Nancy Dickeman

Nuclear Reservation


Driving past security my father tipped
his hat at the guard
who waved him on. The badge
on my father’s chest worn
not to name authority but
to measure exposure, the point
at which his daily risk

might trip him up. When he drove the hills
toward home the desert turned
under him, sage and sand
ground to dust, rocks overtaken by a violet glow.
All the while minerals
touched us, particulates
combing the air and marking us

invisibly changed. In the dust storm
the desert stuck to me like silt, a line
drawn around my mouth and nose.
His back to me, his face
pressed into the receiver
my father said the guards had orders
to shoot to kill. What they held

behind them was a question
of life and death:
the rods delicately working
at the purist’s calculations and the tower
casting itself clean across the river, ore
reduced to powder, a golden substance
diffusible as breath.

“Nuclear Reservation” originally appeared in Particles on the Wall.  

Nancy Dickeman grew up in Richland and is a co-founder and co-curator of Particles on the Wall, a multidisciplinary exhibit exploring Hanford history and nuclear issues. Nancy’s poems have appeared in Poetry Northwest, The Seattle Review, River City, the anthology March Hares: The Best of Fine Madness, and in other publications. Her essays appear in The Seattle PI, Common Dreams and OCEAN Magazine. She has recently completed her first novel manuscript, Green Run, White Train. Nancy holds an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington.


Lana Hechtman Ayers

The Toe

Despite how mystically moonlight snakes a path across the lake tonight, and because love is the property solely of country music, and since Plath’s bell jar of pain runneth over for all eternity, I will write only of a toe—a plain enough thing—the fourth toe on my mother’s right foot and how each day, despite my bathing it, my application of greasy salve, the wrapping and rewrapping to apply just enough pressure, it continued to blacken, the toe like a banana past sweetness to the other side of neglect, or salt beef dried to jerky, tenderness abandoned to gristle, so I write this about my mother’s toe, how the doctor tells us it must go as if speaking of an ingrown hair or a splinter, as if it were nothing important, nothing a person spent her whole life walking on, on grass, over damp-mopped kitchen linoleum, dancing backwards in high heels over slick-waxed ballrooms floors, or in babyhood grabbed for all googley-eyed and occasionally even sucked, this dried-up toe that oddly causes mother no pain, and yet when the doctor says the toe must go, this woman who was a marble column at father’s bedside during his failed chemo, who later presided over father’s grave, stolid as a granite headstone, and not long after, this woman who sat composed as Rodin’s “Bather” as another doctor spoke the word mastectomy to her, and all through radiation wore a Mona Lisa smile, this woman does a thing I’d never seen her do, my mother cries, sobs, weeps, exhausts all the tissues in the doctor’s stainless dispenser, and keeps crying over this very small rotten toe, this calamity of losing what one least expected to lose.


“The Toe” appears in the e-book anthology Fire on Her Tongue (Two Sylvias Press, 2012).

Lana Hechtman Ayers, originally from New York, lives in Kingston, Washington after a seventeen year sojourn in New England. She has been writing poetry since she could hold a crayon and is now working on her first novel. Her two most recent poetry collections, What Big Teeth (chapbook) and A New Red (full-length), are concerned with the real adult life of Red Riding Hood and associates. Lana runs two poetry chapbook presses, Concrete Wolf (national) and MoonPath Press (dedicated to Pacific Northwest Poets). Ice cream is Lana’s favorite food group.

 Lana will be reading new work at Elliott Bay Books in Seattle on Friday, July 27, at 7:00, along with poets Raul Sanchez and John Burgess.


Arthur Ginsberg



His face so terrible in the bus window’s reflection,
you cannot turn away.
You did not know when you sat down
he would look at you as though to see
what flesh you are made of. He does not speak;
that hideous maceration of eschar,
crocodile scales, lipless mouth, lashless eyes
that burn like coals into your face. Outside
the snowstorm howls as the bus coasts down Avenue Cotes Des Neiges.
At night you’re drenched by monstrous dreams
of icthyosis and thick-lipped crackling flesh. In the mirror
you stare at the fuzz on your twelve year old cheeks,
imagine the skin shrinking
into a shriveled mask across your face’s
bird-bone precision.
In the morning on the bus he is there again,
and again you sit beside him.
For a week you do this impossible thing, until,
on the seventh day when the air is clear,
when he turns to you and grasps your hand,
and you see underneath,
something grotesquely beautiful. And he asks your name.


Arthur Ginsberg is a neurologist and poet based in Seattle. He was born and grew up in Montreal, Canada, and attended undergraduate and medical school at McGill University followed by internship and residencies in the United States. He has studied poetry at the University of Washington and at Squaw Valley Community of Writers with Galway Kinnell, Sharon Olds and Lucille Clifton. Recent work appears in the anthologies, Blood and Bone,  and Primary Care, from University of Iowa Press, and Beyond Forgetting, from Kansas State University Press. He was awarded the William Stafford prize in 2003 in Washington State by the renowned poet, Madeline DeFrees. He received the Humanities Award from the American Academy of Neurology in 2009, and serves as a reviewer for the poetry section, Reflections, in the journal, Neurology that is distributed worldwide to thirty thousand neurologists. His chapbook, Faith is the Next Breath, was released by Puddinghouse Press in Ohio. His full length manuscript, The Anatomist, has been accepted for publication by David Roberts Books, and another chapbook, Crossing Over, will be published by Winterhawk Press. Ginsberg was awarded an MFA degree in creative writing in July 2010 from Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon where he studied with Dorianne Laux, Marvin Bell and David St. John.

Sheila Bender




You are folding the clothes of a child
and thinking about this afternoon and the month after next
when the ghost of your husband carries the ghost of your girl,
“She’s fallen 6 feet from the porch rail to the sidewalk,”
and the child sleeps in his arms breath shallow as at birth.

Touch her skin and you feel it collapse like a parachute.
Watch her eyes flicker open, they are murky, do not reflect
even the clouds up there waiting to come together,
and now the future waits,
all of you suddenly pinched behind the neck.

In the next minutes she will respond to her name.
You can see in her waking
there are clouds in her eyes
and you remember her saying this morning
her friends believed god lived in the sky
but she knew she would have seen him up there
riding the clouds and anyway she’d heard on television
that god had a purple head.

The hours in intensive care you will watch
clouds sheet the sky like hospital linen
and hear the chirp of heart monitors like crickets
out of place in the night.

This night you are a stage mother pushing
your child to perform for neurologists and nurses
in the reciting of names, her own, her brother’s, her dog’s,
in the telling of how many fingers
and the matching of her finger to theirs.

After this only waiting is left.
Hours unfold out of themselves like a telescope
and you watch the sky turn the lightest shade of purple.

Then you pray to her god and to all
the grape popsicles in the freezer, to her purple crayon,
to the foxglove and alyssum in the yard,
to all purple things that they may keep their color,
retrieve it from her bruised forehead, ear, stem of her brain.


“Folding” is from Behind Us The Way Grows Wider, due out in a month or two from Pixelita Press, Port Townsend, WA, and first appeared in Poetry Northwest and then in Love From the Coastal Route.

Sheila Bender is a nationally known author, poet, writing instructor and mentor. She has published six books on writing and numerous books of poetry. Sheila is the founder of Writing it Real, a very successful writing instructional program, and her latest venture is working with Pixelita Press for an eBook series for iPad that includes instruction via interactive writing prompts using photography. Discover more of Sheila’s work at Writing it Real.

Timothy Kelly




The stroke has left her listing
left, her left limbs lagging, and
we are trying to walk ten short
feet without her walker, using
an aluminum quad cane instead,
a new concept, and directing
her straight into a mirror so she
can appreciate the asymmetries
of her gait, and be cued to look
ahead instead of irremediably
at the floor. She remembers
nothing since the firemen and
the ambulance; a month lost
so far, though her speech and
vision are mercifully unaffected
by her peculiar, sequestered,
arguably lucky, anatomically,
bleed. At the mirror, she looks
at me standing behind her,
my right hand wrapped in her
belt. I say Bend your left knee,
Mrs. Davis, and she says, left
eyelid drooping, left side of her
mouth skewing down, You
wouldn’t know it now, but I
was beautiful once. Men came
from Fort Lewis Sundays when
I was 17 to watch me swan out
of First Baptist. She laughs and
I laugh, then she tears up, and I
say Can you bend your left knee,
Mrs. Beautiful? and she says
You about useless, boy. And
I say Yes, ma’am. True truth.
But happiness is fitful, don’t you
find? A flitting wren in a lilac
glides down, lights on your knee.
The left. This. Can you bend it?


Timothy Kelly holds Master’s Degrees in Physical Therapy from the University of Washington, and in Fine Arts/Creative Writing from Boston University. Since 1982, he’s worked in Olympia, WA as a Physical Therapist. He’s published three collections of poetry: Articulation, published by Lynx House Press, won the King County Arts Commission Publication Award in 1992; Stronger, from Oberlin College Press, won the 1999 Field Poetry Prize; and The Extremities, published by Oberlin College Press in 2008. Toccata and Fugue, published by Floating Bridge Press, won the Floating Bridge Press Chapbook Award in 2005.