Thursday, May 03, 2007

Sunday 1 April 2007


There appeared at my desk a man. "How about a hug?" Not your usual question. I looked at him. Who is he? Do I know him? He looks gentle, but what is he asking? He forced eye contact. I must know him. Must I? I know him. Ah, It is Dan Hall, a PCV Poland, IX. It has been over ten years! Dan had heard about the project and was visiting Seattle. He brought his friends, a married couple and their children-- a little tiger boy and a girl name Zoë. Lovely things. "Zoë wants to write a poem. Will you write a poem with Zoë?" And so Zoë and I talked about our favorite colors, the animals we liked, then we thought of some words and rhymed a bit before adding more. After that, we blessed it with a pen and called it a poem. Then we read it out loud and it was fine.


I wandered into The Zone today. On my way home, I wandered just the smallest bit into The Zone. The Zone is my name for the Lower Queen Anne Greenbelt on Aurora that stretches out and back up the slope through a deep berry and ivy belt to Taylor Street atop Queen Anne. It's deeper than it looks, a gnarled green space book-ended by woods, where the homeless sleep when they can't afford the Aloha Hotel. It is from this green zone that Always Running Water flows in plates onto the sidewalk year-round. Even in the dead of summer, when the watersheds have all run dry and the grasses have crisped to a grayish brown, water sparkles over the sidewalk here. There must be a spring high in the hills here.

I wandered into The Zone as far as the second Y in the trail, only about 40 feet in, before climbing along a felled tree. I picked my way back through the swamp and a thicklet of blackberries to the walk. It was deadly inhospitable! As vicious as I'd imagined, no, more so! Packed dirt trails, skinny and enclosed, ran in and out of the brush. Tree trunks crushed bushes. Mud from the springs made the low-laying sections a sucking carpet. Trails turned into the shadows. Brambles and thorn bushes made deviating from the trail impossible. Only the narrow trails could be navigated. If someone were to follow you into The Zone or meet you there in that density, you wouldn’t be able to retreat or avoid them. You would have to face them, head-on.

There has been no move to eradicate the ivy gone to seed here, as in other parks. Ivy climbs the trees here and trees fall.

-From "A Song of Sobbing By the River" by Tu Fu

David Horowitz points again to Tu Fu, the greatest poet of the Tung Dynasty (680-900 BC). Tu Fu was alive at the same time as Li Po and later came to influence poets Basho and Kenneth Rexroth.

A Long Climb

In a sharp gale from the wide sky apes are whimpering,
Birds are flying homeward over the clear lake and white sand,
Leaves are dropping down like the spray of a waterfall,
While I watch the long river always rolling on.
I have come three thousand miles away. Sad now with autumn
And with my hundred years of woe, I climb this height alone.
Ill fortune has laid a bitter frost on my temples,
Heart-ache and weariness are a thick dust in my wine.

Translated by W. Bynner


Richard Hugo House (Capitol Hill, Seattle): "Get Paid: Financial Grants for Writers," May 14 at 7 p.m. A panel discussion about locally available grants for writers. Presenters include two granting agencies (one public, one private) and three recent recipients: Miguel Guillen (from Artist Trust), Irene Gomez (from the Mayor's Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs, City of Seattle), Angela Fountas, Johnny Horton and Stacey Levine. For information, contact Kit Bakke.


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