The Prayer

He unrolls his prayer rug to face east, kneels with his arms reaching in front, the drops of rain sticking to his skin, darkening his white tank top

Turning North on 6th from Holgate, 5:40am, on the sidewalk just east of Salvation Army.  A man, dressed in shorts, white tank top, bare feet carrying a prayer rug, it’s sprinkling out rinsing the soot of the recent fires in Oregon that have been sending their smoke North to Washington and Canada, there has not been much wind in the past week, it is smoggy, thick with the smell of smoke, you can feel the air stick to your skin and the sprinkle of rain creates a darkening mist just above the ground.

He unrolls his prayer rug to face east, kneels with his arms reaching in front, the drops of rain sticking to his skin, darkening his white tank top.

His pup tent door is open to the sidewalk, it is also facing east.

 I continue to drive by as I hope Allah is listening,

I as well speak to the great Creator, asking for wind, and perhaps if he feels it appropriate, a downpour of rain to help all the creatures of his world as I pull into our parking garage.

It’s noon, I pull into the Burien Transit center, drop a small group of riders off, There by the building 5 policemen have a man on the ground, he is kneeling, his hands cuffed behind him a small crowd surrounds the scene.

  I continue clockwise around the building and come across a small flock of pigeons that have been slaughtered a few are missing heads, it does not look like they had been run over by a bus, I wonder if the handcuffed man had something to do with this.

I’m at home, close to 9pm, in my yard, through the haze, my binoculars are focusing on the moon that has begun it’s crescent phase, it has a slight red tint to it.

The Kiss

I have watched a man walk his dog during that time frame, a good looking Pit bull Labrador mix that has a brindle coat.

I have been driving the same route in the same time frame for about a year now, and at different times almost two years before that.  I have watched a number of people on this route and know some of their routines.

I have watched a man walk his dog during that time frame, a good-looking Pit-Bull Labrador mix that has a brindle coat.

He had been walking her up and down 35th sw, happy dog, smile on her face when she greets people, she has that squirm and her ears go down when she meets people, and she loves them all. 

He is over 50, shaggy beard carries a ball for her, I have seen her run and catch, fetch be distracted by birds, dogs and people as she brings it back to him. 

I have seen her become grey, and this past year, she has slowed.  He had stopped carrying her ball early last summer, she was walking with her head down, her tail swings slow left and right, she stops, her nose in the air and sniffs, he patiently waits for her to move again. 

I missed seeing them over the past few weeks, saw them today. He lives by a stop, I am letting on an old gentleman that needs the ramp as he scoots his walker past me I watch the pair, I’m saddened:

Her back legs are not working right, her hip overly swings, her front legs are weak as she shakes to walk.  They are at the end of their front walk of his house where it meets the sidewalk grass, she stumbles falls, whimpers, she seems blind now, scared, he bends down next to her, lifts her front torso up, kisses her head and sooths her.

I am taken by this moment, I leave my door open and watch this grotesque, horrible but beautiful moment. 

I know he is talking to her, softly, as his lips are to her head, he slides his other arm under her back, to her hips, then lifts her, she subtly jerks, he whispers again, holds her as he stands and kisses her head again, she relaxes, her head loose over his arm, her tongue out, he is holding his head against hers in a hug as they turn towards his door. 

I close my door and start to pull away as he carries her to his door.

Orange Needle

Crows are present, they have found stops like these offer foods for the day, materials for nests, a reason for territory arguments

This August morning started with greys and mists, sun orange behind clouds the warm light casting mild shadows.

Its early enough the sounds of cars, traffic and people are still singular sounds, muffled by their distance. I am at a stop at 12th and Lane. This stop is often busy with human services and care, by this stop is a small tent city know for its drug use, crime.  Some are waking up, some are returning home, they are moving around, one lady makes her way to 12th, She doesn’t seem to know she’s on the street, nor does she see me, she drops her pants, her skin is blotchy, potted, she pees, then vacates her rectum a few yards in front of me.  She cleans herself with a towel she tosses to the sidewalk.  My door is open, I smell the garbage that’s littered, wrappers, beer cans, broken bottles, clothes. I can smell alcohol and the garbage in the air. A siren in the International district echoes between the buildings.

Crows are present, they have found stops like these offer foods for the day, materials for nests, a reason for territory arguments.

Two Crows look to be molting, they are skinnier than most, not a jet black, more of a light charcoal, feathers hang loose from their bodies unpreened,  their movements are quick, they seem angry, they have found an orange needle the kind that is handed out by the state, they are pecking it.  One goes to pick it up, the other pecks at its beak, the needle is dropped, the crows fight each other. Viscous, not normal territory squabble.

I had to ask myself, are they fighting over the needle for its drug?

They are rolling on the ground, talons out, pecking for eyes, one flutters away chased for a bit.

I close my door, continue south across the Rizal bridge,

I can see T Mobile Park lighted in Pink, in the distance behind, Puget Sound then the Olympic Mountain range rises above the park, its peaks are blue to white, to a soft glow of the yellow sun touching grey clouds.

In the Park

 

 

7 am at Westwood, the park across from Target, there is a woman lying face down, sleeping, she is brunette, grey hoodie, she has the brown skin possibly an Islander,  her pants and underwear are off, they have been folded, placed next to her elbow of the arm her head rests on.  Her right knee out and almost equal to her hip.

An empty bottle of Jack Daniels lays on the other side of her clothes.

I can’t help but to look at the details of the situation.

It was not sexual for me,

There was some concern of perhaps rape, but her folded clothes, empty bottle, her deep, seemingly comfortable sleep led me to believe she found a comfortable spot.

I pick up the radio and call TCC

The Grass is long in this park, it is due

for a mowing, dandelions are tall, some yellow buds are turning white at the end of tall stalks where one has found itself to be standing behind her entrance.

It’s a warm morning, nearing 80 at 7am, a woman in her 80s that I often see walking, stops, approaches her, tries to wake her. The sleeper raises her head, then turns it the other way.

The elderly woman has a cell phone to her ear as she reaches for the woman’s pants and gently lays them across her rear.

I open the door to the bus, call to the elderly woman that I have called this in, she responds, “I just called too, the police will be here, 2nd time this week I have found her like this”.

You ok mam? “I’m fine, I’ll stay with her.

Thank you, mam, have a good morning.

TCC responds, I tell them to disregard.

A male in his 30s is doing his morning run, stops where the old woman is, they have a brief conversation, he turns his back and faces the street keeping his eye open for the police.

I pull out, start my route, heading east, sun in my eyes.

Crucifix

Earlier that summer the President had people gassed out of a park so he could walk to a photo op, posing with a bible being held upside down and backwards.  When asked by the Press if that was his bible, his answer was “It’s a Bible”

 

On the corner of 1st and Lenora, South West corner there is a man passed out. Like laying on a cross,  Arms stretched out, legs stretched straight, and downhill, shoes had been kicked to the side, his face staring straight to the sky, mouth open eyes closed,  he slowly begins to get soaked as a light rain has started, his empty liquor bottle rests against the building next to him.

A ferry blows its horn from the dock below, as a car heading south on 1st rushes by whooshing a puddle that just misses the man.

Speakers are blaring Bible quotes spoke in a foreign language by a young group of men I believe are fundamentalist,  they hold the bible,  dressed in purple and gold Toga’s  the crowd walking by them are mostly homeless and druggers There is no interaction between the two groups it’s as if they are from two dimensions sharing the same street.

A young couple begin to cross the street towards the man, think better of it as they decide to go around him instead.

His mouth has gathered enough rain to choke and wake him, he spits out a bit as he lowers his head again, this time with his mouth closed. I see him blink a couple of times then return to his sleep.

I check my phone, then facebook, there is a post that has a picture of a Black Jesus, and a White Jesus, the caption reads, if Jesus was Black, would White men be Christians?

Below that pic is a cross that says, remember the Crucifix

She Sells Flowers

 

 

Flowers picked from roadside green spaces, Snap Dragons, Paint Brush, Cow Parsnip, Cut leaf, Coralroot, cut, arranged in found bottles that had been rinsed, but not washed, whiskey, mayonnaise, mustard, mason, whatever bottle found then arranged by height, 20 or so, the tallest in the back, short in front, a handful of flowers in each, not too many, less is more, amongst the offering of arrangements, small hand size American flags, coasters of the Space Needle.

A Red White and Blue ribbon weaves its way through the back row of flowers, the display sits on a tie dye silk throw

Her Mid length, non-washed brown curly hair holds to her head like a helmet, Green and white pin striped button down shirt, holes in the elbows, missing buttons reveal a black bra, her jeans dirty, worn in the knees, rolled cuffs, dirty feet wearing whitish sandals. I think she was once attractive.

How much for the arrangement in back? She didn’t look me in the eye as she said “the ones in back are $7 comes with the vase”

I like the one in the Jack Daniels bottle, “Lovely” she said as she reached for the jar, handed it to me with her eyes down, her body odor was strong, it had a back odor of excrement.

She had a small wagon that I believed carried her goods, her purse sitting in it. She reached for it after I paid her.  She struggled to slip the money in, a needle fell out, the kind they hand out for free at the clinics, orange tip and cap.

I had seen her on Broadway for over a week now and curious about her goods spread out, the staging was attractive, the arrangements seemed to be done with the “right touch”

I was driving by today when I decided to make a visit.

I think she is an artist at heart, there are people who you look at, see their work and it fits together, yes, you can tell they painted that.

As I walked away, I admired my new flowers, beautiful in their contrast of something pretty and something that was used and thrown away as garbage, unwashed, taken to be used for something perhaps better.

Walking towards the train station, a bike road by me, the handle bar hit my elbow I dropped, then breaking my vase on the cement.

I kicked the bottle together, picked up the large shrouds of glass, threw it away in a garbage can.

Ill buy again from her, maybe she will show me her eyes.

The Beautiful

Somehow the warmth of the air brings us inside the perfume of flowers, trees, breeze bringing us nearby kitchens, clicks of glasses with ice, somehow the light and shadow with its strong contrast creates a focal point.

 

 

She walks south on Freemont ave, Red Dress hangs just to the knees, small white floral pattern, brown sandals perfect with the summer dress, her dark hair pulled back to a pony tail, Olive skin, her right hand holding white daisy’s, her left gently swings lose, each step graceful like an ice skater, her head glides like on a rail, she moves through the shadows of the trees, the light dancing on her like she is center staged, people notice her, girlfriends holding hands of their lovers join their lovers in a long look as they hold their breath.

Summer is the time for such moments,

Somehow the warmth of the air brings us inside the perfume of flowers, trees, breeze bringing us nearby kitchens, clicks of glasses with ice, somehow the light and shadow with its strong contrast creates a focal point.

She walked through the sidewalk crowd lost in her thoughts, provoking thoughts of others

She is early 20s, she lifts her hand with the flowers and smells them as she passes an elderly couple, He uses a walker, she has her on his arm , white hair, white wrinkled skin fresh to the sun step into the shade of the tree and  watch her walk by, he kisses her hand then they turn back slowly moving on their way.

A 40sh male riding his bike slows to look at her, loses the rhythm of his pedals, he shakes his head as he regains his rhythm, energy well spent.

I turn my bus west on 46th, 12pm on a Monday, its quiet on this street, not so many shadows as the sun is now overhead, not so many trees, cars on each side.

I think of the time I met my lover at a QFC, we bought Sushi and Ice Tea, we walked to a near by park and talked, we had winter jackets on, hers a light blue, mine kaki, I did not notice it was cold.

The Ladder

Driving South on the Aurora Bridge, Lake Union on the right,

Puget Sound on the Left.

 Chesheeahud was a renowned Duwamish chief and travel guide to Lake Union, Lake Washington, and Lake Sammamish in the days before roads were built in the City of Seattle and its suburbs of the “Eastside”. Chesheeahud was the leader of a Duwamish village on Lake Union. Chesheeahud had a cabin and a potato patch on land given to him by pioneer David Denny at the foot of Shelby Street as late as 1900.

 Landscapers have been busy at the “Canlis” Shrubs have been trimmed, lower branches from Maples removed.

There is a ladder that is leaning against a Juniper, left behind as the workers moved on.

 Crossing the bridge,

A Black Lives Matter sign hangs from its right side and drapes over the sidewalk the breeze picks up, it swells like a sail similar to one of the boats below.

Chesheeahud’s to become also known as “lake John” (canoe was a full-sized Salish style canoe, with gently up-curving bow and tapering, angled stern.  Carved from a single huge log of western red cedar, large canoes of this shape had almost disappeared by the end of the 1800s. This was by the Nuu-chah’nulth from the coast and western.

 A young man, 20 something, dressed in white shirt, vest, tie, nice  jeans leather shoes leaves the bus at 39th and Freemont, I pull forward he slaps the bus and waves, he has left his computer behind.

At 46th and Phinney, then drop him at 65th and Greenwood, I pick up a regular, older man, 70? Wears a grey flat cap, light blue jacket, jeans, white tennis shoes, his line before Covid was to pay a $1, say to me “its only fair” we both will shake our heads with appreciation for the corny greeting,

He awkwardly enters the back of the bus now and seems to feel he is missing something before he sits down.

 

“John was a Lake Indian. His illahee [land], which was given to him by his cloish tillicum [good friend], “Dave Denny,” was on Portage Bay, Lake Union, at the foot of what is known now as Shelby Street. There he had his cabin and a small potato patch. He buried his chickamin [money] at the base of stumps. Back among the stumps he built his “sit down” house,. of which he was very proud and which we would not allow any one else to use.”

 

One person is left on my bus, an older Japanese woman, English her second language sits in front with her cane and mask, I had picked her up at 4th and Jackson by the International District, she leaves my bus at 100th   where I pick her up in the mornings, Her husband is with her , his White Fedora, White Jacket that matches his white hair, he pays her fare, walks her to her seat while he does, he makes sure to let me know he is leaving and where her stop is.

Her Husband is now at 100th, there to greet her, helps her off the bus and both bow and wave goodbye to me.

 Chesheeahud and his wife, known by her Pastid name “Madeline”, were often referred to as “the last of the Lake Union Indians,” since they were in fact the last Duwamish family to maintain residence on the lake as the city grew up around  “Debadidi” (David Denny) and moved with many of his people to the Suquamish Reservation across Puget Sound.

I have continued the route, left my layover at Shoreline Community College, a dozen or so people on my bus, I cross the  Aurora Bridge Southbound, the Olympics are still white with shades of blue as they meet the sound.

On my left is the “Canlis”, with a ladder that has been left behind as workers moved on.

 Sources:

Dailey, Tom. Coast Salish Villages of Puget Sound, http://www.coastsalishmap.org/

Gould, Jim, Professor Emeritus of History and International Relations, Scripps College, Claremont CA. The Montlake Neighborhood,  http://montlake.net/mcc/mcc_history_Jim_Gould.htm

King County Landmarks & Heritage Commission, Change of Worlds, http://www.changeofworlds.org/object.cfm?object=

Thomas Speer

The Bindweed

 

 

 

Seattle has two stadiums that sit on either side of a street in Seattle, not so much now a street as a walkway.

It is landscaped on one side, small perennials, ivy, juniper, bark dust

A Bindweed sends a vine through a small gap between bricks reaches towards the center of the sidewalk, its leaves uncurl, white trumpet flowers, the end of the vine is curled.

People step over, step next to it, occasionally step on it, through the weeks it continues to grow longer. I walk this area again; landscapers have cleared the vine.

Pine street has a walkway between 3rd and 4th.

Today a mid-30s man has stalled in his walk, one foot in front of the other as if in a normal walk, his jeans are muddy, shoes are dark, long coat, beard, long hair dark hair that hasn’t been washed in months. His arms are in a natural swing state but stationary, he is looking at the ground maybe 3 feet ahead of him. He looks like a freezeframe who’s next step is into the crosswalk. People pass him both on the left and right, some step around him glancing behind them, wondering if maybe his is a street performer.

My light turns green, he is to my right as I drive by him. I continue on my route to 2nd, south bound, then east bound back to Madison Park.  I layover for 20 mins, then head back to Pine street about 50 mins have gone by, he has now crossed the street is on my left, a few feet from the crosswalk, frozen, or moving incredibly slow.

The old woman who dresses in black, grey hair spraying out beneath her hoodie pushes her grocery cart of belongings around and past him.

My light turns green, I continue on my route to 2nd, south bound, then east bound back to Madison Park.  I layover for 20 mins, then head back to Pine street

15th and John

 

 

15th and John is a corner stop in front of one of Seattle’s major Hospitals, it’s a stop where you will find people in all stages of health.

Today a man I guess to be in his late 70s or early 80s, has a worn fleece vest over his hospital nightgown, his feet in socks, slippers, his white beard and hair contrast his dark skin, sunken eyes.  His arms have band aides that indicate recent I.V. and shots. His skin is blotchy, weakly, slowly, shaking as he climbs onto the bus, he hangs onto the hold bars as he finds a seat next to a window,  he holds a pizza and a bottle of something in a brown bag that he takes a long draw on after a bite of his pizza.  His gaze out the window seems long drawn, his mood melancholy.  I’m at a stop next to a small greenbelt, his hand is now on the window as he looks out, then he sits back wiping tears from his eyes.  He sits alone, and I have the feeling he feels alone and has been revealed to him his time is near and he left the Hospital abruptly leaving clothes in an effort to leave the situation behind him.

I wonder if I should call this in, what does one say when you only have a feeling.

We arrive at a stop downtown, there are homeless, bottles, broken glass boarded windows, graffiti of lives matter, old clothes laying about, dirty, wet from rain.  He carefully, weakly, shaking, leaves the bus and makes his way out through the crowd.

There is a tree there, who’s branch has been broken, hangs from its bark as its leaves are turning brown, one lets go in the breeze fluttering to the sidewalk.