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Furth Steps Forth

… when firemen pried up planks from the sidewalk near the north end of the block, intense heat drove them back. The basements of buildings were roaring furnaces …

Jacob Furth, dressed in tails and top hat,
was hastening across Western Avenue
when he saw smoke rising around a slat
near the curb. He hailed a fire crew
busy hauling hoses toward the dock
at Pier Two, then knelt on the boardwalk
to get a closer look. Felt the plank
for heat. As the firemen began to yank
loose the boards, Furth stepped back
to survey the entire block. Up the street
there was a shout, then a blast of heat
as the firemen fell back, their faces black
with smoke. Furth stepped forth … nervous …
the basement itself was a roaring furnace.

Moran Calls For Help

Noria

The fire had crossed Second Avenue, and was heading up to Third. Smoke could be seen in Tacoma, and the roar of the fire heard for miles. Help had been called in from Tacoma, Portland, and even Victoria, B.C. …

Realizing their geoduck was cooked,
Moran raced into the offices of the Sunset
Telephone-Telegraph Co. and unhooked
the contraption himself. “Get
me Tacoma!” And Portland and Victoria,
B.C., and then, remembering a noria
he’d seen on the faraway Kickapoo
River, put out a call for someone he knew,
had heard legend of, anyway—a Wisconsin
firefighter by name of Paddy or Mick
O’Somethingerother, who with a single lick
and a little spit could put out the fire in
Hades itself. “The name? People are dyin’
here! Wait; I got it … Get me O’Brien!”

Disillusionment at Four O’Clock on a Thursday Afternoon

By four o’clock, most residents knew
downtown Seattle was finished.
After crossing First and Second Avenue,
billowing and bellowing, undiminished,
the towering inferno climbed to Third.
The roar of the fire could be heard
for miles around, and smoke was seen
from as far away as Tacoma. Between
the heckling crowds and their abecedarian
abilities, some of the volunteers dropped
their buckets on the spot, stopped
by their own worthlessness. Marion,
Madison, and then Spring were consumed
in a matter of minutes. All doomed.

Epilogue: Moran Speaks from the Grave

This simpler house provides the meaning
To days and weeks and months and years:
I hear coyotes’ crafty keening
Regale the hills. I watch the bears
Awake in spring to feast and famine
Astride the banks and pawing salmon,
A chance to tip the slippery scales.
I watch the baleful breech of whales
From deep beyond what depth imagines –
An eagle spins a thermal wheel
As heaven hears the loon and teal
Refrain Seattle’s fire legends…
What starts in serendipity –
Is finished in serotiny.

Happy Birthday Dear Pushkin

On Pushkin’s birthday, eighteen-eighty-
Nine (ninety years old the bard
Would be, but for romantic fate he
Gave up his life, a cast-off shard
Cast off too soon), Seattle kindled
From gluey scrap where sharpies swindled
The downtown down-and-outers out
Of weekly pay for Skid Road clout
With seamstress’ skirts and garters seeming
Undone for doing what we do
When left to our devices, through
The rise and fall, the devil’s steaming
Pile of what you will, a choir
Of angels singing round the fire.

John Back

“When I throw the water on, the glue flew all over the shop into the shavings and everything take fire.” … shortly after … John Back left Seattle.

John Back, a Swede with lanky beard,
Was heating glue and feeling sick.
The glue smell always made a weird
Sensation in his throat, like thick
Molasses spread on char-burned toast
Each time he took a breath or swallowed.
John turned his back and thought a ghost
Said something in his ear. What followed
Made John wheel back around to see
The glue, now hot and getting hotter,
Was boiling over — blazingly —
Which made John grab a pail of water.
The water spread the gluey flame
And John left town and changed his name.

The Grand Inquisitor rendered into an Onegin Stanza

Christ came, and seen by all Seville,
distracted good folk from feeding sticks
to a hot fire under an iron grill,
where lay well-done, screaming heretics.
Amidst His miracles passed the Roman
Catholic cardinal, erect gnomon
to His shadow, Grand Inquisitor,
finger pointed at the visitor.
“Is it thou? Be silent! Off to prison!
For fifteen hundred years, we ate bread
blessed by thou. Really now; the dread
spirit of dessert supplies the frisson
de plaisir
we require. Enough tricks! We
prefer fire, crackling and whistling. Dixi!”

Another reason we know Noel made the right decision

Not that we really needed one, mind you. But I wonder if it occurred to Liam how dreadfully undereducated he seems right now.

I haven’t heard the Radiohead song, mind you, but in a sense that’s immaterial. Any two-bit from Fleet Street knows you don’t go off cherrypicking what is and isn’t fair game for the muse.  I’ts one thing not to see the forest for the trees, but for Mr. Gallagher, it appears he can’t even locate the bloody forest!

The Spear wrote about ’em.

As did Eddy the London Lad.

Not to mention John Boy.

Bobby and Wally the Yankee Gents too.

As for his own true and tried blood – ah, well, it’s himself Billy B! writes about such things, don’t he?

And even Famous Seamus flung off a few lines about a bush.

Not that I’m taking it personally

Pensees de Jardin

                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                               For John Mueller
 
It appears that what is central to philosophy is its least valuable part.
– Wallace Stevens

 

I broke into morning like a thief in the night,
The damp smell of dew on flowers and coffee grounds
At work in the rot at the base of a rose bush,
Pervading like a fog, a scented cushion against
The hard and early push of hours. What drama to the clouds!
What philosophy amid unbending garden blooms!
It was enough to wish surrender still possible…

Yet my life was too total with possibility; I had not
Yet thought of growing old, yet here I was growing old.
I wished for nothing but what the morning offered
To flesh possessed by warm porcelain and water.
Yet, here I was, clean and full of the chase for faith.
The buffers of ambivalence placed against belief
Dissolving into songs of nostalgia. It was no use.
The nature of things was in a white heat of revolt.
Making discoveries in potting shed and chicken coop,
I secretly harbored a deep planting of fantasies
And spread my fingers in the soiled world, my search
For minerals, the first fruits and principles of life.

My dearly departed, as I look back, the mirror holds
In its shards indecipherable writing. Fathers see
Something familiar, something tugging on their blood,
When they look upon their offspring, children, a son.
But then with such sad knowing they look away.
It’s too deep for the eye, too close for the heart to take.
For us beasts, so ready to exchange our skeletons
With dust, gifts are a horror, so full of grave matter.

I peeled myself from sleep and slipped outside, my mind
A sack empty of seed or booty. Only hunger remained.
The sky was the same and the earth was the same
And nothing came between them but God’s newly acquired
Existence. (His alleged escape had been a mundane stunt.
His history a word no longer spoken. The world blared
Above it anyway, drowning prophetic pretence
With the same hurly-burly want and get
Which enraptured my life, haunted as a city,
Analyzing faith beyond repair.) So insect life resurrects
A hope; the whirr of wings, the incisive dryness
Of the cicada’s tune. I place a blade of grass in my palm
And sunlight nibbles its porridge of inches and minutes
On the cooling edge of the horizon’s bowl. I am here,
Not because there’s proportion to love or justice to
The changing light of the sun’s daily climb; I am here
To balance the fresh novelty of pear blossoms
With the agony of dew hanging from a leaf, a stem,
A spider web. So new, this experience, I call it, in a word,
Desire.