Cindy Claplanhoo

My House-My Place

February 5th: I walk into my place. The one that I trust has been lying
to me. Dinner is burning away in the oven. He is lounging on his sofa
enjoying a bowl of Goodness knows what.

Friday: My Friends and I clean everything. Cobwebs thick with grease
and dust–even the poor spider is mummified in a cocktail of wood
smoke and greasy meals.

Eight truckloads of junk later…

The roof and tarps fall in and blow playfully towards the ocean; free as
a ship loose from its moorings.

The ceilings in the bedrooms crumble. I am upset. I just mopped those
floors. Now it holds a memory of the ceiling.

The wiring begins to pop. The breakers groan. The furnace comes to
life at 2:00 in the silly morning. I watch the sparks fly; as shooting
stars in the grey morning light.

By now my Friends are running for cover. Smiles replaced with
concerned frowns.

The shed door falls off. Someone forgot to prop it up with the stump.

The fridge holds a promise of neglected leftovers. “Sniff it! If it
smells good, eat it.”

No fresh yummy cookies.

No Roast Beast on Sunday.

Chewy Pizza.

Oven won’t work now.

Seven people worked on the hot water tank. It worked for three days.
Monday the main pipes cracked in the cold. It was like a sauna.

“I am so cold! Do you think more blankets around the doors and
windows might help?”

(I am asking my Brother)

“No! Get some leftover Tribal Campaign signs-plywood. Nail ‘em up.
Then you can use your Rez curtains on your bed.” So he laughs….

“What about the ceilings? It’s all messy on the floor.”

(I am asking again)

“Sweep it up! Throw it in the woodstove. You said you were cold.” And
he laughs harder.

And…”Do you think I should try to stay here?”

“Why? Waiting for the other door to fall?”

(Where’s Jack?)

Everyone laughs now.

My Place…

Where’s my motel key?


Cindy Lee Claplanhoo is part of an Indian writing group in Port Angeles called “Blood Quantum.” She is from the Makah Reservation, located at the beginning of the United States–Neah Bay. Her given name is Tia–from her Aunt Tan’te. It is Spanish and yes–she is Aunty to fifty-six nieces and nephews and has four beautiful grandbabies too. Cindy works at Makah Forestry and volunteers at MCRC–“The Museum.”  Her project preserving Coastal Native news articles from 1899 to the Present Day inspires her poetry and artwork.  “Wait for me, Grandpa. I am following in your Footsteps.”


Christine Robbins

Waiting-for-a-Diagnosis Suite

1. Burn Pile

Trees speak the language of your silent wood.
Ashes are meant for everywhere and set
a wing-dust on the leaves, enough to fill
the empty lines of another’s fingertip.

2. Loam

There are weeds in the garden
and your diction’s gone.
Relax. There is nothing here
that won’t eat you – that would not
take you up against itself.
All that’s housed under the slice of moon
wears the lobster bib, for no part of you
isn’t full of sweet white meat.

3. Night Storm

Air rises to a pitch
that sticks in the throat.
Wind is sharking the huge pine
that leans toward the roof, and you wait
for the snap. Then, the soft rain.
It all falls in time —
another air, another weight,
another voice.

4. And After

You will open either way
to find what your sore arms
can bring, like a warm
golden orb against the chest.
The answer is nothing,
a nameless stagger
and a voice going silent, less yours
with each day. You will always wait
for the right word.


“Waiting-for-a-Diagnosis Suite” was first published in The Georgia Review.


Christine Robbins grew up in Northern Virginia and has lived in Olympia,Washington for most of her adult life.  She is a graduate of The Evergreen State College and received an MFA in creative writing from the Rainier Writing Workshop in 2012.  Her poems have been published in The Georgia Review, Talking River Review and the And Love… anthology (Jacar Press).

Anastacia Tolbert

How to Comfort & Say Goodbye


if you were a lost bobtail
i could easily calm you with
warm milk & a ball of yarn
let you get distracted by heat
& color & action
if you were a shiba inu
i’d find any object & throw it
far enough to watch you run
but close enough for you not
to get discouraged at the distance
of the thing you want the most
if you were my baby/us tied
by a bloody chord of spirit &
sacrifice i’d hold you close to my heart
& let you hear something familiar,
something true
let the thump surround sound
you. watch your lips pleat
into a smile.
but you are fear & i don’t know
how to stop your grinding, gnawing
gnashing—as there is no comfort
for separating a thing from its



Anastacia Tolbert’s work is a trellis of twilight, ultramarine ache and lowercase loam. She is a writer, Cave Canem Fellow, Hedgebrook Alumna, EDGE Professional Writers Graduate, VONA alum, creative writing workshop facilitator, documentarian and playwright. She is the recipient of the San Diego Journalism Press Club Award for the article “War Torn.” She is writer, co-director, and co-producer of GOTBREAST? Documentary (2007): a documentary about the views of women regarding breast and body image. Her poetry, fiction and nonfiction have been published or is forthcoming in: WomenArts Quarterly, Specter Magazine, Crab Creek Review, Everyday Other Things, Women Writers in Bloom, Saltwater Quarterly, The Poetry Breakfast, Things Lost, Midnight Tea Book, Reverie, Alehouse Journal, Women. Period., The Drunken Boat, Torch and many others.

Anastacia Tolbert features at Seattle SPIT + OPEN MIC @ Wildrose, 1021 E Pike pm Thursday, January 10 at 8:30 – 10:00 pm.


Seren Fargo



Unnecessarily, the spider wraps another layer
around the motionless fly.

fishing lines—
again he tells me
he’s afraid
I will leave him


 “Caught” was previously published in A Hundred Gourds.


Seren Fargo, once a wildlife researcher with the U.S. Forest Service, is now a writer and photographer. She primarily writes Japanese-form poetry and is founder/coordinator of the Bellingham Haiku Group and teaches haiku writing to classes and private students. Her work has won several awards, including the Washington Poets Association’s Porad Haiku Contest, and has been published in many journals in the U.S. and internationally, including Clover, A Literary Rag. Her writing largely reflects her passion for the natural world and her struggles with chronic illness and loss. She lives in a poetic rural setting in Bellingham with her three cats.


Mark Anderson

For Connor

This is a poem for Connor
Connor who I have never met,
Connor who I may never know:

For two whole hours I listened to his girlfriend’s mother
as she talked behind me in a strip mall coffee shop
about the boy whose soul she was trying to save.
It was 11 o’clock on a Sunday morning
and this is how I had always needed to learn about holiness.

She says “Connor has a good heart
but he was never taught to use it.”
And I think to myself,
what funny things we overhear
when we are always listening.
From what I gather the problem is this:
her daughter is a meek white lamb
from the land of picket fences
and Connor is what is born out of adrenaline,
reformed and settled at the bottom of his stomach
but still not converted.
And as for myself,
I have been caught sinning so few times in public
that there are fools who have mistaken me for holy.
But at that very moment,
I had been through something
very recently, which was
very similar, and which ended
very badly for me.
So I feel for him,
and I press my ear so far into that lady’s throat
that I can hear her breathing above the espresso machine.

Because Connor and I
are the same shape
of wide eyed wishing wells
who want love
more than any other form of redemption.
But at that moment
love was falling through for the both of us.
So I swallowed my coffee slowly,
and I listened as hard as I could.

Because that morning
the only thing that could save me
was to feel just a little less alone,
which is exactly what his story did for me.
I should mention
if I hadn’t been listening then
I might not still be standing here
to speak to you.
So I wonder what makes an angel.
Does it have nothing to do with wings?
Before they have their wings
do they come with names like Connor?
Do they suffer like the rest of us?

And this is not a poem.
This is just a thank you note
to Connor who I have never met,
Connor who I may never know.


Mark Anderson puts together the Broken Mic poetry open mic (and, according to its Facebook page, “emotional spaceship ride”) each week at Neato Burrito in downtown Spokane. Age 24, the Inlander recently described him as the “grandfather” of Spokane’s poetry scene. That’s because he’s fought to keep performance poetry alive in Spokane through Broken Mic and poetry slam competitions. Recently, he was awarded the Ken Warfel Fellowship, for poets who “have made substantial contributions to their poetry communities.”

Laurie Lamon

The Beginning and the End



What do we make of the God of vengeance, the bloodshed of kings,

  the women running from homes without

preparation; what do we make at the end of astonishment’s

    glance without preparation for darkness, and afterward,

darkness? What do we make of the landscape where stone begat stone,

   where soil was lifted and carried, and the cell’s

transparency was lifted and carried; what do we make of the feathers,

   the imprint of glass, the black weather swept

into floorboards; what do we make of the twenty-seven bones

    of the hand, the clod of dirt, the ring?

What do we make of the son replacing his meals with mourning,

   his evening run and the hour of bedtime reading

with mourning? What do we make of a father’s wristwatch, a hospital

   window, sun-splintered; what do we make

of the driver’s license and telephone number, the heart’s

   empty quarter, the history of voices, birthplace and geography,

the blurred eye, the shoelace pulled from the shoe?



“The Beginning and the End” is reprinted from Without Wings (CavanKerry Press, 2009).

Laurie Lamon’s poems have appeared in The Atlantic, The New Republic, The New Criterion, Ploughshares, Arts & Letters, Journal of Contemporary Culture and others, including 180 More Extraordinary Poems for Ordinary Days, edited by Billy Collins, and the Poetry Daily and Verse Daily websites. In 2007 she received a Witter Bynner award, selected by Poet Laureate Donald Hall.She has also received a Pushcart Prize. Lamon holds an M.F.A. from the University of Montana and a Ph.D. from the University of Utah. Her two collections of poetry are The Fork Without Hunger and Without Wings, CavanKerry Press (NJ), 2005 and 2009.  She is a professor of English at Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington.


READING:  Laurie Lamon will be reading from The Plume Anthology of Poetry, 2012 at Elliott Bay Books on Thursday, November 1, along with poets James Bertolino, Brian Culhane, Tess Gallagher, and Richard Kenney,

Thomas Brush

The Shrew


I found him dead
In a cold corner of the garden, between the rock
Wall and the spring that never goes completely
Dry, his small hands soft as a child’s lost gloves, his blind eyes
Closed to the wet earth he came from where I returned
Him with only two turns
Of the shovel. Now, in this quiet house,
While my wife and son sleep and wind brushes the cold
Floor of dawn, with the year nearly gone, I wonder
How we got this far and why
Our fathers pitched their tents under the old threats
Of storms and floods, cut sod to make roofs, outlasted
The winter, dug deep for water in summer and stayed
Alive so far from here. And why the stars still cross
The crooked sky and why the fox flashing in the fairy tale returns
To me tonight like the dreaming face of the shrew and the narrow tunnels
He must have made, here, with the first month of winter buried
In leaves and rain and waiting for snow to fall again
Like the light of that small heart that just went out,
And the larger one that pauses and then goes on
Of its own accord, waiting for the first slight song
To rise from the blue edge of the world, greeting the New Year with love
And hope because our fathers came for the dream that wouldn’t leave
Them, put candles in the greased paper
Windows of those first houses so the lost could come home,
And prayed for the dead because they were.


“The Shrew” is reprinted from Last Night (Lynx House Press, 2012), winner of the Blue Lynx Prize.


Thomas Brush’s poems have appeared in Poetry, Poetry Northwest, Prairie Schooner, The Iowa Review, Mid-American Review, Crazyhorse, North American Review, and many other journals and anthologies.  The quality of this work has been acknowledged by fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, Artist Trust, and the Washington State Arts Commission. He lives in Seattle.

Linda Strever

Watching a Gull at Cannon Beach


You stick your beak into everything:
wave-darkened pebbles, grayed scraps
of litter, drying carcasses, just in case

there’s a soft spot, an organ you can pluck
and swallow down your narrow throat,
something, anything to make a dent

in your hunger. You peck everywhere
along the beach, among things that defy
naming, among your own feathers

until you draw blood. But look,
there’s a pool of sunlight on the sand,
yours for the having, no need to poke

anywhere, just move your craggy feet,
your ruffled wings, lift your head
and draw the sunlight in. It’s a different

kind of emptiness than the one you fear,
a place to rest, to feel warmth on your
back, no need to tuck your wings close

to your body. Instead, spread them
a little. There’s no one here to begrudge
you, to list all your failings. Here

there is only you and sunlight, blinding
and beckoning, a spot of heat
on a stormy beach. You’d be crazy

not to give up the hope of some stagnant
morsel in favor of fullness that cuts
like grace through the clouds. You’d be

crazy not to take your scaly feet and
lopsided wings, your empty belly, your
sharp beak and step into that circle of light.


“Watching a Gull at Cannon Beach” is reprinted from Crab Creek Review.


Linda Strever’s poetry credits include Crab Creek Review; Spoon River Poetry Review; CALYX, a Journal of Art and Literature by Women; Beloit Poetry Journal; Nimrod, Floating Bridge Review, and others. Winner of the Lois Cranston Memorial Poetry Prize from CALYX Journal, her work has been a finalist for the Spoon River Poetry Review Editors’ Prize, the Crab Creek Review Poetry Award, the Levis Poetry Prize, the Ohio State University Press Award in Poetry, the A. E. Coppard Prize for Fiction, and the William Van Wert Fiction Competition. She has an MFA in Poetry from Brooklyn College, City University of New York, and lives in Olympia, Washington.



Mercedes Lawry

Whatever the loneliness, drawing closer


The French teacher remains unemployed
and yet committed to a daily excursion,
able to walk past any shop, open or closed,
carrying linens or sleek shoes or pears.
Reading the encyclopedia in dim light,
a kind of swimming or prayer. No pets,
no children either and no regrets.
The neighbor notices much of this
but fails to muster compassion,
turning back to the long howl of the blues
and his own preoccupation with philately.
No one is traveling in the corporal sense.
Thin trees cast shadows on the avenue,
suggesting incarceration or clever design
or even a cast of pencils about to scribble
the ultimate piece of fiction, where everyone
is saved, the teacher given gainful
employment and the neighbor, a valuable stamp.
Eradicating loneliness as a sweet rain
begins to fall, amid echoes of the dead, passports
clutched in their shivery hands.


“Whatever the loneliness, drawing closer” is reprinted from Happy Darkness (Finishing Line Press, 2011) and originally appeared in Seattle Review.


Mercedes Lawry has published poetry in such journals as Poetry, Rhino, Nimrod, Poetry East, Seattle Review, Bellingham Review, and others.  She’s also published fiction and humor as well as stories and poems for children.  Among the honors she’s received are awards from the Seattle Arts Commission, Hugo House, and Artist Trust.  She’s been a Jack Straw Writer, held a residency at Hedgebrook and is a Pushcart Prize nominee.  Her chapbook, There are Crows in My Blood, was published by Pudding House Press in 2007 and another chapbook, Happy Darkness, was released by Finishing Line Press in 2011.  She lives in Seattle.


Ed Skoog



Big shot walks up his hat atilt,

a knife fight in his instep, starts laying it on.
The sky falters into the gutters, lobs a few

grenades against the barn, flash and pop,
and the air smells like cat. Am I a cop?
The thought had sprung up. The DJ is half man

and the floor looks like meowing. The idiot sweats.

It chews his haunch. For years now.
Where are the tigers to replace him?

Outside the Long Beach Airport,
pigeons have shat white the loudspeakers
deplaning locals roll suitcases by,

and always someone wears a pink
cowboy hat, or a fur from another climate.
Beside the boy with interlocking skulls

raining on his hoodie, the house sparrow
goes for crumbs of stale bagel.
The pilot’s gold epaulets catch on the cab door.


I then am Portuguese, spying through a glass,

leafing through maps up sort of the Nile,
or am returning, my knapsack
a jumble of unbearably small jade statues.

In this pane the gray cloud
is my mother in her housecoat.

Not all craft sink. Moored in a meadow,
the yacht rose above the valley. I found it
after a long time walking alone.

The mountains had battened it down,
scratched out its name.

Any fool could see it was the ark,
sign of some survival, quiet as Ash Wednesday.
I knocked on its ribs and no one answered.

Why should I think of this now?
The park’s closed. She locks the gate,

the carnival attendant, and drives home
to wash her convertible before the sun goes down.

Bring some beers over, she says.


Rain trick-or-treats the couple’s door,

but it is their red sedan that has been candied.
The hood glistens like licked cinnamon.

Perhaps I am riding an ox-drawn cart
on the western dip of Cuba’s green moustache.
The oxen are pulling their white thighs

across the water the rice field pours in.
The pepper-trees are turned up to the highest degree.
There is a sunset, finally.

Something is over again. Unbundle the curtain,
hang it on the bar, raise it into the dusky fly.

I dig my beat, sweating. I hold out. I get taken,
who never understands my hunger, its

terrible comfort.


A hole as if Skylab has fallen

through the clouds into my disarray,
a precise pouch, precise and utter

removal, force an eye from some dark animal
all pupil, with no center. The alley

There is a pavement to her comedy.

Mincemeat dragged through a wet glacier.
A dagger slipping across the continent’s ribcage.
I am one long hear. Put your hand in my mouth,

let me taste, and in return, feel all my orbits.
You think time flies? It falls to earth.

But sometimes evenings after dinner,
the news, the pipe he knocks against the railing,
my father spoke about the time their Buick

tumbled down the hill and she was pregnant
with the first boy, how their comfort spun.

He is still surprised, each moment, how
they rose and dusted themselves off,

and, feeling the baby kick, and, the tires
having landed right, just drove home.


The late-night menu mumbles something (inaudible).

Fat roils the smoked turkey in the black skillet,
as I chop mint from Strawberry Creek,
and I am parsing onions, carving peppers,
segmenting celery and measuring flour.

Mister Skylight shines down, full,
engorged, shining on all ships from the gorilla sky.

A lazy brown settles over the dogs and foxes.

Get Skoog with the whale ballet in his head.
Listen, the first alarm. Man the lifeboats.
Then, as neighbors move around their house

at night, shuffling and washing,
help a man who falls in, over and over.
Now all the horses are
poplars waving across the immense field.

Jesus in my nightmare
comes down the gravel driveway,
a teenager in sportswear
go home I say
he says give me your home.


This is it, spaceman: life on Earth.

It starts when she turns off the lamp
and points to the city’s orange crown.

Schoolchildren hold up candles
for Mister Skylight’s midnight ride.

By now I could hold it in my palm
or sip from it. From some porches,
the night is more. Get ready

for the all-skate, the group swim.
My hand falls to her lap, our teeth click.

My soul steps outside. Down boulevards
hot rods abduct the day. Saudade

in car wash dust; wind along a post office;
a sprinkler reflected in the windows.
The pool’s open; why aren’t we swimming?


On the garbage truck, the runners hang

half-out, undefined. Shouting they lift
lug, tug, huff, drag, and push
up the bright defecations, Chinese take-out

and new Sonys, the granola salad of litter boxes,
acres of bubble wrap, ripped tissues,

fish gone bad like plague, blood clots,
suppositories, diapers, the vomit
of the cancer patient wiped up with Brawny,

rum vomit of the bright girl,

the sheet music to Clair de Lune,
cuttings from a holly, oyster shells
on top, round mirrors of the dawn.


“Mister Sky Light” is reprinted from Mister Skylight (Copper Canyon Press, 2009). Most of the book was written in New Orleans prior to 2005, and revised heavily in the aftermath of the engineering failure that flooded the city following Hurricane Katrina.


Ed Skoog’s second book of poems, Rough Day, will be published by Copper Canyon Press in 2013. His first book, Mister Skylight, was published by Copper Canyon Press in 2009. His poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Paris Review, The New Republic, Poetry, Narrative, Ploughshares, Tin House, and elsewhere. He has been a Bread Loaf Fellow, Writer-in-Residence at the Richard Hugo House, and the Jenny McKean Moore Writer-in-Residence at George Washington University. His work has received awards from, among others, the Lannan Foundation and the Poetry Society of America. He is a visiting writer at the University of Montana for 2012-2013. He lives in Seattle.