A Fall Sunday, 2016

woods in Fall

Google maps says the bus should have been here at 1:26. It was 1:29 at that point. The bus may have been early, but I had been at the stop for five minutes. More likely, it was late. Seattle in the early fall wasn’t a bad place to wait. It wasn’t raining today, and I was fairly content, after my meal at a gyro shop down two blocks.

I was on my way north, and east a bit to Bothell. I was here by virtue of the reduced Sunday bus service. I had no real business in the Emerald City. Just passing through, as I so often was. Permanence was not something I felt too strongly about then.

Uncertainty was the sickness of the time.  I could see my bus. The number 512 was bright above its windshield. I found a seat behind the joint where the double-long bus could bend. There was a space before there were more chairs. I found it a comfort for long legs.

“You know it’s a scam right?” a faceless voice says from behind me.

“The Jacobites, they were silenced, but they are still here,” the same voice says again.

I remember my mother’s show, Outlander. The character Jaime had been a Jacobite or at least fought on their side. Jaime’s fight for freedom was both romantic and heroic. Two vague words. Heroic, it might have been. Not romantic. There is no romance for corpses.

I lived with the privilege of not having to bloody myself for much of anything. Yet privilege can be ignored, and I had managed to bloody myself plenty. My freedoms had already been fought for. My ancestors, or someone’s, had already bled on fields so I would be free.

I figured I was fairly free. Free enough to look to the east, to see the Cascades rise pointed and dominating. Free enough to look to the west, to see the Olympics, being, as their name would suggest. I was free enough to choose to sit here. These had not been the first mountains I had been free enough to see.


Mountains here are painted

Impossibly steep on the horizon

Green towers

Green pillars

Unreal till you see them close

Painted over with white brush strokes

I think of paintings by Sensei’s Wife

I’m a child again counting in Japanese

Ich Punch, Ni punch, San punch…

Only it’s Chinese I’m speaking

And the mountains are real.


Paint strokes,

The strokes of God maybe

Or many gods, spirits dwelling

In everything, everyone

I love my rolling mountains

Of granite and ice

But these mountains

Of green and life

Of white clouds and grey

This is a place I will remember

I guess I was fairly free.

The man at the bus stop was free. I’m In Everett now. Waiting for one last bus. He walks by in all black, black face mask, black hatchets swinging at his waste. One of those, don’t make eye contact but don’t look away. He passed by without killing anyone, as that other guy did in Bellevue. I remembered him. He was walking up and down the bus line, opening and closing his switchblade.

He was not free. Fifty people had stared back at him dead faced. Asking, “Do you work forty hours a week? Punk? Get the fuck out of our faces. None of us are missing this bus.” He wasn’t free.


Howl howl

Ginsberg once cried

Longing but hopeful

Into the cold long night

And we listened


Not enough,

But we listened.

Now too few howl

The silence has crept in

Moloch has won

The night that once,

Simply appeared long,

Shall never end.

Frost was wrong,

This world shall not end in fire

For ice is far worse,

Killing you slowly,


For death, shouldn’t be what we fear

It should be this.

The man with the hatchets. He was free. They would put a bullet in him. Then he would be truly free.

The 105 was late. It most likely hadn’t been ten minutes early. Oh wait, a bus driver just came out of the bathroom and was turning on a bus. Wait… yup, it was the 105. I guess he was free to be late. Hatchetman was gone.

The bus hastily pulls toward the pickup lane.  A woman, thankfully young, takes a quick hop onto the sidewalk. I wondered what would suck more, death by hatchets, or by bus. I had been just about killed by a car before. 150 CCs of blood on a Taiwanese street. I would take the bus. The car hadn’t hurt at all.


To those,

Dearly, too soon, departed

Those minds never to be

Voices never heard

I was almost you.


Too young and stupid

And for a moment luck ran out

Because luck isn’t real

It’s all timing.




Sometimes the timing is wrong

Sometimes the chance is, we die.

Immortality is a god’s game

And even gods, die.


I laid on that street, crushed

And bones fragile.


I had the courtesy to not die

Friends watching, crying

I did not die,

I am not one of those

Dearly, too soon, departed.

The 105 is smaller, but I still got my own seat. I take the one near the back door. No one reads, but there is a sign asking to please exit from the back. We are free in that way too, I guess. We pass Kids Country of Everett, bad memories. We pass Tully’s Coffee, I had met my roommates there.

Dante’s Café was still the best. Where in America can I order Bailey’s in my coffee at 8 am, and no one looks at me funny? No, we are not that free.

This bus ride is short, and it is my last bus. I’m in Bothell, but I’m not going home yet. Herbal Nation, and a green wavy inflatable balloon man petitioning for attention. They can never find my birthday on my Massachusetts’ driver’s license. I pick up two half-g pre-rolled Girl Scout Cookies. I also grabbed a legal soda. We do have this freedom.

I took a left, before the left, my condo was on. Another quick right and I was walking through the woods behind my condo. I found a place by the Brook to relax, and I cracked my soda.

There was a tent down the stream a bit, maybe a hundred feet before the main road. It had been there for a couple of months. I think they thought people hadn’t noticed. They were young, and always left their cars parked by the road. Perhaps they were free. They were mostly left to be. I wondered if others had actually noticed them, or maybe just me. The half g of Girl Scout Cookies was almost gone, and it would be minutes still before I felt the soda.

In this case, I was free, and I was not free. Yet, I did not have this in Taiwan, and I had not minded at all.

A dog barks, it’s Rocky. My roommates’ husky/Sheppard mix. My old family dog was named Rocky. My current dog was a husky. I still thought I would be bringing her out.

The day would not keep, as it was autumn in Washington. The rain did not move me yet. I wore a raincoat, as it was autumn in Washington. I lit the second half g. I was feeling good, but my only ambition for the day was to write D&D campaigns. I could feel a little better.

The roaches splashed in the Brook. I stood, my eyes closed. I recalled writing poetry in the rain, some years back. I had been in the woods of North Shore Massachusetts, less than a mile from the Atlantic.

I was free to remember. The words of the poem were breathed across unmoving lips.





This is to you, sweet song man

Enricher of the mind man

Instructor of the soul man

To you, the music man


You, who has been with us for ages

You, who taught us to peel back the layers of the soul

And to reveal ourselves to others

And others, to us

You, who sang for us, and played for us

The first stories

You, who gave us voice, always


To you, sweet song man

Keeper of the Soul man

Breaker of the Heart man

To you, the music man


You, who can save a life

You, who can give us strength

You, who can fortify a soul

Against all the horrors of the world

And the dark things, that can make life unbearable


To you, sweet song man

The not so silent, shadow of man

The Funky shaman man

To you, the music man


You, who plays for pain

You, who plays for love

You, who plays for loss

Sweet sound player

Angry noise maker

The soul of man strummer


To you, sweet song man

Sorrowful voodoo man

Soul crafting magic man

To you, the music man

I remember being wet. I remembered trying to shield the paper. I remember that poem’s reception, applause. My girlfriend then, disliked it.

I was alone. I was free to be alone. Free to remember.

Feeling the dark sand

The salt heavy sea, cleans me

A brutal baptism of force

Fight, dive, roll, and swim

Deeper into the sea spirits home

Thrashed by the waves that cover me

I know how this battle is fought

And the Pacific welcomes me

As I find peace amongst nature’s chaos

Humility, in a world out of my control


By Tyler Golec






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