned against the season’s chill,
Walk the streets together.

The sky is a purple shell.
The air is still.
The trees are dark,
Their branches garbed in orange and rust.
They do not rustle.
They do not shake.

They sizzle.

Deep within them, hidden by dying leaves,
A thousand starlings wake.
They greet the sunrise with
Gricks and whistles,
Creaks and pips.
I stand smiling
Beneath a thousand chittering mouths,
Listening to
The sound of butter in a hot skillet.

Sizzle. Pop. Hiss. Flutter. Zing.

A few more days,
A few more frames,
And the sun lags behind me.
The sweetgums now are silent,
Branches laden with sleeping birds.
Later still,
Once the trees drop their leafy frocks,
The starlings leave the city to winter’s cold,
And once more I walk alone
Beneath dark and bony boughs.

k

Typewriter

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Storm’s A-Comin’

Pike Place MarketThe Pacific Northwest is in a tizzy today. Why? It’s gonna rain.

[I’ll just wait here until the laughter dies down… Okay… Finished? Good. Onward.]

Yes, it’s gonna rain, and it’s gonna rain good. We have a series of deep low-pressure cyclones heading our way, one of which is the remnants of Typhoon Songda, and the gradients are setting up to rival the historically massive Columbus Day storm of 1962: sustained winds (not gusts) of 50+ knots, 5–10 inches of rain in the mountains, flooding, power outages, The Works.

These storms are going to wallop us from today to Sunday; already the heavy rains have begun.

To prepare, yesterday we went out to get a few punkles of firewood. Our neighborhood is not prone to power outages, but this weekend may be the exception, so I thought it best to lay in a small amount of supplementary fuel. We drove up to WinCo, where they usually have a couple pallets of firewood out front.

Nothing but pumpkins. Ruh roh.

We went to Fred Meyer. Pumpkins. Central Market? Pumpkins. Safeway (yeah…right)…pumpkins.

The world has gone pumpkin crazy.

Hopefully the power won’t go out here or, if it does, not for long. We have a couple of punkles left over from vacation, plus a bin of scrap wood from old projects down in the garage. And there are some large branches in the back garden, trimmed and laid out as nurse logs, that I could chop up. We’ll be fine. Besides, these systems aren’t particularly cold, just wet and wild.

I hope to take a walk in the teeth of it, to enjoy the fury and strength first-hand.

See you on the far side.

k

Typewriter

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