Janet Norman Knox

Wyckoff Superfund Site Sheetpile Wall
After Matthea Harvey


Consider the wall, its forced embrace,
holding back, holding arm’s length.

Consider the salt, its corrosive face,
trading electrons for rust,

turning iron to ore to dust
to its mantle-fed home.

Home to the wall
to consider its inside, faced

with floating
oil, sinking blebs—

like canola, molasses, caramel
to coat a face

of wood against sea—home
of many eating things.

Consider your face, its flush
of bacteria coating,

trace the line of your cheek,
one finger trading

a trail of cells
mine to yours, yours

on my fingertip holding
an armful of home.



Seven-time Pushcart nominee and finalist for the Discovery/The Nation Award, Janet Norman Knox’s poems have appeared in Los Angeles Review, 5 AM, Crab Creek Review, Rhino, Diner, Seattle Review, Adirondack Review, Poetry Southeast, Red Mountain Review, and Diagram. Her chapbook, Eastlake Cleaners When Quality & Price Count [a romance] received the Editor’s Award (Concrete Wolf, 2007). She received the Ruskin Poetry Prize (Red Hen Press) in 2008. The Los Angeles Review nominated her for 2010 Best New Poets. Her poetry was used by composer Paul Lewis for his 2006 opera, Last Poem on Earth. She participated in a 2011 Jack Straw Foundation Grant in collaboration with artist Syracuse University Professor Anne Beffel. Janet Norman Knox is also an owner of 25-year old Pacific Groundwater Group, an environmental and water resource consulting firm. She is an Environmental Geochemist specializing in contaminant investigations and cleanup like a doctor of the land.

Janet will be giving a Pocket Concert at the Seattle Repertory Theatre on September 28, 2012.

UPDATE:  Janet Knox’s poem, “Carbon Shining on our Faces” is worked into bars of glycerin soap available from the Brightwater Environmental Education Center for a limited time.  (September 30, 2013)

Jared Leising



Last night you raised your hand
to speak about the speed of things

in the film—amazed at how she
takes the time to make tea, iron

a shirt—because you can’t even
take the time to make a sandwich

without forgetting to put something
else, anything, between the bread.

You also spoke of this rush as doing
violence to the self, just a day after

getting word of your cousin’s suicide.
She was a happy woman, you said,

and that you could not reconcile. This
is what I’m trying to reconcile, a thing

slower than domesticity or death: our
embrace at the end of a day—swaying

in the dark exhaust of a parking garage,
like a Muybridge flipbook—still still

still still stillstillstillstillstill still still
still still still.


Jared Leising is the author of a chapbook of poems-The Widows and Orphans of Winesburg, Ohioand in 2010, Jared curated the Jack Straw Writers Program.  He’s served as president of the Washington Community College Humanities Association and on the Board of Directors for 826 Seattle.  Before moving to Seattle, Jared received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Houston. Currently, he’s teaching English at Cascadia Community College and coordinating 826 Seattle’s 2012 adult writing workshop series: “How to Write Like I Do.”


Jacob Uitti



I saw a bird in the grass
small and brown
its round body partially hidden in the long blades

around its throat was a ring of purple dried blood
and its yellow beak was open and a black tongue
hung out

one of its wings was broken and all the brown feathers had been torn off
the other wing was folded closely to its body

the feet were untouched

it was in the middle of the front yard, which was very small, about the size of a
Volkswagen with just the grass, and a single dogwood

I wanted to name her Sarah after an ex-girlfriend I’d

and so I picked up Sarah and wrapped her in the newspaper
and put her under the tree in the corner where no one would see her.



Jacob Uitti was born and raised in Princeton, NJ, and moved to Seattle in 2007. Since, he has co-founded the Seattle-based literary and arts journal The Monarch Review. He is also a co-founding member of the bands The Glass Notes and The Great Um. He has half a fake Master’s Degree from The University of Washington due to the number of classes he’s audited. Jacob also works tending bar and co-managing the PopUp restaurant Mo’Fun. Often, poetry can best express the idea with passion and a smirk unknown anywhere else.

Nancy Pagh

I Like To Be Still
After Pablo Neruda

I like to be still: it is as though there never was
such a thing as waking, and crows beyond the window
are distant as the beaches with private hotels.
No one strips the bedding. No one sweeps the sand.

Everyone chooses not to touch some things.
And the soul of these things goes on dreaming
and seems far away like our own red birth.
I am like the word annunciation.

I like to be still in this room in the morning.
A sleeping cat pushes his back to my spine.
There is nothing to look forward to
so much as fondling his head and the sound he will make.

You misunderstand my silence. All things are my soul
and the quietest things are me most of all. This is true:
I am not entertaining in the way that you want.
My breasts never warranted an exclamation mark.

I like to be still: it is as though there never was
possibility then possibility taken away beyond windows
and stars and the high afternoon so remote like you
and everyone choosing to touch other things.


“I Like to Be Still” is reprinted from After (Floating Bridge Press, 2008)

Nancy Pagh has authored two award-winning collections of poetry, No Sweeter Fat (Autumn House Press book award) and After (Floating Bridge Press chapbook competition), and one book of nonfiction (At Home Afloat). Her work appears in numerous publications, including Prairie Schooner, Crab Creek Review, Poetry Northwest, Rattle, The Bellingham Review,and O Magazine. She was born in the island community of Anacortes, Washington, and currently teaches at Western Washington University in Bellingham.

Sarah Zale


Diego Rivera: Industrial Detroit Murals
a pecha kucha


[Baby in the Bulb]

If a child, fetal in the womb
of a daffodil, growing heart and brain
and petals that protect with careless poison,
what will we say of spring—the world in bloom?

[Fruits and Vegetables]

During the first revolution of the human journey,
we cultivated einkorn, barley, and figs. The second
revolution: steam, gas, and combustion engines.
Now, it is coming, a great turning—a new way
of listening, of creating. Of understanding seed.

[Four Races]

It is hard work. They call themselves Fire or Air,
Earth, Water. They answer to North, South, East
or West. One says Call me Coal or Iron, Limestone,
Sand. It does not matter to the heart, the volcano,
the furnace. As they work, they are steel.


He cannot fool himself. The eyes of the Other stare
back like a mirror. He picks up his palette and brush
and paints his own face into the crowd. There he is,
the man with a hat and brown eyes.

[Conveyer Belt]

On my left you rise, I pull then lean and lift
into the wait of the pull to my right. Some hear
music. Some say machine, some say dance.
Every line of your life crosses your face.

[Manager and Worker]

I am the sound of steam and sweat.
You are ear. When I smoke after dinner,
you hear me exhale. When I make love
to my wife and she calls out my name,
you sigh.

[Poison Gas]

Workers put gas in a bomb. They put pyrethroids in a can.
Wilfred cannot pronounce it. He says dulce, he says
hissss. He says a spider will jump, run, do flips
to its back, roll back to its feet. Repeat till it dies.

It is an old story. Hands rise, fingers empty
and craggy as talons. Some formed as fists.
Others are molten and alive, and of the earth.
They fold around augite, quartz, mica, feldspar.


A manager in the aviation capital of America
hires a worker to build a plane. A woman flies
to Chicago to see her daughter. An army pilot learns
to drive a “tin goose.” A dove enters the open eye
of the engine fan, beneath the center blades.

[Half Face, Half Skull]

Sometimes, in the dark, I look
into the mirror and see my death.
I am not afraid. I offer my hand and we go
back to bed.

[Stamping Machine]

No longer listen to wind through tall grass
nor ride the pull of ripples across water.
So says this god, our creation. We miss
Coatlicue. She with her head of snakes
only asked for human blood.

[People on Tour]

People enjoy the zoo. They say
the animals act almost human. Men in fedoras
talk to their watches. The Katzenjammer kids
pull another prank. Foolish, say the monkeys,
and never laugh.

[Engine Dog]

The ancients used a guide for passage
to the next world. Charon ferried the dead
across the River Styx. Pre-Columbians chose
a Colima dog. My brother plans to drive himself
behind the wheel of a 4-valve, V-8 engine.

[Predella Panels]

During the Hunger March, he saw
even blood in shades of grey. One day
someone will paint his story. The world
will know more than the grisade of his life.

[Spindle Machine]

My job is about boring holes
in engine blocks. After work, I go out for beers
with Quetzalcoatl, Muhammad, Krishna,
Siddhartha, and the new guy, Jésus.

[La Raza Cósmica]

The Census Bureau does not list
el espiritu as a race, yet here we are,
working side by side, of one blood.
Por mi raza hablará el espiritu.


Whether a child is the son of God
or the son of a scientist, aviator, inventor,
we look at him with hope. We are sure we have time
to do good things. We are sure we are forgiven.

[River to Fordlandia]

Some men like to tame the land, some like
to tame other men. They forget they are only men
and others are not clay. On the third day, he created land,
and a river from Detroit to Brazil.

[Night Foreman]

I am 45th on the assembly line of 84 steps.
The guy next to me places an engine. I add a bolt.
It is a game of interchangeable parts. Bricker says
93 minutes is too long to build a Tin Lizzie.

[Miller Street Bridge]

It is the end of March and bitterly cold. I count
the stairs to the bridge: one, two, three–Joe,
Joe, another Joe. Four, Cole. Shot and buried
with union on their lips. Black Curtis, five.
His ashes like snow dot the cemetery soil.


“Diego Rivera: Industrial Detroit Murals” is reprinted from Sometimes You Do Things (Aquarius Press; March 2013).

View the murals.


Sarah Zale teaches writing and poetry in Seattle. She holds an MFA in poetry from Goddard College. The Art of Folding: Poems was inspired by her travels to Israel and Palestine. Sometimes You Do Things: Poems will be published March 2013 (Aquarius Press, Living Detroit Series). The title poem appears in Floating Bridge Review 3. Naomi Shihab Nye awarded “September 24, 1930: The Last Hanging in Michigan” as a finalist in the 2011 Split This Rock Poetry Contest. Zale’s work is in the anthology Come Together, Imagine Peace, a finalist for the 2009 Eric Hoffer Award. She lives in Port Townsend.

Abbie Miller

My Granddaughter

I brag                                                                                                                                              a quarter Indian
Lakota and Cherokee

It’s on her other side                                                                                                                          I know in fact
She’s no more than a sixteenth                                                                                                      though she looks at least half

With dark brown hair                                                                                                                       black eyes of almonds
Golden skin

The most beautiful thing                                                                                                                   I’ve ever seen
Perfect teeth                                                                                                                                      fingers and toes
Of prehistoric determination

She climbs                                                                                                                                    like a monkey
Stalks and attacks                                                                                                                          like a hunter warrior

Calls herself a tom boy                                                                                                                     yet comes home
With sticks and stones                                                                                                                      to make a fire

She can, by herself                                                                                                                         at five
Put on all my jewels

She picks the beaded pieces first

The neck shawl                                                                                                                               black and red
Green and white

For a moment she holds it                                                                                                                 right under her eyes
It covers her nose                                                                                                                             mouth and chin

She says, “can I keep it like this?”                                                                                                   be the most exotic queen of Sheba,
Cleopatra or perhaps                                                                                                                  Scheherazade

We think                                                                                                                                             as she lays the abalone necklace
On top of her head

Both wrists in bracelets                                                                                                                    one from Aunt Shirlee                                                                                                                 one from Auntie Pat

She repeats the names                                                                                                                  as I tell her
One after another

Where all the pieces came from


“My Granddaughter” is reprinted from Born & Raised to Be (2007).


Abbie Miller was born in Okanogan County in 1957, grew up and lives in the Methow Valley, where she raised her family as a single mother. Her ancestors were some of the original pioneers of North Central Washington. Her grandchildren are the seventh generation to live in Okanogan County; the fifth to be on her place in Carlton. She lives in what was once her grandfather’s barn, and writes in the old coop, on the farm, where she and her husband keep bees. Abbie considers herself a folk poet, has performed her poems many times and has been a regular contributor to the Methow Valley News. Her first collection is Born & Raised to Be (2007).

Merna Ann Hecht

Farmers Market at the Autumn Equinox

wanting to nest
in the yellow-leafed wind,
inside this basket
heaped with late saucers
of summer squash,
bunched arugula,
lipstick and gypsy peppers,

we know the news of the day,
wars against children,
tax cuts for the rich,
environmental assault,
it doesn’t stop,

but this morning
if I must think of what’s gone bad,
let it be a bruised eggplant,
an apple with a worm,
let me hear the tambourine
of the moon
as it lights the way for the corn
to rise up,

among this bounty
the memory of my grandfather
travels in me
as if from the thin roots
of carrots, to the leafy tops,
and I am with him in his garden
as he listens to the small song
of a seed before planting it,

kneeling to earth
he asks the seed, how it wants to flower.
Tonight, I will dream of him,
dream he has cupped his hands
around mine, and between us we hold
a luminous sliver of prayer
for what the world could still become.



Merna Ann Hecht, storyteller, poet, and essayist teaches creative writing and humanities at the University of Washington Tacoma. For the past nine years she was a teaching artist with the Seattle WITS program. Merna also directs a poetry project with immigrant and refugee youth. She has been a teaching artist in hospitals, detention facilities for homeless and adjudicated youth and at BRIDGES: A Center for Grieving Children in Tacoma. Merna received a 2008 Jack Straw Writers award, a National Storytelling Community Service Award and a National Storytelling Network Brimstone Award for Applied Storytelling. Her essays and poems have appeared in Kaleidoscope, Out of Line, The National Storytelling Journal, The Storyteller’s Classroom; Chosen Tales: One Generation Tells Another; the Teachers & Writers Collaborative Magazine;Drash: Northwest Mosaic  and other books and journals.



Student Poem

Ode to S
by Kate (3rd Grade)

S swirls around each star,
it dances on the rain cloud of the
you hear it coming
when S streams by,
as if it was late for something
almost as important as a new
born baby stepping into the light of
the universe.
S has the texture of dew
in the morning,
as the mist streams out of
the night before,
S dives into the depths
of children’s words


Kate wrote her poem, “Ode to S,”  as a third grader at View Ridge Elementary in Seattle. I had the privilege of working with Kate through Writers in the Schools, a wonderful program that inspires students to write creatively and powerfully by placing professional, passionate writers in the classroom.  In the 2011-12 school year, 24 writers-in-residence taught poetry, fiction, comics, memoir, and playwriting to 5,520 students in the greater Puget Sound region.  WITS will celebrate the publication of a new student anthology on Sunday, September 30 at 5:00pm at Benaroya’s Recital Hall, with a reading by student contributors.  The event is free, open to the public, and unforgettable.

WITS is part of Seattle Arts and Lectures, who will be honored with a Mayor’s Arts Award on August 31 at Seattle Center.  Congratulations SAL!

Sylvia Byrne Pollack

Vagrant Waltz
For Yaffa

It’s time in mid-summer
to think about nothing,
turn from ideas,
make ice cream instead,
float on a raft of popsicle sticks.

You will know when to get up,
wield pencils like chopsticks,
tease apart vagabond thoughts
meandering through your mind.

When bedraggled ideas knock
at your door, don’t turn them
away. Like your mother before you
give handouts to hoboes –

a sketch of a cat will be
etched on your gate.
Words will come tramping
into your dreams, vamp
your domesticated mind

with rumbles, a jungle
utterly outside your safe picket fence.


“Vagrant Walz” previously appeared in Shark Reef.

Sylvia Byrne Pollack retired from careers in cancer research and mental health counseling but remains on “active duty” as a poet and grandmother. She lives and writes in Seattle. Her recent poems have appeared in Hobble Creek Review, in Drash: Northwest Mosaic and are forthcoming in Solo Novo.

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.