Nomad Poem for Aberdeen, Washington (An Ode to a Rough Diamond)

A One Way sign and a pipe on an alleyway wall in Aberdeen, Washington.
Image from an Aberdeen alleyway.

I love Aberdeen, Washington. The place just has a gritty character that speaks to my soul and imagination. For most people it’s a gateway to the Olympic coast or the peninsula, but the city itself has a peculiar magic all its own.

I wrote a poem about Aberdeen titled “Not the Lying Down Kind.” I originally published it on Medium, but I want to include it here, as well.

Not the Lying Down Kind (for Aberdeen, Washington)

The city’s bridges sag over rivers 
like hunchbacked men carrying too-heavy loads 
for too long.

On the streets, tired, 
dim-eyed cars float into mist 
as a foreign country’s nighttime 
overtakes the city’s sleep.

Orange lights glow in pub windows, 
buildings thus resembling cooling embers from a scattered fire. 
They’re the secret hearts of this world carved out of fog, those pubs. 
Their walls thump with rock, pop, and hip hop.

A tortured, mewling voice echoes faintly through the alleyways. 
“Come as you are,” it says, 
“and then be gone with you.”

The whole of Aberdeen sleeps on the threshold of yesterday, 
dreaming of beds.

In the warm thump of the secret hearts the people laugh. 
Nothing said ever lasts. 
Every word fades into fog rolling down mountains.

Yet, for all their subtracted voices, 
the people stay, 
and in staying they honor a history of hard work and tough family. 
Their’s is not a surrendering sadness.

No, it’s not that kind.

Triumphant and proud, 
it laughs. 
It harvests life out of the hollow, 
it doesn’t give a damn for lying-down things.

Aberdeen is a mother nursing her baby 
after a double shift.

Aberdeen is a grim lumberjack, 
hands numb with callouses, 
laughing with abandon as his son tickles his stomach.

Sometimes hobbled, 
but never cowed, 
Aberdeen is the people
of Aberdeen.

Copyright 2018 Jeff Suwak

Aberdeen, Washington: Not the Lying-Down Kind

The city’s bridges sag over rivers
like hunchbacked men carrying too-heavy loads
for too long.

On the streets, tired,
dim-eyed cars float into mist
as a foreign country’s nighttime
overtakes the city’s sleep.

Orange lights glow in pub windows,
buildings thus resembling cooling embers from a scattered fire.
They’re the secret hearts of this world carved out of fog, those pubs.
Their walls thump with rock, pop, and hip hop.

A tortured, mewling voice echoes faintly through the alleyways.
“Come as you are,” it says,
“and then be gone with you.”

The whole of Aberdeen sleeps on the threshold of yesterday,
dreaming of beds.

In the warm thump of the secret hearts the people laugh.
Nothing said ever lasts.
Every word fades into fog rolling down mountains.

Yet, for all their subtracted voices,
the people stay,
and in staying they honor a history of hard work and tough family.
Their’s is not a surrendering sadness.

No, it’s not that kind.

Triumphant and proud,
it laughs.
It harvests life out of the hollow,
it doesn’t give a damn for lying-down things.

Aberdeen is a mother nursing her baby
after a double shift.

Aberdeen is a grim lumberjack,
hands numb with callouses,
laughing with abandon as his son tickles his stomach.

Sometimes hobbled,
but never cowed,
Aberdeen is the people
of Aberdeen.