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.


Sandra Meade

Elegy for a Clown

SANDPOINT –“The Idaho State Police are investigating an apparent suicide that occurred in the Bonner County jail Tuesday, September 27. Jeremy, 20, was found by detention staff.

Even at seven you were a natural Harpo,
too loose clothes, big shoes
nothing ever really fit you,
a fool too simple for reading
but already a master of gesture.

“Teacher, Teacher, I did a trick today.
They teased me at the bus and I did a trick.
and they laughed. Watch.”

A sweeping gesture of generosity,
the open hands
and expectant smile,
head tipped sideways
one shoe up,
the grand bow.

An innocent stooge,
pockets stuffed with cafeteria food.

They found you duct-taped to a bed
your thin wrists wound motionless
to the rail. For endless days
your biggest trick, the smile, taped shut.

I tried to send face paint and books
but there was a wall
of institutional silence.
Now, at 20, your final trick:
head oddly cocked on a rope,
hands hanging loose,
a silent mime in the end.

How the angels
must have gathered
with their big red noses,
the saltimbanques, the payasos-
big shoes and soft bellies,
choirs of buffoons.
How their large hands must have lifted you,
rocked you with hilarious laughter.
Silly you, coming in with a cord at your belly
and leaving with one at your neck.

Little clown, I salute you.
My own face colored by your news,
I lift the bubble wand and blow,
perfect globes
reflecting light
float in your direction.


“Elegy for a Clown” is reprinted from Stringtown.

Sandra Meade’s poetry has been published in Stringtown and Raven Chronicles, and she recently received a Pushcart nomination for her poem “Elegy for a Clown.”  In 2012 she wrote and illustrated a children’s book, “Caty Beth Chooses.” Originally from Montana, Sandra Meade received her B.A. in Education from the University of Montana where she studied under Richard Hugo.  She currently resides in a handbuilt stone house in the piney woods near Newport, Washington with her husband Mike, where she was a public elementary school teacher for over two decades. She is founder and director of Scotia House, a Pacific Northwest Spiritual Retreat, open to all faiths and traditions. She is a member of Spiritual Director’s International and received her certification in spiritual direction from Gonzaga University in 2003.  Her hobbies include gardening, hiking, fly-fishing, cross-country skiing, and playing the bodhran.


Aaron Counts

Becoming Iron

High above the hustle
of the Brownville Projects,
bullies find Mike’s solace:
a rooftop walk-in filled with
pigeons named for boxing greats.
In his hands, Mike cradles
his prize racer, Mongoose,
cooing as the bird pecks
seed from his lips.

Lemme hold it,
the big guy says, and wrenches
Mongoose from Mike’s chubby
fists. The sidekick chuckles
and the bullies pass the bird back
and forth, take turns pushing
Mike away, laugh as he pleads
with them to thtop it.

Mike almost holds in his squeal
as they pop the head off Mongoose,
twisting its cap as easy
as opening a soda bottle.
The big bully shoves
Mike back in the coop,
then throws the limp bird at his soft
chest and walks away smiling.

When they’re gone, Mike raises
his arms; palms open like he’s addressing
his congregation, and commands
the other birds out of the coop.
Feathers flutter in the air like dirty
snow, and Mike slumps
against the back wall, crying. He wipes
his nose on his sleeve and vows
to take the head off every fool
that tests him.

He’ll start with the tips of their ears.



Aaron Counts has written and read with professors, prisoners, high school dropouts and national book award winners. He is a teaching artist with Seattle’s Writers-in-the-Schools program, and his non-fiction book, Reclaiming Black Manhood, has been taught in area jails, prisons and juvenile detention facilities. He holds an MFA from the University of British Columbia.

Cheryl Waitkevich

Before Everything Happened



before everything happened

the kids ran steps 2 at a time

laundry was folded regardless.

roses bloomed lilac colored,

trumpeted dawn and daylight.

before everything happened,

we rode our bikes past noon

the sun burnt the backs of our necks

we fell into the moon.

planets aligned for a moment

Jupiter filled the heavens.

swans swam in ice covered ponds.

before everything happened, I still lied.

you still hit me with the baseball bat

before everything happened

it had all happened, though we hid it.

pretended the dog ate it  even though it was

too large for a mastiff to swallow.

the regurgitate was there

under the trampoline and we all saw it.

the moon wept while the red roses bloomed

you were sweet on me once,

I too was on you.

before everything happened.



Cheryl Waitkevich lives in Olympia with her husband, 2 chihuahuas, 2 cats and 4 chickens. She writes, “I am a poet–but find it difficult to say that word, never mind print it. I write for people I love and as a way to capture my memories and feelings. I work at a local hospital…. It helps me take myself seriously when I dare submit a poem.”


Charlotte Gould Warren



When was it—
in between the bridge’s planks—

the river winked at me from below?
Not that blue

I’d seen from the porch,
but a sharpening of knives,

the way, stealth-footed,
dawn opens the doors.


Whistling, stropping your razor,
you were the father.

Mother slept late.
Star-flowered jasmine

spilled over the tile roof,
bougainvillea, trumpet vine.

Soon the light
would come.


Kishan served us
early breakfast—toast and tea

and half a grapefruit picked
from a tree in our garden.

Oh, it was sweet!
Just the two of us

on the porch at the wicker table
set with knives and sugar.


Still in bathrobes, sandals flapping,
we walked across the Jumna, the bridge

not yet crowded, the river far below us,
Allahabad, City of God,

creaking awake on its wooden wheels:
bullock carts, hoof clops, dark leather blinders,

the slow bells of oxen.
I skip-hopped beside you.

Soon the sun would rise,
crinkling the river to a maze of gold,

hiding deeper currents
where snapping turtles scavenged the dead.


Mother planted blousey sweet peas, marigolds,
larkspur bruised and iridescent,

colors she cut and carried indoors.
I wanted her to hold me.


Mahatma, intransitive verbs,
Mark Twain—

the students adored you.
Their saris and homespun

tied at the waist, you pitched them
basketballs, ran with the javelin,

its shaft shuddering
upright in earth.

I climbed the leathery limbs of the banyan
or watched from the game field, munching chunna.


Afternoons, I found you
at home at your desk, scribbling notes

on student papers, coaxing
sermons onto the page.

You lit a hand-rolled cigarette, pet crow
on your shoulder, mongoose

asleep in your tucked-in shirt.
Under the ceiling fan’s

paddle of flies and sun motes,
I climbed into your lap.


When was it, you found me, still asleep,
slipped into my pajamas, insistent,

the way the deer’s short barks,
hunted, came breathless?

Always, the day began again,
as if nothing had happened—

insects probing
the ghostly netting,

the hard wooden bed frame
I climbed over to the floor.

The way the sun bore down.


“There Were Deer Barking in the Hills” is reprinted from Ghandi’s Lap (The Word Works).


Charlotte Warren’s poetry collection, Gandhi’s Lap, won the Washington Prize and publication by Word Works in Washington, D.C.  Her second poetry manuscript was a finalist in both the Phillip Levine and Ashland national contests. Warren’s poems have appeared on Seattle buses as well as in journals such as Orion, Calyx, The Hawai’i Review, The Louisville Review, and Kansas Quarterly. Warren’s recently published memoir, Jumna:  Sacred River, chronicles her childhood in India during its fight for independence from Great Britain in 1947, and her coming of age in the United States as it entered the turbulent sixties. She received her MFA in Writing from Vermont College, and taught part time at Peninsula College in Washington State.  She and her husband have called the Olympic Peninsula home for over forty years, have two grown sons and two grandchildren.