Kristen Spexarth

Fisherman’s Terminal


A memorial sits
next to my favorite breakfast haunt.
It’s on a pier where rock songs blare
from a nearby speaker out to working boats,
moored, and waiting for the season.
Seagulls are soaring, circling,
searching for food bits and fish guts,
their cries, like homing pigeons
flying straight to my heart.
I have never been a sailor
but I come here and
fingers following,
touch the fish forever circling,
caught in cast bronze,
and stand, a shadow,
in front of names I never knew
and still they touch me.
Hopping sparrow, hoping for crumbs,
flies off in a hurry finding none.
Canadian geese, majestic, long-necked cruisers
on green effluent
reach out and gingerly nibble insects and eel grass.
Across the ship canal they’ll be scrapping for french fries
but here they float, regal.


Kristen Spexarth lives in Seattle and writes about love, loss and the world around as seen through the eyes of a gardener. She’s been writing a long time, has been published here and there and spends her free time working to help educate people about suicide prevention.

Dennis Held

Sonnet for a Baby Seal


Not the one you see on television,
Head tilted up to look like a whiskered
Infant, those pleading, liquid eyes . . . this one
Was real, on black Alaskan sand, ridiculous
With an eagle beating its wings against
The seal’s head, both screaming, the pup too young
To get away, too old to die at once.
The eagle, talons buried, pecked at one
Eye only, to force a way in. Of course
I beat the eagle off with driftwood.
Yes, I tried to kill the baby seal. No one
Could say I didn’t try hard enough.
But when I turned to leave, it swam away,
Blinded, silent, bearing news from Hell.



“Sonnet for a Baby Seal” is reprinted from Ourself (Gribble Press. 2011).


Dennis Held received his BA from The Evergreen State College, and his MFA from the University of Montana, where he was awarded the Academy of American Poets prize. He lives in Spokane, and teaches in a writers in the schools program for Eastern Washington University. His work has appeared in Poetry magazine, Alaska Quarterly Review, and many other journals. His first book of poetry, Betting on the Night, was published in 2001 by Lost Horse Press, and his second collection, Ourself, was published in 2011 by Gribble Press.

Ann Batchelor Hursey

Made by Hand

My thumb loops yarn, inserts
……….the needle’s tip,
pulls yarn through each stitch: right
……….to left, back
to front—worked-in, slipped-off
……….my needle—
I purse my lips and knit
……….this prayer shawl
to warm a friend’s shoulders.
……….My son appears
to say, Knitting makes you
……….look older.
Startled, I think: Is this
……….the first time
he’s seen gray on my temples?
……….Is it the way
I squint beneath the lamp?
……….My needles slide,
knit three, purl three—and then
……….reverse the row
below; a three-beat seed
……….stitch, trinity
of healing thoughts. As fingers
……….move I tell
him how I cast sixty stitches,
……….like my age—
My needles slide, knit three, purl
……….three—three beat
trinity of healing thoughts—
……….Me, thinking when
was the first time I thought
……….my parents old?
Unobserved, I used to watch them
……….sitting, side by side—
their eyes on strangers— and me
……….wondering when
did they put on weight, when
……….did their shoulders
soften? My son speaks again,
……….would I listen
to a Haydn solo, the piece he
……….needs to learn
next week? He leans against
……….my knees, catches
the shawl, now falling off
……….my lap. My
hands graze past his unkempt hair
……….as we listen to
this floating melody, this
……….slow concerto.
It’s then I start my final row,
……….turn all that
length now gathered on the floor—
……….consider skills
of binding-off. Remembering
……….do it loosely.



“Made by Hand” is reprinted from Fire On Her Tongue: An eBook Anthology of Contemporary Women’s Poetry, Kelli Russell Agodon and Annette Spaulding-Convy, Editors (Two Sylvias Press, 2012).


Ann Batchelor Hursey’s work has appeared in the Seattle Review, Crab Creek Review, Poemeleon, Chrysanthemum and Persimmon Tree, among other publications. Besides collaborating with artists, musicians, and community gardens— she has written poems about fair trade and handmade things.  She holds an MFA in creative writing from the Rainier Writer’s Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University. Born and raised in Ohio, she’s now lived longer among Firs and Cedars than Sassafras and Buckeyes. She lives in Mountlake Terrace.


Jeanne Lohmann

Best Words

Like a heavy temple bell
struck loud
death claims a good man
And his love resonates after
shimmering through our lives

—Joseph Stroud, “Steps to the River”

Is he around me all the time
helping me along, as once he said
I helped him on his dying way?
He thanked me for that.

Now there’s no way for me
to tell him thanks.
The simple truth is I miss him.
I want him to know,
want the words we said then
as alive in him
as they are in me.

But when there’s no answer,
no body listening,
even the best words between lovers
disappear as chimes on the air,
memory like a poem
more than its words,
the way love always is.


Jeanne Lohmann has ten poetry collections in print, and two of prose. Her most recent work is Home Ground (Fithian Press, 2013). Her poems appear in chapbooks, literary journals, and anthologies, and have been read on local and national public radio. The Jeanne Lohmann Poetry Trail  with six poems is part of the wooded landscape at Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia, Washington.

Cindy Lamb

After Brain Surgery

As we drive by the river
the trees are lovely
silhouetting shadows on the road.
I mention what we owe
$163 this month
$168 next.
The insurance company
negotiated with the doctor
finally agreeing on a number.
The woman on the phone
explained it in great detail,
you must have really been sick
the original bill is over $50,000
just for the doctor.
Eighteen months later they have finally
settled the last little piece.
$163 this month
$168 next.
Light glistens off the birches
streetlights wafting through the branches
logs from the mill ooze
the familiar saw-dusty fragrance I love
and we drive on.


Cindy Lamb is a retired high school teacher who teaches adults poetry writing. She lives in Yakima and has been published in Breath and Shadow.

Heather McHugh

Not to Be Dwelled On


Self-interest cropped up even there,
the day I hoisted three, instead
of the ceremonially called-for two,
spadefuls of loam on top
of the coffin of my friend.

Why shovel more than anybody else?
Why did I think I’d prove? More love
(mud in her eye)? More will to work?
(Her father what, a shirker?) Christ,
what wouldn’t anybody give
to get that gesture back?

She cannot die again; and I
do nothing but re-live.


Reprinted from Upgraded to Serious (Copper Canyon).


Heather McHugh, recipient of a 2009 MacArthur Fellowship, is the author of thirteen books of poetry, translation, and literary essays, including Hinge & Sign: Poems, 1968 – 1993 (Wesleyan) and The Father of the Predicaments (Wesleyan). Her prize-winning translations include a Griffin International Poetry Prize and her volumes have been finalists for both the Pulitzer and the National Book Award. McHugh has taught literature and writing for over three decades, most regularly at the University of Washington in Seattle and in the low residency MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. From 1999 to 2005 she served as Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, and in 2000 she was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2012 she started a non-profit organization called CAREGIFTED.



Jane Elder Wulff


As the years pass, as I ride this train, watching
days and weeks go by outside the window
(everything the same in here, unchanging,
only a little shaky from time to time),
I begin to feel that I am carrying
Death’s suitcase.

This bag of flesh, blood and bone, containing
the news and means of my destruction, goes
with me everywhere, unassuming, inevitable.

Sometimes I set it down and walk away from it,
and there it sits alone on the platform, but only
temporarily. No one ever picks it up. Of course
I always go back for it, and then I keep it by me,
next to me in the empty seat, near at hand in the
dining car, always closed.

Strangers make conversation, and no one asks
about Death’s suitcase. No one ever says, “Well,
what’s in the suitcase?” And I never bring it up.

It bears its tags and patches, its scuffs and scars
to show where it has been, and it grows stiff
with wear, and more dignified. I would not be
without it now, for love nor money.
You will not catch me
leaving it behind.



Jane Elder Wulff was born in Florida and lived in the South until age ten, when her family moved to Pullman, Washington. She attended Antioch College, received a B.A. in English from Washington State University, and came to Vancouver, Washington in 1967 with an M.A. in English and Creative Writing (the first such combined degree offered by WSU) to teach English at Clark College. From 1988 to 2012 she worked full time as a freelance writer for clients and regional publications to support her own work in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Currently she is concentrating on her own work.

Bill Mawhinney

Don’t Laugh at My Library


When you sift through my office after I die
you’ll confront a wall of poetry books.

I hope you won’t snicker like I did
when I dismantled my boyhood home

and found forty pairs of black socks
in Dad’s dresser drawer. Why so many?

If you wonder that about my books,
just know I couldn’t part with steady companions,

summoned round my heart to hold at bay the howling roar
of the bullshit train that clanged past my door.

The wall studs buzzed with honeyed hives
of language stored on these shelves.

Before they go to Goodwill, riffle their pages,
glance at my underlines.

There’s where my soul snagged, where
shards of reflected majesty

sang their fierce clarity
through lines of inert ink.

These shelves bulge with poems
that gave me the gumption to pull up my socks

and stride through the turning world.
So, for pity’s sake, don’t scoff too harshly.

With each passing year and each passionate purchase
this library was the brightest utterance

I had at my disposal. When I read them,
I was their audience. When I didn’t,

they became mine.


“Don’t Laugh at My Library” is reprinted from Cairns Along The Road (2009).


BILL MAWHINNEY lives with his wife Wanda, an abstract painter, and two cats in Port Ludlow.  He organizes and hosts Northwind Reading Series in Port Townsend, performs poetry in local retirement homes, tends his Japanese garden and talks with herons while combing the Olympic Peninsula beaches.

Linda Malnack

Double Life of a Still Life


They breathed
once, planetary in their skins, red
ripe, indebted

to the sky, but attracted to earth.
Yellow lanterns
hung by wind, pears over marigolds.

And peaches,
their washes of fuzz hazy in the blue
dish beneath

a reincarnated sun and its pitted
lover, the moon
who looks, ever looks into the white

will be. So this
is what fruit becomes, longitudinal
light, its juice

running, the weighty abuse, a glad
letting go.
Grass’ sweet buffer–romance,

seeds, skinned
knees. All in the time it takes to deal
a blow, a hand

of hard luck: pulp slick in the dirt,
last life of a still
life brown in the orchard, and you

taking what was,
what is, and smearing its sad cider all
over your hands.


“Double Life of a Still Life” is reprinted from Northwest Review.


Linda Malnack has published poems in many journals, including The Amherst Review, the Seattle Review, and Southern Humanities Review. She won the Willow Springs Poetry Award in 2000 and the William Stafford Award (Washington Poets Association) in 1998. Currently, she volunteers as an associate editor for the poetry e-zine, Switched-on Gutenberg.

Sandra Meade

Elegy for a Clown

SANDPOINT –“The Idaho State Police are investigating an apparent suicide that occurred in the Bonner County jail Tuesday, September 27. Jeremy, 20, was found by detention staff.

Even at seven you were a natural Harpo,
too loose clothes, big shoes
nothing ever really fit you,
a fool too simple for reading
but already a master of gesture.

“Teacher, Teacher, I did a trick today.
They teased me at the bus and I did a trick.
and they laughed. Watch.”

A sweeping gesture of generosity,
the open hands
and expectant smile,
head tipped sideways
one shoe up,
the grand bow.

An innocent stooge,
pockets stuffed with cafeteria food.

They found you duct-taped to a bed
your thin wrists wound motionless
to the rail. For endless days
your biggest trick, the smile, taped shut.

I tried to send face paint and books
but there was a wall
of institutional silence.
Now, at 20, your final trick:
head oddly cocked on a rope,
hands hanging loose,
a silent mime in the end.

How the angels
must have gathered
with their big red noses,
the saltimbanques, the payasos-
big shoes and soft bellies,
choirs of buffoons.
How their large hands must have lifted you,
rocked you with hilarious laughter.
Silly you, coming in with a cord at your belly
and leaving with one at your neck.

Little clown, I salute you.
My own face colored by your news,
I lift the bubble wand and blow,
perfect globes
reflecting light
float in your direction.


“Elegy for a Clown” is reprinted from Stringtown.

Sandra Meade’s poetry has been published in Stringtown and Raven Chronicles, and she recently received a Pushcart nomination for her poem “Elegy for a Clown.”  In 2012 she wrote and illustrated a children’s book, “Caty Beth Chooses.” Originally from Montana, Sandra Meade received her B.A. in Education from the University of Montana where she studied under Richard Hugo.  She currently resides in a handbuilt stone house in the piney woods near Newport, Washington with her husband Mike, where she was a public elementary school teacher for over two decades. She is founder and director of Scotia House, a Pacific Northwest Spiritual Retreat, open to all faiths and traditions. She is a member of Spiritual Director’s International and received her certification in spiritual direction from Gonzaga University in 2003.  Her hobbies include gardening, hiking, fly-fishing, cross-country skiing, and playing the bodhran.