Cindy Lamb

After Brain Surgery

As we drive by the river
the trees are lovely
silhouetting shadows on the road.
I mention what we owe
$163 this month
$168 next.
The insurance company
negotiated with the doctor
finally agreeing on a number.
The woman on the phone
explained it in great detail,
you must have really been sick
the original bill is over $50,000
just for the doctor.
Eighteen months later they have finally
settled the last little piece.
$163 this month
$168 next.
Light glistens off the birches
streetlights wafting through the branches
logs from the mill ooze
the familiar saw-dusty fragrance I love
and we drive on.


Cindy Lamb is a retired high school teacher who teaches adults poetry writing. She lives in Yakima and has been published in Breath and Shadow.

Travis Laurence Naught

From the Virgin Journals:

Stealing Thought

He has a kid and that proves his virility
Or at least proves his knowledge and ability
To take one without being caught

Jealous Man

“Stealing Thought” is reprinted from The Virgin Journals (ASD Publishing, 2012).
Travis Laurence Naught is an author who happens to be a quadriplegic wheelchair user. He was named in Eastern Magazine’s 2013 Spring issue as one of 20 under 40 young alumni with rising careers. His poetry memoir, The Virgin Journals (ASD Publishing, 2012), was used as curriculum in an Eastern Washington University disability studies course during spring of 2012. Still Journaling (e-book, 2013) is also widely available. Travis graduated from EWU in 2005 with a BA in psychology and went on to complete coursework for an MS in sport psychology. He lives in Cheney. Coffee and poetry keep Travis alive.

Jeffrey G. Dodd



The day my sister’s cancer staked its claim
I learned that Milosz left Harry Potter
on his desk when he died, his letters
from the pope piling up in his mailbox.
And what letters. Two old Poles talking life:
“Ah Czeslaw,” says the pope, “I’m just the grease.
You’ll have to talk to the wheels.” No one knows
the question, but this is a pope I can
get behind. Humble. Humorous. Infallible.
And I think of me and the pope: he’ll let me
call him Karol as he tours me through
the Vatican, and we’ll send papal envoys
for pizza, and on his day off we’ll visit
the Fiat factory in Turin, stick our fingers
in mounds of fresh ground pork at a local
grocery store, and he’ll teach me the Polish
folk tunes sung before the war. And I’ll get
to a Mass or two in Latin or Italian,
and late one night I’ll find decorum
and a minute to ask the question I came
all this way to resolve: the thing about
my sister. And you know the thing he’ll say
about my sister, about the angel on his right
and the grim believability of it all.


“And” is reprinted from Santa Clara Review.


Rylie Dodd buys cowboy shirts for her husband Jeffrey G. Dodd. The couple lives in Spokane, WA, but he’s from southeast Texas and sometimes needs his homesickness eased. Plus, the little pearlescent snaps are so crisp and tactile. Someday, she thinks, he’ll write a poem about them. The snaps, not the shirts. She’ll be featured prominently. Like his other poems, it may be published in journals such as Ruminate, Rock & Sling, Copper Nickel, and Meridian. She doesn’t tell him this; he doesn’t need the ego boost.

Mike O’Connor

—In Memoriam, T.G.


At Sea Breeze Trailer Court
(in mill-smoke range),
my friend, the old professor states:
“TV’s my babysitter now;
please, take a seat.
I’m always glad to see you.”

Wrapped in wool sweater
on a wooden built-in couch,
legs draped with blankets,
oxygen tubing curled at his feet . . .

“I’m breathing better now,”
he says. “My mood improves, but
I can’t sleep. Whatcha
been reading?”

Heart surgery, arthritis, pleurisy—
he declares he misses coffee
with the writing gang.

“Oh, you’ll be back,” I tell him.
“We all expect it.”

The trailer’s light is dim
as on a trans-Pacific flight.
I fetch a cup of soda for him
and a pill.

Remote in hand,
he changes channels.
“Here’s the Discovery station,”
and I look:

a pride of female lions
(muscled, eager)
splits off a bovine
from a grazing herd.

“Cats right out of Gaudier-Brzeska,”
I observe.

Terrified, the ox
brandishes its horns; then turns
and tries to lumber off,
its big hindquarters
easy for the cats.

One lion springs upon the ox’s withers;
a second climbs its haunches.
Both getting teeth and claws in,
ripping chunks of flesh and hide.

A third tears at the ox’s underbelly;
a fourth, bounding ahead,
seizes the ox’s snout
(briefly, we see the ox’s eyes)
to suffocate it, as the beast
is ridden to its knees
in the sub-Saharan grass.

It will take some time,
notes the narrator,
for the ox to die
while it is being ripped apart alive.

Some of the hunt is shown again,
and in slow motion
when a point of science
merits emphasis.

I see now at the end,
the African sun setting
on the scene, forming silhouettes
of the statuesque cats
as they finish eating on their prey.

Some folks speak coolly of “things as they are”;
others, like Jeffers, of the “beauty of God.”

But the old professor—
incorrigibly humanist—
changes channels

and remarks, “If I were God,
I would have made things differently.”


Mike O’Connor, a native of the Olympic Peninsula, Washington State, is a poet, writer, and translator of Chinese literature. Beginning in the 1970s, he engaged in farming and forest work, followed by a journalism career in Asia. He has published eleven books of poetry, translation, and memoir, including Unnecessary Talking: The Montesano Stories; Immortality; and Where the World Does Not Follow: Buddhist China in Picture and Poem. O’Connor is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Literature, an International Writers’ Workshop Fellowship (Hong Kong), and a Washington State Artist Trust Fellowship.

Joan Swift



When the doctor holds my upper arm in his two hands,
he bows his head and listens as if he were waiting to hear
the song of a rare endemic bird no one has seen for centuries.
I start to speak, but he shakes his head, does not loosen his grip
on my arm, turns his fingers around the curve
of my skin and listens again.
I am afraid to clear my throat. My toes stay still.
He must hear my heart where it beats
but he is listening to the sound of bones
the way NASA turns its telescopes far over our heads on Mauna Kea
and hears the universe move.

Rain falls so hard on the roof, I think it might break through.
Imagine all those luminous drops that had been the backbone
of a cloud shattered and lying above the orthopedic surgeon’s head
and mine. Soon a puddle, then a trickle into the Wailuku River.
This will mend well, he says, shows me two x-rays.
In the waiting room is a large salt water tank. A zebra moray eel
folds in one corner its brown and white stripes.
I think how it must have no bones at all
or bones so light this eel can wind
around its heaven all night when everyone has left
and dream the dream of breaking into the world.


“Listening to my Bones” is reprinted from The Southern Review.


Joan Swift has published four full-length books of poems, the two most recent both winners of the Washington State Governors Award.  Her most recent poetry collection is the chapbook Snow on A Crocus, Formalities of a Neonaticide, 2010.  Swift’s poems have appeared in The Yale Review, Poetry, The Atlantic, Ploughshares, Puerto del Sol, DoubleTake, The Iowa Review, The Southern Review and dozens of others.  Among the awards she has been granted are three National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowships, an Ingram Merrill writing award, a grant from the Washington State Arts Commission, and a  Pushcart Prize.  After graduating from Duke, she earned an M.A. at the University ofWashington where she was a student in Theodore Roethke’s last class. She lives and writes in Edmonds,Washington.

Patty Kinney

How To Talk To Your Schizophrenic Child

Would you like to swing on a star?
Carry moonbeams home in a jar?
– Burl Ives

Point to the Big Dipper
Ask them which star they are?
Explain therapists cannot function
without their wisdom, expertise
Repeat the term Ordinary Genius
sewing it into eyelids
agree it’s okay to Google
your silhouette,
shoplift a shovel,
duct tape thrift store shoes you use
to walk on water

Of course you are Jesus
heart on fire
lit by the tip of a match
and those traffic cameras
are watching, making movies
renaming you through
every intersection sending
CliffsNotes to the CIA

fly your flag
that middle finger
at those aliens who abducted
you last night
but next time they come
tell them to rinse
the chili from the pan.

Intervention is just a jigsaw
dismantled before we find
the last piece

In reality
you’re a wives’ tale
in high def
freight train
waiting to be jumped
carrying toxic waste, nerve gas, the sting of
salt in a new tattoo of
you and you and you.


“How To Talk To Your Schizophrenic Child” appears in the latest issue of Crab Creek Review.


Patty Kinney has been published in The Sun, hipMama, Poetry Motel, Mamaphonic, Poets On The Coast – as well other journals and anthologies online and in print.  She is a recent graduate of the Artist Trust Edge Program for Writers and is very active in the Olympia Poetry Community. She regularly reads at the Olympia Poetry Network’s monthly readings.

Suzanne E. Edison

The Fantasy
………….after Louise Glück


Walking the halls with my daughter,
her IV pole like Asclepius’ staff, snake
twined, she rolls past

curtained cubicles, other children
with cancer, Crohn’s, cauldrons
of misinformed codes, cellular traffic jams,

bodies rising against
themselves. Hydra monsters
slither out their noses, spiral from chests,

wrapping arms like bindweed.

While medicine drips—a cup
of Gorgon’s blood might heal—injecting
sunny day regularity like morning coffee—

we mothers clutch Medusa’s mask,
stroke stubble-crowned heads, calm
buzzing needles of fear.

We call upon our powers of invention
imagining we are the ones
who escape unharmed and

ward off time in cartoon
fantasies, where Roadrunner
is never road-kill.



“The Fantasy”; Ars Medica, Spring, 2012


Suzanne E. Edison’s work appears in print: in her small books, Tattooed With Flowers and What Cannot Be Swallowed; The Examined Life Journal of the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine; The Healing Art of Writing,Volume One; Blood and Thunder: Musings on the Art of Medicine; Ars Medica; Face to Face: Women Writers on Faith, Mysticism and Awakening; Pearl; and Crab Creek Review, among other places. Also found online at DermanitiesLiterary Mama, and KUOW.  She lives in Seattle, Washington.


Kathryn Hunt



All through the night,
all through the long witless hallways of my sleep,
from my hospital bed
I heard the newborn babies cry,
bewildered like new arrivals anywhere,
between worlds, unacquainted with
the names of things.

That afternoon a kind nurse named Laura
had taken me for a stroll to exercise
the red line of my wound . . . .
We stopped by the nursery window
and a flannel-swathed boy
in a clear plastic cradle was pushed to the glass.
We peered at him and said, “Welcome.
You’ve come to Earth.”
We laughed and shook our heads.

All through the night,
all through the drug-spangled rapture of my dreams,
I heard the newborn babies sing,
first one, then another. That bright hiss,
those soft octaves of wonder,
the fierce beginning of their lament.


“The Newborns” is reprinted from The Journal of the American Medical Association.

Kathryn Hunt is a writer and filmmaker. Her stories and poems have appeared in Rattle, The Sun, Willow Springs, Crab Orchard Review, and Open Spaces, among other magazines. She is a director of documentary films, including Take this Heart, a feature-length film that was honored with the Anna Quindlen Award for Excellence in Journalism. She recently completed a memoir, The Province of Leaves, the story of a mother and a daughter and the tangled, maddening, and abiding claims of family. She teaches writing classes in memoir at the Writers’ Workshoppe in Port Townsend. She is a passionate gardener and loves to spend as much time as possible on the hiking trails in the Olympic Mountains near her home.

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).