Poetry in Tacoma?

By Morf Morford
Tacoma Daily Index

Tacoma, the city famed for its “grit” and extraction based economy – its industrial themed scent and grimy reputation, has somehow, in spite of its history and yes, in spite of itself, takes an occasional tenuous, hesitant step into self-awareness and self-expression through the arts.

The arts, of all kinds, make it possible to say all kinds of things impossible exclusively with words.

Poetry, though made of words, allows us to frame, question and comprehend – or maybe just confront – in ways standard sentences or arguments never could.

Here are two poems that I wrote, one addressing the accidental oddity that brought me – and seemingly keeps me-  here in this town surging with ambiguity, opportunity and intensity, the other exploring the compelling yet rarely appreciated vehicle of poetry in our fast-paced life crammed with noise and distractions with so little room for thought or even those simple acts of noticing.

Tacoma is a place, but it is also much more than a spot on a map.

Mt Rainier w.boots





A town called home

There might be places I’d prefer to be anchored,
But I find myself here,
As if I had no other place to call home
Among the many places I’ve seen.
I’m planted here
Not fully by my own choice.
My parents, both from other places,
Met and settled here,
And I didn’t move far.
In spite of my occasional intentions,
And visits to other places
I may have preferred more,
I couldn’t plant roots that would sustain me.
And I find myself, like a reluctant family member
A part, yet apart,
From this home I resist
Almost as powerfully
As I embrace.
I’ve never known,
Or been known,
By a place so fully.
At some point, noticed by none of us,
There’s no leaving
And no turning back.
It’s a strange inertia,
This strong and invisible strand by strand binding
That holds me, by not holding me;
But they hold me more firmly
Than any made by the harshest human hand.
For better or worse
We are together,
Bound by some vow never taken
And I feel my roots, each day, each season,
Becoming deeper
Yet somehow weaker.
Unshakable, yet never permanent,
Like life itself,
Today seems solid,
But my beginning and ending here
Is like a distant unimaginable mist…


Nobody reads poetry anymore

“Nobody reads poetry anymore”
That’s what she said as she turned the page
And the clouds floated by
In more ways than one.
It’s true of course,
Who reads poetry
Besides poets?
And only then when they have to,
Or it is their own.
Somehow we have forgotten the feel of words
Soft on the tongue,
Easy on the ear
And stirring a sluggish heart.
It is our words now that are soft,
And unfilling,
And unable to carry us
To distant, impossible places
And into the lost and angry eyes of strangers.
We will return to poetry,
We have to.
We must, in our deepest, darkest selves,
Find the words,
Hear the voice,
That speaks forever,
That holds the key
That opens the door
That no logic, no doctrine and no
formula can open.
It is enough
That poetry lie dormant for a time.
Like the counterpart of some sullen, slumbering beast,
Poetry will come when called…