May 18th 1980 by Carl “Papa” Palmer

This poem will appear the Tacoma Poet Laureate, Lucas Smiraldo’s upcoming audio presentation of Tacoma Poets


near to a year remains in my tour before the date to rotate back to the states
my family with me serving the U.S. Army in eastern Hessen West Germany

before the fall of the Berlin Wall witness white ash fallen on our blue BMW
blown across the Atlantic Ocean from Mt St Helens blowing her top in western

Washington USA over 8000 km away where we have orders for Ft Lewis Washington
wondering how far this military base is from the base of that erupting volcano covering

stubborn Harry Truman of Spirit Lake Lodge like Pompeii from Mount Vesuvius
along with other hazards we heard that had occurred in this earth quake shifting plate

region of the upper San Andreas Fault where yet another stubborn soul Tubby the three
pawed dog biting rather than abiding his would be rescuer from atop Galloping Gertie

Bridge caught by a west coast hurricane wind sent tumbling down into Puget Sound’s
year around 40 degree waters where the world’s largest giant pacific octopi reside

not more folk lore like the famous humanoid bipedal Big Foot aka Sasquatch
roaming the Washington rain forest with wild herds of two legged rainier beer deer

or legends of Tacoma’s secret unfound underground tunnels burrowed beneath skid row
streets for waylaying drunks from seedy seafront taverns to sober up as shanghaied sailors

aboard merchant trade ships anchored offshore in Commencement Bay
or those Point Defiance secret caves hiding ousted Chinese during the 1885 Tacoma Riot

resembling the 1942 Japanese internment to concentration camps far away from the grit city
calling itself T town that city of destiny 32 miles south and always in the shadow of Seattle

home of the 1979 NBA Championship Supersonics and the Seahawk squad with gridiron
matchups played in the Seattle cement Kingdome loudest stadium in the NFL

sharing home games with the Mariners whose farm club the Bellingham Baby M’s
became the Tacoma Tigers renamed Rainiers of Tacoma’s Cheney Stadium in 1995

that same year as the Tacoma pickup truck was put on the market and
debut date of the downtown district makeover making Tacoma an urban cultural experience

with passenger trolleys connecting all points to and in between the renovated Theater District
from Freight House Square around the corner to the Tacoma Dome

built with 1.6 million board feet of Douglas fir
harvested from the Mt St Helens eruption on May 18th 1980

near to a year before the Army moved us here
where we make our home in Tacoma.

*Carl “Papa” Palmer, retired Army, retired FAA, now just plain retired, lives in University Place, WA. He has seven chapbooks and a contest winning poem riding buses somewhere in Seattle.
Carl has been nominated for the Micro Award and Pushcart Prize.
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