Shelton Sentences

I went to the Shelton Writers Conference on Saturday at Olympic Community College and wrote two American Sentences.

Fountains drool water goading the thirsty to kiss the public steel tip.

All activities recorded on video will aid the prosecution.

I went to the Shelton Writers Conference on Sunday.

It was held at the Shelton branch of Olympic Community College. The college branch consists of a single green building built in the same style as the Cascadia/Bothell Campus — metal sheets painted green, tall cement pillars, a massive eave that provides the sense that the entire place is in a gigantic shed. I went to school in the rural Washington in the foothills of the Cascades and spent a lot of my recess time running around under the shelter of the play shed. The wind sometimes blew in rain or drizzle. And even though it had the feeling of being outdoors, it was dark like it was inside. The entire playground — all of the classes, squeezed themselves into the shed and there was hardly room to play kickball or hopscotch.

I’m not sure I like the idea of Branch Campuses, although I do like the presence of these schools so far out beyond the regional center’s of the northwest. However, a branch suggests or means that oversight is being applied from some central administrative campus. I imagine then that quality control inspectors visit the campus and collect data to enter into their databases to run metrics. The need for a community college so close to Evergreen State College seems kind of redundant. There are two baby University of Washington’s which have the overt feeling of franchises. The Shelton school was built at the very edge of a stray clump of strip mall that had built in the clear cut land between Puget Sound the Olympic Mountains.

But the drive from Olympia which rests at the southern end of the sprawl that begins in Everett and runs down to the edge of Mount Rainier feels as if I’d passed beyond something (the urban/suburban area) into something else. It wasn’t the rural or wilderness because the land use was essentially residential or discarded timberland. There were some farms, but the majority of the land that I could see from the Highway 101 was pure empty, desolate land left over from logging. The trees would regrow, but in thirty years, would the land have trees on it or would the urban/suburban have grown into it?

The road jumps up and down deforested hills. There are few houses or mobile homes, just a clump of old trees and then a glimpse of scarred foothills, and the vertical face of the Olympics. I found the view of the Olympics from the South rather than the West (Seattle’s view) unsettling. I didn’t recognize the mountains. I was unsure where I was even though the landscape was familiar. Looking at the Olympics from the South rather then from the West (Seattle’s view).

In Shelton, I taught a class to people who lived in small communities north of Shelton on the Olympic Peninsula. One student said the name of her place, a name I didn’t recognize, and whose gnarled, Salish syllables I can’t recall. She said, I just found out that where I live is a town. She said this as if she could not believe that she actually lived in a place. It was a town and a town was somewhere. Before, I suppose, she imagined that she lived nowhere. I remembered this sense in living in a place in the Pacific Northwest that was not connected by 7-11s, Jack in the Boxes and street lights to other places. Here town lies in proximity to Olympia and Shelton but not part of those places. In the fourth grade I was asked to draw where I was from and I drew my house in careful detail capturing my bed, my room, my closet, the bathroom, kitchen and the kitchen cupboards, the shed and cellar outside, the rotting barn on the hills and then growing in less detail the further I drew from the house until there was constellation of places that I understood only in how to get there from the house or rather how my parents drove there from the house. Issaquah then was more important than Seattle. I had been to Portland, Organ once.

I took also took a class from a poet and performer named Paul Nelson. In his class I wrote two things called American Sentences, which is a Allen Ginsberg’s form the haiku — it runs a single line and is seventeen syllables long.

Fountains drool water goading the thirsty to kiss the public steel tip.

All activities recorded on video will aid the prosecution.

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