Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Seattle as Edge, You as Water

Seattle As Edge, You as Water
for Richard Hugo 
by Susan Zwinger

Edges, those paradoxical meshes of boundary and beckoning,
I have always loved edges. Listen to over-sized rain drops
plopping from red cedar. Crave nothing less
than an epic myth by which to know our Seattle home.
Ferry horn, water shore, lapping bone. Nothing less
than the poetry of salmon and Sound will resuscitate us.
Not an armchair treatise but a sphagnum-bog-muck,
algae stink-slick seat of the pants revelation. We come from the cold
abstractions of the East, from the flowery inebriate thoughts to the South
to Seattle, to a tougher, sensual edge. We prefer our beaches
vertical. We prefer our oceans airborne and counterclockwise.
We long to replace mind-numbing words - sound bite, countdown,
boot up, HOV - with more resonant lexicons: wolverine, murrelet,
bog rosemary, boletus, grizzly, sockeye and Thuja placata.

Human history is migration toward a chain of last edges.
At Seattle, we lose that bottle top of escape: this is the final
wild edge on a finite planet. We immigrants saved Seattle
for last because its geography is scraped, punched, exploded, ground
faulted and drenched. Enormous trees and precipitous hills, once
impenetrable boundaries, are cut and skid rowed,
regraded, flooded, built up, burned down, filled in and dredged.

Your Apprenticeship:
Go to Seattle Public Library; pull the huge maps of the bioregion
from the map drawers. Carefully trace all the edges of water,
all the lakes, all the rivers, all the sloughs on shelf paper. Forget
artificial boundaries. Move your pencil slowly, sensuously,
learning that each crook and curve is intimately known
by someone who loves home. Step back. View the waterways
as dendritic veins. Imagine the humans and lumps implied
underneath as those of a muscular lover.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Old Florist

Old Florist 
by Theodore Roethke

That hump of a man bunching chrysanthemums
Or pinching-back asters, or planting azaleas,
Tamping and stamping dirt into posts, --
How he could flick and pick
Rotten leaves or yellowy petals,
Or scoop out a weed close to flourishing roots,
Or make the dust buzz with a light spray,
Or drown a bug in one spit of tobacco juice,
Or fan life into wilted sweet-peas with his hat,
Or stand all night watering roses, his feet blue in rubber boots.

A Latte Nonsense

A Latte Nonsense 
by Colby Chester 

We could have stoically survived the trauma
of coffee failing to transcend decaf or au lait, 
but when its pending monotony threatened to close 
equatorial plantations and leave a familiar 
man with a mule stranded in the mountains on 
an untouched can, a clever penstroke from Ad-ville
transformed the caustic proclivities of espresso into 
Latte! the available alkahest, and saved the day. 

The magic's in the mouthing of the words, 
an expression of language that lifts 
the normal daily drawl to distant lands and
times so far removed from these they tran-
substantiate a moment's single-hued behaviors
into moods of thick romantic heft that tease the ear 
like complex dance positions - latteccino lungo,
americano grande, macchiato breve, and doppio 
ristretto - erotic twists of tongue that conjure 
liquid nights in Venice, a world removed from
curb-side carts where restless queues accumulate 
a range of human types lured in by hissing 
screams of steam. 

A hardhat lumbers up and grumbles, "double latte
skinny," recalls just for that moment something 
foppish from Moliere; a housewife flees her 
kitchen chores for "cappucino breve" and 
dreams of passioned trysting on the Ponte Vecchio;
a stork-legged girl in shredded jeans (tattoos
adorn her shoulder) combs fingers through her hair
and whispers, "mocha almondino," as if 
it were the password to a smoke-swirled cabaret.

Once all we knew was, coffee...black, a bleak
retreat from day-life. But now we're reinvented taste
by adding intrigue to our intake, compounding
words we've never heard into the tongue
of the absurd.