Kathryn Smith

After the Funeral

We pushed our bicycles up to Halstaad’s Field, fallow
for years now, overrun with brambles and thistle.
Sweat soaked our clothes, too black for August amid weeks
without rain. At the hill’s crest, the farmhouse faded from view—mother
at a window somewhere, inconsolably repeating the scripture’s refrain—
and we cut across to the narrow trail we’d worked three summers carving.

It took longer than it should have to catch my breath, but when Eddie said,
“I dare you,” I mounted my bicycle and let fly. The kingdom of heaven
is like a cloudless summer sky, earth beneath it parched

and aching. I could feel Eddie gaining on me, and I pedaled
harder, veins thrumming my temples, reveling in the dust storm
we had created, coating our clothes and our faces. The kingdom is like
the forgotten field, rocks heaved to the surface by centuries of frost.
Then, the scree-strewn clearing a hairsbreadth away, which,
at the point of overtaking, the slightest clip of the handlebars
sends you toward, and over, chain sprung from its wheel, pedals
spinning a windmill fury. The kingdom of heaven is like—look, Eddie,
no hands!—rising from the saddle as though lifted, weightless, close
as I’ve been to birds when their wings are stretched in flight.

When we returned, mother wouldn’t know us, transformed
as we were by sweat and dust, beaming like children who’d never
lost a thing, who’d tasted the kingdom’s salt moments before
the yawning sky lets go to gravity, before the tumble
and burn, the elusive wisp of freedom snatched by the sear
of gravel as it enters, irrevocably, the flesh.

Kathryn Smith received her MFA from the Inland Northwest Center for Writers at Eastern Washington University, where she helped edit Willow Springs.  She is a copy editor for The Spokesman-Review, a master gardener in training, and a community volunteer.  Her poems have appeared in Rock and Sling, Redactions, and Third Coast.  She lives in Spokane, Washington.



August 13, 2012 Seattle celebrates Cirque!

Spend an evening with the poets and writers of Cirque, and join us for a silent auction of Cirque artwork.
August 13, 2012, at 7pm at ACT, A Community Theatre. 700 Union Street, Seattle, WA.
Free event, donations appreciated.

This is a great opportunity to meet the new Cirque editors and to socialize with local writers.
CONTACT: Christianne Balk cbalk@juno.com



Wednesday, August 15th, 6:30-8:00 p.m.
Traditions Café
5th Ave. and Water St. Downtown Olympia

Come poets,
come writers,
come mystics,
come sages,
come flowers in your hair
and come poetry slammers!
August 15th is an ALL OPEN MIC NIGHT! This event happens once a year! This is the time to come out of your shells and to greet the audiences with your words of wisdom and sarcastic folly.
CONTACT: Willow Wicklund: 970-988-4368


Saturday, September 8. Doors open 6:30. Art giveaway begins 7:30 sharp.
The Renaissance Seattle Hotel
in the Madison Ballroom
515 Madison Street (at 6th)
Seattle, WA 98104

The Floating Bridge Press “Great Art Party” is back one more time!
Want to know more about how you can benefit a Washington State poetry institution and take home art by well-known Pacific Northwest artists, all at the same time?
(How it works)

Artists whose work will be available for grabbing include Steve Jensen, Eva Isaksen, Curt Brock, Bill Baber, Gregory Grenon, and many, many more.

Ticket options include $25, $100 and $300 levels.

Sit at the Poet Laureate Table! Contact me at mail@kathleenflenniken.com if you would like to be seated with me.

Julie Larios

Woman with the Beak of an Octopus


She has become almost human, having been a creature
of the sea, multi-armed, dependent on saltwater,
and on certain tidal patterns and marine behavior.

Though she has become almost human, her skeleton is new,
inflexible and strange to her. What she still doesn’t know
about air she is trying hard to learn, with neurons

numbering in the billions now, gills gone, her new brain
localized and voluminous. For years, her arms had been
conscious entities, self-directed. That was before the bones

began to grow and the outer mantle to thin, before
the siphon closed. By choice, she left the shallow floor
of the ocean and began to move closer in to shore,

pulled by a changeable sky and the marvel of human sound.
The idea of seasons charmed her, as did the sun and moon,
and her desire for non-attachment trumped the art of suction.

All that is left is to form a human mouth from her beak.
Soon now, she will forget the ink sac, forget how to breathe
underwater, how to forage below the surface, how not to speak.

In form, she will be human, though whenever she passes
a large window, believing it to be liquid, her heart will race
and her hands will be drawn, inexplicably, toward the glass.


“Woman with the Beak of an Octopus” originally appeared in The Indiana Review in a slightly different form. You might enjoy comparing the effect of the prose-poem structure to the lineated version, above.


Julie Larios has published poems in many reviews including Field, Threepenny Review, The Georgia Review, Ploughshares, Poetry Northwest, and The Atlantic. She also publishes books for children (two of them illustrated by Seattle artist Julie Paschkis) and recently wrote the libretto for a penny opera titled “Three Acts of a Sad Play Performed Entirely in Bed” with music by composer Dag Gabrielson as part of the New York City Opera’s VOX Festival. She is the winner of a Pushcart Prize and Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Award and has been published twice in The Best American Poetry.


Peter Aaron

Senior Prom


What if I had sauntered
tuxedoed and carnationed
into the gymnasium
with an Albright twin
on each arm— they
draped to bedazzle
in identical organza
of palest empyrean
and wristletted
with orchids
their azure eyes aglitter
and prominent almost rodent-
esque front teeth
gleaming in the dance-
floor lights— what
sweet revision wrought
of the frightened creature
he was then— now
whistling benignly back
from the gray unfamiliar
prospect the present


Peter Aaron operates an independent bookstore in Seattle.

Student Poem

Today’s poem is by Rose, age 16, who participated in the Pongo Teen Writing Project in the King County Juvenile Detention system. Her poem is featured in There Had to Have Been Someone, one of 13 print poetry anthologies that Pongo has published over the past 17 years. Please watch a short video by John Sharify, Poetry flows from teens behind bars, featured on KING5 News yesterday, for more information about Pongo’s important work with distressed youth.


Ice Cream Man

I just thought you should know
that sometimes I’m afraid of you.
I don’t mind you rep’ing the gangs,
but sometimes when I look into your eyes,
I see violence against me,
I see violence against your grandma,
and it hurts me inside.

I just thought you should know,
I want to work in here someday,
helping kids that went through what I went through,
help them understand why I ran away from home,
because my parents beat me,
because the stress in my life
made me do something stupid.
I was the girl who stopped going to school,
I was the girl who stopped listening to her parents,
who started drinking and smoking.

I just thought you should know
that one side of me wants to be with you
and one side of me does not,
and the side that does not is confused,
feels like a lost sheep.

I just thought you should know,
I see myself with a happy family
in a park, Oakland, CA, eating barbequed lamb
next to the swimming pool while dads play tennis
and moms talk and serve food
and all the Tongan people speak to the ice cream man.

I just thought you should know
I’m tired of seeing what people do on the streets,
and I’m tired of being part of it.

I just thought you should know,
I want to say hello again to the ice cream man.

Dedicated to Z


“Ice Cream Man” previously appeared in There Had to Have Been Someone, 2011.


Rose, age 16, wrote “Ice Cream Man” with the Pongo Teen Writing Project, which teaches and mentors personal poetry by distressed teens all over King County, especially those who have a hard time expressing themselves. Pongo is the brainchild of poet Richard Gold, who has worked tirelessly to create, maintain, and promote this program that helps  youth understand their feelings, build self-esteem, and take better control of their lives. Pongo’s trained volunteers establish writing projects inside juvenile detention centers, psychiatric hospitals, and other sites.  The Pongo web site provides writing opportunities and invites youth to write poetry on the web site.  They also happily share resources and teaching methods with counselors and teachers, all for free. The program was featured on KING5 News in Seattle yesterday.

Pongo Teen Writing Project from Richard Gold on Vimeo.

Ted McMahon


This morning, on our walk between rain squalls
we circled the lake at the head of the Cayou valley.
There, amidst an insistence of flickers, a burble
of robins, the rusty scrape of the red-wing blackbird,
we happened upon a black-feathered shape, which flew up
at our approach, into the trees. Where it had been,
what had seemed a rumpled blanket,
was a doe, no more than two days dead.
Ribs furled around a thorax
empty of lungs, empty of heart, open
to the thin mist of rain. And the ribs themselves,
pink and clean of meat, a lesson in anatomy taught
by that bald scavenger waiting above, waiting
to resume his lecture on our shared fate.


“Prosector” previously appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Ted McMahon’s poetry has appeared in Seattle Review, Convolvulus, Manzanita Quarterly, Rosebud, and the Journal of the American Medical Association, and on The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor. His full-length collection is The Uses of Imperfection, published in 2003. He published a chapbook, First Fire, in 1996. Ted received the 1999 Carlin Aden Award for formal verse from the Washington Poets Association, and a 2004 Artist Trust GAP Grant. He was finalist for the Ruth Stone Prize in Poetry in 2005. Ted was a co-editor at Floating Bridge Press in Seattle from 1999-2006. He currently practices Pediatrics half time in the Seattle neighborhood of Ballard and devotes the other half to writing and leading river journeys.  He lives in the Seattle neighborhood of Wallingford with his wife, photographer Rosanne Olson, and their two Maine Coon cats, Zoe and Maxx.




Jenifer Browne Lawrence

Sedna at the Juneau Cold Storage Dock


There’s a hole in the bottom of the sea and she’s afraid
to go swimming. Not that the water is too cold. Not
that the halibut below the dock—the one
that swallowed a scuba diver tank and all—
is real, but she’s afraid not to believe

the myth, how salmon
heads and lungs, tails and ropy innards
fed the halibut until it grew
a mouth like an orca, a cavern
gaping on its flat, two-tone body,

the girl’s body
shivering in the open boat, she can’t
remove her float coat for a swim,
not even for her father.
There’s a hole in the harbor floor

where the water darkens, out
past the jetty. That’s where she would go
if she were real, if she were the fish-woman
whose fingers were chopped off by her father
to make her let go of the boat.


“Sedna at the Juneau Cold Storage Dock” originally appeared in Narrative Magazine.  


Jenifer Browne Lawrence is the author of One Hundred Steps from Shore (Blue Begonia, 2006). She was awarded the 2011 James Hearst Poetry Prize and is a Washington State Artist Trust GAP grant recipient. Recent work appears in Bellevue Literary Review, Caesura, Crab Creek Review, Court Green, Narrative, and the North American Review. Jenifer lives in Poulsbo, Washington, and serves on the Centrum advisory board for the Port Townsend Writers’ Conference.