For #ManInTree

For #ManinTree

By Julie Gardner

After Barton Sutter’s The Snowman

 

This is a poem for #Man.

This is a poem for #ManInTree.

This is a poem for him,

For all of us out on a limb,

Wondering what we’re doing here.

This is a poem for us,

For all of us about to go up a tree.

 

The place of the poem is downtown Seattle.

The time of the poem is Tuesday through Wednesday morning,

Holy Week.

The year of the poem is two thousand and sixteen.

 

#ManInTree

Perched high in the sequoia tree,

Nearly eighty feet up in the air.

Once Seattle’s Christmas tree,

In ‘73, ’twas transplanted smack dab in the middle of an intersection,

4th Avenue, Stewart Street and Olive Way to be precise.

Now, this poem is for #ManInTree, not for the tree

But think about it: Transplanted,

With bound up roots

In insufficient soil, it struggles to live with cement and car exhaust.

 

#ManInTree made the news, section B below the fold line.

Front page: “Terror attack in Brussels, Nightmare Comes True, MANHUNT IN BELGIUM AFTER ISLAMIC STATE GROUP’S BOMBINGS KILL DOZENS, HURT HUNDREDS; Clinton slams ‘leaders who incite more fear.’”

Now, this poem is for #ManInTree, not for terrorists or politicians

But think about it: FEAR SHOUTS,

While love waits

Whimpering in the wind between boughs.

 

#ManInTree donned a red stocking cap

Tossed apples, seed cones, small branches and swear words,

Refused to talk to rescuers,

Only asked for a Camel Crush.

He waved his middle finger

As birds flew by.

Now, this poem is for #ManInTree, not for the birds

But think about it: Flipping the bird, refusing to talk,

Up in the air with bombs bursting and politicians cursing

Who’s listening?

 

#ManInTree dressed in warm clothes, took snacks,

Didn’t need to cross the Aegean Sea

In a crowded deflating dinghy.

Now, this poem is for #ManInTree, not for Syrian refugees

But think about it: He had a beard,

Traveled to a place he’d never been before

Law enforcement and gawkers all around.

 

After about twenty-five hours the man was no longer

#ManInTree.

He descended

Became a man sitting in the grass looking up.

Police took him to Harborview for a medical evaluation.

Now, this poem is for #ManInTree, not for police

But think about it: Police didn’t shoot him.

No one (sic) was hurt (save the tree).

 

Now, this poem isn’t about #ManInTree.

It is for #ManInTree.

This poem is for him,

For all of us out on a limb,

Wondering what we’re doing here.

This is a poem for us,

For all of us about to go up a tree.

This is a poem for all of us,

Who, during this god awful Holy Week,

Find it hard to believe Easter is days away.

 

After this poem was written, the The Seattle Times reported that the man, named Cody Lee Miller, was charged with third degree assault (an officer received an injury from a thrown seed cone) and first degree malicious mischief.  Q13 Fox News says his mother, Lisa Gossett, wants the public to know that her son is much more than a hashtag. He is a reflection of our country’s failed mental health system. Her son suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. She, like me, would like to see him and others who are mentally ill get the help they need to live better lives.