I wrote a “Shuffled!” article about some of my favorite Filipino American songs for today’s Boston Progress Radio, see http://www.bprlive.org. It includes a riff on songs by the Seattle hip-hop duo, Blue Scholars, and I promised to post my old “Seattle” poem here for them. I wrote this poem six years ago, during a Free-Writing session facilitated by my sistahfriend, 2003 Detroit Slam Team poet Angela Jones. She instructed us to write about our hometown, using personification (giving inanimate objects human qualities). Here’s what I wrote in the 10-15 minute Detroit Summer Poetry for Social Change workshop. Maraming Salamat/endless thanks to my pamilya and Angela for the inspiration. I wish I could perform this with Blue Scholars in Seattle someday. (Geo?) Now that would be fun.
Seattle / “She-attle” / Personified
(Free-write at a Detroit Summer Poetry for Social Change Workshop)
Inspired by Angela Jones, Nov. 20, 2002
© by Emily Porcincula Lawsin
“Chief Sealth”, “Sha-til”, “She-attle”, “Sea-Town”,
From the South End to Downtown – Seattle, a native part of me.
She climbs Rainier Avenue to the C.D. and the I.D.
Like a hiker on its mountain tops, raking gutters of rain
Past the Phó Noodle shops, the ghosts of Chubby & Tubby’s $4.99 Xmas Trees, and
Franklin High on an emerald night.
Her evergreen veins curl up 23rd to the heart of her hood,
Marching down MLK, formerly Empire Way,
To drum beats the FYA plays at the Black Festival, where she reigns.
She feigns summer’s SeaFair, its parade of pirates posing crooked smiles of
Thrown chocolate doubloons that couldn’t brush or floss Lake Washington clean
Despite the Hydroplane Races and Floating Bridges wrapping their legs around her,
Pushing and squeezing gas-guzzling SUVs back to their cold cul-de-sacs of suburbia.
That Queen is smart, she is.
Only giving a small hiccup during Mt. St. Helen’s violent overthrow,
Only giving a small buckle of a burp
at the quakes of the earth called Phinney Ridge.
She held that rage and anger in for 2000 years she did,
Until the Stock Market crashed, Microsoft injunctioned, Boeing went bust, and
dot.coms didn’t come no more.
The IMF brought a charade of bribes to her parade,
Trying to trade – all lies – underestimating that she knew the “WTO”
Didn’t mean “Washington’s Ticket Out” of the rut of corporate greed.
Her strong fingers of 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th Avenues
Erupting in an intertwining, internationally televised spectacle
Of necessary anarchy. Burning dumpsters –
Sweet karma for her sister city’s secret sweatshops,
Bringing Niketown to its shoeless knees.
That Emerald Queen plays smart, she is.
Hid her army of blood lines down Broadway where homophobes dread to tread,
She cruises down “The Ave” to cradle her chorale,
Whips up Wallingford to Woodland Park, setting all the zoo animals free.
Her crossed eyes of Elliot Bay and Puget Sound cries to witness the
Displacement of Asian ancestors from Jackson Street and Chinatown
For a Kingdome stadium that only ended up torn down
For damn luxury skyboxes and a retractable (read: RAINABLE) roof.
The irony of the fault lines quaking through Yesler Terrace’s Projects and
Old Skid Row streets, masquerading as Pioneer Square:
An underground over Underground Seattle.
Still, this Queen smoothes the wrinkles of her face: Aurora and Old Highway 99.
She stretches the stretch-marks of her stomach: I-5
Screeching with pride through traffic and lay-offs
Keeping the moon up all night, she dances through rocks of jazz and grunge clubs,
Holding her crown high on top of her neck of The Needle,
Standing guard on her ribcage of rusted rooftops rustling in the wind,
Claiming this green space.
This city, she is, this Queen, SHE-attle, “Sha-til”,
Seattle: my home.
* * *
“Joe Metro” – Song by Blue Scholars
AND because I love it and in case you haven’t seen it, here’s the Blue Scholars’ MTV video of their song “Joe Metro”. That Pinay sitting in the back could be me. And the elders could be my mom and dad. MAKIBAKA, Geo & Saba! Check it:
Watch “Back Home” by Blue Scholars’ too:
http://www.mtv.com/videos/blue-scholars/166934/back-home.jhtml#artist=1918439This video brings tears to my eyes. Bring the troops home. Peace.
Click HERE to READ and LISTEN to my Shuffle! of my top Filipino American songs on Boston Progress Radio.