Moran Ascends

denny hill up

Indeed, a final look, descending
Familiar hills, I thought to climb
Again – to view the proud unbending
Horizon, parsing passing time:
These seven points that crown Seattle,
Observe, like Rome, their city battle
Advancing flames. We make our stand –
Defend with blood this contraband
Of jewels. What time nor man deleted
Becomes empiric testament –
Both hell’s reproof and heaven’s taunt.
For Rome’s but Carthage mistranslated;
And both are tagged and each recast
In calque: “Seattle non delenda est.”


  1. Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

    I love the stanzas that have a touch of epic antiquity. This one was really satisfying.

    And I love the phrase ‘contraband / Of jewels’.

  2. Quin Finnegan says

    I like “parsing passing time” … seems like the natural thing to do while out strolling the hills. I’m still working on how to construe the sentence beginning “What time nor man deleted” … are we to understand “What *neither* time nor man deleted”? And is a testament empiric merely by virtue of continuing to exist? Sorry, I just can’t quite get a good purchase on that line. But I have a head cold, and I forgot to pick up my shirts from the drycleaners today (as one of our regular readers might say).

    At night, Queen Anne Hill does in fact look like a big crown of jewels:

    Thanks, JOB!

  3. Yes, the literal sense of “empiric testament” is that it continues to exist – and stands to testify for existence – but I’m also exploiting its connotations by putting the term “empiric” in the same neighborhood as Rome and Carthage, you know, logopoeia and all that.

    At any rate, it sets up nicely, a sort of Easter Egg, for what follows. The regrade made retrograde as it were…

    (By the way Angelico (I think it was in a comment – I have a hard copy but can’t find where exactly the poem is on the blog here) was the first to touch on the regrade as theme for the story – I’m just picking up the strand and weaving a few others together with it. Presence and absence, after all, being the Great Theme of the thing – or at least one of ’em.)


  4. Quin Finnegan says

    And now I just went to the wrong cleaners. Sometimes I use Bakker’s on the way home from church, but on Tuesday I had coffee with a friend and used the Korean place up on Pill Hill. Which means I’ll have to pick them up on the way into work later.

    • Otherwise known as Profanity Hill, too, right? (Pill Hill because of the hospitals that began congregating there?) And First Hill.

      But see? If they hadn’t regraded Denny’s, none of this woulda happened.

      By the way, what’s a “cleaners”? I may not get your response right away, of course, since I’m heading down to the crick with a couple bricks, some Borax and a steel brush to give my union suit its monthly warshing…


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