To Catch You Up: Four Poems Written in Portland

I recently took an extremely enjoyable business trip to Portland, Ore. I didn’t take a laptop because the nature of my work there was to take a lot of notes in longhand and then turn them into articles once I got home. As for my music-themed poetry project, I thought I could cope pretty well between my phone and the hotel’s business center.


The first night, I discovered that it was impossible to copy and paste links from the hotel computer, though I was able to (tediously) post my poem to this blog and also for Open Link Night at dVerse Poets. But then things went downhill. There were a couple of nights where the business center computers were all offline, so I typed and printed my poems there and went back to my room and re-typed them on my Facebook page (for some contemporaneous proof that I’d written them) via my phone. By the end, I was cutting out the business center visits altogether, writing poems longhand and then typing them on Facebook. The final poem you’ll see in this post was written at my gate just before flying home.

It was frustrating not being able to Google the lyrics or put in as many links as I wanted because between work, social events, and the need to get out and see the city, it was all I could do to just write the poems and post them somewhere. But it was not entirely bad that I had to work from whatever I heard/misheard, and in one case, mistranslated. It led to poems that were a little less buttoned-up than my usual, and I kind of like their rough energy.

Mainly, I’m glad I was able to prove to myself that I could keep up the daily poems even while traveling and without all my usual tools at the ready.

Without further ado, here are the four poems that I wrote while I was gone and was not able to post before now.


Silver Ball

If I had no distractions,
I could play by smell;
I could use my intuition
to guide everything
into the right socket.
If I didn’t have any
buzzers and bells,
I could lean against
a cool blue wall
and find that it is

From “Pinball Wizard” by The Who. Chosen because after a group dinner, a few of us split off to go to an arcade that was offering all-you-can-play for $5. My carpal tunnels and I rediscovered my love for pinball (though I’m certainly no wizard).


Strange Voices

I could skip my city
if you were still here.
It was cruel, leaving me
to do your dirty work,

climbing a fire escape
beyond all understanding.
If I could escape, I would
not need these overalls.

Now, everything is closed
and bananas aren’t free—
but the peels fly pretty far
if you aim them just right.


Bananarama’s “Cruel Summer,” chosen for no other reason than that I saw this song referenced on a friend’s Facebook wall. I like it, too, though, because of the fire escape — our hotel had an early morning false alarm, and I used the fire stairs out onto the rainy sidewalk because they were the closest and I had no reason to believe it wasn’t a true emergency.


Certain Pain

Every day I drink myself
into another world, too small.

Every day I find
what I look for.

Every day I shout
at the moon.

Every day I fight myself
in a hole in the street.

And every day I ask,
Now what?


Manu Chao’s ” ¿Y Ahora Que? ” because I really like him and considered buying one of his CDs (I know, an actual physical thing) at a local record store I visited with a friend. I did buy something else there — just not that.


Bring Me Goodbye

tonight in the flashing lights
tonight I can only ask
to submit it

tonight I will hold you
bring me tonight
bring me goodbye

I’ll see you there
let’s not forget it
you bring me goodbye


Io Echo’s “Shanghai Girls,” because it was appropriately wistful and dreamy for my farewell. It’s also an oblique reference to a very creepy/cool tour I took of Portland’s Shanghai tunnels.

Glad/sad to be home …