Lily Myers

On Loneliness

Last night I fell asleep reading One Hundred Years of Solitude
while my roommate and her boyfriend kissed on the bunk below me
which is to say,
lately I’ve been alone.
Claustrophobic in the small room of my own body.
I wonder what it would be like to have another person’s wrists.

All the nothing days—
beer in a friend’s garage, teeth chattering
not quite inhabiting this envelope of skin

Sitting next to myself on the morning bus ride
moments hanging in the air like ghosts,
forgetting to pass.

This afternoon the sky was yellow.
Patches outlined in light blue cloud.
Rain started falling from the middle of the sky.
I stood still. Stared fully. Felt nothing.
Was not a body.
Was part of the air underneath the loving yellow sky.


Lily Myers is a poet and a Sociology student at Wesleyan University, where she competes on the Slam Poetry team. Her home is Seattle. She is convinced that by sharing and listening to each other’s writing, we can better understand and thus humanize each other. She loves poetry for the way it makes us honest and vulnerable. She is looking for poetry submissions for her feminist blog:


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.


Lilly Wasserman



He had eyes like sewn seeds
anxious, I thought they might
come unstrung and sprout again
raining from white casks
over clawed hands
beetle-backed and tight
through slits to the moss below.

Flax shoots of hay
pierced his overcoat at each elbow
porcupine fractures of desert bone
wind-whipped and waterless,
forever pointing south.

He was a dizzying character
a flailing hand-packed half-man
tossing his stuffing
in miscalculated blooms
and chuckling curses
as they blew away.

In the dark
I could track his pace
by the hay’s friction, stooping
every mile to retrieve
his fallen innards, mumbling
apologies, shoving and gathering
them back into his rags.

A mess of burlap scrap
salvaged from a yam sack
and missing buttons
he was desperate for cognition
more lofty
than dismembered bales
jousting through holes
in poor needlework.


Lilly Wasserman is a burgeoning poet and creative writing major at Western Washington University. She was born in Boston, grew up in Seattle, and is currently living in Bellingham while she attends school. Lilly is studying for her bachelor’s degree in English and Art History and will graduate in the fall of 2013. “Scarecrow” is part of a larger collection of persona poetry, which adopts the perspective of Dorothy Gale from the Wizard of Oz. This is Lilly’s first published piece!

Student Poem

Sliver of a Life
by Niyathi Chakrapani

She had told the reporter,
“I loved him, I loved him,”
But the newspaper only printed it once.
There was also
A quote from his favorite baseball player;
Some clammy, optimistic Bible text;
His birthday, a mere memory now;
Awards from college, received years ago
In subjects he did not pursue;
Names of family members he had not talked to in years;
Meaningless compliments;
His job, which he hated more than one could imagine;
A blurry picture with too much sunlight and exposure;
And his love of the Yankees,
Quite understated in saying he merely “loved the team.”

She had told the reporter,
“I loved him, I loved him,”
With the tears that she abhorred
Sprinting down to her fragile chin,
Pouring down like livid rain.
The reporter feigned pity and said,
“I am sorry, ma’am. This must be hard.”
She wanted to punch his contrived smile.
There was anger and sorrow in her eyes,
The most pitiful of combinations.

And when she read the newspaper that day
She took all the liquor in the house
And smashed their bottles
Till the shards became paste,
Sprinkled across the now-chipped wooden floor
Like freshly fallen snow.

The little square of words,
A banal sliver of a life,
Or a stanza trying to compensate
For a beautiful elegy.
The meaningless banter of a child,
Repartee and badinage,
A cruel joke played with good intentions
On the most mournful of souls.

For in that little square of words
There was no mention
Of how he always got ice cream on his nose,
And laughed as she wiped it off and licked her finger;
Of his yellow, pirate-like grin
Which could light up the room
More than the whitest and straightest of insincere smiles;
Of how he refused to leave the stadium
After the Yankees lost
Because he couldn’t bear to be in his home, in comfort,
With the thought of their failure looming in his mind;
Of how he cooked Thanksgiving dinner
Because she had a fever that weekend,
And though they both ate burned turkey that year,
It was the best turkey they ever had.

As she told the reporter,
“I loved him, I loved him,”
She knew she would never drink again
For the drunkenness of another
Was what had killed her love.
After that vow she grabbed the last bottle of brandy
And threw it over her fence,
As far as her slender arms could bear,
Knowing her pain lay in that bottle
And wishing it could shatter as easily.
There was anger and sorrow in her eyes,
The most pitiful of combinations.

She ran back to the newspaper,
Intent on ripping it to shreds,
But could not bring herself to harm
That little square of words,
A banal sliver of a life,
The last dregs of a forgotten eulogy
Spoken only in her mind.

For on that paper there was printed
A quote from his favorite baseball player;
Some hopeful Bible text;
His birthday, a loving memory now;
Awards from college, received years ago
In subjects he wished he had pursued;
Names of family members who loved him;
Innumerable compliments;
His job, which he only continued out of love;
A picture taken in a beautiful meadow;
And his love of the Yankees,
Quite understated in saying he merely “loved the team,”
But stated nonetheless.
And bottommost of all there was printed
Three simple words, more innocent without repetition,
Quoted with a name:
“I loved him.”

So she clutched the paper to her heart
And let fall her abhorred tears.



Niyathi Chakrapani is a 15-year-old poet from Sammamish, Washington who received four regional gold medals and a national silver medal for her literature in the Scholastic Young Artists and Writers national competition, as well as several local awards in the KCLS library system’s Rhyme On! competitions and the Issaquah Youth Board Poetry Slam. Niyathi loves to write poems about her deepest feelings and observations about the world, as well as to put herself in the shoes of other people and write poems from their perspective. She also loves to write and perform songs, volunteer, and eat chocolate.

Student Poem

Queen’s Room
by Katie

the queen’s room like
parking in a sea of China

the silver tin on a table
opening memories

the small tinge on the pillow
is like a useful unnoticed
antidote being stored away

I smell solid gold in the queen’s

is the queen home? because
I’m snooping in her room

I’m not supposed to
be here. See me wiggling out


Katie wrote this poem as a third grader at View Ridge Elementary. She recited it last night for Caroline Kennedy and a sold-out audience at the Seattle First Baptist Church. The members of the Sanislo Elementary School Poetry Club and a Seattle University student also recited.  The event was sponsored by the Seattle Public Library and Elliott Bay Books for National Poetry Month. What, you didn’t know it was poetry month?

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

Student Poem

Galileo Demands An Apology
by Sarah Groesbeck


“Eppur si muove: and yet it moves.”
– Galileo Galilei

How fickle and stubborn
you are. Once praising my telescope and
the celestial bodies uncovered,
now branding me a heretic
for going against God and His scripture by saying
we are not the center.
I set out only to discover the truth;
to follow the evidence
with a mind open to wherever it may lead.
You, however, carelessly dismiss my results
by thumbing through verses.
And yet it moves.
I implore you, open your eyes and look
to the heavens, to our sister Venus
and the revolving moons of Jupiter.
See what I see;
only then will you discover
the Earth is moving.


Sarah Groesbeck, a Seattle native, is a student at Highline Community College. She is going for her AA degree with an emphasis in Mathematics. She decided to be brave and took a Creative Writing class where she discovered a new delight in poetry.



Student Poem


by Miles Hewitt


& in between passionless crimes—

(so for the lack of humanity,

  the careless abandon

and the forgoing of burden)

I looked into your eyes & thought




& you smiled

& asked me

what I was thinking about

I brushed you away

off the bed

pushed you over the nightstand as

the lamp with wavy grasping shade reached

& the globe on the shelf & the maps

on the walls slipped & sighed

& you collapsed on the ground—


‘I don’t know’ —


but I wasn’t lying.


Miles Hewitt of Vancouver, Washington was one of five student poets chosen as finalists in the National Student Poets Program. Miles represents the West region of the United States. The awards were announced at the 2012 National Book Festival in Washington DC in September. The National Student Poets Program is in its inaugural year. It is a joint project of the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, and the Institute for Museum and Library Services.

Miles has been writing since the third grade. In the eighth grade, he discovered musical artists Bob Dylan and Paul Simon and moved on to songwriting. Since then, he’s penned more than 100 songs and self-recorded two albums. Miles fell in love with poetry more recently. A junior now at the Vancouver School of Arts and Academics, he’s a member of a small group of writers that come together to workshop one another’s pieces and offer support. Outside school, Miles serves as the President of the Young Democrats of Clark County and as the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of his school newspaper. He’s considering a career in political communications or speechwriting if the “rock-and-roll-poet” line of business doesn’t pan out.

READING IN OLYMPIA:   Miles Hewitt and Kathleen Flenniken will be be presenting poems (and perhaps Miles will perform a few songs) at 6:00 p.m. in the Columbia Room of the Legislative Building (State Capitol) on Thursday, November 29. The program is sponsored by the Washington State Library and is free and open to the public.

Student Poem

Stranger at a Funeral
Eliot Johnson


Who was this guy? And why
am I at his funeral? Some friend
of my grandfather, godfather of my uncle,
whose name I hadn’t heard until yesterday
when my mom searched my closet for a dress shirt
because my dad wanted me to see this.

We stand in the back with the less-related, the second class mourners,
nearer to the daylight and the fresh air. Someone passes out candles. In the front,
the priest, obscured in thick smoke, recites verses in Russian,
or Latin, or something, the auctioneer for the corpse. A woman in a pink shawl
whom I caught a glimpse of as she disappeared behind the stage
cuts into the priest’s recitation with disembodied chants.
As he talks, the priest swings his incense ball on its chain
like an exterminator fumigating an apartment. The smoke holds back
whatever light penetrates the thick curtains and obscures
the saints staring vacantly from the walls. Was the church always
this dark, or did years of incense leave stains like cigarette smoke?
(When was the last time they aired this place out?)
The dead man in the open box barely registers as
a sideshow against this smoky cave they’ve put him in.

There are no stories, no memories, just the smoke, the blue hands crossed
on the motionless chest, and the quiet sobbing from the first row.
The bereaved file past the casket and kiss the metal icon
laid on his forehead. The priest asks us to pray that the dead man
chooses not to become a ghost. The woman in front of me
crosses herself for the hundredth time. Then, finally,
it’s over. We blow out the narrow yellow candles, the pallbearers load the coffin
into a scuffed black hearse, and the mourners disperse, squinting, into the grey
Seattle drizzle. Everything appears normal again as I slide into my dad’s SUV,
and we leave the church behind to go see Nana at the hospital.

A moment important for those close
just sort of sailed by me, noted, but without impact,
another death on the news.


Eliot Johnson is 21, lives in Okanogan, and is earning a transfer degree at Wenatchee Valley College in Omak. Eliot writes, “I’ve messed around writing fiction for most of my life. I actually started this poem several years ago after the funeral of my uncle’s godfather, but didn’t make much of it until recently, when I re-worked it for the poetry component of a creative writing class.”