Tag Archives: southeast alaska

Work Trip

creek street view on a clear february day in ketchikan

guys, i got to live here for a couple days

photo of a shop window with balls paraphernalia

southeast alaska humor at it’s best

photo of creek street in ketchikan view from the red house

god this place

photo of Creek Street Boardwalk in Ketchikan during the snow in february

sometimes traveling isn’t so bad you know

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The Greens of Southeast

photo of alaska roadside plant life in fall

i’m aware these three photos don’t go together. and i’m sorry. my mind and heart is somewhere else today.

photo of Moon behind the pine trees and the sunset colors in the mountains

i can’t show you the photo but i can’t get you to see the color and the beauty

photo of Pine tree close up with curving branches

next to the blueberry bushes this was

10 Poems on Southeast Alaska

i’m changing it up a bit guys, I’m writing on a theme, don’t freak out or nothing.

1:
Most people,
When they move to Alaska,
Talk about how much they miss home,
Because unless you’re born here,
It is never your place.
But I don’t know that I’m going to be able to live somewhere else.
These trees are starting to feel safe, this always-there mist is a welcome sight,
I’m learning the twists of the roads and the potholes,
I recognize who owns each truck.
And familiarity is a comfort,
A comfort like home.

2:
They tolerate me, because I want nothing from them.
Not their money, or their land, or their men.
But, in a place like this, that would turn so fast,
If I got pregnant, if I brought an STD here that isn’t already,
If I tried to stay, on my own,
If I thought for just one minute I belonged.

3:
No one is talking about the rape rates of small town Alaska.
It’s not rape,
If they’re married, or if they’re together.
Unless it’s a stranger breaking into someone’s house,
Then it counts.
There aren’t any kits here.
And, it’s common,
Unimportant,
The worst kind of ubiquitous.

4:
Let’s stay dark,
These women are overweight, like scary overweight,
It might be better for their self-confidence that way,
Lord knows, they’re not judging me, for once, which is nice.
But they’re going to die early, and leave these kids.
The nurse practitioner here doesn’t ask,
Do you drink?
She asks, how many drinks have you had today?
We’ve had four mothers die from drinking in the past two years. Four out of 500 people.
These clothes have holes in them.
These kids have coughs.
No one has their car registered, or insurance, and they drive without seat belts.
If you get hurt, uninsured, it’s 14,000 dollars in a helicopter to a hospital.
There is no law. We have no cop. We have no volunteer police like we used to.
We have no one to stop you driving drunk with kids in your car.
None of these houses look nice, not on the inside, not on the outside.
All these kids have been hit.
Someone of these kids are inbred.
None of these kids are prepared to do anything but fish,
Or anything else after they’ve finished fishing. They all live at home.
There’s no money here, and no jobs, and the jobs that are here are staffed by outsiders, because the workforce here is a joke.
I’ve seen six-year olds with guns for hunting.
And there’s no goddamn people to care,
Or a reason to care. We’re an island, we’re small, we’re rural, we’re too far away.

5:
The salmon are running.
They taught me there’s five types.
Use your hand to remember,
Pink salmon, like your pinky.
Silver, you wear silver on your ring finger, coho.
King, the best, your tallest, middle finger.
Sock-eye, index finger pokes people, socks you in the eye.
Chum, dog-salmon, thumb sounds like chum.
They’ve all got even more names for each of these,
But this is what I know.

6:
No-see-ums.
The little things that suck your blood, smaller than a mosquito, so you can’t see them.
Fireweed.
Purple plant that lines the road, you can make honey out of it, well more of a syrup.
Salmon berries.
Yellow or red, good to eat, tarter than a raspberry, but sweeter too.
Hudson bay tea.
Plant, brown leaves on one side, smells like Hudson Bay Tea.
Cedar.
I can tell you what cedar smells like now, hundreds of years old.
Clan.
I’ve met people whose ancestors have been here ten thousand years.
Halibut.
Hell of a butt, I’ve eaten this, cooked, while it was still warm coming from the sea.
Whales.
They sound like steel grinding.
Cell-phone service.
You forget it’s not there after a while, out on the roads.

7:
To get here,
I boarded a plane at 5:30 a.m. eastern time after a fifteen minute drive from my parent’s house.
That plane landed in Chicago.
From there I walked across the u-shaped airport to fly to Seattle. Seattle to the capital.
Then via a tiny little seaplane to my island.
That’s my favorite part, flying on the seaplane.
Well, this time it was just a little plane on land,
But you fly over the national forest, over mountains no people have touched, over land, and inlets, and places without fences, water, water, and clouds.
And you know, if this plane goes down, you won’t last.
And there’s just this little tiny, bendable piece of aluminum between you, and what you know will be the most beautiful fall of your life.

8:
I’m slowly learning the history, the stuff I should have looked up on Wikipedia before I came.
About the native population, their story,
The crazy stuff that’s happened, the sadness that’s happened.
And why there are no reservations in Alaska (we’re not counting that tiny Canadian thing)
I’m learning how not to be racist. I’m learning about being a minority.
I’m trying to learn, if I’m not getting anywhere.

9:
The questions I answer people from here.
My name is.
I’m from Indianapolis. That’s in Indiana, about 200 mile south of Chicago.
I’ve been here six months.
I’m liking it pretty well.
Yes, I have an iPhone, so I have cell service.
I live up there in the house with the English teacher.
I work over at the library. I’m here with a national service organization,
The federal government pays me.
Yes, I’ve gone on a loop, and been to the beach.
That’s my little blue car. It’s worth about $2,5000. I had it shipped on AML.
No, I’m sorry, I haven’t met them, I don’t know who that is.
My father is a pastor.
Yes, it was nice to talk to you.

10:
The questions I answer people from home.
Yes, I live in Alaska.
No it doesn’t snow here very much.
It’s actually 60 degrees, sunny, with a light breeze.
I live in Southeast.
That’s the panhandle, it’s about 900 miles north of Seattle, if that helps. That’s roughly the distance of New York City to Jacksonville Florida.
They don’t actually call themselves Eskimos, but Yupiks live farther north.
Russia is closer to the island chain in the west part of Alaska.
Yes, I’ve seen bears, they haven’t bothered me, most people carry a gun, in case.
We’ve got wolves, deer, coyotes, moose and porcupine as well.
Quite a few people drink up here, that’s true.
Food comes in on the ferry or on barge.
There’s a store and a liquor store, a post office, a school, a community center, an old people’s home.
No, I don’t know your mother’s cousin who lived in Alaska for two years in the 70s.
Yes, I like it here.
I don’t know when I’ll be back.

A Little Glimpse of Southeast Alaska

photo of Welcome sign of the Shrine of St. Therese in juneau

from the door of the shrine of saint threse in juneau

photo of white daises blooming by the side of the road

everything blooms in its season here. the fireweed, the daises, the dandelions, the summer

what all the roads look like in rural alaska

glaa

photo of a single pine tree out of the copse

this is as ansel adams-y as i get