Family portraits

Kevin is always even-keeled, great to have a beer with.  He's into model trains.
Favorite song: "Rhiannon", Fleetwood Mac

Alex is typically bewildered by life in general.
Favorite song: "Suzanne", Leonard Cohen

Leslie is a chatterbox,  always ready to tell or guffaw at a joke.
Favorite song: "White Punks on Dope", The Tubes

Taylor is easily outraged by news programs.
Favorite song: "We Don't Need No Fascist Groove Thang", Heaven 17 
Madison is depressed and lonely much of the time.
Favorite song: "Wild World", Cat Stevens

Casey is exasperated and fatigued with the whole damn thing.
Favorite song: "Smells Like Teen Spirit," Paul Anka cover version

Jamie is somewhat prudish and easily blushes.
Favorite song: "Somewhere Over the Rainbow", Judy Garland

Jess: is a bit of a worrywort, if not an alarmist.
Favorite song: "Help", The Beatles

Jordan is a congenital doubter and snark specialist.
Favorite song: "I'm Not Angry", Elvis Costello

Sidney is very persnickety about food, among other things.
Favorite song: "Das Lied von der Erde", Gustav Mahler

Dale is a practical joker and tends to get into trouble.
Favorite song: "Hootenanny", The Replacements

Chris specializes in "dad jokes" and droll asides.
Favorite song: "It's National Shite Day",  Half Man Half Biscuit
Marion has memorized every song in the Beatles songbook and isn't afraid to demonstrate.
Favorite song: "Revolution #9", The Beatles

Tracy is a ponderer and philosopher, and writes in blank verse.
Favorite song: "I am a Rock", Simon & Garfunkel


Garden galaxies

Spent Mother's Day at the rhododendron species botanical garden in Federal Way WA. Seeing these stelliform flowers, my associative monkey-mind kicked in.

Milky Way photo by Joseph Cowdell

Pleiades Star Cluster photo by Tony Hallas/Science Faction/Corbis

The following one, in case you're wondering, is a debris-filled spiderweb.

Hubble photo via Indian Express


Still life with death

A morning wandering the aisles of Epic Antiques in Seattle, hunting the hunted.


In, out, and around Pioneer Square

A sunny day... a meander...

A bit of chartreuse

Scrim: death of the viaduct


A bit of bubbly

Watch this space

The vestibule of the Crimson King


Container boogie-woogie


The pathologist's table


Patchwork cloak

Patchwork cloak


The crypt of the Basilica in Assisi:
behind glass a rough, patched robe,
no, a robe of patches, “beast-colored,”
king-sized, labeled as
the ascetic’s—Saint Francis.

In the corner, filigreed reliquaries:
spidery bones and flaps of pemmican
pried from the corpses of clerics
and other saints centuries past.
Reliquary of the thorn
of the crown of thorns. Reliquary
of the hair of Saint Catherine.
Relic of the finger of Saint Andrew.

It is purport. It could be an ape
finger for all we know, displayed
by canny, enraptured, or even credulous
priests: for the flock’s tithes and offerings,
prayers, and pleas for dispensation.
For the continued fame of their parish
and of course the glory of the Faith....

Splinters of the True Cross cross
the empire, rusted nails and spots
of someone’s blood. There’s the slab
of marble in Jerusalem’s Holy Sepulcher,
submitting to the lips of prostrated millions,
although I learn “This is not
the stone on which Christ’s body was anointed.
This devotion is recorded only since
the 12th century. The present stone dates from 1810.”

The myth is believed, promulgated,
nurtured, notated, accepted. No one
knows whether Francis was thin or obese.
Paintings exist by the hundred of his imagined
gaunt frame, but the vast robe’s displayed
right there. Who is mistaken? Perhaps
no one is, and Francis was humbly
dwarfed by his tunic.
Another one in Florence has been proven
fake and one in Cortona is merely plausible.
The Assisi relic has not yet been tested.

At La Verna, monks pace the tiled loggia
in brown wool. Winter fog enrobes the cliffside
where Francis is said to have huddled in a niche
while Satan harangued and scarred him
through a storm. You can see the spot,
barely large enough to contain
my shivering ten-year-old daughter.

Far more believable are the humble ledgers
casually out of sight in an armoire
in the Volterra seminary-turned-hostel,
their frail pages inked with scrawled numbers,
400-year-old book-keeping, scrupulous,
humdrum and thoroughly ungilded.


In my town, an “Apothecary and Metaphysical Shop”
evokes the past, or its hypothesis. Kitty-
corner, a new steel dragon overlooks
the roof of an antiques shop with its horde of junk
and ephemera from my past, my parents
and theirs. What can I infer from such artifacts?
Their picture of history is idealistic, patched
and piecemeal, surmised, signage and objects
without context, cloaked in enigmatic clues
of stains, scuffs, creases.

The world is a reliquary. Dusty
centuries from now, will these words
exist? Will someone find a scrap
and peruse it like a knuckle bone
of a “typical American,” let alone “me”?

At home I stockpile albums of Daguerrotypes,
Grandma’s jewelry, drawers of letters, unpublished
manuscripts of my parents and great-grandfather.
The documents and relics they left
—the aspects they chose to preserve or hide
of their own lives and thoughts—
I weigh against the people I knew,
study and assay which truth, if any,
the story supports, and who might fit
the patchwork cloak.


These days

These days


This busy spot, in 1900, was remote,
red and dusty with the Builders Brick
quarry and factory, in the mining boom,
the logging days.

Firs, countless, were as big around
as their fellers were tall,
where now a few tame plantings
punctuate the chain cafes and condos
that push into the thinned remains
of second-growth alder.
Filled with miners, Red Town, Finn Town,
White Town, Rainbow Town
hotels and cabins erected in the clearcut
are only blemished photos
and foundations mossy and hidden in bracken
between rubbled mine shafts:
Ford Slope mine, Primrose, Bagley,
May Creek mine, Muldoon seam.
Hiking trails follow the old flumes
where the hewn trunks sloshed downcreek.
Joggers and dogwalkers erase the ghosts.

Those days, horse-drawn trams lugged coal and logs
down Coal Creek to Lake Washington,
where barges continued the five-day meander
south and then up the Duwamish
to the Sound and Seattle.
Steamers then carried on
to California and profit.
A narrow-gauge steam railway ran
where this five-lane arterial now pulses
with its Teslas, Porsches,
Maseratis. Money is still made,
these days and hereabouts,
but not from solid things.


Just in the years we’ve lived here,
the horse pasture down the street has gone,
the sheep and llamas, orchards and corn.
We are now more urb than suburb.
But bobcats, bears, coyotes, possums,
even baffled cougars prowl our yards
for food, as their foothills turn
to townhouses in cul-de-sacs,
the roads that reach them,
nail shops and pizza joints,
churches, firing ranges.

The news seems very black these days
unless you think it’s white. Regardless
where you hear it, it sears the heart and eyes.
The earth is evanescent, and solid things seem
illusive, similes morph to lies,
to belief, as easily as that bright
cloud above grows murky as it gathers,
a thick, broken layer flying doggedly north.
The sun peers through the fissures,
warm in a chill wind, and blinding.
My mesmerized retinas
turn black firs against leaden grey
ember-red. It’s a changeable
day. There’s a storm warning for later.
Branches may fall, they say.
Some trees have fallen already
this gusty spring. But forecasts
have been wrong before, pessimistic,
or hoodwinked with unpredictable
conditions. I sit in sunlight when I can,
hope it lasts, but prepare for the blow.

History flows over us, bright and dark,
dissipating and bloating, threat and promise.
Soon we’ll walk trails through new deadfalls,
hunting old foundations in the leafmold.

Photos from blackdiamondhistory.files.wordpress.com and voiceofthevalley.com


18-wheel abstracts

One advantage about being a passenger instead of the driver (aside from being able to nap) is the ability to snap photos while in motion.
Here are some abstract "canvases" that we passed one afternoon.