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.

Hannah Faith Notess

Meditation on the Divine Blueness with Two Pop Songs
Rishikesh, India


It’s just that in “My Sweet Lord” George Harrison
sounds so Jesusy, with his platoon of earnest handclappers
and strummers on backup, transparent

like the Maranatha choruses of my childhood
slapped verse by verse onto the overhead projector.
And so I start to think it’s really still 1968 here.

I got the song’s joke the first time, but here
I hear it for myself—in the Rishikesh German Indian
Chinese Israeli Continental Bakery—Hare Krishna

is just two syllables away from Hallelujah
and “My Sweet Lord” is not even two notes away
from “He’s So Fine” (doo lang doo lang doo lang)

and Jesus is just two notes away from Krishna
but in flesh-colored makeup, too shy to show us
his true blue skin. It’s 1968, and the Beatles

are decked in saffron garlands,
posing in a row around the Maharishi,
this gleaming green river behind them,

under a god’s skin blue February sky. It’s 1968
and I’m staring at the same green February water, wishing
the Australians upstairs would just

put the damn sitars away. Any minute now
it’ll be 1971, and George’s new backup singers
will get out their tambourines and start clapping

like some scruffy kids picked up at a beachside revival, squinting
at the transliterated mantras Rama Rama Hare Hare.
It’s 1971 and—really, I’m not stoned—the Chiffons

are suing George Harrison for royalties
(doo lang doo lang doo lang) and incidentally, Krishna
is suing Jesus because he thought of incarnation first.

Jesus swears it was an accident; he didn’t mean to copy,
but the court doesn’t care. And anyway, it’s 1975 now and my dad,
long-haired, is sitting cross legged in a work shirt

and bell bottoms with a guitar
on somebody’s living room floor in Virginia,
strumming the same chords, a mimeographed

scripture song. I really wanna see you Lord, but it takes
so long my Lord. It’s 1975 and the Chiffons are recording
My Sweet Lord (doo lang doo lang doo lang)

as a joke: the magic’s over. We missed the real thing.
I know there are so many Indias, but this is one
of mine. It’s 1975 and night is falling

on the hill above the bakery, where the hostel
owner—just a girl—leads us into a room
the color of Krishna, the color of Shiva’s throat

when he swallowed the poison. There we lay down
our bags. The posters on the wall—a parade
of Krishnas, the fat baby stealing the milk,

him posing on a lotus with His blue rolls of baby fat,
then Radha and her blue boyfriend
wrapped in two versions of the same green sari

so close, so fine you couldn’t call them anything
but Radhakrishna (doo lang doo lang doo lang)
taped to the ceiling, the way the world’s teenage girls

taped the Beatles to their ceilings, till the corners yellowed
and peeled, till the magic faded. We’ll sleep there, safe under
Krishna’s gaze, so peaceful in God’s blue belly.




Hannah Faith Notess is managing editor of Seattle Pacific University’s Response magazine and the editor of Jesus Girls: True Tales of Growing Up Female and Evangelical, a collection of personal essays. She earned an MFA in creative writing from Indiana University, where she served as poetry editor for Indiana Review. Her poems have appeared in Slate, Rattle, Crab Orchard Review, Los Angeles Review, Poet Lore, So To Speak, The Christian Century, and Floating Bridge Review, among other journals. She lives in Seattle.


Christianne Balk

John Muir in the Sequoias
August, 1870


Enough of the winds tearing through Merced
Canyon’s boulder-choked gorge, enough
of the stampedes muddying Moss Creek.
Enough hoofed catastrophes. I’ll ride them

all out in these root-caves, framed
with the purple-tinged bark of buttressed
trunks in an unnamed grove. Too tired
of tales of the ground’s cataclysmic quakes –

valleys bottomed out, pine trees tossed,
cedar, oak, gusts snapping massive limbs,
and the sudden rush of flame –
to even imagine fire grazing these old,

close-packed leaves. Spinning, zigzagging,
burning back, surging, scorching every living
thing. Roaring updrafts filling branches filled
with cones. Ashes settling, smoking litter cooling

slowly. The air dark with incense, charred
stumps. Blackened hollows like the one I sit in.
From this loud storm drifts
chestnut snow, down from the quiet

canopy, each fleck smaller than a grain
of flax, a cloud of hope released from tight
cone scales opened by the heat,
flurries of small, flat-winged seeds.


“John Muir in the Sequoias” first appeared in Words and Pictures Magazine.
Christianne Balk’s books include Bindweed and Desiring Flight. After majoring in biology at Grinnell College, she studied English at The University of Iowa. Her poems have appeared in The Alaska Quarterly Review, The Alhambra Poetry Calendar, The Atlantic Monthly, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, and other anthologies and journals. She lives in Seattle with her husband and daughter.

Kevin Craft

Pigeon Guillemots


Dangle bright red legs
Floating and diving
Like simple sentences
By the ferry terminal—

So close, and closing in—
Their glidepaths trimming
Acrobatic pilings,
Rounding off the long division

Of the tide. Spring: Saturday
opens a beer and passes it
Around. Dear sunlight,
We missed your clean throw rugs

Beating on the bay.
There’s no place to get to
But we’re going anyway.
Guillemot—like guile,

Only less so, a bon-mot
Waiting to lodge itself
In your bailiwick.
Compact. Glossy.

The world still has a thing
Or two to show us,
Much of which passes
For guillemots today.


Kevin Craft is the editor of Poetry Northwest. He lives in Seattle, and directs both the Written Arts Program at Everett Community College and the University of Washington’s Creative Writing in Rome Program. His books include Solar Prominence (Cloudbank Books, 2005) and five volumes of the anthology Mare Nostrum, an annual collection of Italian translation and Mediterranean-inspired writing (Writ in Water Press). He has been awarded fellowships by the MacDowell Colony, Bogliasco Foundation, Camargo Foundation, 4Culture, and Artist Trust. His poems, reviews, and essays have appeared widely in such places as Poetry, AGNI, Verse, Alaska Quarterly Review, The Stranger, Poetry Daily, and Kenyon Review.

Tammy Robacker



Your quiet breaks me apart like whitecaps
collapse before coursing a shore. The water
that eddies you floats a shapeless gray
around this bay, over this day; ebbing
grief in the horizon’s haze. Here,
where your timber boom went bust,
now you just rust craggy stumps
along an emptied dock and austere pier.

You hang an ash-splashed canvas for miles
at this beach. A comber cannot read
where stone cold sky meets gun metal sea,
as they bumble down your one dead,
bone-jumbled jetty finger anchored
by blanched boulders and uprooted trees.

The rotund tourists straggle in and wag
tongues stuck full of green salt water
taffy and old fashion donuts. Their throats
close shut around pulpy oyster shooters
quaffed starboard off spitting bottomfish
charters rented out on the cheap.

The world ends here. Where longitude crosses itself
with latitude to no absolution. Where waves genuflect
then crumble rather than crash. The sand
dollars you’ve strewn townside are cracked
to halves. Their lost flock of peace doves,
once housed in a holy shell hollow, now worthless
debris to those who divine the beachhead.

Here your gulls swoon restless and hover
above the sea’s ennui. They dip and drone
mid-air: Scavengers perpetually hung
there—aimless and leering. They swing
back and forth, steering ghost-shaped waves
in the grimy brine sky above your grave.


Winner of a Hedgebrook writer-in-residence award in 2011, and awarded the 2010-2011 Poet Laureate of Tacoma title, Tammy Robacker promotes the art of poetry in the South Sound community by writing, teaching and guest speaking locally. In 2009, she was the recipient of a TAIP grant award and published her first book of poetry, The Vicissitudes. In addition, she co-edited a Tacoma poetry anthology, with former Poet Laureate of Tacoma, Bill Kupinse, titled: In Tahoma’s Shadow: Poems from the City of Destiny. Ms. Robacker studied Creative Writing and Poetry at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA and graduated with a B.A. degree. Now, actively involved in Washington State’s South Sound as a poet, a freelance writer, and a volunteer, Robacker also serves as secretary of the board for Puget Sound Poetry Connection.

Tammy’s poetry has appeared in Columbia Magazine, Plazm, Floating Bridge Review: Pontoon, Wild Goose Poetry Review, Word Salad, Pens on Fire, and the Allegheny Review. Ms. Robacker’s poetry manuscript, We Ate Our Mothers, Girls, was selected as a finalist in the 2009 Floating Bridge Press chapbook contest in Seattle, WA. Tammy Robacker runs her own freelance writing company called, Pearle Publications. Her editorials have appeared in SHOWCASE Magazine, CITY ARTS Magazine, and the Weekly Volcano.

Richard Brugger

381 E. Cordova Street


There’s a bleak whiteness
on Cordova Street mixed
with rain and battleship gray.
Smiles are sad, even laughter has an eerie clang.
Whispers prevail and a fog off Burrard Inlet
settles in at four o’clock as the Sisters’ Sandwich Line wraps
itself halfway around the block to the back alley
where wine, urine, vanilla extract and after-shave commingle
into sickly stench. Men and women in their twenties, thirties
forties and fifties have a sameness of pallor and age,
share needles, jugs and sex.

A half-crazed, rheumy-eyed woman
knocks on my parish door insisting I exorcise her.
I protest with words she can’t comprehend
like, “needing the archbishop’s permission,” and “needing the holiness I do not have.”
Nothing I say matters. In frustration I give her my blessing….
the one I’d bestow on a child, a rosary, a holy card.
She thanks me. I watch her step out of my door,
walk down the steps to the sidewalk
belt across Cordova Street, not looking east or west,
oblivious to swirling traffic. She makes it. I wonder how.



In 2012, Dick Brugger was named City of Auburn’s First Poet Laureate. He served as executive director of Auburn Youth Resources for twenty-one years prior to his retirement in 1997. In 1983 he was named Auburn Area Citizen of the Year. For another twenty-one prior years, Brugger was a Franciscan Friar and Roman Catholic priest. His poetry has appeared in PAWA Quarterly, Do Something & Other Poems, and PoetsWest Literary Journal. His prose has appeared in Heart of the Matter.  In 2009, the main Auburn Youth Resources building was named The Brugger Building.

“381 E. Cordova Street” was made into an animated video by Dick Brugger’s daughter,  artist Jessie Brugger:

Laura Read

For the Bible Tells Me So


On the tape with his voice on it,
your father is asking if you think
your mother’s legs are pretty.

You were five, you didn’t know
what makes a leg pretty,
how it should curve out

and then taper down to the ankle,
how one should cross over the other,
the skirt slide up.

He laughs when you don’t answer
the way adults do.

I can hear your breath on the tape,
I can see you in the living room
with the gilt-framed faces of people

named Ludrick and Vida,
the turquoise chairs and the Zenith tv,
your mother with her eyebrows

drawn on and her dresses belted,
your father with his microphone
and innuendo.

You and your brother
wear robes over your cuffed pajamas,
you have crewcuts and long, thin bones.

This is the America
you were born into, where lines
were marker-thick

between Cowboy and Indian,
your mother and your father,
even you and your brother

who sings loud into the tape
but you they have to threaten
with going to bed early

if you won’t do it
so your voice comes at us mad
across the forty years—

Jesus loves me, this I know,
for the Bible tells me so.

This is your father, dead so long
you don’t remember his voice
even when you hear it.

All those years, your mom dusted him
like that empty vase
she kept up on the mantle

made of pink Depression glass.



“For the Bible Tells Me So” previously appeared in The Florida Review.


Laura Read has published poems in a variety of journals, most recently in Rattle, The Mississippi Review, and The Bellingham Review. Her chapbook, The Chewbacca on Hollywood Boulevard Reminds Me of You, was the 2010 winner of the Floating Bridge Chapbook Award, and her collection, Instructions for My Mother’s Funeral, was the 2011 winner of the AWP Donald Hall Prize for Poetry and will be published this fall by the University of Pittsburgh Press. She lives in Spokane, WA with her husband Brad and their two sons, Benjamin and Matthew.

Peter Ludwin

Notes from a Sodbuster’s Wife, Kansas, 1868


What really got us in the end—
we women who didn’t make it,
who withered and blew away in the open—
was the wind. Space, yes, and distance,
too, from neighbors, a piano back in Boston.

But above all, the wind.

In our letters it shrieks hysteria from sod huts,
vomits women prematurely undone by loneliness,
boils up off the horizon to suck dry
their desire as it flattened the stubborn grasses.
Not convinced? Scan the photographs,
grainy and sepia-toned, like old leather.
Study our bony forms in plain black dresses,
our mouths drawn tight as a saddle cinch,
accusation leaking from rudderless eyes, betrayed.

I tried. Lord knows I tried.
Survived the locusts and even snakes
that fell from the ceiling at night,
slithering between us in bed.
I dreamed of water, chiffon, the smell
of dead leaves banked against a rotting log.
I heard opera, carriage wheels on cobblestone.
Cried and beat my fists raw into those earthen walls.

The wind. Even as it scoured
the skin it flayed the soul,
that raked, pitted shell.
And how like the Cheyenne,
appearing, disappearing,
no fixed location,

not even a purpose one could name.



Peter Ludwin lives in Kent, Washington.  He is the recipient of a Literary Fellowship from Artist Trust.  His first book, A Guest in All Your Houses, was published in 2009 by Word Walker Press. His second, Rumors of Fallible Gods, was a finalist for the 2010 Gival Press Poetry Award, and will be published this summer by Presa Press.  For eleven years Ludwin has been a participant in the San Miguel Poetry Week in Mexico. He works as an art show manager, and loves to travel, having most recently visited the Tibetan region of Sichuan Province,China.


Frances McCue

The Other One Waits At Home


I’ve let the dog down.
Late with meals and walks,
I’m dog-deep in woeful starts
to make things better.
Not easy, this life–
the way it swings along:
Sore dog. Happy dog.
Folly of my needs.
“Love us,” we say.
“We command you.”
Her head nuzzles into
the corner of my arm.
She shivers along
shanks and withers
and sings far below
our frequency,
pinging along:
all muzzle and chop,
click click, chomp.

But please, Dog, sleep.
I’m tired too. Fetch
the dream life that tilts
any past askew.
Forgive me through
all these lacks and
I’ll forgive you
your drool and shits and
other indignities
of the expressionless.
Give me time to set it right.
I’ll roam the yards, flip
the cans, turn
through the bark-less,
hot twilight.
You rest.


Frances McCue is a writer and poet living in Seattle, where she is writer-in-residence at the University of Washington’s Undergraduate Honors Program. She was the founding director of Richard Hugo House from 1996 to 2006. McCue is the author of The Stenographer’s Breakfast, winner of the Barnard New Women Poets Prize, The Car That Brought You Here Still Runs:  Revisiting the Northwest Towns of Richard Hugo, with photographer Mary Randlett (University of Washington Press), and The Bled (Factory Hollow Press), winner of the 2011 Washington State Book Award and the2011 Grub Street Book Prize.

Sheryl Clough

Exit Glacier


Harding Icefield’s chilled womb pushes
the infant glacier toward the terminal
moraine sprawled on Resurrection River.
As other infants’ skull bones knit together,
Exit’s crack and cleave, blue fissures thrust in thunder.
She flings herself down from the nunataks
past heather, avalanche lilies and beargrass.
She crushes hillsides into plains,
hundred-year Sitka spruces to toothpicks,
boulders to glacial flour,
the power in her weight a blue statement
on the way to the grave.


“Exit Glacier” originally appeared in Spindrift. 

Sheryl Clough received her MFA from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, where she designed and taught UAF’s first writing course linked to environmental literature.  Her writing appears in Spindrift, Explorations, Storyboard, Sierra, Travelers Tales, Soundings Reviewand others.  Sheryl’s kayak adventure story “Icebergs in My Dreams” was published in the Seal Press anthology Solo: On Her Own Adventure.   Sheryl edited the new poetry anthology, Surrounded:  Living With Islands, available through Write Wing Publishing.