Leigh Hancock

My Dentist


My dentist has hair
the color of lint,
stubble (at least
on the days I see him)
and wrinkles around his ears.

He leans back (too far I think),
elbows stiff
like a child
holding his first sparkler,
thoughts in Missouri perhaps
or lost in last night’s bouillabaisse.

Come closer, I murmur,
but my mouth is a steel bouquet,
my tongue corralled in rubber.
The hurts of this life
(and maybe one or two more)
huddle with me on the long green chair,
a boatful of refugees
drifting toward pain.

Come closer, dear dentist.
Look past the cracked crown
and yellow decay,
the rumpled gums and downy chin,
gaze deep into the basement of my fear,
the pilot light that keeps
the whole house warm,
and tell me without solace
what you see.

Put aside your drill, lower your mask.
The smell of burning bone is everywhere.
This is as close as we ever get.
Lean closer,

Leigh Hancock has been writing poems for most of her life.  She has an MFA in writing from the Universityof Virginia, where she was a Henry Hoyns Fellow.  She has also received fellowships from the Wurlitzer Foundation, Hedge brook Via Montalvo and Fishtrap.  Her work has been published in several anthologies and magazines including Calyx, Mothering and Sundog.  She lives lives in White Salmon along the Columbia Gorge with her husband, son and border collie.

Kristen Spexarth

Fisherman’s Terminal


A memorial sits
next to my favorite breakfast haunt.
It’s on a pier where rock songs blare
from a nearby speaker out to working boats,
moored, and waiting for the season.
Seagulls are soaring, circling,
searching for food bits and fish guts,
their cries, like homing pigeons
flying straight to my heart.
I have never been a sailor
but I come here and
fingers following,
touch the fish forever circling,
caught in cast bronze,
and stand, a shadow,
in front of names I never knew
and still they touch me.
Hopping sparrow, hoping for crumbs,
flies off in a hurry finding none.
Canadian geese, majestic, long-necked cruisers
on green effluent
reach out and gingerly nibble insects and eel grass.
Across the ship canal they’ll be scrapping for french fries
but here they float, regal.


Kristen Spexarth lives in Seattle and writes about love, loss and the world around as seen through the eyes of a gardener. She’s been writing a long time, has been published here and there and spends her free time working to help educate people about suicide prevention.

Graham Isaac

A Tool Breaks Its Promise


You tricked me, leafblower! out amongst
the lawns, admiring my own arms for

their usefulness, peeled bark, owned houses,
guidelines toward mulch. I wanted you

to be the wind, harnessed, I wanted
you to make me God. But like the firehose

or blender or hangglider before you, this is a
clumsy toy, a dignity steal for men in buttoned

shirts even on their day off. Listen: my home
is my castle and the lawn is my moat and the

leaves, they are alligators, even in the fall.
You’ve punchlined me, set me to the neighborhood

council in apology rags, contrition tie, shame loafers.
I drive back, my satnav malfunctioning, Joe,

over there, on his riding mower, grinning,
near asleep in his beer.


“A Tool Breaks Its Promise” is reprinted from Wonder And Risk. 


Graham Isaac is a writer and performer living in Seattle, Washington. Previously he lived in Swansea, Wales, where he attained a Masters of Arts in Creative and Media Writing from University of Wales Swansea, and co-founded The Crunch, an open mic for spoken word. He co-curates the Claustrophobia reading series and was one of the organizers behind the Greenwood Lit Crawl. His work has appeared in various journals, including Licton Springs Review, Your Hands Your Mouth, Hoarse, The Raconteur (UK), Beat the Dust and more. He is allergic to cats.

Barbara Gibson

McLane Creek

No need to be afraid
in the dark wood.
Walk near the fox’s den,
the possibility of a coyote,
or toward the beaver’s lodge
sinking into the lily pond.

When you take a single step
into the dense green,
into the comfort of high firs
and the dazzle and pattern
of light among leaves,
there is no need to worry.

You will discover the realm
of dropping yourself,
of losing interest
in the small, failed you.

There is no need
for fear because every fern
and every simple moss
assures you
that you are suitable
for such a life.

The shimmering dragonfly,
stunning and buzzing,
and the red-winged blackbird
skimming over rushes, and each
finch who sits on a sturdy thistle

truly, though you
may not see this,
welcomes you into
the still pond and into
the buzzing meadow
of bright acceptability.

So therefore it is
not necessary to be afraid
once your legs and heart
walk you into the deep,
vivid comfort of just how
here you are.

Barbara Gibson was a counselor at The Evergreen State College, retiring in the late 90’s. She has written poetry all through the years and the changes. She also writes plays, one of which, “The Abolitionist’s Wife: the Saga of Mary Brown” was produced in Olympia this summer to sold-out audiences. Major literary influences include Paul Goodman, Kenneth Rexroth, and Robert Bly, all of whom she was lucky enough to know personally. In Olympia, she is privileged to be a friend of Jeanne Lohmann, who would be Olympia’s Poet Laureate, if we had one. She appreciates the talented and generous poetry community there.

Jeffrey Morgan

The Rental


The stairs to the basement sound like an animal in another language.
I smell mold, but think about God and try to understand

His attention like a particle that might not exist.
Realtors have a way of speaking that means nothing

to me: proximity to transportation; square footage and usable space.
I step into the closet to be polite. I think it would be funny

to moan like a ghost, but don’t. I like the wastefulness of long hallways
on every floor, the new refrigerator’s virginal magnetism.

I feel obligated to flush each toilet.
She asks me what I do. She asks me if I have children.

I listen to water moving in the pipes and condense my face
in a way I hope conveys approval. She wonders what I’m holding together,

and I want to explain all the invisible forces.



“The Rental” is reprinted from Third Coast.


Jeffrey Morgan is the author of Crying Shame (Blazevox, 2011). Newer poems appear, or will soon, in Barrow Street, Bellevue Literary Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Pleiades, Diode, Third Coast, and West Branch, among others. He lives in Bellingham, WA and blogs very occasionally at Thinnimbus.tumblr.com.

Ronda Broatch



Call yourself crazy, but these swallows in the eaves speak
of arriving, of settling in like flames.
…………………………It is midnight when you steal

with your daughter into the garden, blessing
a nursing bra, holey pair of panties. How you stare, amazed
as people grow from the ground, shimmery

in prom fronds, tuxedos to praise the raging body
of what moments ago you called your home, gaping
windows keeping nothing sacred. Morning you return,

…………………………………………………………………..your house a post-
holocaust sanctuary, plastic hair brush grafted to the altar
of your vanity. Fascinated, you see in the sodden marriage

of your photos a glue no prying will undo: wife to husband,
the mouth of your child an O against the ear of a relative
whose name escapes you. ….All the next year

you dream of flight, of burning and birth. ….You find
a looseness in this, and you sleep more and longer.
….wandering often
…………………… amongst the ashes where you haunt
the ghosts of your belongings: knitting needle stuck
to the baby’s doll, the hearts of sweaters eaten away by mice.

You admire charred trees for their audacity
to reach beyond earth, think of planting beans, of attaining heaven
by climbing. You pine for simpler things,

whole days outside. Blood, as a method of expression, not a map
of your years. In the soil you find another piece of glass
and your eyes burn –

pollen, or the low morning sun – you’ve no time to question it now,
what with these seeds to tamp down, one more year rushing by
………………………………………………………………like a house on fire.


“Anatomy of a Natural Disaster” is reprinted from Linebreak.

Ronda Broatch is the author of Shedding Our Skins (Finishing Line Press, 2008), and Some Other Eden (2005). Nominated seven times for the Pushcart, recipient of an Artist Trust GAP Grant, and finalist for the May Swenson Poetry Book Award, Ronda is currently Poetry Editor for the literary journal, Crab Creek Review. She is also a photographer, and samples of her work can be seen on her photo blog, Ronda Broatch Photos.


Dan Lamberton

The Abundance of Rain


I have some confessions to make—
they have to do with this century
and how much I don’t want to be led
along by it any further. They have to do
with today being nothing about tomorrow,
but, rather, about history and how
all I know is before me, that is, before
I was, and I confess that
I search through old photographs
for reminders of who I am. If the people
in early Nebraska somehow hung pictures
of their old homes in Virginia
on the sod walls above their gritty beds,
and I am the grandchild made through them,
then I still carry their dissolved walls
in me, and I confess I want mostly what is past.

Granted, we live in two directions. There should be,
for the young, the chance to make children. But once
made, have them look backward. Start
with pictures of the unclothed, with Eakins’ nude men
along a tug-of-war rope, their haunches in the grass,
and their heels dug in, and their arms showing they’re no
different from me. A little differently muscled perhaps,
more formed by old work, by scythes and stone boats,
but they look like I do and they died. But first they enjoyed
themselves. And look next at unclothed women, Muybridge’s
panels of them, pouring water on each other’s heads,
picking up children. They have nothing Victorian
about them. They lived through all that and survived.

There’s a haystack, “1947, Near Norfolk, Nebraska,”
in a Wright Morris photo. And I know that
each of those straws were arranged
by the physics of elbows
and the leverage of hayforks
and that elbows and hayforks
depended upon the occasional abundance of rain.

So that’s it. It’s about rain, and how I am
drawn back into it. Remember how we lay
together, in that wood-paneled room near Seattle
with rain washing down so hard we felt
what we were doing was cleaned the second
it happened? It’s not that our future was rain,
but that its sound was a sound we both knew,
that took us out to itself and we heard, “There
has always been rain and there has always, therefore,
been you. Even more, there have always been
numberless thousands of you, not just
now, not just all of you now who are blind,
but there was always this sound, rain’s and yours,
pounding the outside and inside of walls
like these, and the Indians’ leather walls,
and the hopeless poor people’s walls,
and also, alas, the walls of all those
whose ears are closed and who think
they’re creating the future.”

“The Abundance of Rain” is reprinted from a broadside by Ian Boyden, Crab Quill Press.


Dan Lamberton has an MFA in creative writing from the University of Washington and has published poems nationally in journals and magazines such as Sojourners, Northern Lights, and Poetry Northwest. He is the author of On the River through the Valley of Fire: The Collaborative Ceramics of Frank Boyden and Tom Coleman (American Museum of Ceramic Art, 2008). His essay, “Randlett’s Roethke:  It Was All So Visual”  considering Mary Randlett’s late photos of Theodore Roethke, appears in the 2013 Spring & Summer Photography issue of Poetry Northwest. Lamberton has delivered, throughout the state, over 60 lectures on Washington’s poets for Humanities Washington. He has also lectured in Seattle for the Teachers as Scholars program, sponsored by the Seattle Arts and Lectures Series, and has taught a summer course at the University of Washington called “A Sense of Where We Are: Literature and History of the Pacific Northwest,” and completed a northwest literary history anthology in cooperation with the University of Washington history department. Dan is Professor of English and Humanities Program Director at Walla Walla University.


Terry Martin




Orange light quiets the sky.
Color stains trees
into lengthening shade.

Lean back in your chair,
feet bare in tickling grass,
while the sun sinks behind the hill.

Sparrows flit
from limb to limb
in the orchard.

The smell of apples
becoming themselves
can ripen you, too.

Feel the air begin
to cool your shoulders,
kissing your face, blessing it.

Catch the earth’s pulse
through the soles of your feet.
Listen to the dark arrive.

Fill your empty place
with this horizon.
Hold it all lightly,

like that. Just like that.
Sit here, home,
the taste of evening in your mouth.


Terry Martin is the author of The Secret Language of Women (Blue Begonia Press, 2006) and Wishboats, published by Blue Begonia Press in 2000, winner of the Judges’ Choice Award at Bumbershoot Book Fair. Over 200 of Martin’s poems, essays, and articles have appeared in numerous publications. Hiker, river-watcher, and lover of the arts, Terry lives with her family in Yakima, and teaches in the English Department at Central Washington University in Ellensburg. She is the recipient of CWU’s Distinguished Professor Teaching Award, and in 2003 was honored as Washington Professor of the Year by the CASE/Carnegie Foundation–a national teaching award given to recognize extraordinary commitment and contribution to undergraduate education.


Steven Quig

Going to the Coast


begins with a crush
of drivers not going to the coast,
the crisp, fall evening rushing by your windows,
the warmth from the heater,

darkness of the front seat.
Her hand rests across your thigh.
The damp motel waits quietly for you to arrive
where the manager will greet you

like a favorite nephew, happy
you’re here and press the key to your palm.
“Rm 8” it will say, allowing entrance
to knotty pine and mold,

but you’re not quite there.
You make that turn off the highway
at the red neon—a vacancy for you.
She gently squeezes the back

of your neck, moves her hand
into your hair as the car rolls to a stop,
checks her face in the visor mirror.
You switch off the motor and turn to her,

and the engine ticks as it cools.
Out beyond the beach grass
and the feeble porch lights, the ocean
that you know must be there roars.


Steven Quig’s first experience with writing poetry came as a member of Nelson Bentley’s evening poetry workshop at the University of Washington during the early 1980s.   He now teaches English at North Seattle Community College, and his work has appeared in a number of journals including Poetry Northwest, The Seattle Review, The Climbing Arts, The Memphis State Review, Spitball: The Literary Magazine of Baseball, Pontoon, and others, including Metro’s Poetry on the Buses anthology.

Amber Nelson


……..In this bright gray
light, the blinding day,
listen to the whispering
of angels. Tittering wings and wordlessness float in strings
of sound. Such trembling
music. The pavement shines.
I ride the gales, wind and night,
they push against, slip through skin—gripping each cadence—
so hairs stand, ascending pins.

It’s warm, still
inside the chill
of fall.

But still, in motion. Still inside
the weathered chaos. Stillness.
This is —happiness?

………….Everything shines
………….when it rains.
When it rains
and right after
………….Everything shines:

the Pacific’s quiet arousal.

The Kingfishers rouse
for quiet repose, in
blue winged days. In praise
………….I build sunlight
under fingertips,
in each rib. Feel it lit
inside the wick of grim rubbings,
uncertain burns: a light singing.
In air. In air. Remember—
………….this light, its organ
warmth, sounds brass chords,
a mast of fog in rooms
that melts away. Hold on—
………….to such crisp, wet

Everything shines:
sun sheering leaves so you can see:
the shake of white: the shake
of still, of empty white: sleet
of lupine time: fields: the gorgeous
tickle of clean sheets: a sweep
of sea aligning beach: a lingered
quiet drunk in mint: balloons
suspending: stars.

………….O obvious stars!
Their light uncovers
all that’s honied, sweetly
shining, shining.

………….Everything shines.
Each sun or star or skin
the leaves the wind and
eyes each dream idea mourning
lover scissor headlight touch

It’s always been this way,
lost inside a simple forgetting,
brash midland breachings
of each, our gauzy seams

Still. Warm. Shining.

………….Joy—each wheel
a spindle slick on these wet
leaves the fall, which falls
a maple in my stride, a tail whip
that gasps in lungs and stays
aglow—a pink and golden hue
blazed within my skin, in ribs,
a lift, a blessing.
………….I ride into the day—


“As A Threshold Brook” is reprinted from Taiga Issue A.


Amber Nelson is the co-founder and poetry editor of alice blue, a well as the founding editor of alice blue books. Her work can be found variously online  and in print, and she is the author of 3 previous chapbooks: This Ride is in Double Exposure (h-ngm-n books), Your Trouble is Ballooning (Publishing Genius), and Diary of When Being with Friends Feels Like Watching TV (Slash Pine Press). Her first full-length book, In Anima: Urgency is forthcoming in May from Coconut Books.