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.

Steve Potter

“Forcing twentieth-century America into a sonnet — gosh, how I hate sonnets — is like putting a crab into a square box. You’ve got to cut his legs off to make him fit. When you get through, you don’t have a crab any more.”           

 –William Carlos Williams

Boxed Crab

Dear Doctor Williams, with all due respect
For worlds of pleasure I’ve found in your verse,
On this account I feel I must defect.
I love your offhand lines — “so much for the hearse”
From “Tract” for one — and how you defied the norm,
Filled your poems with ordinary speech
And escaped the strictures of long-standing form
Extending by great lengths the poet’s reach.

But, gosh, the twentieth-century whole?
A crab so large should be delegged, declawed!
Who, dredging such a creature from the shoal,
Would not pull back in horror overawed?
A crab of such size must be cut to fit
Boiled, dipped in butter, eaten bit by bit.


“Boxed Crab” is reprinted from Able Muse.


Steve Potter was active in Seattle’s literary scene as board member and frequent emcee for Red Sky Poetry Theater in the ’90s. He performed at events such as Seattle Poetry Festival, Subtext, Rendezvous Reading Series and Cheap Wine & Poetry sometimes accompanied by guitarist Bill Horist or the sitar/tablas duo Bakshish. He edited an eclectic but short-lived literary magazine called The Wandering Hermit Review. While he keeps a lower profile these days, Potter is writing as much as ever. His work has appeared in journals such as; Able Muse, Blazevox, Drunken Boat, Galatea Resurrects, Knock, Marginalia, Raven Chronicles and Stringtown.

Charles Leggett


So dense and swift these clouds, it’s the tanned olive
moon that seems to move;
as if into this wind your life will lean
susceptible to imagery, the inwrought
pull of all these metaphors we live
in. Now look—the mien
even of the drape is fraught

with it: coronas, eyes recoiling off
the ceiling; or a gaff
trickles the storm drain; or a stage’s curtain
murmur passing cars; the blowsy skein
of each second, frozen-framed, a tea leaf
scholium, a garden
in a cartoon hurricane.


“November Storm Break” is reprinted from Measure: A Review of Formal Poetry.


Charles Leggett is a professional actor based in Seattle, WA.  Recent publications include Bottle Rockets, The Centrifugal Eye, and Cirque.  Others include The Lyric and Measure: A Review of Formal Poetry; work is forthcoming in Big Pulp, GlassFire, Constellations and Graze Magazine.  His long poem “Premature Tombeau for John Ashbery” was an e-chapbook in the Barnwood Press “Great Find” series.


Melinda Mueller

b. 27 November 1757? – d. 26 December 1800

… a wandering beauty is a blade out of its scabbard.
You know how dangerous…

–John Crowe Ransom, Judith of Bethulia

Enter Rosalind, with her legs unsheathed
Of their skirts. Every blade in the theatre
Stands en garde before “Ganymede” has breathed
A line. Such dangerous games are sweeter

The more dangerous. Does wearing breeches
Breach the gates of her virtue? The question
Profits the house. The Crown Prince beseeches
Her, with ardent letters, to indiscretion—

Which is his aphrodisiac. For love,
It seems, he will risk all. Ah, men have died
And worms have eaten them, but not for love.
He leaves her undone and penniless beside.

Beauty, though a weapon wielded by who wears it,
Proves a guardless sword that wounds her when she bares it.


Mary (née Darby) Robinson became famous for her beauty and for her performances at Drury Lane Theatre, particularly in “cross-dressed” roles such as Shakespeare’s Rosalind and Viola. She was mistress for a time to the Prince of Wales, who promised her an annual income in recompense for giving up her profession on the stage—and later reneged. Later in her life, after suffering an illness that left her partially paralyzed, she became known again; this time as a writer of poetry, novels, and essays (including several in defense of the rights of women, such as A Letter to the Women of England on the Injustice of Mental Subordination).
“Men have died from time to time, and worms have eaten them, but not for love” is Rosalind’s reply, in her guise as a young man, to Orlando, when he professes that love will be the death of him (As You Like It, Act IV Scene i).

Melinda Mueller grew up in Montana and Eastern Washington, and has lived in Seattle for 30 years.  She majored in botany at the University of Washington, where she also studied poetry with Nelson Bentley. She teaches high school biology, biotechnology and evolution studies at Seattle Academy.  Her most recent book, What the Ice Gets (Van West & Company, 2000) received a Washington State Book Award (2001), and a “Notable Book” award from the American Library Association (2002).

Caitlin Elizabeth Thomson

The First Night


How strange it felt, to pile leaves on top
of my wool sweater. Tie orange sleeve to orange sleeve
before laying my head down.
My brother covered my body with leaves and needles,
so I could be nothing worth notice
and warm. Food was hard to find
before we discovered roots for winter,
rosehips for spring. In the summer and fall
bounty overwhelmed us. The longings we once held
for mattresses, refrigerators, lamps,
replaced by lakes and loons before the sun rose.
Knitting scraps of wool into sweaters.
Praying every day, earnest words
to the God we could all now feel coming.


“The First Night” is reprinted from Labletter.

Caitlin Elizabeth Thomson is a Canadian who married an American. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in numerous places, including: The Literary Review of Canada, The Liner, Echolocation, Labletter, and The Moth. Her second chapbook Incident Reports is forthcoming from Hyacinth Girl Press. She lives in Bellingham.



Tod Marshall

Angry Birds


When the eagles leave, spawned out red fish
must be mostly eaten, finished with silt,
sand, and eggs, a genetic frenzied push
to breed here, now, with furious force. We will
ourselves into bed, away from Netflix, X-
box, the new astonishing app that counts
calories, miles to go, snowflakes, the next
minute’s number of moans: O happy grunt
that says hey-ho, this is done, pixilated
and, best of all, uploadable as a ring tone
that goes fishy, fleshy, fowl. Someone’s IPhone
measures the speed of a bird penetrating
the lake to seize a foundering Kokanee.
“So fast!” Not death, the connectivity.



Tod Marshall was born in Buffalo, NY.  He earned an MFA degree from Eastern Washington University and a PhD in literature from the University of Kansas.  His first collection of poetry, Dare Say, was the 2002 winner of the University of Georgia’s Contemporary Poetry Series. He has also published a collection of his interviews with contemporary poets, Range of the Possible (EWU Press, 2002), and an accompanying anthology of theinterviewed poets’ work, Range of Voices (2005).  In 2005, he was awarded a Washington Artists Trust Fellowship. In 2009, his second collection, The Tangled Line, was published by Canarium Books; it was a finalist for the Washington State Book Award.  His third collection will be released in February 2013.  He lives in Spokane and teaches at Gonzaga University.

Amy Schrader

A Proverb


Your byword to my nayword. Check
& mate, my shining knight. Marriage is more
than four legs in a bed. Bare & backed
by bone. I killed & BBQ’ed the boar,

another eats his flesh. Sweetest & sliced
near the marrow. Narrow hallway, narrow
mind. I’m out of mine & out of sight.
Out of words, which we let fly like arrows

raining down. Like cats & all. Despite
the fact you’re skinned & hung, you’re looking
like a king. I’m watching you. You despot;
you cloak your eyes & steal the cream.

So curiosity is killing us.
My dress is black & backless.



“A Proverb” is reprinted from The Journal.

Amy Schrader holds an MFA in poetry from the University of Washington. She was a recipient of a 2008 Artist Trust Grants for Artist Projects (GAP) award, and her poems have most recently appeared or are forthcoming in Coconut, The Journal, ILK, Bateau, and the Fairy Tale Review. She lives in Seattle.

Nicole Hardy

Mud Flap Girl on Teen Talk Barbie


Everyone knows I’m not into clothes, but
you go to the mall, girlfriend; knock yourself
uptown, little Ms. Bad Influence. What
else can you do when you’re pulled from the shelf

for expressing yourself. Here’s what I think:
math class is supposed to be tough. Take that
to any best selling, self-helping shrink:
she’ll say your stellar scores on the GMAT

and your supreme self-esteem can be traced
to childhood success at difficult tasks.
So when Jane’s math anxiety gets placed
on your plastic ass, remind them you passed—

and then pulled off a string of successes
in more careers than Skipper has dresses.


According to a New York Times article published October 21, 1992, Mattel’s Teen Talk Barbie was widely criticized by a national women’s group for saying “math class is tough.” The Barbie remained in stores, but the computer chip that randomly selected four phrases for each doll thereafter picked from 269 selections, not 270.


Nicole Hardy’s memoir, Confessions of a Latter-Day Virgin is forthcoming through Hyperion/Voice in 2013. Her work has appeared in the New York Times as well as many literary journals. She’s the author of a poetry collection and a chapbook:This Blonde, and Mud Flap Girl’s XX Guide to Facial Profiling.

Sarah Cohen

The Heart


It was born of a spark it never knew,
and raised alone indoors.
Like a bear in winter
it must dream cave dreams.
Sage of interiors, it might travel
in a trance to other realms.

Even in rest
its vigilance can never falter.
Even in paradise
it would be striving, blind.

A girl bends over a sewing machine,
her stitches tiny and flawlessly even.

Imagine never taking a minute’s rest
for decades, then resting forever.


“The Heart” is reprinted from Pool.


Sarah Cohen’s poems and other writings have been published in The Paris Review, Threepenny Review, Boston Review, and many others. She teaches English at the University of Washington and lives in Shoreline.

Richard Kenney

Hydrology; Lachrymation


The river meanders because it can’t think.
Always, with the river, the path of least resistance.
Look: lip of a low bowl swerves the river tens
Or thousands of miles wild. The least brink
Of a ridge and its python shies… How efficient— think—
Would a straight sluice to the sea be, in terms
Computable? When’s water simpler? Cisterns
Certainly, still as a tearful blink;
Lake effects likewise, like the great circular storms,
Tornadoes, hurricanes; those lesser weather systems
Too, troubling the benthos where the icecaps shrink.
Straightforward isotherms… or is it isotheres…
But a moment ago, someone mentioned tears.
Why tears, for love? Why rivers? I can’t think.


“Hydrology; Lachrymation” is reprinted from The One-Strand River (Knopf, 2008).


Richard Kenney’s most recent book is The One-Strand River (Knopf, 2008). He teaches at the University of Washington, and lives with his family in Port Townsend.


READING:  Richard Kenney will read with Tess Gallagher, Jim Bertolino, Brian Culhane, and Laurie Lamon at Elliott Bay Books on Thursday, November 1 at 7:00 pm.