Gary Lemons

Snake’s Karma

Why this be as it is he wonders.
Questions boundin round inside
His tube like echos in a sewer pipe.

Why not some better endin
For everything—why we got to bring
Down the whirlwind on ourselves,
Past and present rubbed together
Til the future’s set on fire?

Why can’t we do this simple
Thing—love one another, love the land
Includin the land of one another
And the planet where it happens?

What keeps us from gettin it right
And makin peace with death so as
We don’t fear it so much we be invitin
It prematurely into our hearts.

Snake thinkin about this but all the time
He’s salivatin bout the good taste
Of a bone still got some of the critter on it.



“Snake’s Karma” is reprinted from Snake, Red Hen Press, 2012.


J. Gary Lemons writes, “There is tradition but there is also freedom from tradition.  Meaning really there is just freedom.  To look–to see the invisible lines between things, to color the world with thought and paint its huge relevant inexpressible ironies with the tiny brush of personal devotion.  The choice is the gift.  The rest is practice.

I want to be at that place where individual memory and collective memory intersect. Like a scientist picking the fragments of mesons and quarks left after a high speed particle collision,  I want to rake through the details of bones, of threads and odd symbols and mirrors every human being leaves in the safety net below them.  I want to draw attention to, perhaps even comfort, the trembling pieces as they begin to fade.”

His poetry collections include Fresh Horses (Van West & Co., 2001), Bristol Bay: And Other Poems (Red Hen, 2009), and Snake (Red Hen, 2012). He lives in Port Townsend.


Kim Loomis-Bennett

Marnie Clark


Every time he got to me, every time he lay on me,
I wore a path to a thistle-choked ravine.

Past the garden, past father’s grave,
when step-father got his hands up my skirt,

prodded into me—Marnie, my darling, my dove
his calluses against my raw thighs, my neck when I struggled.

I’d stare across the ravine—blue hills like frozen waves.
A stern breeze scrubbed his stench from my skin.


He was awfully quiet; how Mother knew I couldn’t say.
After he left, I saw her sharp face peering in the shed window.

I slid off an old bench, yanked my dress into place.
She stared in like I was a stranger—I stared back.

Mother ranted at my gaunt figure when I couldn’t eat,
lost my job at Hoyt’s café—mostly she missed my pay.

I paced my room at night, always a book in hand,
always a lantern glowing low, softly reading Bible lore.

Her face soft, my little sister Helen
hugged her ragdoll, lulled to sleep by my footfall.


Mother gave me pills to start my monthlies,
banished her husband to a cellar room—Marnie, my dove.

Helen asked why her daddy slept down with the spiders;
I said they caught his bad ideas, wrapped them in webs.


I was sent to work at an all-woman’s hotel, west of us in Seattle,
rode the train out, ready for liberty, even if only as a Lincoln Hotel maid.

I found amusement in foreign travelers’ voices,
odd curios in waterfront shops, the long shadows of tall buildings,

even a tinge of contentment in polishing mahogany furniture,
making up brass beds with horsehair mattresses.

The mist off Elliot Bay washed my mind. Mt Rainer’s white peak
oversaw my dreams. Outside my window in the worker’s quarters,

fog leaned against the heavy green of the cedar trees,
mellowed wagon and car traffic, held the slight light of the lilacs.


I counted how many rooms I’d clean before Helen could be safe,
counted on getting a little house—away from him.

I turned calendar pages, the days adding up so slowly.
Poured my savings onto my bed, the money measly in my hands.


Another maid showed me the new Hillside Brothel
on Tenth Avenue South—I listened in the hall,

heard the man’s moans, the short time he was in and out,
saw the cash, knew I could do that.

At first I spent the extra on a white silk wrap,
rouges, perfumes and creams, trinkets and toys for Helen.

Later, I found my way into gambling parties, lost
track of my Hillside wages, worked extra to make it back.


Mother wrote: Helen moved away for a bit,
I threw away the coat you sent. Stay away.

Making beds by day, lying on them all night,
the counted-on money never amounted to much.

The dark over the city, the dark over the ocean—
my hopes tangled up in linen.



Kim Loomis-Bennett is a life-long resident of Washington State, besides a detour into Oregon where she met her husband. Her poems and book reviews have appeared in The November 3rd Club, The Copperfield Review, Poet’s Quarterly, and Hippocampus Magazine. Her most recent work is included in The Prose-Poem Project.  She teaches at Centralia College. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Wilkes University and will graduate with her MFA, January 2014. She lives in Lewis County with her family. Her work, Soiled Doves: A Poetic Sequence, published in 2011, is available as an ebook.


Thom Caraway

The Leper Attends the Idaho State Roadkill Fur Auction


Like mine, their removal
is detachment from
the body, ruined
but not too ruined.

I think about the men
who hustle the long roadwork
of Idaho, who have learned
the language of blood,
smeared down fifty yards
of highway—the parallel skid tracks
of the locked-up vehicle,
a body inside, a body outside—
those men whose job it is
to quantify the dead.

Love is not
the coexistence
of two alonenesses.

Like the roadkilled raccoons,
porcupines, deer, skunk,
the occasional bear, the coyote,
house cat, lost dog—
like all the other beloveds
lost on the back roads
of this terrible wilderness,
and like the men who
collect, strip, and scrape
the pelts, I would also
remove my skin if it meant
my permutation into the world.


“The Leper Attends the Idaho State Roadkill Fur Auction” is reprinted from Ruminate.


There was a time in his life when Thom Caraway wanted to be a truck driver. He still occasionally regrets his decision not to pursue that path, a regret that was inadvertently reinforced by his son, Sam, who recently said, “Bus drivers have the coolest jobs. Why aren’t you a bus driver?” Thom lives in Spokane, and does a variety of things that, to a six-year-old, are not as cool as driving a bus. (Though one might be: Thom has just been named Spokane’s inaugural Poet Laureate.)


Sally Green



Don’t know why you have to go
and ask me such a question.

I don’t even like the word. It’s one of those
brutal sounds gets inside you churning
up feelings, even ones you didn’t know
you owned. Like a plow tearing through
played-out land gone to seed.

And it makes no matter whether
its kin, or a dear friend
the pain of it all spreads quick
as prairie fire threatening everything
in its way. And that’s all
I’m going to say.


“Aunt Mabel Talks About Adultery” is reprinted from Clover. 


Sally Green—poet, printer, book designer, calligrapher—is copublisher
of the award-winning Brooding Heron Press, which publishes fine,
letterpressed editions of poetry (Gary Snyder, Denise Levertov, Donald Hall,
Hayden Carruth, John Haines, etc.). In 2008, Pacific Lutheran University
awarded her a Stanley W. Lindberg Editor’s Award for excellence. Her own
poems have appeared in The Poets Guide to the Birds (an anthology edited by
Judith Kitchen and Ted Kooser, and published by Anhinga Press), The Ladies
Printing Bee, Clover, The Planet Earth Poetry Anthology (Leaf Press) as well as
other publications. She was a featured poet at the annual Lower Columbia
College literary festival, the Planet Earth poetry reading series at The Moka
House in Victoria, and the Northwind Reading Series in Port Townsend.

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!

Deborah Woodard


I can play each part, be Hamlet, hands in pockets, and then the bikers disappearing over
the lip of the grave. Plus, the dog’s four legs. There’s a cold gold light, everything shaking
and Ophelia newly dead. My initial schlep toward Hamlet and the tannic depths of the glass      cap
cast glitter, the plaid shorts stayed snug over the leggings. Let inspiration toss more               confetti:
sky turn apricot, mind crack down the visor. Raise the visor. See both sides of the dunce.
I found a little more strength. Summon the dream. Be quick! (Difficult in sun.)
There was the most serene sky with peaks, blue sitting up there awhile with white.
Was there another place? The teabag withers inside my cup, its little paper flag
bumping gently in the air. My long jacket—well, that’s the kind of ease that comes
with green and brown suspenders. The tipsy birds were insects in the distance.
It was déjà vu to clear my throat, begin. My son, dig yourself out. Move. Displace.
The burgundy hedges stayed unruffled, despite Hamlet shambling in and out of them.
I’d like two pairs of legs, please. My son is not very bright. He’s fully leafed, well, almost.
The holly never drowses. Let it scratch out notes on the sky’s paper.
How is hell going to be? Well, hell. What’s the difference between a violin and a viola?
A viola burns more slowly. (There’s more of it. Heh, heh.) Uncover the berries.
The little bits of scarlet make us feel safe, like the grey of bare branches, truisms.
Ah, and now there’s my son Hamlet again. Ophelia guides him with her ungloved hand.


“Phantom” first appeared in Chelsea.


Deborah Woodard was born in New York City and raised in Vermont, and currently lives in Seattle. She holds an MFA from the University of California at Irvine and a PhD from the University of Washington. Her first full-length poetry collection is Plato’s Bad Horse (Bear Star Press, 2006). Her second collection, Borrowed Tales, was released from Stockport Flats in December, 2012. She is the author of three chapbooks, most recently Hunter Mnemonics (hemel press, 2008), which was illustrated by artist Heide Hinrichs. Her translation the Italian of Amelia Rosselli, The Dragonfly: A Selection of Poems 1953-1981, was published by Chelsea Editions (2009). She teaches hybrid creative writing and literature classes at the Richard Hugo House.



Roberta Feins

New Year’s Eve, 1921


I was combing my sister’s fragrant hair,
braiding it down her white nightgown,
when Mother came into the room
to tell us The world will end tonight,
sometime before the year is over.

Out of bed, she said, and on your knees.
We shivered and sniffed on the cold floor
as she wept above our heads, calling
Oh, hasten time towards Your Glorious End,
which I and my two lambs eagerly wait, Amen.

Emily and I crawled under the covers,
twining our feet together for warmth.
The preacher’d predicted the scythe would reap
so fine a path that of two in the bed,
one would be saved, the other doomed.

Through the sludge of hours, I waited, knowing
my sister and myself were both equally
guilty of the sins of children: inattention,
disobedience, dirt. Which of us
would rise through the room’s frost air,

through the ceiling and the roof, to soar
upon the warm wind of God? Which,
waiting to be lifted, would plummet
plunged into to the icy lake of Hell?
My salvation would be my sister’s doom.

In terror that God might come, in fear
of being alone, of being caught
in a selfish wish, I lay, listening
to her breathe, trying not to think,
until the cuckoo clock panted midnight.

Then a celebration, without horns
or colored hats: just the blessed relief
of quiet, thoughtless sleep.
Next morning at the breakfast table,
Mother served oatmeal and red-eyed silence.


“”New Years Eve, 1921” is reprinted from Poets West Literary Journal. 


Roberta Feins was born in New York, and has also lived in North Carolina and (currently) in Seattle. She works as a computer consultant. Roberta received her MFA in poetry from New England College in 2007. She has been published in The Cortland Review, Pif Magazine, Antioch Review, Tea Party, Floating Bridge Review, The Lyric, and Five AM. Roberta is an editor of the e-zine Switched On Gutenberg.

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.