Student Poem

It looks like the inside of machinery.

Fuming, working different emotions endlessly.
Never stopping, it turns these gears called emotions
…but all this machinery is now leaving.

Being blasted away and burning as it leaves the earth’s atmosphere.
The flame is made of all sorts of colors.
Yellow for my mellowness,
red for my anger,
blue for my curiosity,
orange for my danger.

All that’s left of my negative emotions lay in rubble.

Fear, of others watching me
…judging me on moves I make.

Hatred, the blood boiling feeling whenever a thought
that provokes anger crosses my mind.

Then I see a package, floating down on a parachute.
The box is bursting with all the emotions I never meant to send away.
Sense of family returned,
acceptance and love.
The best was beauty…
natural and glowing of utter flawlessness from inside.

Falmata, age 15, partipated in the 2012 Dr. Carver Gayton Youth Curator Program at the Northwest African American Museum.  He and his fellow curators worked with writer Daemond Arrindell on poems based on  the Northwest Gallery exhibition, “Xenobia Bailey: Aesthetics of Funk.”

Jeremy Halinen

Afternoons above I-5

We used to drop acid
and sit on the overpass
to watch the dragon faces
the cars would make at us
as they raced
beneath our dangling legs.
Cars like it when you’re high enough
above them to notice
more than their surfaces.
It’s the story of their exhaust
they want you to care about,
not their paint jobs
or the treads
on their tires. They want you to lean down
and touch them.
I know what you’re thinking.
It’s dangerous,
what we used to do. But
the cars told us they’d catch us if we fell.
You say, So what if they did?
And you’re right.
There’s always a catch.

Jeremy Halinen is cofounder and editor-at-large of Knockout Literary Magazine. His first full-length collection of poems, What Other Choice, won the 2010 Exquisite Disarray First Book Poetry Contest. His poems appear or will in such journals as Cimarron Review, Court Green, Crab Creek Review, the Los Angeles Review, Poet Lore, and Sentence. He resides in Seattle.

Rick Barot


in the museum, the heavy marble busts
on their white plinths, I recognize one likeness
as my uncle, the retired accountant
whose mind, like a conquered country, is turning
into desert, into the dust of forgotten things.
The white head of an old man, big as a god,
its short curled hair still rich
as matted grass, is my grandmother,
a Roman on her deathbed, surrounded
by a citizenry of keening, her breaths rising out
of the dark of a well, the orange medicine bottles
massed like an emergency on the table.
The delicate face of the serious young man
is another uncle, the one who lost
his friends when a plane hit their aircraft carrier,
the one who dropped pomegranate fires
on the scattering villagers, on the small
brown people who looked like him.
One bust is of a noblewoman, the pleats
of her toga articulated into silky marble folds,
her hair carved into singular strands:
she is the aunt who sends all her money home,
to lazy sons and dying neighbors.
Another marble woman is my other aunt,
the one who grows guavas and persimmons,
the one who dries salted fish on her garage roof,
as though she were still mourning
the provinces. Here is the cousin who is a priest.
Here is the cousin who sells drugs.
Here is the other grandmother, her heart still
skilled at keeping time. Here is my mother
in the clear pale face of a Roman’s wife,
a figure moving softly, among flowers and slaves.


“Looking at the Romans” first appeared in Tin House.


Rick Barot has published two books of poetry with Sarabande Books: The Darker Fall (2002), and Want (2008), which was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award and won the 2009 Grub Street Book Prize. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Artist Trust of Washington, the Civitella Ranieri, the MacDowell Colony, and Stanford University, where he was a Wallace E. Stegner Fellow and a Jones Lecturer. His poems and essays have appeared in numerous publications, including Poetry, The Paris Review, The New Republic, Ploughshares, Tin House, The Kenyon Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, and The Threepenny Review. He lives in Tacoma, Washington and teaches at Pacific Lutheran University, and in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.

Rebecca Frevert’s Poetry Kiosk

Rebecca Frevert's poetry kiosk in Everett

Rebecca Frevert wrote to me recently about the poems she posts in her front parking strip. I asked her to write a brief story about how that started and what has developed since in her Everett, Washington neighborhood.  Here is her response.  –KF

Parking Strip Poets – Rebecca Frevert

Blame this crazy idea of poetry in a parking strip on Wordsworth’s I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud daffodils.  Spring 2008: my north Everett garden blowsy, snails and slugs on the move, layered gray clouds.  Then March finally arrives and those butter-cupped suns rise in their beds all over the neighborhood.  Pulling up shotweed and spreading compost, I imagined Wordsworth lounging on his couch, dreaming of his dancing daffodils.  And started dreaming my own vision, of somehow wedding my two passions, gardening and poetry, sharing both with neighbors.

North Everett is a walker’s paradise with wide sidewalks, century old beeches, plums, cherries, and its bookend destinations, Legion Park’s arboretum to the north and Grand Park overlooking Port Gardener Bay to the south.  Years ago, after a load of compost dumped on the parking strip burnt the grass to death, my seventy-year-old neighbor Emory and I dug up the sod and planted a flower bed.  He’s left earth now, but I’ve always called this little garden Emory’s Bed.  A perfect spot to catch the eye of the walkers who might stop a few minutes to read a poem.  The poetry stand is a simple design painted blue with a Plexiglas lid that keeps out the rain (but not the spiders who love to leave cocoons in its corners).

I agonized over the first poem.  I realized that what I chose to share with strangers and neighbors would be at times self-revelatory.  Would I focus on seasons, holidays, world events, politics, or simply share my favorite poems?  Should I censor or worry about offending sensibilities and gear my choices toward the pleasant and crowd-pleasing?  The primal, erotic Last Gods by Galway Kinnell didn’t make the cut.  Call me a coward, but do public decency laws prevail in a poetry stand?

The first poem I chose was I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, and later, with a warm June day, Dickinson’s Debauchee of Dew; when the first snow fell, Frost’s Stopping by Woods.  I’ve chosen famous classics by Keats and Blake.  Leonard Cohen, e.e.cummings, Gary Snyder, Rumi, Louise Gluck, Marge Piercy all take their turn.  After a neighbor mentioned they would like to take home a copy, I started including several copies under the original, which I slide into a plastic sheath for protection from rain and dew. Which copies get snatched up quickest is fascinating, with Mary Oliver’s The Journey the winner so far.  When the last copy is taken, someone inevitably takes the original and the kiosk may remain empty for a while when I’m too busy to search out another.  Neighbors inform me that they schedule their evening walks to pass by the poetry stand and are a tad disappointed if the poem is old stuff, or the stand is empty.

My offerings often are kid -oriented in April and May. I love seeing the kids from Whittier elementary school stopping to read as they walk home from school.  As I write this today, families are stopping by read about the Owl and the Pussycat as they walk home after the annual Easter egg hunt at our local park. Last Halloween, I taped green lit LED sticks to the lid and watched as the costumed princesses, Darth Vaders, hoboes and bumblebees left my front porch after collecting a treat and headed to the kiosk, huddled over, reading The Adventures of Isabel by Ogden Nash .

A sign on the stand encourages folks to contribute their own selections or compositions.  Last year, to my surprise and delight, a young poetess named Devany left three hand written poems she wrote herself:

               My aunt
She has lots of
She really likes blue
She has a baby
It drives me crazy
But she says love makes a true lady.

When our much loved family dog, Sunny, died suddenly in 2009, my son placed a poem about death and loss in the kiosk. A few days later we found bouquets of flowers placed on the ground around the stand with sympathy cards and notes from strangers who loved seeing Sunny strut his neighborhood over the years.  When a friend’s father died, she asked me to place Do not go gentle into that good night by Dylan Thomas in the stand in his honor.

Bringing “poetry to the people” and people to poetic expression is such a gratifying experience.  I believe that poetry is our first language; we hear it from birth in the rhythms of ditties and lullabies as our parents soothed us to sleep.  I’ve wondered why we lose this love of language as we grow up, becoming intimidated and put off whenever the word “poetry” is attached to a reading.

In the past year, I’ve learned of other poetry lovers building kiosks, poetry poles or stands, mailboxes full of poems, even a “poem bench” in Seattle.  A neighbor in Everett built his own and then built one for a friend.  He also mentioned a sacred sanctuary he visited with poetry in stands along a labyrinth path.  Someday I hope to gather my choices together in a booklet with some of the stories of why a poem was chosen.

I imagine I’m becoming the neighborhood eccentric since I started this project.  This summer I’m going to start a poetry corner for kids on the bulletin board at our neighborhood park playground.  Who knows?  Perhaps a poem planted today will sprout our poets of tomorrow?


Rebecca Frevert has been a nurse midwife for over 30 years, working at Providence Midwifery Service in Everett.  “I fell in love with poetry when I heard Poe’s The Bells performed in middle school.   In 1966, when I saw the movie Dr. Zhivago, I wanted to be the poet Zhivago, not Laura or Tonya, a disturbing urge for a teenaged girl.  My husband and I have two sons, 20 and 23 yrs old, who both write amazing poetry and put mine to shame!  As Neruda wrote:  Poetry arrived in search of me.  I don’t know where it came from…..”


Everett Public Library hosts “Rhymes with Everett” tonight, a Favorite Poem Project event.  I hope to see you there.  –KF

Alice Derry


Where there are beech trees, the land is always beautiful.
— a phrase by Richard Jeffries given me by my friend Bob Pyle,
a foremost butterfly expert


Rain had soaked you, Bob,
as you scrambled down a hillside
in Switzerland, beeches opening their leaves
like an overture to Beethoven.

Hungry, not because you were,
but because you were almost out of money—
all that lay between you and want.

You couldn’t work up courage to visit
the great Nabakov and talk butterflies.
What would you have to say?
“I’ll come back,” you promised yourself.
Before you could, he was dead.

How many times I’ve gone that same distance
in a foreign country, found what I’ve hungered for,
but couldn’t ready myself
to brave the stares and break silence
with rasped, clotted speech—
a near miss of how words
in another language should sound.

Regret. Unable to discharge debt,
your life became
what you didn’t have a chance to tell him.

Half an hour to visit the viewpoint at Königstuhl,
and my companions, far ahead, anxious to see
what the guidebook promised.
I dawdled as always,
hoping something would speak.

Nothing could match our Northwest firs,
I scoffed—but disdain can open a space.
Around me the smooth gray of the giant beech trunks,
their unreachable canopy, filtering light,
a kind of silence: holding fast
the chalk cliffs above the Baltic.

I was standing where Friedrich stood
when he painted sea and jagged rock, framed
by these sheltering beeches—a Romantic painting,
the trees guardians, keeping
his three wanderers from the edge.

Buchenwald—beech forest. The one
near Weimar no different in its hundred-foot trees
rising in full, trembling leaf.

Buchen, hollow and breathy,
wind in the highest branches,
point of no return. But Wald brings me back,
and I lean into the trees, trunk to trunk.

A word can be tied by torment
to so many things opposite of tree and leaf,
of bare branch and breaking forth
from green-gold, red-brown bud—
that to say it
is to break a certain kind of faith
with those who heard it as death.

Which break, then, must be rescued
from silencing.

Say Buchenwald, beech forest,
bearing its necessary other burden,
where human blood’s been soaked indelibly,
denied spirits still calling.

Say Buchenwald. Without its sound,
we might forget this forest.
Trees don’t need to speak. We do.


first printed in Fine Madness, then in Floating Bridge Review

Alice Derry’s newest collection of poems, Tremolo, is forthcoming from Red Hen Press in 2012. It received a 2011 Washington Artist Trust Award. Strangers To Their Courage, from Louisiana State University Press, 2001, was a finalist for the Washington Book Award. She has two previous full collections, Stages of Twilight (chosen by Raymond Carver) and Clearwater (Blue Begonia Press). A chapbook of translations from Rainer Rilke appeared in 2002 from Pleasure Boat Studio, New York City. Derry taught English and German at Peninsula College in Port Angeles, Washington, for twenty-nine years, where she co-directed the Foothills Writers’ Series.

Maya Jewell Zeller



It’s true I drove an SUV once
through Fresno with a backseat full
of college boys to whom I found myself
having to explain you could still catch herpes
even while wearing a condom. One of them
in particular was incredulous, he was listening to his I-pod
and he removed his headphones and said he had
a few more questions. These were my husband’s
varsity runners, and I was a volunteer, so I was awarded
the new rental with only four miles on it when we left
the lot. I’m not going to lie—
I liked driving it. It was nothing
like riding coach or making love
with protection. There were so many buttons
to push, and they all did something satisfying,
like drop from the ceiling a DVD player
for passengers or warm the driver’s legs
in just the right places. The seats were leather,
the kind you feel guilty just sitting on,
the good kind of guilty when you can’t help
but imagine parking somewhere with someone
so you can watch the stars rise over the city,
take time to check out all the automatic features.
The boy you’re with will want to know
how things work, and you’ll end up showing him,
because he is young, because he has a bag of sour apple
or peach fruit rings he’s willing to share, because his face
can look so becoming in the streetlights.
But mostly it’s because you can no longer remember
where you were going. Was it to dinner?
Were you taking him back to his hotel, where
he’ll sleep, dream of winning?
Or maybe it was a nighttime snack
run. The SUV is black
and the night is blacker. You can feel it
closing, like a fist around a steering wheel.
You’re not the fist. You’re the wheel.


“Honesty” first appeared in Rattle.


Maya Jewell Zeller has spent most of her life in the Pacific Northwest. Her first book, Rust Fish, was released in April 2011 from Lost Horse Press. Individual poems have won awards from Sycamore Review, Crab Orchard Review, Florida Review, and Dogwood, and appear in recent issues of Rattle, Rock & Sling, The Bellevue Literary Review, and elsewhere. Maya lives in Spokane with her husband and daughter, and teaches English at Gonzaga University.

Ed Harkness


Saying the Necessary


I read of a Montana man
whose pickup
stalled in the mountains.
Cross-country skiers
found him next spring,
their skis rasping
on the top of his cab
just showing through the snow.
His engine dead, no map,
he’d apparently decided
to wait for help.
His diary calmly records
his life of being lost.
He describes the passing days,
how he rationed his crackers,
an Almond Joy,
built a few small fires at night,
ate his emergency candles,
ice from a pond,
a pine’s green lace of moss.
He hoarded every spark
from his battery.
There’s evidence he wandered
up a nearby ridge.
He might have noticed a marmot,
gold and relaxed on a rock,
or spotted mountain goats
wedged high in grey basalt.
From a pinnacle of broken
lichen-colored scree
he watched the world bend away blue,
rivered with trees.
He might have heard
the whine of a plane
in the next valley,
looking, looking.

Then the cold came.
Frostbite settled the matter
of hiking out.
He wrote detailed accounts
of the weather,
noting the clear, icy air,
little flares of stars
drawing no one’s attention.
Not so frigid this evening.
A later entry read:
Ribbed cirrus clouds moving in.
Then tender goodbyes
to his wife and daughter–
my lilac, my rose.

When the blizzard buried him,
he wrote by his interior lights,
and when the battery failed
he scratched in the dark
a strange calligraphy,
covering the same pages,
the words telegraphic,
saying only the necessary
as he starved.
In the end,
his script grew hallucinatory–
…toy train…  …oatmeal…
…farmhouse lights just ahead…–

illegible, finally,
like lines on a heart monitor.
Several pages he tore out and ate.

He must have known
even words wouldn’t save him.
Still, he wrote.
He watched the windshield
go white like a screen,
his hands on the wheel,
no feeling.
He listened to his heart
repeat its constant SOS,
not loudly now,
but steadily–
a stutterer who’s come to love
the sound of his one syllable,
at peace with his inability
to get anything across.
He must have pictured himself
wading through the drifts,
traversing the heartbreaking distance
between voice and any ear,
searching for tracks,
a connector road that leads
down to everyday life.
By glow of moonlight filtered
through snow-jammed windows,
his last act was to place his book,
opened to a page marked Day One,
on the passenger seat beside him.


Ed Harkness is the author of several poetry chapbooks, including Fiddle Wrapped in a Gunny Sack (Dooryard Press, 1984), Watercolor Painting of a Bamboo Rake (Brooding Heron Press, 1994), and most recently Syringa in Twilight (Red Wing Press, 2010). Pleasure Boat Studio has published his two full-length poetry collections, Saying the Necessary (2000), and Beautiful Passing Lives, (2010). His poems can be found in print journals including Fine Madness, Great River Review, The Humanist, Midwest Quarterly, Portland Review, Seattle Review and others. His work has also appeared in several pioneering online literary journals, including Mudlark, Switched-on Gutenberg, and Salt River Review.  Harkness’ poem, “Kaylyn, Hermiston Elementary,” was featured on the Writer’s Almanac radio program. He lives with his wife, Linda, and teaches writing at Shoreline Community College.

Alan Chong Lau

father’s bamboo grove



those mexican kids
clothes pins clamped on the ears
to make me squeal

as a tagalong
one had to earn
rites of passage

we sat on haunches
drawing secret parts
of women in the dirt

hidden away
in my father’s bamboo grove
that grew back
after each cut

even after gravel
delicate green shoots
defined stones

they’d laugh
break off hollow stems
cop hits of bamboo smoke
satisfied only after
i’d coughed myself

came end of harvest
they left
their mother dead
after making a tamale pie

the bamboo too
no more
trampled over
still under a parking lot

only leaf patterns
cast in tar

with my fathers’s chinese restaurant
we were the only ones
left in town



Alan Chong Lau wrote The Buddha Bandits Down Highway 99 (Buddhahead Press) with poets Lawson Inada and Garrett Hongo. He is the author of Songs For Jadina (Greenfield Review Press) and Blues And Greens – A Produce Worker’s Journal (University of Hawai’i Press). As a visual artist he is represented by Francine Seders Gallery in Seattle. He continues to work in an Asian produce market in Seattle’s Chinatown/International District neighborhood. His poetry and art appear in a forthcoming book  this fall by his sister Linda Lau Anusasananan entitled The Hakka Cookbook – Chinese Soul Food From Around The World (University of California Press).


Student Poem

First Impressions – Inner Expressions
Poem #2

by Octavia, age 15, Garfield High School

If art is healing then sickness is not being able
to express yourself.
If sickness is not being able to express yourself,
funk is the cure…
Curing your heartbreaks, curing your loss,
curing your loneliness, curing the cause.

Funk sounds like laughter louder than their whispers.
Funk feels like healing…
healing the pain that caused so many tears.

Healing feels like you getting over a struggle…
a rash spreading rapidly that has weakened your body
and taken over your soul with no way out.
Screaming is pointless because you’re the only one that hears.

My mother’s tears, from her eyes, to her cheeks, to her ears
…she was the strongest through it all…
smiling through her pain is when she’s the prettiest to me.

Funk is music.
A generation of self-expression and fun
…my grandparents with high afros and high shoes.
Funk is the cure of a sickness no one can control.
A healing process that makes all troubles disappear
and all the tears fade away… all the memories grow faint.

Funk makes life easier…
easier to drown out the hate, easier to ignore the doubt.
You can’t be mad, can’t be sad. You just let funk take over.

Funk is when you’re you.
It’s when you’re smiling to destroy the ones that like to see you cry.
It’s when you’re standing tall, upsetting the ones that like to see you fall.
And, when you are being yourself,
no one can take that away.

The Northwest African American Museum (NAAM) Youth Curators is a community outreach program that introduces local teens to the Museum world and encourages their creativity and expression through themed projects. The 2012 project, First Impressions – Inner Expressions, was co-facilitated by Daemond Arrindell who led the students in a process to write and speak their opinions. They became familiar with navigating rhythms, owning their expression and connecting to the power of words. Much of the inspiration for the spoken word was derived from the current NAAM exhibition Xenobia Bailey: The Aesthetics of Funk.

 Octavia will present her poem along with other student poets on Saturday, April 7, 2012, 1:00 – 3:00 at the Northwest African American Museum to celebrate the exhibition opening and the 2012 Dr. Carver Gayton Youth Curator Program.


Katrina Roberts


— after Message from the Gyre, Chris Jordan

I flip through a stack of photographs, one more colorful than the next – the belly of each albatross chick a beautiful jumble: turquoise and yellow shards, the bright white of bottle caps, fluorescent magenta of someone’s discarded toothbrush, peach of a tampon tube, royal blue lighter — nested within cages of shattered rib, twisted yards of knotted green string, shreds of translucent plastic sheeting, all so far from any land I’ve walked (2000 miles from the nearest continent out in the middle of the North Pacific), yet evidence in waste of my human presence; when I leave my children hungry for attention and drive myself to the ER a random Wednesday evening because I can’t take a full breath for pains in my chest – I picture this: blown open bodies, crevices of unexpected debris, feathers splayed and matted, the elegant curve of bill, silent and still against pebbly sand… and can’t even say it to myself: I was trying in my frenzy to feed you; please forgive me and remember my love.

“Midway Atoll” is from Underdog, University of Washington Press, 2011.


Katrina Roberts is the Mina Schwabacher Professor in English and the Humanities  at Whitman College. She is author of Friendly Fire, Winner of the Idaho Prize in Poetry; How Late Desire Looks, which won the Peregrine Smith Poetry Prize; and The Quick, an early volume in the Pacific Northwest Series. Her most recent collection is Underdog (University of Washington Press, 2011). Her work appears in The Pushcart Prize Anthology, Best American Poetry, and The Bread Loaf Anthology of New American Poets, among other anthologies. She and her husband, Jeremy Barker, an artist and distiller native to Walla Walla, are the proprietors of and winemakers for Tytonidae Cellars, which they started in 2003, as well as founders of the Walla Walla Distilling Company. They can generally find their three small children playing with barn cats in the good dirt somewhere not far from the vineyard.