Kenzie Allen

poet & multimodal artist

“810 Road”

“virtual reality” poem

Materials: iPhone 7 Plus; Google Polygon / Tour Maker, Quicktime; Google Maps (for map version)

“810 Road”

A landscape-based autoethnography. A geolocated, geocollaborative, geocentric mapping.

A visual and “virtual reality” transmedia poem.

Points of interest and poem stanzas are scattered through the landscape as you move along the old 810 wagon road up to the Sand Mountain Lookout. Click through each scene to find these narrative moments, and let the movement of rivers carry you onward.

To hear audio components, select “gear” icon (at top left) and select “Turn ambient audio on,” and optionally “Turn narration on.”

The river as road, the road as river.

The 810 road is the main route up to Sand Mountain is pitted and scarred by OHV and 4-wheelers and is now a protected area and closed to vehicles, in order to slow down erosion. This leads to fewer visitors, but a beautiful hike up the mountain for those who make the trek.

A landscape-based autoethnography. A geolocated, geocollaborative, geocentric mapping.

The “VR” version of this poem uses recorded audio from rivers in Oregon and Norway. It can be viewed either by smartphone, where the gyroscope will allow one to turn in place to pan through the landscape, or by desktop browser.

A QR code linking to the VR piece is featured in the print version

My initial process involved driving down the 810 road, which leads up to the summit of Sand Mountain, Oregon, to the its fire lookout tower on which I spent all my summers as a child and where my father and I continue to volunteer. Stopping every quarter-mile to let the landscape speak with me, I would write a section of the poem on an index card and place it into the landscape, documenting the result via geotagged panoramic photos. The transmedia “VR” version incorporates recorded sounds of rivers in the background of the viewing experience (from both Oregon and Norway) as well as the sound of the wind at the top of the mountain, to reiterate the idea of “the rivers, like roads,” and wampum as river.

Another version of the poem uses Google maps and provides a visual layout of each stop on the journey.

Finally, the print-ready version of this poem features photographs and panoramas, includes an evening ascent to the lookout.

Sand Mountain Lookout, Mt. Hood National Forest, Oregon; August 2019.

1 – I don’t know whose
loom I carry, today.

2 – I’m not waiting long
enough to emerge,
or too long to embody

3 – If it’s the buttresses & hallways
of carved mistake and demand,
so be it.

4 – So the watch starts:
bookending the night,
so the edge of the hill
and the sharp outline
of a manlike structure

5 – What crest,
which briar turn
switch blade and loose
pitch gift did we offer
not entirely unknowing

6 – At some point every one of us
seeps out of us, and we may
be sacks of gnarl and
gristle against the stone,
her bone white toothy
worship, prickling
the hedge of him.

7 – Yes, we might marvel
at the tsunami even as it crushes
not just seasons but centuries,
and we might mourn the loss
of seasons over decades and
decades over hours
with conversations in the twilight.

8 – It may take painful
reams of time
and folders of material
but someday you’ll arrive
shed of it and be-scaled…

9 – Dear velvet sky, dear lace
mantle, hear my confession
you tireless, unyielding ferns,
who will not end their needling
for fires, who will not end
their sun-spread for all
the offered spring.

10 – Every journey for sure
has its certain dark,
murky quiescent
and confusing switch turn.
Before too long, a road
to which I already took
the key.

11 – But as with shark and jet,
we must discuss OHV.
As the meadow past
the Scylla, Charybdis
tore the fuck up edges like
shred nails after building
lovely, soon to fail
homes, here we are.

12 – So if there are edges
it’s still a bramble.
If there’s a roar
it’s still the overture
or preamble.

13 – One or the other of us transforms,
alternating bone ache for shame
and bags overfilled. The road lengthens,
pin-curls, widens into lace and foam.
I am the same pastel, I whisper
the same brush with almost gone.
One step further and I’ll become
everything of nothing at all

With appreciation and deep affection for the Sand Mountain Society; Don Allen, Sr., and Don Allen, III; the US Forest Service, and everyone who has ever loved fire lookouts.

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