Mercedes Lawry

Whatever the loneliness, drawing closer


The French teacher remains unemployed
and yet committed to a daily excursion,
able to walk past any shop, open or closed,
carrying linens or sleek shoes or pears.
Reading the encyclopedia in dim light,
a kind of swimming or prayer. No pets,
no children either and no regrets.
The neighbor notices much of this
but fails to muster compassion,
turning back to the long howl of the blues
and his own preoccupation with philately.
No one is traveling in the corporal sense.
Thin trees cast shadows on the avenue,
suggesting incarceration or clever design
or even a cast of pencils about to scribble
the ultimate piece of fiction, where everyone
is saved, the teacher given gainful
employment and the neighbor, a valuable stamp.
Eradicating loneliness as a sweet rain
begins to fall, amid echoes of the dead, passports
clutched in their shivery hands.


“Whatever the loneliness, drawing closer” is reprinted from Happy Darkness (Finishing Line Press, 2011) and originally appeared in Seattle Review.


Mercedes Lawry has published poetry in such journals as Poetry, Rhino, Nimrod, Poetry East, Seattle Review, Bellingham Review, and others.  She’s also published fiction and humor as well as stories and poems for children.  Among the honors she’s received are awards from the Seattle Arts Commission, Hugo House, and Artist Trust.  She’s been a Jack Straw Writer, held a residency at Hedgebrook and is a Pushcart Prize nominee.  Her chapbook, There are Crows in My Blood, was published by Pudding House Press in 2007 and another chapbook, Happy Darkness, was released by Finishing Line Press in 2011.  She lives in Seattle.


Laura Gamache


“Aesthetic distance
can save your life.”
-Mark Doty

Skull Point bone sand
pebble baby teeth
under the gibbous moon.

How will your children
decorate your sugar skull?
Blue icing lips to kiss them with.

Mist kisses the moon –
Makes it disappear behind
the mountain with Scottish name.


“Indian Graveyard, Dia de Los Muertos” appeared in Floating Bridge Review.


Seattle poet and educator Laura Gamache has poetry appearing or forthcoming in Clackamas Literary Review, Crab Creek Review, Pontoon 7 & 10, South Dakota Review, and online journals Avatar Review, LocusPoint: Seattle, and Menacing Hedge, among others. She has published essays in Teachers & Writers Magazine and the anthology Classics in the Classroom, as well as fiction in North Atlantic Review. She was chosen as a Jack Straw Writer in 1999 and 2002. Laura teaches throughout the Northwest, including for the Seattle Arts & Lectures’ WITS and Sprague Williamson Writers in Residence Programs. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington in 1993, where she directed the MFA Writers in the Schools Program for ten years.


Connie Walle

Withholding of Love as the Ultimate Violence
From Battery, Robin Morgan


No curl was set correctly, no
movement was graceful
or complete. No silver shined
next to the washed dish.

The silence of her lips,
the sight of her back left me
empty handed. The moon
always shrouded in veil.

Ripples of her judgment
could drown me in despair.
She peeled layers
from me year after year,

until reaching my hard core.
That she could not destroy.
That I polished like crystal.


Connie Walle, residing in Tacoma, Washington, is President and founder of Puget Sound Poetry Connection where she hosts the “Distinguished Writer Series”. Connie also founded Our Own Words, a Pierce County Wide teen writing contest.   A few of her publications include Floating Bridge Review, Raven Chronicles, Tahoma’s Shadow, and Cradle Song.


Jodie Marion

Marriage Proposal


Woman, I crossed twelve borders to bring you this grilled cactus drizzled with fire,
this body covered in sawdust, this altar of saltwater framed with barbed wire.

I’m a stranger everywhere, so we’ll have to make our home in no-man’s land.
You booby trap the borders with cow bells, and I’ll build the Forbidden

City and a pole to hang our rice paper flag. When the rain in June chews
through it, we’ll draw lines in the sand, and hang another, never lose

our earthly bearings. Watch me chase away mountain lions with mime.
You can tend the fire in your suit of mud, plaster the walls with lime.

I’ll cook up some pearlash and make you glass to shatter when I’m a beast. I’ll atone
with my tongue, sweep the shards and become the moon, your own glowing stone

slurping at the tides. Hurry. Say yes. I want to stuff you with sugared almonds.
The mice are chewing through the bag of birdseed. The sun burns high. Holland’s

almost underwater. Make your life with me. Let’s build it tall and wide,
set it ablaze, and forget to reproduce. Say yes. A quick nod is fine.

I want to wear you like a second skin. Look, here, at the dark spot, you
unzip. Say yes, woman, then lay with me in the shadows of this old yew.



“Marriage Proposal” is from Jodie Marion’s forthcoming chapbook, Another Exile on the 45th Parallel (Floating Bridge Press, 2012).


Jodie Marion’s chapbook, Another Exile on the 45th Parallel, is forthcoming from Floating Bridge Press in October 2012. Recent poems have appeared in Best New Poets 2011, Narrative Magazine, and The New Guard Literary Review. In 2010 she was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She teaches writing at Mt. Hood Community College and raises four wild children with her husband in Vancouver, WA.

Boyd W. Benson

The Department of Licensing


The large woman who squints up
from behind her desk, her coffee and computer,
and the photos of the smiling family,
asks if I’m an organ donor
and then if I’m a registered voter.
Behind me, across the disinfected
waiting room, a child coughs
whose mother once had someone needle
into the upper, fleshy part
of her breast the name “Mark,” now
yellowed like an old newspaper headline,
who would not vote for me, or me her,
neither of us desiring anything
of the other’s organs.

For a moment, in this glow
from the large window (that should be
a wall) overlooking the parking lot
and my old truck — the light
spilling in upon the polished floor,
the white stucco walls — and for all of us
resigned to the strange need
to license ourselves,
to squint at one another
and cover our coughing mouths
for the betterment of the general public,
this is how it is.


Boyd W. Benson spent his youth in Everett and Whidbey Island.  A semi-professional musician, he moved to Idaho in his early twenties and ended up in Clarkston, Washington, where he spent over two decades.  He has recently moved back to Everett.  He’s most comfortable as a cook, but he’s dabbled at many roles.  He taught writing at Washington State University for a decade.  He’s currently trying his hand at freelance writing and, likewise, playing music in Everett, and looking for employment.  All in all, the game of poetry has been very good to him, enabling him to meet and converse with poets and writers he’s always admired, and he would like to thank the various editors and committees that have supported his work.  Since poetry has little or no economic value in a capitalist society, he believes in it highly, and remains humbled by all the poets of Washington.


Caleb Barber

Beast in Me


When I said I would take you swimming,
I meant we would drive out
to the reservation and I’d say
it was too cold to take our clothes off.

When I said I would take you camping,
I meant I would wait until you went
away to Spain, then go to the hills by myself.

When I said “Yes, I will definitely be
at that show,” I meant I would
show up late, with a can of Rainier
in each of my pants pockets,
then leave once they were empty.

When I said we should maybe just
keep this friendly, I meant
I wouldn’t be calling you again.

And when you reported all this
to my best friend, he agreed with you
I was unkind, and listened
while you complained
two hours on the bar bench.

Honey, I was only a few blocks away,
putting the moves on someone new.


“Beast in Me” is reprinted from Beasts and Violins (Red Hen Press, 2010)

Caleb Barber earned a BA from Western Washington University in English/Creative Writing, and received an MFA in poetry from the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts, based off of Whidbey Island.  He currently lives in Bellingham, WA, where he works at an aerospace machine shop. His poems have been most recently published in Rattle, Portland Review, Los Angeles Review, Makeout Creek, and New Orleans Review, as well as a feature in Poet Lore. His first book, Beasts and Violins, is available from Red Hen Press. The title poem appeared in Best American Poetry 2009.

Lillias Bever



There was an opera playing—
I remember that—
so beautiful, a modern piece sung by a woman
whose name I would never remember,
although the surgeon spoke it once, softly,
through his mask, and I strained to hear
past the clatter of implements on silver trays,
the bustle of the scrub nurses,
the murmurs of the anesthesiologist holding my head,
his tray of gauze strips fluttering like prayer rags—


They’d pinned my arms down
like a butterfly’s wings;
I had no feeling from the waist down;
a dreaminess took hold:
and the woman’s voice kept wandering
in and out of the minutes, pulling
my mind after it, the notes
stretched so far the words had become

The light was as bright as the sun
over an excavation site;
they were cleaning the area,
taking up their tools—


Down and down through a slit
in the world, earth
falling away on both sides, past
history, botched experiments, sepsis,
Jacob the pig-gelder begging permission
to cut open his wife
in labor for three days; past
legend, Caesar cut whole
from his mother;
and deeper still, myth: Bacchus
slit from Zeus’ thigh,
Athena bursting fully-armed from his head,

as whatever is unmothered, torn
from its context, becomes


Jars, funeral urns, broken pieces
of pottery still glazed with their lovely enamels,
necklaces of lapis and ivory, gold
crowns encrusted with dirt, the mound

of the ancient city, and the mind,
sharp as the pig-gelder’s knife—


There was something in me;
I’d felt it for such a long time,
and now they were digging to find it,
but not like the archaeologist finding
the glint of something precious
in the earth, no, not as gentle
as that freeing, with its brushes
and soft cloths, more like
a robin tugging at a worm
stuck fast in the earth,

pulling with all its weight—


On the plain, the tumulus
swollen with artifacts; in the distance
men bending and cutting, digging
then pausing to lean on their shovels
in the hot sun, sweat pouring down their backs;

from where I was, it did not look
like delicate work, more like
hard labor: burnt grass, a broken wall
or two, goats grazing
casually in the shade, and high up in the trees

that ceaseless singing—


At last they found what they were looking for.
I heard a voice ask, What is it? What is it?
They were cleaning something, holding it up to the light—


“Cesarean” is reprinted from Bellini in Istanbul (Tupelo, 2005).


Lillias Bever‘s first collection of poems, Bellini in Istanbul (Tupelo, 2005), won the Tupelo Press First Book Competition, and was a finalist for the Washington State Book Award. Her work has appeared in PoetryGettysburg ReviewNew England Review, Pleiades, and Shenandoah, among others, and has been the recipient of grants and fellowships from Artist Trust, the Seattle Arts Commission, and 4Culture. She lives in Seattle.

Christopher Luna

Things to Do in Ghost Town

After Ted Berrigan


hide under an awning

dodge killer cars

watch out for skeletal

raccoon-eyed tweakers

wear flip flops in January

begin drinking at noon

take a class

attend an open mic poetry reading

have a crepe

look at some art

laugh at Juggaloes

make a visit to the courthouse

document freight train graffiti

talk to crows, bluebirds, red-breated robins

hunt mushrooms

marvel at hundreds of geese

as they fly by

making Toni cry

pray for sunlight

(never) get used to passive aggressive communication

not knowing where you stand

try not to explode at every unreturned email and phone call

watch a toddler crack her head open

on the jagged edges of the rocks

in the fountain at Esther Short Park

try to forget how you got here

miss friends and family

take walks to the Land Bridge

avoid ghosts along the way

hurtle over tumbling tumbleweeds

start anew



Christopher Luna is the co-founder, with Toni Partington, of Printed Matter Vancouver, whose books include Ghost Town Poetry, an anthology of poems from the popular Vancouver, WA open mic reading he founded in 2004, and Serenity in the Brutal Garden, the debut collection by Vancouver poet Jenney Pauer. His books include GHOST TOWN, USA  and The Flame Is Ours: The Letters of Stan Brakhage and Michael McClure 1961-1978, an important piece of film and literary history that Luna edited at Brakhage’s request, available on Michael Rothenberg’s


Elizabeth J. Colen




It’s an active volcano, the mountain: Shuksan. We live in an earthquake zone, calm north on the ring of fire. The house is on stilts for the waves, and rats eat tea biscuits and leave on suggestion. “We will live forever,” you say, meaning them. And the water looks brilliant from here.

Silver, pellucid, much like the sky.


None of us will notice the sunbathers, the tourists trying to surf, the tourists trying to sail. We won’t see the parade of push-pop wrappers scattered in wet sand, we won’t see the cops or the dog watching,

or the kelp strangling posts of the pier.


“It’s a metaphor,” you say. Sun low, wet rocks roll. Your father never hit you. It was the neighborhood kids who cracked eggs in your hair, it was they who brought rocks, had quick fists. Bullets of blood on your forehead, how the scalp will leech into a collar.

But then this, too, is no longer true.


From one window I can see the water and from the other I can see the mountains. These are not real mountains, this is not real water, these are not real windows. I hold your hand and our upstairs disappears.

I think of particles exploding, coming back together like some physics experiment I don’t know the name for. “Large Hadron Collider,” you say.

But that’s not what I mean.


For a long time when you were a child you thought you didn’t exist if your mother wasn’t with you. What was this called? You were invisible and no one spoke to you and the silence supported the theory, except for the bells ringing in doorways and the tap of your loose shoelace. “But did you pass through walls?” I ask and you say this has nothing to do with perte de vue. You lay under chairs while weight creaked the springs. Your mother’s hand came into the frame—

and you were real again, visible, whole.



Elizabeth J. Colen is the author of poetry collections Money for Sunsets (Steel Toe Books, 2010) and Waiting Up for the End of the World: Conspiracies (forthcoming from Jaded Ibis Press, October 2012, and launching at Hugo House on October 25 at 7:00 pm), as well as flash fiction collection Dear Mother Monster, Dear Daughter Mistake  (Rose Metal Press, 2011). She lives in Seattle and occasionally blogs at

Kristen McHenry


Then there’s that stage
between Mother and Crone
when the maidens, clean as dryer sheets
are unbearable to fathom,
and all your chickadees, real or
proverbial, have flown the coop
and you find
yourself blissfully alone
with your attitude problem and your
ungodly imagination, and to top it
all off, you’re pretty certain you’ve developed
the power of invisibility, having sat
still and silent for so long
on a trunkful of vignettes and jittery,
unsettled wisdom—having found yourself
again, and at such an age, as unformed and
as the body of a Maiden.


Kristen McHenry is a resident of Seattle, Washington and is a poet by night, and supervisor of volunteers for an urban hospital by day. Among other publications, her work has been seen in Bare Root Review, Numinous, Tiferet, Sybil’s Garage, Big Pulp, and the anthology, Many Trails to the Summit published by Rose Alley Press. She was a top five finalist in the 2009 national poetry competition “Project Verse.” Her chapbook The Goatfish Alphabet was runner-up in Qarrtsiluni’s 2009 chapbook contest, and was published by Naissance Press in 2010. Her second chapbook, Triplicity: Poems in Threes, was published by Indigo Ink Press is 2011. Kristen serves on the editorial staff for Literary Bohemian, and teaches creativity workshops in her “spare” time.