Chris Walsh (chris_walsh) wrote,
Chris Walsh

Notes on “The Portal”

I’ll try to explain. Not too much, though.

Last night’s blog entry is something I’ve worked on, on and off, since early 2018. Back then I saw a discussion elsewhere online that mentioned that stretch of NE 60th, north of Glisan St. and south of Halsey St. and over Sullivan’s Gulch, and the discussion mentioned the place’s feel: “We call it The Portal.” “Uhh, yup.” I’d visited it a fair amount from June 2015 to May 2016, when Lisa and Brian Wood’s Big-Ass Sandwiches was a Glisan storefront and the 60th Ave. MAX station was one way to get there; and when I saw the discussion I thought ...huh, I can see that.

I made some notes, went over and took pictures, and thought. I knew I wanted the piece to have at least a poetic feel: not strict poetry, but not prose either. (Since then, I learned a neat thing about author Frank Herbert and his novel Dune: he’d made that book poetic by first writing certain ideas in poetry, then expanding that poetry into the prose which made it into the book.) But the piece was, well, in pieces, each not really connecting to each other. I can handle that; this happens a lot in my writing, where I figure out connections to what previously hadn’t seemed to fit. Also, I’d taken so long that I hadn’t even touched the piece since before COVID and the pandemic. (At least I’d still been doing poetry during that time...)

Then it hit me what the tone of “The Portal” could be: like a less disturbing version of Tom Waits’s ”What's He Building?” Less disturbing, because that song is disturbing, and The Portal isn’t disturbing. It can and does feel different, but not disturbing. I’ve been in disturbing-feeling places*; this isn’t one.

Anyway, I’m fond and proud of the piece.

* When I was a writer-reporter at the Hermiston Herald, I visited an under-construction prison. I entered a pre-fab cell before any of its furnishings had been installed, including the floor and ceiling fixtures, meaning the final cell would be smaller than what I’d entered. I got a headache standing there.

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