I’ve mentioned numerous times in this blog that I am from Portland, Oregon. I’m going to take a little detour from my typical posts because a friend inspired me today. I do have my second half of my Puerto Vallarta post typed up, so that will come soon as well. But for now…
I have a great love/hate relationship with the place I live, and I think a lot of people have those kinds of back and forth feelings about their home towns, wherever they may be. Sometimes, though, I am able to see it in a certain light that makes me feel like I should never leave. When the sun is out, everything here looks different, because it’s out so rarely. When I come back home from a trip, seeing Portland from the plane can make me feel comforted. And especially when I read the words my friend Rodney Wilder wrote in his poem “Keep Portland Weird”; the title in itself should bring a wry smile to anyone who has lived here long enough to see the changes that have occurred over the past five years or so. This poem brought such wonderful imagery to my mind and I just want to share it with everyone I know. So without further ado, here it is!
“Keep Portland Weird”
by Rodney Wilder
antiquitous and incensed
with the balms of clove and sandalwood,
I’ve got a bone to pick with your publicist.
See, in the time it takes stubble
to wax Whisker War-like,
you’ve suddenly become a bridge-skirted platter
of plaid activism and irony,
your Alphabet District plumbed for letters
by those wondering how to spell WEIRD…
but what do they know of weird?
you’ve got skeletons in your closet
with breath still wet with formaldehyde,
saloons that stowed seaward shackles
at the bottom of their beers,
and yet you’re known
for your hipsters?
Those joyless things in skinny jeans?
When your brew is as inimitable as this,
a melting pot caught between
the Pacific and a Gold Rush,
it’s only natural for the palate to thirst, but…
I don’t think they get you yet,
where two dozen gullets undertook
to embalm their guts because
the only thing better than a drink
is a stolen drink, and
apparently formaldehyde comes in casks too.
do they know of the tunnels
that haunt your cobblestones
like Poe’s vengeful catacombs,
our nostalgia justified
by the ghosts beneath our feet?
You are more than bacon-maple badges
on touristic fingers in your Couch.
More than sarcasm-starred
dive bars and PBR,
your shiftless, your bored
and a kilted sith lord piping
Keeping Portland weird
has always been a pulse running deeper
than the eccentricities hennaing its skin.
like chickens and goats in suburban backyards
because the stomach can’t stomach insecticide;
like vehicles more katamari than car
for all the stuff their bodies collect,
because it bears reminding that
art doesn’t idle,
it rolls on
like the wheels beneath our convoy of global cuisine
and bikers who hate drivers who hate bikers who hate
out-of-towners who haven’t figured out
what that lime green lane on the road is for.
We’re an anomaly of bohemian Teflon,
pressured but unbending,
reminiscent but progressive.
We’re a brick and timber relic
still licking past liquors off our knuckles,
joints employed in pastimes
told by Palahniuk and Johnson.
Where society pulls down the bones
of former centuries, we reach in with a surgeon’s pride
and give new hearts to hollowed rib cages,
taverns and nightspots
brewing Portland’s lifeblood
in the oldest of its totems.
The 19th century still sluicing through your veins
and Nag Champa wafting as if exuded from your brickwork.
You’re weirder than the world will ever know,
and I want to
If you enjoyed this poem, I encourage you to take a look at his blog, which is chock full of other lovely wordy bits and can be found here (as well as the poem I shared in the format it was written in, unfortunately slightly changed here due to restrictions I have to work around!): http://i-mosaic.blogspot.com/
I do consider leaving this place, but I have a great job, a semi-stable life here and am hesitant to move while things seem so great. The not so strong economy among other things scares me and makes me want to find a much more stable home base, but I wonder if I did get the chance to live elsewhere if I would miss it here. I’m fond of sunlight and dry weather, but I do wonder if it’s a bit of ‘grass is greener’ syndrome. I’d love the chance to see how it would work out in action, but I am fairly firmly rooted here for the time being. It is nice to be reminded of the things I appreciate about Portland, even though I tend to become frustrated.
I’d love to hear where all of you are from and a little bit about how you like or dislike it!
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