Shelton / by Craig Carlson (Living in this rain on the edge of time)

Today I ran across an obscure little collection of poetry by early Evergroove faculty Craig Carlson: Words in Another Language / Craig Burnham Carlson. Port Townsend, WA : Sagittarius Press, 1991. 220 copies were printed. It contains poems about the South Sound and fishing. For you old Evergroovers out there who remember Craig, I hope this stirs pleasant memories. Here's a poem from that book entitled "Shelton," which I deem to be hyperlocal:

Ride into this town any Wednesday on a dare.
Follow the dust of trees to the mill and stop.
Forget whistling. The world is flattened to a plane
under a sky unfeathering like a common loon.

Loggers in red suspenders loom down Railroad Avenue
direct as chainsaws. Out in these streets
men are men, a dollar is a dollar.
These streets lope and swagger, but never backtrack.

Molly sits on the corner
by the Holiday Park Retirement Center
waving at everyone -- she thinks she remembers them.

You learn to live in a small place and dig in;
so much happens that no one ever means.

on the right near Squaxin Island or nearer,
say Little Skookum, anyway west of Eagle Point,
cutthroat trout elude fisherman in small boats.
Anywhere from here, tides splay and plunge deep.

Days go by like words in another language.
No wonder we are the way we are
living in this rain on the edge of time.
These streets slope and saunter, but never break.



I took many classes from Craig during my time there. He was an amazing teacher, He always encouraged his students to find ones voice and write and speak with the magic music of words. He valued and highly praised honesty in our work when he perceived it. He would read in class and become enchanted simply with the sounds of words. He passed away in a diving accident in Mexico some years ago now, something about his drifting into the beyond, away from the solid earth seemed fitting and tragic and sad as it was. He was around still when my child was born and gave me a good amount of confidence and reassurance that I had what it took to raise a kid, when I myself in my early 20's wasn't far from one, I wouldn't mind if you posted a few more of the poems. I sure miss him, he would be good to visit with.


The "lope and swagger" reminds me of some of the characters in your cartoons.


Thanks for posting this.

In the mid 90s Craig filled in for an ill faculty member in the program I was in, I still recall how he encouraged students to be thinking on how they were going to make $. He wanted us to be well rounded citizens of the world who not only encouraged our own creativity but who also could survive right here and now in the real world.

Reminds me of


In the high seat, before dawn dark,
Polished hubs gleam
And the shiny diesel stack
Warms and flutters
Up the Tyler Road grade
To the logging in Poorman creek.
Thirty miles of dust.

There is no other life.

   -- Gary Snyder - Turtle Island 1974

Gary Snider

My mom went to elementary school with Gary... It's a small world after all.

original ep (you would do anything for a sunny day)

Per your request, another Carlson poem from the same book:

New Kamilche

Weather here is aromatic.
Wind swirls across the mountains
slurring the bay with rain.

Noon sky is silver and lowers
down on one broken wing;
you would do anything for a sunny day.

Everything here has a shadow:
openings of stories, salmon bones,
the wild trilliums of love
threaded through our lives.

Everyone here is stubborn,
watching across the flats for incoming tides.
About craft we do what is necessary.

houses are made; boats get built.
Sometimes one of us thinks to even the score.
Around here all language is Indian.

In the end we fight to get it right.
We begin with what shall last; seed
to air, water and earth to light.

Lucia Perillo


by Lucia Perillo

Southern France, the troubadour age:

all these men running around in frilly sleeves.

Each is looking for a woman he could write a song about—

or the moonlight a woman, the red wine a woman,

there is even a woman called the Albigensian Crusade.

It’s the tail end of the Dark Age

but if we wait a little longer it’ll be the Renaissance

and the forms of the songs will be named and writ down;

wait: here comes the villanelle, whistling along the pike,

repeating the same words over and over

until I’m afraid my patience with your serenade

runs out: time’s up. Long ago

I might have been attracted by your tights and pantaloons,

but now they just look silly, ditto for your instrument

that looks like a gourd with strings attached

(the problem is always the strings attached).

Langue d’oc, meaning the language of yes, as in

“Do you love me?” Oc. “Even when compared

to her who sports the nipple ring?” Oc oc.

“Will we age gracefully and die appealing deaths?”

Oc oc oc oc.

So much affirmation ends up sounding like

a murder of crows passing overhead

and it is easy to be afraid of crows—

though sometimes you have to start flapping your arms

and follow them. And fly to somewhere the signs say:

Yes Trespassing, Yes Smoking,

Yes Alcohol Allowed on Premises, Yes Shirt Yes Shoes

Yes Service Yes. Yes Loitering

here by this rocky coast whose waves are small

and will not break your neck; this ain’t no ocean, baby,

this is just the sea. Yes Swimming

Yes Bicycles Yes to Nude Sunbathing All Around,

Yes to Herniated Bathing-cappèd Veterans of World War One

and Yes to Leathery Old Lady Joggers.

Yes to their sun visors and varicose veins in back of their knees,

I guess James Joyce did get here first—

sometimes the Europeans seem much more advanced.

But you can’t go through life regretting what you are,

yes, I’m talking to you in the baseball cap,

I’m singing this country-western song that goes: Yeah!

Oc!Yes!Oui!We!—will dive—right—in.

Ray Collins ...

 ... the great cartoonist for the Seattle P-I who made Gov. Dixy Lee Ray's life so miserable, was kind enough to give me an afternoon in the 1970s. He looked at my comix work and gave me some valuable criticisms. He told me the best training for a cartoonist is to study poetry.

It does seem to me Collins was right when I think of the really great cartoonists like Schulz and Herriman and Seuss and Steig. As I took Collins' advice I found I loved Shakespeare. The music and timing of the spoken language, when put to graphics, becomes sequential comic art.