Ed Skoog



Big shot walks up his hat atilt,

a knife fight in his instep, starts laying it on.
The sky falters into the gutters, lobs a few

grenades against the barn, flash and pop,
and the air smells like cat. Am I a cop?
The thought had sprung up. The DJ is half man

and the floor looks like meowing. The idiot sweats.

It chews his haunch. For years now.
Where are the tigers to replace him?

Outside the Long Beach Airport,
pigeons have shat white the loudspeakers
deplaning locals roll suitcases by,

and always someone wears a pink
cowboy hat, or a fur from another climate.
Beside the boy with interlocking skulls

raining on his hoodie, the house sparrow
goes for crumbs of stale bagel.
The pilot’s gold epaulets catch on the cab door.


I then am Portuguese, spying through a glass,

leafing through maps up sort of the Nile,
or am returning, my knapsack
a jumble of unbearably small jade statues.

In this pane the gray cloud
is my mother in her housecoat.

Not all craft sink. Moored in a meadow,
the yacht rose above the valley. I found it
after a long time walking alone.

The mountains had battened it down,
scratched out its name.

Any fool could see it was the ark,
sign of some survival, quiet as Ash Wednesday.
I knocked on its ribs and no one answered.

Why should I think of this now?
The park’s closed. She locks the gate,

the carnival attendant, and drives home
to wash her convertible before the sun goes down.

Bring some beers over, she says.


Rain trick-or-treats the couple’s door,

but it is their red sedan that has been candied.
The hood glistens like licked cinnamon.

Perhaps I am riding an ox-drawn cart
on the western dip of Cuba’s green moustache.
The oxen are pulling their white thighs

across the water the rice field pours in.
The pepper-trees are turned up to the highest degree.
There is a sunset, finally.

Something is over again. Unbundle the curtain,
hang it on the bar, raise it into the dusky fly.

I dig my beat, sweating. I hold out. I get taken,
who never understands my hunger, its

terrible comfort.


A hole as if Skylab has fallen

through the clouds into my disarray,
a precise pouch, precise and utter

removal, force an eye from some dark animal
all pupil, with no center. The alley

There is a pavement to her comedy.

Mincemeat dragged through a wet glacier.
A dagger slipping across the continent’s ribcage.
I am one long hear. Put your hand in my mouth,

let me taste, and in return, feel all my orbits.
You think time flies? It falls to earth.

But sometimes evenings after dinner,
the news, the pipe he knocks against the railing,
my father spoke about the time their Buick

tumbled down the hill and she was pregnant
with the first boy, how their comfort spun.

He is still surprised, each moment, how
they rose and dusted themselves off,

and, feeling the baby kick, and, the tires
having landed right, just drove home.


The late-night menu mumbles something (inaudible).

Fat roils the smoked turkey in the black skillet,
as I chop mint from Strawberry Creek,
and I am parsing onions, carving peppers,
segmenting celery and measuring flour.

Mister Skylight shines down, full,
engorged, shining on all ships from the gorilla sky.

A lazy brown settles over the dogs and foxes.

Get Skoog with the whale ballet in his head.
Listen, the first alarm. Man the lifeboats.
Then, as neighbors move around their house

at night, shuffling and washing,
help a man who falls in, over and over.
Now all the horses are
poplars waving across the immense field.

Jesus in my nightmare
comes down the gravel driveway,
a teenager in sportswear
go home I say
he says give me your home.


This is it, spaceman: life on Earth.

It starts when she turns off the lamp
and points to the city’s orange crown.

Schoolchildren hold up candles
for Mister Skylight’s midnight ride.

By now I could hold it in my palm
or sip from it. From some porches,
the night is more. Get ready

for the all-skate, the group swim.
My hand falls to her lap, our teeth click.

My soul steps outside. Down boulevards
hot rods abduct the day. Saudade

in car wash dust; wind along a post office;
a sprinkler reflected in the windows.
The pool’s open; why aren’t we swimming?


On the garbage truck, the runners hang

half-out, undefined. Shouting they lift
lug, tug, huff, drag, and push
up the bright defecations, Chinese take-out

and new Sonys, the granola salad of litter boxes,
acres of bubble wrap, ripped tissues,

fish gone bad like plague, blood clots,
suppositories, diapers, the vomit
of the cancer patient wiped up with Brawny,

rum vomit of the bright girl,

the sheet music to Clair de Lune,
cuttings from a holly, oyster shells
on top, round mirrors of the dawn.


“Mister Sky Light” is reprinted from Mister Skylight (Copper Canyon Press, 2009). Most of the book was written in New Orleans prior to 2005, and revised heavily in the aftermath of the engineering failure that flooded the city following Hurricane Katrina.


Ed Skoog’s second book of poems, Rough Day, will be published by Copper Canyon Press in 2013. His first book, Mister Skylight, was published by Copper Canyon Press in 2009. His poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Paris Review, The New Republic, Poetry, Narrative, Ploughshares, Tin House, and elsewhere. He has been a Bread Loaf Fellow, Writer-in-Residence at the Richard Hugo House, and the Jenny McKean Moore Writer-in-Residence at George Washington University. His work has received awards from, among others, the Lannan Foundation and the Poetry Society of America. He is a visiting writer at the University of Montana for 2012-2013. He lives in Seattle.

Jesse Minkert



Collector of time and twine camping in the pantry
flashlight in an underwater cavern walls all look
alike. What you hear above the clatter:
what can’t exist can’t make demands.

Once these places were one place. Engines
carried us to knowable destinations. Corners
stand now on toes. Jobbers glide past our lips.

Let chance decide. Let rivers flood
the neighborhoods. Let floor lamps
pretend to be bonfires. Mats and napkins
beckon; gestures on the glass.

Master of time and isotopes. Half this life
is half enough. Brother under skin healing
in the dispensary. Neutrinos in the nursery.

Sutures over eyebrows. Sweet sleep
on fresh sheets. Sweat on the face.
Blood in the stool. Clusters of cells
deforming midnight to dawn
Hair grows on the mask.

Once this was all one place. Motors carried us
we didn’t care where. Feathers filled our pillows
pheasants basted in wine pretended to embrace
the fate of many slathered in the same sauce.

Jesse Minkert lives in Seattle. He has written plays for theater and radio, short stories, novels, and poems. Wood Works Press published Shortness of Breath & Other Symptoms, in 2008. His poetry appears or is upcoming in Floating Bridge Review, Harpur Palate, Aunt Chloe, Raven Chronicles, and Naugatuck River Review.

Christine Deavel

from Hometown (Over and Over)

The starchy yarn of spring came
and knitted itself into a blue hyacinth
then unraveled that
and tatted itself into a columbine
then snipped it up
coated it in paste
and spread itself out to make a sky
but cut a small patch
to suggest a doorway
and gave the tiny remnant
to a little girl who
walked about the town below
opening and closing
the little blue door.

* * *

Remind me,
what was our tithe?                                                                                                                         The peony flowers.
What were our jewels?                                                                                                                   The peony buds.
What was our relief?                                                                                                                       The peony shoots.
Who kept watch for us?                                                                                                                 The peony roots,                                                                                                                       set so shallow                                                                                                                           the eyes could nearly see.


“Hometown (Over and Over)” is reprinted from Woodnote (Bear Star Press, 2011).


Christine Deavel is co-owner of Open Books, a poetry-only bookstore in Seattle, and has worked as a bookseller for over two decades. Her collection Woodnote received the Dorothy Brunsman Prize from Bear Star Press in 2011 and the Washington State Book Award for Poetry in 2012.


The Washington State Book Awards have been announced:

Poetry Winner:

Woodnote by Christine Deavel, of Wallingford in Seattle (Bear Star Press)

Poetry Finalists:

Every Dress a Decision by Elizabeth Austen, of West Seattle (Blue Begonia Press)

What Have You Done to Our Ears to Make Us Hear Echoes? by Arlene Kim, of Belltown in Seattle (Milkweed Editions)

Underdog by Katrina Roberts, of Walla Walla (University of Washington Press)

The Little Office of the Immaculate Conception by Martha Silano, of Mount Baker in Seattle (Saturnalia Books)

Congratulations to all!

Annette Spaulding-Convy

Hollow Women

My smile is a cloak that covers everything. I speak
as if my very heart is in love with God. What hypocrisy.
From the Letters of Mother Teresa


Don’t feel sorry for us, medicate
us, don’t meditate on us with rainbow energy.

Don’t call child protective services, assume
my husband isn’t getting any, don’t
bring me a week’s worth of zucchini lasagna.

Believe me, I keep discovering my house
is not a convent and this kitchen not a chapel.
There isn’t a room where the paring knife hole
in my side can bleed its nothing, bleed
its nothing without interruption.

Just give me Halloween—
one black and white nun costume to trick
even Jesus, a loaf of pan de muerto
to feed the thin cratered moon.

Give me All Hallows’ Eve—
an orange vegetable metaphor with a silver
spoon. Scooped and emptied, I’m wrapping
every damn seed that tangles me
in yesterday’s newspaper, chicken feed.

So let me mourn when nobody’s died.
I swear it’s less like navel-gazing and more like the black
hole of my gut, my white cell pleiades
spinning in the part of the painting the artist leaves blank.

And don’t let hollow women burn
their brooding letters like straw.
Remind them sometimes even saints suck

it up, grin, summon
grace from a god-empty breast.



“Hollow Women” is forthcoming in In Broken Latin, 2012, University of Arkansas Press


Annette Spaulding-Convy’s full length collection, In Broken Latin, will be published by the University of Arkansas Press (Fall 2012) as a finalist for the Miller Williams Poetry Prize. Her chapbook, In The Convent We Become Clouds, won the 2006 Floating Bridge Press Chapbook Award. She is a 2011 Jack Straw fellow and her poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, North American Review, Crab Orchard Review and in the International Feminist Journal of Politics, among othersShe is co-editor of the literary journal, Crab Creek Review, and is co-founder of Two Sylvias Press, which has published the first eBook anthology of contemporary women’s poetry, Fire On Her Tongue.

J. W. Marshall

from Taken With


I’d wheeled Mother where
Faith Hour was slated to begin
after the chaplain got there

wiping first her chin
because a spoon in her hand
was an inexact tool.

I was set to leave.
Where are you going Mother asked.
I’m going home.

Take me with you she said
and laughed a kind of wreck.
The woman to her left

said take me with you too
then the six or seven of them all
took the sentence on

like hail taking on a garbage can.
Take me with you haw haw haw.
Take me with you laugh laugh laugh.

Like a headache made of starlings.
I can’t I said I have a wife and dog.
A dog haw haw haw haw.

A wife laugh laugh laugh.
Take me with you take me with you.
Haw haw laugh laugh laugh.

I zippered my coat closed
with a ferocity that shut them up.
Unbalanced silence in the room. Mom

knocked it over saying
you should go.
Saying I’ve been where you’re going.

Anyway go walk your dog.


Reprinted from the book-length poem, Taken With (Wood Works Press, 2005) and also the full-length collection, Meaning A Cloud (Oberlin College Press, 2008).


J. W. Marshall co-owns and operates Open Books, a poetry-only bookstore in Seattle, with his wife, Christine Deavel.  His first full-length book of poetry, Meaning a Cloud, won the 2007 Field Poetry Prize and was published by Oberline College Press in 2008.  Prior to that two chapbooks of his poetry were published by Wood Works Press, Blue Mouth in 2001 and Taken With in 2005.  Most recently his poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Hubbub, Poetry Northwest, Raven Chronicles, and Seattle Review.


Judith Skillman

Death of Pan


We were only playing in the pasture,
wearing a patchwork of sun and sky,
ragged with the coming autumn.
That is to say we didn’t mean
to drown out the sound of his flute—
our piper, nor meddle with the conch shell
that caused our fathers to panic.

And his Arcadia—
how we adored her. We made wreaths
of wildflowers, twined tendrils of her hair
around our stubby hands as we brought
her one more gift: a leaf bloodied with color,
a spare sapling, an agate choked in quartz.

Until the river-god,
happy as ever to be plunged in cold,
took him from our arms and flung
his instrument against the rocky shore.
The syrinx shattered into seven reeds or nine,
and we, still infatuated with the echoes
our voices made in that valley, called out
to one another, not so much from loneliness
as the excitement of recitation.

Light breezes
dog us as we go forward in reconnaissance,
teaching one another how to suffer
being schooled by lechers. Our appetite
for the one called Pitys—another nymph
loved by him, who turned into a pine tree
to escape his overtures,
runs nil to none.


“Death of Pan” previously appeared in The Never (Dream Horse Press, 2010)..

Judith Skillman is the author of twelve books of poems, including The Never (Dream Horse Press, 2010), and Heat Lightning: New and Selected Poems (Silverfish Review Press, 2006), and two which were finalists for the Washington State Book Award. Her most recent collection, The White Cypress (Cervéna Barva Press, 2011) was reviewed favorably in The Pedestal Magazine and The Iowa Review and has a review forthcoming The Raven Chronicles. She has received awards from the Academy of American Poets,  the King County Arts Commission (KCAC) Publication Prize, a KCAC Public Arts grant, and a Washington State Arts Commission Writer’s Fellowship. Her poems and translations have appeared in Poetry, FIELD, The Southern Review, The Iowa Review, Midwest Quarterly Review, Northwest Review, Prairie Schooner, Seneca Review, and other journals and anthologies. She’s been writer in residence at the Centrum Foundation in Port Townsend, Washington, The Hedgebrook Foundation, and the Jack Straw Foundation. Skillman resides in Kennydale, Washington, and teaches for The Yellow Wood Academy, Mercer Island, Washington.