Paul Nelson

86. Paulownia Tomentosa


His “Good Day!” was always overcast.     - Ramon Gomez de la Serna

 & yes, he was from Seattle. & yes, the sun was shining that particular Friday in the season of lilac blossoms and a full bloom Empress Tree, Princess Tree, Paulownia tomentosa, stolen from central and western China but an invader here loving the lack of competition for what sun there is, shaping purple hanging bell blossoms and leaves in whorls of three. We sit under it, take fotos,  are there if we think about it, Lakewood Park.

& by good day he meant, in Seattle nice, courtesy and not much else, will wait for your street crossing, will not honk, “a city of the mind . . . a city of geeks. People here . . . totally blow you off ” the newcomer’d say in The Times. But not at the stop sign beyond the Empress Tree. Not at the four way stop where you go no you go no you go & the guy from Chicago goes knowing your M.O., knowing driving the car “is personality enshrined.”

& overhead’s a helicopter shopping for dark-skinned shooting suspects & here the “anti-capitalism May Day riots” only 3 businesses w/ busted windows & here a view of deep Elliott Bay azul under snow-capped Olympics seeking a hearing. Good day, always overcast, always an undertone, somewhere the intimacy’s obscured. Some know the names of dogs at the dog park but not the ones the other side of the leash. Not the neighbor’s name or wife, but their latté order or wifi-signal & how much in their compost bin. Is it the weather? Topography? It is a “social script that leads to alienation” but Emmett Watson didn’t want you here anyway and we can’t make a left on Denny at 1:40 in the afternoon & bike- riders forego single file just to hack at you & your humongous carbon footprint. In Slaughter I once saw a yard sign that said simply: “Vote No!” Can whip it out for any election. Vote No, democracy easy as yard signs & being against. (Just put a line through it.) Easy as stopping for one pedestrian or take a pill or cut it out, or the bombing starts in 5 minutes or the settler prehension a century after the perimeter’s secured.

& yes, the sun shines that particular Friday the season of late magnolia blossoms, of English Heather, or Scotch Broom petals sticking their heads out of leaves this side  the highway, season of lilac blossoms & the full bloom Empress Tree, Princess Tree.


Paulownia tomentosa, stolen from western China

but just an invader here

like you & me.


97. Clues from Hell

 Smoke rises to heaven when it ought to descend to hell.

- Ramon Gomez de la Serna

& a heaven’s of yr making a home be it the Rock or Careladen, Woodtown or the Lake, Ka’gean or Cloud Nine, Slaughter or a little corner of Hillman City survivable by p-patch. Make it w/ enough care to notice from the lichen to the day moon. From the library to the Japanese Maple. From the giant sunflowers to the three steepled cedar points to better weather.

In it & in the chaos of the marked-up books, the three-toed vase, the empty Otokoyama bottles in the recycle bin, clues. To sift through the wreckage one day they’ll want clues. Clues to how you ended up next to a fire (well-tended) & clues to the spiritual chase. Clues to the record & direction (for future seekers) & clues to where you hid the Humboldt Fog. Clues cd hide right in front of you as does the sponge plant by the duckweed drift which smears the morning Lake. Clues of cigarette butts & grief.

Old growth Redwood

800 years old

300 feet tall heard its share

of prayers.

They were always there we’ll say, prominent as miniature  islands  w/  salal,  blue  huckleberry  & dwarfed spruce. Calm as the Lake ripples made by a coot flock landing. Subtle as the woodsmoke rejecting hell in the making of its new home as it courts the morning Cascadia fog. Sincere as autumn bouquets (sweet little nosegay like) for every dead stranger in the cemetery made w/ the spirit of great cobwebs of geese in the sky & mild-mannered hallucinations of reverse snow in September Olympic Fireweed or the hush of dropping fir needles w/ each new exhale from Blue Glacier.

So stock up on cake mix & tequila, butter & turkey bacon. Mangoes y pan de banana. Have handy jasmine rice & altar candles, fresh garlic & olive oil. Cashew bits & blush wine. Wool socks & binoculars. Photos of the loved ones & always the clue-enabling ancestors.

Decoding the sea

& the heavens ain’t for sissies.

Lend a hand

or stand back.

                     All quotes from Morris Graves