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Poem: "Elsewhere"

by Christopher Walsh, 6/4/2017-6/30/2017

How would I react to New Orleans?
How would I react to Chicago?
Missoula, Montana? Denver? Salt Lake?
How would I feel when I finally go
To place after place I haven't yet been
— Miami, Columbus, Yosemite, Perth,
Coeur d'Alene, Banff, Leeds, Alabama —
I know there's most certainly never a dearth
Of not-yet-seen places in my life, and yours
So when will I see some? How will they inspire
My thoughts and my mood, experiencing
Environs, I hope, where I'll find I admire
Their differences, and their subtleties
In what is done there, and in how they're alike?
(There's more that's in common than we might say
When comparing/contrasting the places we hike.)
Comfortable there? Do we feel eased?
We on edge? Mis-placed? Does a town feel "off"?
The energy there may fit perfectly
Or cause you to drain: your mood falls to trough.

I felt comfort in Boston. Visited
Twice, ’98 and ’08, first time on
A search to sort out unsettled feelings.
I was there 'cause of loss. A best friend, gone
A year by then: I hadn't fully dealt
With that. I had a chance to do so.
I traveled to Virginia: saw people close
To him. Then Boston: others whom I owed
Face-to-face, in-person time. I needed
Connection. I felt lucky I felt this,
Connected to a new-to-me place, too.
Did not get all the way to feeling bliss,
Not yet, but: a chance to build towards, perhaps,
Bliss. After that, I could see myself there
As more than Visitor. ’08, again,
Suggested Boston as one more place where
I'd find comfort. Many other cities,
I should only visit. That's enough for
New York: its energy amazes; still,
It is a city I couldn't afford,
Financially or psychologically.
New York, were I there too long, would run me
Ragged, run me over, wear me out —
Unless I budget time, not quite shun the
Huge power of New York: instead, a dose.
That's it. That's true of San Francisco, too:
It's special and worth visiting, unique,
Dramatic; it has a draw, to go to
And see. But not a place to build my life.
To feed it, yes: to add experience,
Experiences, flavor, surprises,
With then a chance to take that home: we sense
We should connect more times in those locales
That speak to us more deeply. That, we hope,
Allow us to apply the flavor from
The visited to a "home base." We cope
Or thrive (at least get by) there. And, I know,
My comfort fits in Portland. Has for years.
I know it's not the only place I'd fit
But fit, I do: this is a truth, sincere.

How will I react to other new towns?
How will I react when I visit?
Which cities won't work, which I would bounce off of,
And which will connect, so exquisite?
Exciting, the thought of further good places
I could temporarily be
With chances to fall for a place's good graces
To make me a new devotee.