I wrote this poem in 1990 or early '91. In either case it was shortly after I had moved to Seattle after living in New York City for two years right after college. Earlier that spring I suffered an accident in my job as a off-the-books window cleaner in Manhattan. A 75-pound window fell on me while I was inside an apartment trying to boost the poorly fitted frame back into its sliding track. I looked down to see my feet surrounded by the empty frame and shattered glass. But that's a story for another time. Suffice it to say I wound up with the precursors of cool scars all over my body and about 40 stitches in my face.
My girlfriend and I were convinced that the Emerald City was the perfect escape from the grinding pointless poverty of the artist's life of Manhattan. At the time, most New Yorkers, many of whom had never been to Seattle, considered it a Shangri La of culture and good living: a place where you could still walk from a good restaurant to the symphony. What's more, word was it had a great theatre community with plenty of opportunities for newly turned Equity actors and budding playwrights such as myself.
But our first year in Seattle turned out instead to be brutally difficult. I caught the worse flu of my life that first perpetually gray winter, and I couldn't seem to boost myself out of the lousy minimum wage job I had at a bakery/café in Greenlake. My girlfriend was doing better, and resentment abounded on both sides.
So that's the context, here's the poem, such as it is:
Gull-angels sculpt the sound winds
that tunnel through the buildings. Crying wild,
in wide circles searching, they carve
a city's formless redemption; omens of torture and belief.
What's to ignore?
What's to deny?
If a transparent pain falls shattering
on you, what beautiful views?
What? What grays?
What greener than greens?