Jeremy Voigt


After Looking at Paul Klee’s Ad Marginem


The owl was eating something I could not see.
I had come out early and it was time to go back.
I wanted one more turn where the trees opened
in their damp, green glaze to the flat tongue
of field. My feet on the gravel path felt good
and the day, to be sure, would be difficult.
I made it within five feet of the bird before it looked
at me and I thought it would lift, but it remained
faithful to its indifference.
………………………………….Out of an old chaos
through the trees and sun his mate arrived
and landed ten feet above. They did not care
if I moved, or breathed. I was lost trying to keep
my eyes. He finished the meal and I left
to return later that week, searching beyond the edges
of trails in the leaves and mud for the orb
of what was eaten—the impossible to digest.
I want to cut it open as I once did in a classroom,
to see the inside of what was on the inside.
I find nothing. When I look up I cannot see the sky,
just boughs moving from green to green to black.





Jeremy Voigt has published poems in Willow Springs, Beloit Poetry Journal, and recently in Post Road, as well as in the chapbook Neither Rising nor Falling. He is the editor of Cab Literary Magazine, a philanthropic literary journal, and lives with his wife and three kids in Bellingham, WA.


Student Poem

The Windowsill


In a great blue house there is a woman
looking at the ocean
As if strings are holding her back
and the windowsill is as far as she can go.

She wishes she could feel the cold sea,
let the cold ocean breeze touch her,
walk over sharp rocks
avoiding cuts in her feet.

She wants to feel the grass tickle her,
to see the big evergreen trees,
to smell the ocean,
to be a part of it.
But the strings are holding her back
and the windowsill is as far as she can go.

She wishes to swim away in her daydream as a fish.
She wants to cut those strings,
break the window,
and fly away free as a bird.
Away to her wishes in the sea.



“The Windowsill” was written this year by Lucy, a fifth grader at Whittier Elementary in Seattle. Lucy worked with Writers in the Schools writer Erin Malone, who visited Lucy’s classroom many times over the course of several months with challenging and engaging poetry lessons. “The Windowsill” is an ekphrastic poem, written in response to  Edward Hopper’s painting, “Cape Cod Morning.”

For examples of WITS poetry lessons and poetry by students, please peruse the WITS Blog.


Chrysania Marie Monroe

Still Estranged Family Photo


We all look
directly at the camera.
In children, it is called parallel play.
It looks like interaction.

My father stands between his wife
and me, a hand on both a shoulder of hers
and mine, his body leaning toward her,
his head slightly closer to mine.

We all wear black sweatshirts,
except the baby who is drop-dead
in the center. One day he will understand
why blending in is important.
He shares their DNA.

My father’s wife’s daughter
is there too. No one is touching her.
She is intellectually befuddled, functional,
and capable of breeding.
I cannot compete.

Rays of the stranger looking at us
as a singular flash makes us visible.
This light is a shock.

Neither my father nor I
satisfy. These people, this stranger
with the fully attentive mouth.
His age must have kept his lips
from lifting but perhaps the lean got me,
or maybe the hand.
I show teeth.

I keep us in my wallet
because he won’t.



Chrysania Marie Monroe is a young woman in Washington studying at a community college and works part time at a local coffee shop. Having always loved storytelling, she primarily focuses on poetry and performance theater. “Artists should be zealously well-rounded creatures.” This is her first publication.

A High School Poetry Experiment

Creative Writing Class/Photography Class Exchange: A New Source of Inspiration
by Jim Deatherage


During my 42 years of teaching secondary English, 36 years at Richland High School, one of the most rewarding activities resulted when I paired my Creative Writing class with the Photography teacher’s class.  Students and teachers alike grew from the experience.

When I first approached the Photography teacher with my idea of collaboration, he was at first reticent, but quickly warmed to the idea.  It was simple.  I had a three-phase plan for our students.  Phase one: his photography students would take a picture of their choosing and my Creative Writing class would write a poem that captured for them the photo’s point or essence.  Phase two: my writers would write a poem and have the photography students take a picture that resulted from their reading and analysis of the poem.  Phase three:  Students who had not had the option of connecting with the other paired student prior to the group presentation were encouraged to work together…jointly choosing a topic for a poem and/or an idea for a photo.  After each of these phases/exercises, our classes would meet together in the library and a picture would be projected on the screen after the poem was read or vice versa.  In both cases, both writer and photographer would then have an opportunity to share their ‘creative/artistic’ intent and react to the other’s interpretation.

The time frame for these was basically seven to ten school days, during which students also worked on other class projects.  Specific due dates helped keep students working.  Poems had to be written, edited, and polished and the photos had to be taken and printed.  The photography teacher had all photos on a disc for viewing during the presentations.

Each presentation was brief…maybe five to seven minutes in length.  The picture was shown, the poem read or reversed.  After this there was a time for sharing by the artists.  Students were keenly interested in how their work was interpreted and were equally anxious to share their original intent.


  1.  No contact between writer and photographer until after their presentations.
  2. Students are paired randomly by lottery/drawing.
  3. Specific instructions are given and due dates firmly established…this aided both teachers in motivating their students to complete the work and to take more pride in their work as it would be shared with all the students involved in the project.
  4. This provided a unique and much desired expansion of real audience for both groups of students.  Hard copies of the photos and copies of the poems were paired for display in the library and several hallways, enabling other students to see the work done by their peers.  Again, another ‘reason to do well.’  (So well in fact, that several photos and poems were stolen.)
  5. The teachers modeled the process in advance.  The example below is the result of Phase one, where the Creative Writing teacher received a picture and wrote a poem.  We were bound by the same rules as the students.  This proved very powerful as the teachers were able to share their own frustrations in completing their part of the project to their satisfaction.  I often shared my struggles with my class, soliciting student opinions on the many subtleties of writing my poem.  Likewise, the Photography teacher experienced a unique sharing with his class regarding the varied aspects of photography.  This sharing creating a equaling  of sorts that encouraged student growth in both classes.
  6. These high school students were mostly seniors, although a few juniors were also involved.  We did the project with the classes we had during the same period of the day.
  7. A really special aspect that resulted from the project for writers was their increased  intensity in peer editing.  The photography students actively pursued their teacher’s expertise regarding advanced techniques to compose the ‘perfect’ picture.
  8. Other students working in the library quickly surrounded the two classes and quietly listened to the presentations.
  9. Other teachers/librarians/counselors and principals were invited to attend the presentations.
  10. Students were given a simple form to fill out after each presentation, providing them the opportunity to critique the process and the individual presentations.  This feedback was at first somewhat intimidating, however, by the second phase of the project, the students requested the forms and provided some very valuable insights and advice to improve the process all the way around.

Richland High School, 2010 (and other years)
Jim Deatherage, Creative Writing teacher
Shawn Murphy, Photography teacher


Coastal Logging Town, 1998
by Jim Deatherage


This morning’s mysterious

shafts of light slice

deep wounds,

baring those years before

the bustling town went bust.

You can imagine them, before it all went bad,

this building teeming with children’s voices,

hymns and hallelujahs,

the bell’s sweet salutation.

Look at the looming remnant of trees;

they leaned hard, heard it all,

and shook their bristled heads.

Who knew what that could mean?

Or consider the ocean just beyond,

its tide indifferent

to their loss of hope.

You know the fog’s response,

rising and falling,

blanketing their sufferings.

I like to think they were all like us,

had dreams,

could see clearly through that fog,

imagined lives enriched, fulfilled.

When it happened,

some blamed God,

shook their gnarled fists at the sky.

Others slowly succumbed,

bereft, empty as the church.

Then they were gone.



Photo by Shawn Murphy

Andrew Shattuck McBride



After nightfall an anonymous sculptor
and helpers install a statue below a Fairhaven
bluff. As platform, they choose the jagged
tin boulder surrounded by water at high tide.
They balance the statue perfectly on one foot,
and bolt it in to older metal. The artist calls
the statue Grace. She points one arm to sea,
trails the other to meet leg curling up behind her.
Formed of silver bands wrapped around steel
core and heart, she’s untempered and pure.
Grace is silvery fine and fair, and appears
to be a dancer–her stomach is taut, her limbs
long-muscled and lean. A friend tells me Grace
is in a standing bow pose or dancer’s pose.
To me she seems prepared to leap or soar.
While Grace is lithe and limber, she is caressed
by salt water and air, and her carbon steel
is in certain decline. When the sculptor returns
and takes her from us, he will leave this artistry:
however we choose to picture or embody grace–
in repose, or as a dancer prepared to soar or
leap, reclining, or as an elder walking with
quiet dignity–we rediscover grace. Grace
resides in us, and remains available always.


“Grace” is reprinted from the 2012 Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest Chapbook, 2012.

Andrew Shattuck McBride is a Bellingham-based poet and editor. He has poems published or forthcoming in Platte Valley Review, Magnapoets, Caesura, Haibun Today, American Society: What Poets See, Dreams Wander On: Contemporary Poems of Death Awareness, Generations of Poetry, bottle rockets, Mu: An International Haiku Journal, Prune Juice: A Journal of Senryu and Kyoka, Shamrock Haiku Journal, A Hundred Gourds, The Bellingham Herald, and Clover, A Literary Rag. His poem “Grace” won a merit award in the 2012 Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest. He has edited poetry collections by Washington poets Cathy Ross, Seren Fargo, and Richard Lee Harris.



Sarah Zale


Diego Rivera: Industrial Detroit Murals
a pecha kucha


[Baby in the Bulb]

If a child, fetal in the womb
of a daffodil, growing heart and brain
and petals that protect with careless poison,
what will we say of spring—the world in bloom?

[Fruits and Vegetables]

During the first revolution of the human journey,
we cultivated einkorn, barley, and figs. The second
revolution: steam, gas, and combustion engines.
Now, it is coming, a great turning—a new way
of listening, of creating. Of understanding seed.

[Four Races]

It is hard work. They call themselves Fire or Air,
Earth, Water. They answer to North, South, East
or West. One says Call me Coal or Iron, Limestone,
Sand. It does not matter to the heart, the volcano,
the furnace. As they work, they are steel.


He cannot fool himself. The eyes of the Other stare
back like a mirror. He picks up his palette and brush
and paints his own face into the crowd. There he is,
the man with a hat and brown eyes.

[Conveyer Belt]

On my left you rise, I pull then lean and lift
into the wait of the pull to my right. Some hear
music. Some say machine, some say dance.
Every line of your life crosses your face.

[Manager and Worker]

I am the sound of steam and sweat.
You are ear. When I smoke after dinner,
you hear me exhale. When I make love
to my wife and she calls out my name,
you sigh.

[Poison Gas]

Workers put gas in a bomb. They put pyrethroids in a can.
Wilfred cannot pronounce it. He says dulce, he says
hissss. He says a spider will jump, run, do flips
to its back, roll back to its feet. Repeat till it dies.

It is an old story. Hands rise, fingers empty
and craggy as talons. Some formed as fists.
Others are molten and alive, and of the earth.
They fold around augite, quartz, mica, feldspar.


A manager in the aviation capital of America
hires a worker to build a plane. A woman flies
to Chicago to see her daughter. An army pilot learns
to drive a “tin goose.” A dove enters the open eye
of the engine fan, beneath the center blades.

[Half Face, Half Skull]

Sometimes, in the dark, I look
into the mirror and see my death.
I am not afraid. I offer my hand and we go
back to bed.

[Stamping Machine]

No longer listen to wind through tall grass
nor ride the pull of ripples across water.
So says this god, our creation. We miss
Coatlicue. She with her head of snakes
only asked for human blood.

[People on Tour]

People enjoy the zoo. They say
the animals act almost human. Men in fedoras
talk to their watches. The Katzenjammer kids
pull another prank. Foolish, say the monkeys,
and never laugh.

[Engine Dog]

The ancients used a guide for passage
to the next world. Charon ferried the dead
across the River Styx. Pre-Columbians chose
a Colima dog. My brother plans to drive himself
behind the wheel of a 4-valve, V-8 engine.

[Predella Panels]

During the Hunger March, he saw
even blood in shades of grey. One day
someone will paint his story. The world
will know more than the grisade of his life.

[Spindle Machine]

My job is about boring holes
in engine blocks. After work, I go out for beers
with Quetzalcoatl, Muhammad, Krishna,
Siddhartha, and the new guy, Jésus.

[La Raza Cósmica]

The Census Bureau does not list
el espiritu as a race, yet here we are,
working side by side, of one blood.
Por mi raza hablará el espiritu.


Whether a child is the son of God
or the son of a scientist, aviator, inventor,
we look at him with hope. We are sure we have time
to do good things. We are sure we are forgiven.

[River to Fordlandia]

Some men like to tame the land, some like
to tame other men. They forget they are only men
and others are not clay. On the third day, he created land,
and a river from Detroit to Brazil.

[Night Foreman]

I am 45th on the assembly line of 84 steps.
The guy next to me places an engine. I add a bolt.
It is a game of interchangeable parts. Bricker says
93 minutes is too long to build a Tin Lizzie.

[Miller Street Bridge]

It is the end of March and bitterly cold. I count
the stairs to the bridge: one, two, three–Joe,
Joe, another Joe. Four, Cole. Shot and buried
with union on their lips. Black Curtis, five.
His ashes like snow dot the cemetery soil.


“Diego Rivera: Industrial Detroit Murals” is reprinted from Sometimes You Do Things (Aquarius Press; March 2013).

View the murals.


Sarah Zale teaches writing and poetry in Seattle. She holds an MFA in poetry from Goddard College. The Art of Folding: Poems was inspired by her travels to Israel and Palestine. Sometimes You Do Things: Poems will be published March 2013 (Aquarius Press, Living Detroit Series). The title poem appears in Floating Bridge Review 3. Naomi Shihab Nye awarded “September 24, 1930: The Last Hanging in Michigan” as a finalist in the 2011 Split This Rock Poetry Contest. Zale’s work is in the anthology Come Together, Imagine Peace, a finalist for the 2009 Eric Hoffer Award. She lives in Port Townsend.

Anne McDuffie


A Thought in the Shape of a Bird

A thought in the shape of a bird
unfolds its subtle origami in three beats:
leaf / wren / leaf.


A gesture in the shape of habit
worrying the pavement for seeds,
its tail tipped straight up.


Calder’s “Eagle,” fades red
into the chestnuts beside the museum.
The great, hooked beak, the cocked tail


distinctly flanged and wren-like, though I’m not sure
it is a tail. There’s no body here—
only line and curve, weld and bolt,


the scattershot lines of something
I’ve seen before. Tail, brow, beak.
Or glide, spread, crouch.


I can’t account for the piece that stands
straight up—


until a crow alights on top
and casts a languid eye on this poor human
scrabbling over the wet grass below,


and I feel a jot of pity for the wren
who spasms into flight at my approach,
stitching escape across each retina.


This wren
squats in my path, with the gravity
of a dead thing. Only a leaf


I’ve overtaken now, passed by
while the mind keeps circling,
watching for movement, some flash or flicker under the surface.


That’s the meat calling. And the mind,
with its inquisitive talons, will answer. Will tip itself over
into the pure line of its sight


and fall.




A Thought in the Shape of a Bird” originally appeared in Crab Creek Review.



Anne McDuffie writes essays, poetry and book reviews. Her work has appeared in Colorado Review, Crab Creek Review, A River and Sound Review, Rattle, American Book Review and the anthology, Short Takes: Brief Encounters with Contemporary Nonfiction (Norton, 2005). She received her MFA in 2007 from the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University, and lives in Seattle, WA.


Student Poem

Negativity and racism roams through our society, it’s something we can’t get rid of, permanent like a sharpie.
I can be the nicest person in the world, or your worst enemy, switch like a light switch.
The realness that I write, I can make your mind twitch. Make you think if you should stop or keep reading, why stop now? You have to hear the happy ending.
Step by step my confidence starts to rise, it’s a good morning, and I’m glad to see the sun rise.
Listen to my words and let them take you on a joyride. Fly so high, drive past Mars, glare at all the stars and shake hands with god.
Visit all my friends that never got a chance, where their first mistake was hopping that fence, trying to be someone they’re not.
Having their pants dangle by their thighs, walking down the street throwing up gang signs.
They loved being “hood” they loved it with a passion, with a flag out their pocket, yes that was their fashion.
Bullets fly through the air and now their life is flashing.
I guess so much for a happy ending, but take notes from my words of wisdom.
Life is dangerous so be careful with what you say.

Trey, 16 and a student at Franklin High School in Seattle, participated in the 2012 Dr. Carver Gayton Youth Curator Program at the Northwest African American Museum.  He and his fellow curators worked with writer Daemond Arrindell on poems based on  the Northwest Gallery exhibition, “Xenobia Bailey: Aesthetics of Funk.”

Allen Braden

Van Gogh’s Noon: Rest from Work (after Millet)


His wheatfield redistributes the light evenly
over the pair of strawstacks, of shoes and sickles
set off to one side which belong to the couple
drowsing in the dark gold shade of afternoon.
Only the wagon in the background is singular
though two oxen are loitering near enough
to rub dumbly against its iron-shod wheels.
Less distinct in the distance is a crop of wheat,
as high as a wainscot between earth and sky,
still not cut or bundled or loaded for winnowing.
No question of the tasks which await them,

those two in the foreground who are faceless
as cattle and as serene in their exhaustion.
An observer can practically feel the prickling
of the severe stubble where they are at ease,
the itch of chaff when their sweat evaporates.
How masterfully each subject mirrors itself,
the man and woman in a cotton tunic or smock,
the way even one work shoe parallels the other
and sickle blades curve into quotation marks
as if to complete some statement on the balance
between art and whatever is perfectly ordinary.

–Allen Braden

Allen Braden is the author of A Wreath of Down and Drops of Blood (University of Georgia) and Elegy in the Passive Voice (University of Alaska/Fairbanks), winner of the Midnight Sun Chapbook Contest. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and from Artist Trust of Washington State as well as the Emerging Writers Prize from Witness magazine, the Grolier Poetry Prize, the Dana Award in Poetry and other honors. Former poet-in-residence for the Poetry Center and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, he lives in Lakewood, Washington.



Student Poem

It looks like the inside of machinery.

Fuming, working different emotions endlessly.
Never stopping, it turns these gears called emotions
…but all this machinery is now leaving.

Being blasted away and burning as it leaves the earth’s atmosphere.
The flame is made of all sorts of colors.
Yellow for my mellowness,
red for my anger,
blue for my curiosity,
orange for my danger.

All that’s left of my negative emotions lay in rubble.

Fear, of others watching me
…judging me on moves I make.

Hatred, the blood boiling feeling whenever a thought
that provokes anger crosses my mind.

Then I see a package, floating down on a parachute.
The box is bursting with all the emotions I never meant to send away.
Sense of family returned,
acceptance and love.
The best was beauty…
natural and glowing of utter flawlessness from inside.

Falmata, age 15, partipated in the 2012 Dr. Carver Gayton Youth Curator Program at the Northwest African American Museum.  He and his fellow curators worked with writer Daemond Arrindell on poems based on  the Northwest Gallery exhibition, “Xenobia Bailey: Aesthetics of Funk.”