Monday, May 04, 2009


I. Washington Park Zoo

We're so high above the city here
that clouds drift past at knee-height, catching
among the firs where the peacocks roost
and scream at night. Cliffs fall away
on every side. Concrete enclosures are married
seamlessly to native basalt.
Flocks of brilliantly colored strollers
crowd the paths past the sleeping lions
and the busy popcorn vendors.

II. Street Food

Danos Dogs, Fried Onion, India Chaat House, Sip, Pho Le, Taqueria Uruapan
pan-fried noodles, barbecue and smoothies
Smokin Pig, Chozas Peruvian Food, Pagoda, Veggielicious, Burritos Funny
funny names on aluminum-sided trailers
Brunch Box, Ugarit Mediterranean Meals, Thai Sky, Original Chile Rellano
no-one knows where they all came from
Vegi Dog, Mecca Fish & Chips, Moxie, Whole Bowl, No Fish! Go Fish!
fish and chips and veggies, soup and bread
Taste of Poland, Spella Caffe, Duchess of Sandwich, Golden Saigon
gone on weekends, here all week
Zibas Pitas, Flavor Spot, Cavaliers Corner, Sunny Day Coffee and Flowers
our very own little U.N. in a downtown block.

III. Powell's, City of Books

Three stories stacked on a city block
and inside, millions of stories packed
on edge, elbow to elbow. These books show us
only their spines; what secret conversations
are they having, deep in the shelf,
moving their pages too quietly for us to hear?
Citizens of their own polis, nevertheless
they'll sometimes consent to leave Powell's
and travel with us.

Browsing turns to serious reading, sitting
on the floor flanked by a stack of books
(and a wallet full of gently smoking
credit cards) while the light dies outside.
The staff comes around to tell you
that the doors are closing and you have to leave.
"But I just got here." "It's 11 PM."
Dazed by the fast trip back from Barsoom, Samarkand,
the Antarctic, outer space, the unexplored margins
of your own heart, dizzied by a temporary
lack of depth perception or by shifted perspectives,
you stumble outside. The sidewalks gleam
with rain and car exhaust, and across the street
a giant eggbeater rocks gently in the wind.

IV. Elements and Directions

Anywhere in the five quarters of this city
you orient by the rivers. This city is spined with rivers,
ribbed with urban waterways, sprouts fountains
like fingernails on every corner. Water-boned city,
port a hundred miles from ocean.
This city is green, so green. Rhododendrons guard
wood-framed houses from the 1900s. No brick.
When this city was born, wood was cheaper than dirt.

There's not much dirt in the yards where
moss grows thicker than grass. People here
wrestle slugs for control of their lawns.
One shovelful of earth; half a shovelful of stones
ripped from the heart of the continent and dropped here
by the Missoula floods. Stone-fleshed city,
framed by mountains east and west, your people
gaze upward, humble.

Collection available! Knocking from Inside

1 comment:

Kristy Worden said...

I liked this very much - nice scribing!