Tuesday, December 9, 2014

City of Cantilevers

image from seattlesgreatwheel.com

City of Cantilevers

“I see nothing in space as promising as the view
from a Ferris Wheel.”--E.B. White.

during twilight, purrs
           with soft evening noises;
                         traffic lights suddenly brilliant green,
                         blinking headlights in chrome grills
snapping on,    street lights buzzing just before they bathe
the ground with amber incandescence,
                        Superferries sliding deep through darkening water,
                                            flicking on their deck lights,
                       float planes gliding toward Lake Union, mid-city,
their red-striped white wings & ivory floats
                       bursting with burnt umber. 

Seattle, now a home for the Great Wheel, erected
             two years ago on Pier 57, not far from
             Ivar’s Fish Bar or the Aquarium, 
a new landmark built to entice people to keep coming
to the embattled waterfront,
             during the eight year demolition
                        of the Alaskan Way Viaduct:

which opened joyously in 1953,
allowing teen age hot rodders & commuters alike
the absolute best sunset views
of the cityscape, 
    the waterfront, & Elliott Bay,
    now crumbling from earthquake damage
                            & 60 years of heavy traffic
                            along its double-decked elevated sections,
to be replaced by a 4.5 billion dollar tunnel  burrowing
                            beneath it;

but for over a year now,
the super boring drill, Big Bertha,
has been stopped dead
in the unyielding bedrock,
& they cannot get to her to assess
& repair the damage. 

Then for a few golden moments
               all the western windows downtown
                catch fire, & the shimmering orange icons
                captured coldly on the slick urban faces
of glass, silently lick
                 at the ebony loins of the night. 

      Tauted as      “the largest Ferris Wheel on the West Coast”,        
                       the Great Wheel stands proudly at 200 feet,
                 boasts having 42 8-person gondolas, 
           & for a mere 13 bucks per head, one can enjoy
a 15 minute ride of three complete revolutions,
           fully confident that the 550 tons
           of concrete poured into the foundation
                  will counterbalance the thrill ride safely. 

An emerald city of shadows, perching
                          on seven hills, turns on,
                                          & the glimmering saltwater bay
                                          at its wide feet,
                           becomes a vast mirror, ripely reflecting
the garishly-lit steel & concrete canyons
of its unique skyline. 

Yes, Ferris Wheels in other famous cities
dwarf Seattle’s--the London Eye, not far from the Waterloo Bridge
                             stands at 443 feet,
                             the Star of Nanchang is 520 feet,
                             the Singapore Flyer is 541 feet, &
                             the High Roller in Las Vegas is 550 feet--
but a city that owns the Seahawks
is certainly not ashamed of its Great Wheel, 
& neither am I.                 I ride it four times a year
                                           to celebrate the solstices,
                                           to garnish the seasons;

yet I must add
that those much shorter, with
                  much less fanfare,          Carnival Ferris Wheels,
                                         with their open cars, as
                 the whole structure shakes, creaks, & shimmies, 
still induces my vertigo, 
makes me feel like I have to pee,
                  & stirs my blood. 

Glenn Buttkus

Posted over on dVerse Poets Poetics

Would you like to hear the author read this poem to you?


Claudia said...

oh i love a good ferris wheel ride... that one in seattle sounds awesome... been riding the london eye a few years ago... very cool as well... my fav is the one they put up in basel on the münster hill during the autumn fair... magical...smiles... cool city song glenn

Björn Rudberg said...

A ferris wheel .. a great place for a view.. I have only ridden tiny ones .. so this one sounds excellent... Somehow I always think of the third man when I see them.. Love those ebony loins... cool description

Anonymous said...

woderful descriptions, Glenn! I think that this is one of my favourite of yours!

Brian Miller said...

nice...I love seattle...it has been several years since I was there...there is a wonderful thai place called the wild ginger...have not riden the ferris wheel...I do enjoy a nice wheel ride though...up so high where you can see so much...

Wolfsrosebud said...

"Then for a few golden moments
all the western windows downtown
catch fire, & the shimmering orange icons
captured coldly on the slick urban faces
of glass, silently lick
at the ebony loins of the night."

some of my favorite lines here... and I thought you'd write about some old western city

Mary said...

Ah, I have a fondness for Seattle, but have not been there since this Ferris Wheel was built. Interestingly enough, the very first Ferris Wheel was built in Chicago for the Chicago Exposition of 1893. It was meant to be as much of an attraction in Chicago as the Eiffel Tower had been for the World's Fair in Paris in 1889. The original is long gone, but there is still a VERY large Ferris wheel on Navy Pier, which I have been on....but I really doubt I will go on another Ferris wheel. Yes, the shaking and creaking and shimmying bothers me too. But, when it gets down to it, I WOULD rather go on a Ferris wheel than a roller coaster any day. Smiles.

Gabriella said...

I have never been on a Ferris Wheel but love how they look as part of a city skyline. Your poem makes me want to go and see Seattle., Glenn. Just love the unique way you blend facts into poetry!

Kathy Reed said...

Well you did our big city justice, Glenn; and, you took us on a ride.
I love how you particularly noted the following: the flickering deck lights of the ferries, twilight purring, the windows 'catching fire' and of course the new Ferris wheel. I will miss the old viaduct..for many years I commuted to work on it from the then suburb, Burien. The Emerald City and its 7 hills, and shimmering Puget Sound - indeed!

Prajakta said...

I will be visiting Seattle later this year; actually my first trip to US. Looking forward to it, you have painted a beautiful picture here :)

vivinfrance said...

I've wanted to visit Seattle ever since Sleepless, and now I feel as though I've really been there. Cities at twighlight can be very special.

Arathi Harihar said...

ah the joy of riding ferris wheel...you have given a great picture of the city..

Marina Sofia said...

Of course, the original Ferris Wheel is the one in the Prater in Vienna - and I certainly grew up going on it at least once a year (always with our guests) in my childhood.
Seattle looks lovely and lively - would love to visit! Great descriptions, makes me feel like I'm there!

Anthony Desmond said...

Feels like I was just enjoying the view... smiles... tho I've never even been on a ferris wheel...

Victoria said...

My first impression was Chicago--also cantilevered and graced with a huge Ferris wheel. What a terrific picture you paint of Seattle--I've only passed through there, never really visited. So much to drink in. And, quite clever, if I'm not mistaken, how you cantilevered your poem, too. (I can't go back to check for sure, but that's the impression I have as an afterthought.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

I love this song of Seattle. So long since I was there - at Ivor's on the dock......love that you go on the ferris wheel to celebrate the solstice!!!!

Anonymous said...

i lived in Seattle for 15 years and to see that Great Wheel and now it's such a part of the city is so weird, it's like combining the LA coastline with the Seattle Columbia Tower and Space Needle view, tooooo strange. and the kingdome is gone. I saw it implode!!

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