Jesse Minkert



Collector of time and twine camping in the pantry
flashlight in an underwater cavern walls all look
alike. What you hear above the clatter:
what can’t exist can’t make demands.

Once these places were one place. Engines
carried us to knowable destinations. Corners
stand now on toes. Jobbers glide past our lips.

Let chance decide. Let rivers flood
the neighborhoods. Let floor lamps
pretend to be bonfires. Mats and napkins
beckon; gestures on the glass.

Master of time and isotopes. Half this life
is half enough. Brother under skin healing
in the dispensary. Neutrinos in the nursery.

Sutures over eyebrows. Sweet sleep
on fresh sheets. Sweat on the face.
Blood in the stool. Clusters of cells
deforming midnight to dawn
Hair grows on the mask.

Once this was all one place. Motors carried us
we didn’t care where. Feathers filled our pillows
pheasants basted in wine pretended to embrace
the fate of many slathered in the same sauce.

Jesse Minkert lives in Seattle. He has written plays for theater and radio, short stories, novels, and poems. Wood Works Press published Shortness of Breath & Other Symptoms, in 2008. His poetry appears or is upcoming in Floating Bridge Review, Harpur Palate, Aunt Chloe, Raven Chronicles, and Naugatuck River Review.

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.

Merna Ann Hecht

Farmers Market at the Autumn Equinox

wanting to nest
in the yellow-leafed wind,
inside this basket
heaped with late saucers
of summer squash,
bunched arugula,
lipstick and gypsy peppers,

we know the news of the day,
wars against children,
tax cuts for the rich,
environmental assault,
it doesn’t stop,

but this morning
if I must think of what’s gone bad,
let it be a bruised eggplant,
an apple with a worm,
let me hear the tambourine
of the moon
as it lights the way for the corn
to rise up,

among this bounty
the memory of my grandfather
travels in me
as if from the thin roots
of carrots, to the leafy tops,
and I am with him in his garden
as he listens to the small song
of a seed before planting it,

kneeling to earth
he asks the seed, how it wants to flower.
Tonight, I will dream of him,
dream he has cupped his hands
around mine, and between us we hold
a luminous sliver of prayer
for what the world could still become.



Merna Ann Hecht, storyteller, poet, and essayist teaches creative writing and humanities at the University of Washington Tacoma. For the past nine years she was a teaching artist with the Seattle WITS program. Merna also directs a poetry project with immigrant and refugee youth. She has been a teaching artist in hospitals, detention facilities for homeless and adjudicated youth and at BRIDGES: A Center for Grieving Children in Tacoma. Merna received a 2008 Jack Straw Writers award, a National Storytelling Community Service Award and a National Storytelling Network Brimstone Award for Applied Storytelling. Her essays and poems have appeared in Kaleidoscope, Out of Line, The National Storytelling Journal, The Storyteller’s Classroom; Chosen Tales: One Generation Tells Another; the Teachers & Writers Collaborative Magazine;Drash: Northwest Mosaic  and other books and journals.



Student Poem

Today’s poem is by Rose, age 16, who participated in the Pongo Teen Writing Project in the King County Juvenile Detention system. Her poem is featured in There Had to Have Been Someone, one of 13 print poetry anthologies that Pongo has published over the past 17 years. Please watch a short video by John Sharify, Poetry flows from teens behind bars, featured on KING5 News yesterday, for more information about Pongo’s important work with distressed youth.


Ice Cream Man

I just thought you should know
that sometimes I’m afraid of you.
I don’t mind you rep’ing the gangs,
but sometimes when I look into your eyes,
I see violence against me,
I see violence against your grandma,
and it hurts me inside.

I just thought you should know,
I want to work in here someday,
helping kids that went through what I went through,
help them understand why I ran away from home,
because my parents beat me,
because the stress in my life
made me do something stupid.
I was the girl who stopped going to school,
I was the girl who stopped listening to her parents,
who started drinking and smoking.

I just thought you should know
that one side of me wants to be with you
and one side of me does not,
and the side that does not is confused,
feels like a lost sheep.

I just thought you should know,
I see myself with a happy family
in a park, Oakland, CA, eating barbequed lamb
next to the swimming pool while dads play tennis
and moms talk and serve food
and all the Tongan people speak to the ice cream man.

I just thought you should know
I’m tired of seeing what people do on the streets,
and I’m tired of being part of it.

I just thought you should know,
I want to say hello again to the ice cream man.

Dedicated to Z


“Ice Cream Man” previously appeared in There Had to Have Been Someone, 2011.


Rose, age 16, wrote “Ice Cream Man” with the Pongo Teen Writing Project, which teaches and mentors personal poetry by distressed teens all over King County, especially those who have a hard time expressing themselves. Pongo is the brainchild of poet Richard Gold, who has worked tirelessly to create, maintain, and promote this program that helps  youth understand their feelings, build self-esteem, and take better control of their lives. Pongo’s trained volunteers establish writing projects inside juvenile detention centers, psychiatric hospitals, and other sites.  The Pongo web site provides writing opportunities and invites youth to write poetry on the web site.  They also happily share resources and teaching methods with counselors and teachers, all for free. The program was featured on KING5 News in Seattle yesterday.

Pongo Teen Writing Project from Richard Gold on Vimeo.

Muriel Nelson

The Widow Kramer
Ritzville, Washington, 1918


In billowing black, her pitchfork raised, she
chased a coyote out into her wheat.

Behind her: children,
horses, milk cow, chickens, geese,
ghost of a man,

sagebrush, mountain
range, width of a country, an ocean,
a sea, length of the Volga, a war,

ghost of the town
she called home.


“The Widow Kramer” previously appeared in Part Song (Bear Star Press).

Muriel Nelson has two collections of poems: Part Song, winner of the Dorothy Brunsman Poetry Book Prize (Bear Star Press, 1999), and Most Wanted, winner of the ByLine Chapbook Award (ByLine Press, 2003).  Nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize, her work has appeared in The New Republic, Ploughshares, Beloit Poetry Journal, The Massachusetts Review, Northwest Review, Seattle Review, and several anthologies, and on Verse Daily and Poetry Daily.  She holds master’s degrees from the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers and the University of Illinois School of Music, and lives in Federal Way.



Richard Brugger

381 E. Cordova Street


There’s a bleak whiteness
on Cordova Street mixed
with rain and battleship gray.
Smiles are sad, even laughter has an eerie clang.
Whispers prevail and a fog off Burrard Inlet
settles in at four o’clock as the Sisters’ Sandwich Line wraps
itself halfway around the block to the back alley
where wine, urine, vanilla extract and after-shave commingle
into sickly stench. Men and women in their twenties, thirties
forties and fifties have a sameness of pallor and age,
share needles, jugs and sex.

A half-crazed, rheumy-eyed woman
knocks on my parish door insisting I exorcise her.
I protest with words she can’t comprehend
like, “needing the archbishop’s permission,” and “needing the holiness I do not have.”
Nothing I say matters. In frustration I give her my blessing….
the one I’d bestow on a child, a rosary, a holy card.
She thanks me. I watch her step out of my door,
walk down the steps to the sidewalk
belt across Cordova Street, not looking east or west,
oblivious to swirling traffic. She makes it. I wonder how.



In 2012, Dick Brugger was named City of Auburn’s First Poet Laureate. He served as executive director of Auburn Youth Resources for twenty-one years prior to his retirement in 1997. In 1983 he was named Auburn Area Citizen of the Year. For another twenty-one prior years, Brugger was a Franciscan Friar and Roman Catholic priest. His poetry has appeared in PAWA Quarterly, Do Something & Other Poems, and PoetsWest Literary Journal. His prose has appeared in Heart of the Matter.  In 2009, the main Auburn Youth Resources building was named The Brugger Building.

“381 E. Cordova Street” was made into an animated video by Dick Brugger’s daughter,  artist Jessie Brugger: