The Grey Cities

Small cities cluster indistinctly around the Puget Sound,

slanting from the surrounding hills in a shared grey.

The sea smell hits just when the stoplights begin,

where foggy alley trash becomes tidal wrack,

and midday crowds circle the gum-speckled concrete.

Whether in imitation or reluctant acceptance,

our lives here resign themselves to half submersion.

Dawn: coffee colored cabins

Dusk: cedar taverns

We struggle for energy while water streams down the windows.

Like mollusks, we strengthen our cling,

hoping to consume something invisible from the passing tides.

So we must celebrate a life piled upon the dead,

singing at night to keep the converted factories above the mud,

looking to thrift store Carhartts for work experience.

The homeless man with the drumsticks

tests the signs and lightposts for each days resonance.  

Outside the café, he twists nearly spent tobacco shavings

into what was once a sailors pipe.

This collection of cities is oriented outward-

toward fish and trade, leaving and separation.

But even from the shore, the old ocean,

which causes all the joy and depression

felt when the unknown is unknowable,

is sucking us back down through the piers

like vanishing industries.

Puget Sound - Shannon Smith