Seattle Stories

 One night, a man and his lover drove home from a bar with a third man, all with the intention of having wild sex. But the two lovers argued, and the third man got out at a stop-light.

The first man, unwilling to argue further with his lover, seeing not the point, got upon his bike, drunk, cans of spraypaint in his pockets. It was a sunday night, and he decided, since he was not going to have wild sex, he should better the world.

The next morning, five city blocks full of people, stumbling out in the morning to go to work, found the windshields of their cars painted black, and upon the doors writ, "Don't go to work today."

This is your first story, and it is true. There shall be many more, until the man who tells the story, the man who is the story, goes elsewhere to weave more.

Summer breakfast on a patio. Overlooking a lake, overlooking a valley, overlooking a world. Dragonflies dance as they eat waffles with strawberries picked from a garden, tea (always tea), and then a woman screams, and the cars stop, and she gets out.

She is trying to run away from him, and he will not let her leave. He says she cheated on him, she only wants to go to school, she has her books with her, see?

The man and his companion stand up from the breakfast, from the waffles with cream and fruit, overlooking the lake, watching. No one does anything for her, because no one does in this city, because everyone else is no-one, but the man is not. She is invited up to hide from him, to get away, and she comes, and is terrified. The police (the-always-slow police, white unlike her) are called, but they arrive after he's threatened her, coerced her back.

But she is found, and they are separated, and he is jailed, and a week later her mother calls to thank the man, and then she calls to thank the man, and she has gone to school again, and the man has always been glad of those waffles, of the dragonflies dancing, of that overlooking world, and the man has always been glad not to be no-one.

13 years in a city means a lot of kindness, a lot of corruption. Divorced from the means of production, workers have only the otherwise-owned product of their labor. The bartender does not own the beer she pours, the cook does not own the food he's made.

But we exchange what is "not ours" anyway; because we have nothing, we are made for everything. A slipped appetizer, unrung groceries--our economy is not theirs, and there could be no talk of earning or deserving. We do not speak of what is owned or what is ours. We speak only of what we share.

Once, a man earned free coffee for a year and a day.

Three gorgeous, curvy baristas pinned behind a counter by the ogling stare of a crotch-rubbing customer, erect constantly at their every moment. A man noticed and disliked, because he has disliked as much as he has loved. Three female baristas watched as that customer became harangued, harrassed, embarrassed and then terrified by another man who could no longer countenance their discomfort.

This is a Bard's tale: for a year and a day, he no longer paid for coffee from the three baristas. It had bemused them, and it had bemused him, to watch the still-turgid man flee before the presence of a man who noticed, a man who disliked because he loved.


Rarely do stories ever see their completion. Most stories are still being told, and we do not yet know if its ending shall be happy or sad. And it is a curiosity that we obsess most over the ending, but this is for another story, for this story has an ending.

In this story, a man had his choice taken from him, from another whom he may have chosen regardless. In this story, the man could no longer say yes or no, but only witness taken from him what was not the other's to take.

It is a remarkable and horrible thing that we rarely believe another's tale of rape, and we should wonder at our disbelief, and grieve. The man in this story was not believed, particularly by those who claim to embrace all experiences.

But this is not a tale of judgment, or of woe, or of sorrow. This story has an ending.

Six years on, the man encountered the other, who had taken from him his choice, bloodied, drugged in the street, eliciting not one bit of sympathy or even notice from the revelers who passed him by. And the man, remembering very old stories of an older, more true world, pulled him from the street, bought him a cab and guided him to the address on the card in his wallet.

And the one who had taken from the man his choice recognised him and wailed, terrified, shouting an admission and an apology the man had stopped needing, begging for a forgiveness which he didn't understand he was just then receiving.

This is another Bard's tale, another story, and it has had its ending, and it is neither happy nor sad, it is only true, it is only itself.


A man once discovered, years ago, how little the immigrant dishwasher with whom he was working was paid. There is a belief that a woman from another country, without documentation, can be paid what a restauranteur feels he can pay, not what she should be paid.

You have probably eaten at this place, or many others like it, and have not thought upon this. This man has, too. There are things we cannot bear to think upon, and we cannot be held responsible, and we cannot notice.

But one time a man did, and did not think so many dollars below the law an hour was sufficient, and used words on paper to make-notice to the customers of this restaurant. And then the woman was paid more, and then the man was no longer permitted to work there.

But love stories must be true, so know the man was not a hero, for he intended to leave anyway. And it is little to the man to torch a bridge, because his name reminds him all rivers can be forded.

But the man thinks now, that though there are things we cannot bear to think upon, things we cannot be made to notice, there is an arson indistinguishable from love.


(Black Ink, White Paper, Grey Rain)

We think so much of the end of things. Something is born, something lives, and then something dies, but what is remembered so often is its death, its absence, the moment when what was became no longer is.

This is strange. It seems wiser, as a man has lately decided, to consider the ending of a thing as inscribed into its Perhaps this will remind him to embrace it as it exists, perhaps this will prepare us for when it no longer does.

A man has dreamed, and then made-real a dream. Once, a man told others he would print their words and photographs, and they believed him, and he did. And then he did it again, and again, and once more again, and then no longer.

Four seasons, first autumn, and then winter, and then spring, and finally winter. A man remembers two packed readings at coffee-houses, emails from strangers wanting subscriptions, zine archive requesting missing copies. He remembers printing 250 copies, and remembers when they were all gone. He remembers his friends and their words, his friends and their photos, his friends and their belief. A man remembers the others who helped, who created with him.

And a man remembers that it ended, but he does not think this matters. For a time it was, and it was beautiful.

A city is a place, just as is a forest or the wastes. But a city is not a forest, and it is not always the wastes, though it can sometimes seem like both.

A city dreams of people, of souls dwelling within its vastness. A city is a dream of people, of the souls indwelling its fastness. And a city is the dreams of its people, and is dreamed of them, and is dream...ed by them.

Those dreams linger in the rain-soaked streets, and sometimes follow those streets to other cities, other lands, where the rain also soaks streets.

A man dreamt of love, and has known much love, and is carried by loves known and dreamt in this city to other cities. A man has loved many, a man loves many. A man has been loved, a man is loved.

It is because of the dreams of this city and its loves that it is not strange, then, that he shall soon see a lover the night before he goes to see a love. It is not strange, then, that before he reaches that love but after he has stayed the night with a lover he shall have coffee with a love's lover before tea with a former lover and his love. It is nothing unknown that he, after seeing this love may meet others he loves, and they shall go together where the man shall see yet another former lover and perhaps even lovers who shall love this other.

And it isn't unwritten that the man shall meet more loves before returning to the city where he shall see again a lover.

It is written that love is at the heart of all creation.

A man suspects that love is the heart of a city's creation, without which it becomes waste, and then finally again forest, dreaming of lovers within its leafed towers.

A man is not just one city, but every city in which he's lived, every city in which he's dreamed.

A man has lived in one longer than any other, but once a man lived in another. But this isn't about that city, only about an other which the man knew then, and knew later in this city, and knows now from afar.

Few can say without bardic license that another has save...d one's life. A certain man who is to be a bard can say this without such license.

Once, a man attempted to end, but did not succeed. The man remembers glass and blood, but then remembers a broomstick wielded by a friend and the beating of his life, the beating back of his life.

And that man later moved and dreamt in this city, and that friend for a time did, too. And in this city a man and that friend ate stolen watermelons and carried stolen chairs up a small mountain. A man and that friend ate laced confections, and kicked the back of a head at a theatre, and then returned and forgot the confections were laced and finished them and knew oblivion's embrace.

And then that friend moved, just as the man stayed, and they dream in different cities, in different lands. But the man thinks now that the melons tasted better stolen and eaten with a friend, that brownies taste best laced and forgotten, and that a broomstick beating was the greatest embrace.

(Coffee Messiah)
Nine is near completion. It is the last cipher before the others return.
The poet Merwin: “Where ciphers wake and Evil/gets itself the face of the norm/and contrives cities.”
There is evil in a city, and there is good. There is desperation, and there is hope. A city seems the culmination of everything human, everything dreamt, everything loved.
A... man moved to a city with a bag, like the Fool of the Tarot. Everything he needed, he already had. Everything he would soon need, he was to find.
There are 3 threes in nine. 3 days after arriving, a man drank coffee at a place which, unless the hearer has seen it, even the greatest bard could not conjure its meaning.
Another man created this place, and the rest of us, including this man, found it, and from there all journeys started, all friendships began, all meaning awoke.
Pity the pilgrim now, who finds no Messiah waiting, no disco inferno in a toilet, no Blood of Christ in a paper cup. But praise the man who awoke, for a time, in a city of awakened ciphers, in a place of familiar evil, a sanctuary for freaks-that-would, fags-that-should, Goths-that--rather-not, anarchists-that-never-would. From this place all a man’s Seattle stories started, from this place most love began.
It shall be forever what Seattle could be, if it bothered.
It will be forever what a man first saw, and dreamt, where a man first loved, first dared.
And all things die, else they never lived, and a man still thanks the man who fought the ciphers, and still lives.

(The Drehleier)

The widow, the scorned, and the revolutionary are the first among us to learn the deepest truth about desire. At the heart of all creation is love, but it is at the heart of destruction, as well. In love is equal joy and suffering, and in desire are worlds birthed and overthrown.

The broken window is a kiss, the embrace is an upheaval. The widow,... the scorned, and the revolutionary all learn another secret—that desire is both a force and a tool, love is both a weapon and a song, wielded best when it does not rule, but co-creates.

A man has a funny history with desire, and thinks transfigured lust is perhaps the greatest dance from which all the world's greatest loves spring. In the broken mirror of the aether, he has woven great tapestries and found in the world it shadows brilliant friends. And in the short gap between desire and fulfillment pours forth all the greatest music of the worlds and the Other.

A man found another, wielding a whore's droned box, a wheeled key-fiddle. Venatio Patris yielded not eros's shadow, but a hurdy-gurdy man, and for a little while, a troubadour's dream (as all dreams in this city, able to live only for a little while), a band. And a friend, there in the midst of great sorrows, at the end of the ploughman's upturning.

A man can think of joys greater than a fellow musician, but not many. A man cannot think of any greater joy than a story or song shared, even if just for a little while.

Happy birthday, Stokely.

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