Martha Clarkson

Room at the Top


Lydia Shultan has invisible friends, whose names all begin with J.
They live in the attic of her parents’ house
and stick together under the northeast eave.
She holds court sitting Indian-style on her aunt’s footlocker.

Lydia Shultan has an imagination like grass.
Fast growing and self-fertilized, with an occasional blow-able dandelion.
Her parents feel compelled to mow it back now and then,
disregarding her atmosphere.

Lydia Shultan creates a play where her box turtles are the actors.
She names one Charlie Chaplin, because of course it has to be a silent play.
For the score she plays her only piano piece, “Merry Roses.”
The blank-eyed turtles forget to take a bow.

Lydia Shultan isn’t going to get any brothers and sisters.
She’ll have to settle for the attic friends, who tend to be catty
and are unnaturally blonde, and the girls wear nylons instead of knee-highs.
Sometimes they run around the attic naked, so Lydia does, and it feels like flying.


Martha Clarkson manages corporate workplace design in Seattle. Her poetry and fiction can be found in monkeybicycle6, Clackamas Literary Review, Seattle Review, Portland Review, elimae, and Nimrod. She is a recipient of a Washington Poets Association William Stafford prize 2005, a Pushcart Nomination, and is listed under “Notable Stories,” Best American Non-Required Reading for 2007 and 2009.  She lives in Kirkland.


James Bertolino



This morning the ice came.
Everything fresh
and new––but don’t be fooled.

Water is old.

When it’s just cold enough,
ice will enclose everything––pebbles,
twigs, ripe fruit and all
we’ve built––in a brilliant casing.

This is the way water memorizes
what is temporary and
in danger. Water carries the blueprint
for what has been made,

what is missing.

At this moment, in the profound depths
of the Pacific, water is remembering
a perfect model of Hiroshima
in April of 1944.

It is glowing with the pink
of plum blossoms.


“Blueprint” is reprinted from Finding Water, Holding Stone


James Bertolino’s tenth volume of poetry, Finding Water, Holding Stone, was published in 2009 by Cherry Grove Collections. His 26 poetry collections include books from Carnegie Mellon University Press and the Quarterly Review of Literature Award Series at Princeton University. He’s received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Ohio Arts Council, and Book-of-the-Month Club, as well as the Jeanne Lohmann Poetry Prize for Washington State poets. His teaching includes Cornell University, University of Cincinnati, Western Washington University and Willamette University. He served as a judge for the 2009, 2010 and 2011 American Book Awards in poetry. He lives outside Bellingham.

Therese Clear

Kitchen Mischief


Best when used by. Rich
and creamy. Extra virgin.
Those with sweet flavors.
Double-acting. Will perk up.
Only cold water should be used!

Add hot juice. Beat. Bring to a boil.
As desired. Grease lightly.
Until completely dissolved.
Shake well.
May explode if heated.

A pinch or two.
Gives zest to.
Adds pungency.
Fast rising and active!
Questions? Comments?

Do not use delay timer.
Knead. Let double in size.
Even the most delicate.
Most unadulterated.
Raw & real. Honey.


Therese Clear is a Seattle poet, a founder of Floating Bridge Press,
and has been publishing her work for over thirty years. Poems have
appeared in Poetry Northwest, Fine Madness, Calyx, Crab Creek Review,
Atlanta Review,
and other journals and anthologies. She manages
production and shipping for a Seattle glass artist.

Student Poem

True Music


Playing an instrument is like reading a book
With each stroke, the plot thickens and creates a hook
It starts off happy, until disaster comes
Music explodes like thunder then is followed by quiet hums
Caused by the disaster no one knew would come

Music begins returning as a hero appears in the gloom
Slowly, a magnificent crescendo fills the room
For the hero began the battle with the dreaded evil that lay before him
The song’s intense, as well as the battle
But the hero is winning, and his rival starts to cower

For the battle is finally over
As peace is restored to the land
Both with song and story
Beginning to end



Kevin is an eighth grader in Janet Freece’s Language Arts class at Mt. Solo Middle School in Longview. I visited last month and had the pleasure of hearing Kevin and many of his classmates recite their own poems as well as classic poems like “The Cremation of Sam McGee” by Robert Service and “One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop. They had also worked on a project “interviewing” dead poets, and turned some of their questions on me. Congratulations to Janet for creating so much enthusiasm in her classroom for poetry!

Kary Wayson

The Lives of Artists


I’m a nuisance on my route, an imposition

in the alleyway, just past the house of
shared custody: glass clock in the window like a ticking
terrarium. I manage like a mother
with a daughter who looks just like her father
and I am almost up to here

where once, in an alcove
of myself, I lingered in a stand of birches. Here
my mind gets shy
as if I’d asked my daughter to say hello
to a stranger. I don’t have a daughter. But crossing the street,
I jerk her little arm.

There is a joy in talking through an open window with a friend

on the sidewalk below. My mother understood it, with her
underwater tea parties on the bottom of the swimming pool.

Map for me my walking route and I will walking go.

It is new to be beautiful

and unseemly to say so. I manage
many paintings of the same Catholic saints, each
family holy according to another —
and then we get to the Caravaggio.

It’s new to be beautiful
and boring. It’s like counting to two
and turning around
and counting to two again.

But I was good! I was good! I let

the offer lie there like I’d rent
an empty room: the one electrical outlet,
the sink in the corner, the pull-out, the sofa.

I took how many tenants through.

The only clothes I’m wearing now
is the dress on the bed beside me –

And I am to bed like the station to the train:

to the bed headed
by the street below it. I mean
I am the station. There is the train
like a river
deranged by colors of cargo.

I go to the river
to read red books
and reason —

I sit with the sky. I go for a walk
to visit this direction:
really there’s no need to rhyme.



“The Lives of Artists” was previously published in Crazyhorse, and the winner of the Linda Hull Memorial Prize, selected by James Tate.


Kary Wayson’s poems have appeared in Crazyhorse, Poetry Northwest, Alaska Quarterly Review, The Nation, The Journal, FIELD, Filter, The Best American Poetry 2007, and the 2010 Pushcart Prize anthology. Kary was a 2003 Discovery/The Nation award winner, and her chapbook, Dog & Me, was published in 2004 by LitRag Press. Her first full collection, American Husband, won the Ohio State University Press/ The Journal Award in 2009. Kary lives and works in Seattle.


Anne Pitkin

Lapland Longspur


Arctic Sparrow
it balances
on a dwarf fireweed.
Hills and sky roll
off the end of the visible world

which tilts
through the implacable
of space, unprotected,
its own laws exacting
and without prejudice.

Even so, a furious
and delicate imbalance
thrives here:

purple aster, harebell,
yellow oxytrope, the Longspur
whose perch trembles
as it lets go and darts to the next.


Some proportions
have no meaning: harebell
to Arctic winter, Longspur
to the urgency of summer
on the tundra’s millions of acres
where it nests,
its home lined
with a puff of wool
from the musk ox.


Fewer and fewer stars set
as one travels
farther north in winter.
The Auroras swing across the sky,
souls, some say,
of children
who have died at birth.
All night, they dance,
all the sunless weeks
they dance in circles
whipping streamers of light
across the land encased
by an adamant darkness.


Tonight, the news
of a death was followed
by a Mozart concerto
for flute and orchestra,

was followed by the music
of Mozart as it has played
through two centuries of loss

for which there is no recompense.

The life of a bird
hurries from sparrow to sparrow.

The Longspur builds
its minute bones with calcium
from the skeletons of lemmings.

Occasionally, on the beach,
it nests in the skull of a walrus

The life of a bird
sometimes hurries from a stutter
of wings to singing that flashes
across an empty landscape.


Point Barrow:
Near midnight, July Fourth,
two boys walk out
on the melting sea ice.

From a distance,
against the white sea,
small and black under the sun,
they seem to be dancing
round and round

on the ice
at its most dangerous.

A few say, when we speak
of the end

of the Longspur, even
of Mozart, a very few say still
the earth may heal itself.


“Lapland Longspur” originally appeared in Ironwood.


Anne Pitkin grew up in Clarksville, TN, and earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Vanderbilt University. She earned a second master’s from Antioch University in 1988. She has worked both as a community college instructor and as a psychotherapist. Winter Arguments (Ahadada Books, 2011) is her third collection after Yellow (Arrowood Books, 1989) and the chapbook Notes for Continuing the Performance (Jawbone Press, 1977). Her work has appeared in Poetry, Prairie Schooner, Alaska Quarterly Review, and many others. A mother of three, grandmother of two, she currently lives in Seattle, where she plays jazz piano with her friends.

Joanne M. Clarkson

Sky of Four Sisters


Four firs marked the northern edge
of our acres. Our welcome, we
watched them for miles calling us
home. Our warriors, they shielded us
from the worst of winter storms, moss
cushioning our ice. In summer we
camped beneath their feathered
shade, lazy with evergreen breezes.

“We live at Four Sisters,” we would say
and everyone knew our place.

So that after a lightning strike took down
the eastern-most tree, we didn’t change
our address, still seeing her sway
like a Kirlian print, pinnacle home to falcon
and crow, needles a mist of cocoon spin.

‘Four Sisters’ on a mailbox;
how memory continues a sacred name.
How some bonds have such deep
roots, that even the wind
honors their space.


“Sky of Four Sisters” was previously published in Caesura.


Joanne M. Clarkson is the author of two books of poems: Pacing the Moon (Chantry Press) and Crossing Without Daughters (March Street Press). Her work has appeared recently in Hospital Row, Amoskeag Review, Beyond Forgetting: Poetry and Prose about Alzheimer’s Disease, and Shadow and Light: A Literary Anthology on Memory. She has a Master’s Degree in English and has taught but currently works as a Registered Nurse specializing in Hospice and Community Nursing in Olympia.