Rachel Kessler


Parade of Fences


Donkey Fence. Brown Corduroy Suit Holiday High-jumping Fence. Cyclops’ Golden Grasses Fence. Spying Bushes Fence. Teenage Angst and Loneliness Fence. Tangerine Bikini Fence. Masking Tape and Wrath in Shared Bedroom Fence. Ancient Stone Fence. Family Religion Fence. Electric Fence. No Fooling Barbed Wire Fence. Angry Bull On the Other Side of This Fence Fence. Creaky Chainlink Gate Leading to Unplanned Pregnancy Fence. Falling Down Fence. Fence for Napping. Fence Without Hope. Wet Phone Books Fence. Garden Hose Wielded as Weapon Fence. Hedge Full of Surprising Thorns Fence. Invisible Fence. Useless Deer-proof Netting Fence. Bad Dog Barking Fence. Idealistic Fabric Hung By Hopeful Young Mother Trying to Be a Writer Fence. Small Children Hanging from Mother’s Limbs (Including Accidental Labial Grab) Fence. Horrible Grin Fence.



Rachel Kessler is a poet of the everyday.  She is a founding member of the Typing Explosion and Vis-à-Vis Society. For the past ten years, these critically acclaimed groups have been writing collaborative poetry and presenting their work in the form of text-based art installations, interactive multi-media shows, and collaboratively written handmade books.  Her collaborative poems have appeared in Tin House, TATE, and USA Today. She recently launched her “Public Health Poems” interactive hand-washing installation in public restrooms throughout the city of Seattle.

Vis-a-Vis Society will present their work at The Frye Art Museum, Sunday, January 6, 3:30PM – FREE!

Rachel Kessler will read at Cheap Wine & Poetry at the Hugo House on Thursday, Jan 17, 7:00 pm.


Duane Niatum

Cedar Man


The sculptor grows calmer on the beach;
waits for the block of wood to talk with his hands,
bring the song and path his knife must take,
clear to the edge where his ancestors sit.
The Old Ones show him in dreams and hallucinations
the knife is blind to the creature of beauty embedded
in the wood until his rage dies and he offers
the storm a piece of his skin.

He dances on one foot to ease the fury
that froze his hands closed three seasons,
tosses in the air cedar chips to honor the tree
his elders name “life-giver,
great mother of the forest.”
He grows tired of a life as barren
as the wolf’s jaws in a blizzard.

Like a log along the shore, he drifts
in no direction like a man without shadow.
He watches bone, shell, feather,
amulet and agate drop to his feet.
Stepping from silence to silence
down the path of inner-darkness,
a voice emerges from his entrails.
It calls for him to dig for his life,
whittle out the confusion knots he fed with fear
and the last words that nearly lodged
permanently in his throat.


He kneels to cup water to his lips,
salt his nerves with the moves that will
free him from the trap.
He hopes the fool dancing in the square
will not be him or the hatchet toes of Trickster.
From the balls of his feet the currents
swirl and shake through an octopus’s eye.

In the pounding surf and spray
he sees his love at home tending the fire,
the healing poise of her supple body.
Birds flying above the beach in every direction
know from the sparks that he holds her
in his mind the way light holds
the grain of red cedar.


On the third day he bends south
like a cattail in the marsh.
Wind weaver carries the voices of old friends,
grandfathers who place his knife at the source,
each wave of cloud falling to the cliff,
the last rock, the last cave.

Now a figure of earth, sky, air and water,
he opens his hands to the formless haze
shaping itself into a songbird of the mind,
a grandmother who loves his failures
and angers as much as the full net of his dreams.
Throwing four logs on the fire
he starts to carve a nest for the song sparrow.
The night chant loosens the star points
of his fingers, hones his blade for the grip
of wonder, puts him within the guttural
drumming of his bowels.


Duane Niatum has published numerous collections of poetry, including Ascending Red Cedar Moon (1974); Song for the Harvester of Dreams (1980), which won the Before Columbus Foundation’s American Book Award; and Drawings of the Song Animals: New and Selected Poems (1991). His most recent book is The Pull of the Green Kite (Serif & Pixel Press, 2011). A former editor for Harper & Row’s Native American Authors series, Niatum also edited the Native American literature anthologies Carriers of the Dream Wheel (1975) and Harper’s Anthology of Twentieth Century American Poetry (1988). His own poetry has been widely anthologized and translated into more than a dozen languages.His honors include residencies at the Millay Colony for the Arts and Yaddo, the Governor’s Award from the State of Washington, and grants from the Carnegie Fund for Authors and the PEN Fund for Writers. Niatum lives in Seattle and has taught at Evergreen State College and the University of Washington, as well as area high schools.

Laura Schaeffer

Confessions of a Submissions Editor


When reading other poets
I have a pen ready to underline,
slash through words
sounding disabled
or weak
or unnecessary
or common
or boring.

Sometimes, depending on the weather,
I can amputate whole limbs
with a straight line,
recalling my attachment to old prosthetics
with screws that beep in public places
such as airports and department stores—
since, and maybe because of the sludge of raining months,
the artificial has voice.

Worse than a pen though, are saws
clearing trees on ridges—
the solitary thud generating dusty clouds,
and mostly, gaps between things.



Laura Schaeffer is employed with Housing Kitsap in Bremerton and serves as the Resident Services Coordinator. She has been piling up her writing under her bed for most of her life, though she came out of the closet during her college years and earned a BA in English with a Creative Writing Emphasis from the UW. Schaeffer writes, “I’ve decided that I’m going to share my poems from now on because maybe, through my own hardships and struggles, I’ve learned something about giving.” She lives in Kingston.

Elizabeth Myhr


you are a boy on your small mare searching


but neither of us can find her

in the oysterbed of hoofbeats and wind

in the torn light between grasses and dunes


the lost sword washes up on the sand


I urge the white horse of memory

with a whip and a branch of heather

your wildest sorrow wet and bright


racing the cloudy stallions of afternoon


but inside the bedsheet’s dry white tent

you hold in your face the salty blade

and I wear by your tears’ consent


her wet crown and the pearl at my neck

as over your shoulder great and riderless

he comes for you snorting with loose bit

  and reins trailed through hoof gouged moor


his saddleless highbred back soaked to one long muscled darkness with rain



Elizabeth Myhr is a poet, editor and publisher. She holds a BA from the Evergreen State College and an MFA from Seattle Pacific University, has served as artist-in-residence at Centrum, and is a Milotte Foundation scholar. In 2010 she co-founded Calypso Editions, a virtual, cooperative press that specializes in literature in translation and emerging writers. Elizabeth currently serves as an editor and manager for Marick Press and Calypso Editions, and has served as editor at Web Del Sol Review of Books, Raven Chronicles and Shining Horns. Her book the vanishings & other poems was published by Calypso in October, 2011, and was listed by Christianity Today as one of its three notable poetry books of 2011. Elizabeth lives in Seattle with her family.

Mary Eliza Crane



With a flash of light
an eagle splits
the seamless gray
of sky
and river in the rain.

At your house
the key sits on a dusty beam,
the kettle steeps with tea.
Coals in the stove stoked
with white grain alder
uprooted in another winter,
dried to perfection
in a blazing summer sun.
Quiet taps of heat expanding glowing flames
against dark red walls
burn deeply into blackness of the night.
Clothes peeled,
two more blankets piled on my side
burrowed down with steaming mug and book
into soft gold light.

I dissolve into the echo of the rain upon the roof.

By what unlikely stroke of grace
does this define a life?


“Friday Night” previously appeared in At First Light (Gazoobi Tales Publishing, 2011).


Mary Eliza Crane is a native New Englander, transplanted to the western slope of the Cascade foothills east of Duvall. She weaves together the personal, political and natural world. A regular feature at poetry venues in the Puget Sound region, she has two volumes of poetry, What I Can Hold In My Hands, and At First Light, both published by Gazoobi Tales.


Seren Fargo



Unnecessarily, the spider wraps another layer
around the motionless fly.

fishing lines—
again he tells me
he’s afraid
I will leave him


 “Caught” was previously published in A Hundred Gourds.


Seren Fargo, once a wildlife researcher with the U.S. Forest Service, is now a writer and photographer. She primarily writes Japanese-form poetry and is founder/coordinator of the Bellingham Haiku Group and teaches haiku writing to classes and private students. Her work has won several awards, including the Washington Poets Association’s Porad Haiku Contest, and has been published in many journals in the U.S. and internationally, including Clover, A Literary Rag. Her writing largely reflects her passion for the natural world and her struggles with chronic illness and loss. She lives in a poetic rural setting in Bellingham with her three cats.


Greg Bem

talking out loud to yourself in the age of the common house terabyte


hey * hey * hey * hey
the sitteneth duckletto
beneath my belied-to belly
a bully, a block party?
or a cool whip tup mug shut?
hey * hey * hey * hey *
except the jello ain’t on
and the ear ain’t here there,
there, there, eggplant faceman
and the moon’s ant arcticking
slick hey * boom parade, kay,
and K blasting cod oil
oogle boa on Jackson goal
more foil ownering olly up
to the hay field barrel roll
double sided slickened OO
single split bit dough coil
fly mingle bubble treaty boy
made to move in circle list
F * O * R * M * A * T


Greg Bem is a Seattle poet and one of the Breadline Reading Series organizers. He’s also an organizer and ring leader at SPLAB with Paul Nelson and he works hard publicizing poetry events all over Seattle. His work appears in Elective Affinities.


Emily Van Kley

My Dead Grandfather


My dead grandfather no longer lives in his apartment

though his last dishes are clean in the dishwasher,

though his leather gym bag lies unzipped in a grimace

behind the bedroom closet door. My dead grandfather

does not sit at his desk and write checks

to black civic organizations with his pen anchored

in agate. My dead white grandfather, whose skin

will not retain its significance, does not underline

scores at the tops of prisoners’ Christian curricula.

He neither shambles across the hall for one ex-wife’s pot roast

nor drives ten minutes over state lines to make claims

on morning coffee with his first ex-wife. When I open

the cabinets and every drawer in his apartment,

my dead grandfather does not prevent me from considering

the hand-held vacuum cleaner, the two small wineglasses,

the elegant hammer and book seal with his initials, also mine.

My dead grandfather stays at the church where he is boxed

in a manly crate of brass and satin. I am not afraid,

when we arrive, of his withered mouth sewn straight

over ceramic teeth, of the drill-row forehead unable

to imply a thing from temper to concentration, the hands

improbably folded one over the other, the knuckles

wax-museum pale. I am not afraid of the body

which has been through the busted-brick labor

of dying, not of its shrunkeness, its itness, its pall.

And yet a grandfather is a notion that does not ash away

like a last cigarette ground into pavement. My dead

grandfather, laid out in a fine blue suit at the altar

of Lansing First Reformed. Myself a child

who has touched his things.



“My Dead Grandfather” previously appeared in The Iowa Review.


Emily Van Kley’s poetry has won the Iowa Review and Florida Review awards, and is forthcoming in The Way North: Upper Michigan New Works, from Wayne State University Press. Though she grew up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, she now lives in Olympia, Washington, where she works at the local food co-op. Her work is included in Godiva Speaks: A Celebration of Olympia Area Women Poets.

A K Mimi Allin

this is a self portrait
about what constrains me
what keep me from my happiness

i’ve been at peace in a balanced place
& i’ve been wildly happy when the scales were tipped toward paradise so long as i have something to explore

i’m chasing a certain kind of knowledge
a certain kind of awake

the art of living
will flower from me one day

no matter how sparse it seems
i can alter the world to get what i need

what constrains me
is the doubt of no reply
i’m having transparent dreams again
it all means nothing

my view of myself is distorted
but perhaps distorting is defining
& defacing can unveil

what does that mean?

food water purpose
that’s what i’m looking for

the buddhists ensure me
i come readymade with purpose
but sometimes it seems unso

no is not a happy place
no is a hole in a trampoline
yes is about freedom choices time
yes is an engine

what keeps me from making
the work i know i need to make?
the inevitable thing?
the only thing? the way forward?
confidence single mindedness definition

lack of focus holds me back
20 things i feel lukewarm about
or the one thing that sets me on fire
i try to listen to the nagging thing
mongolia mongolia mongolia

since wealth denies me
poverty will have to define me
without money i make different art
use fewer materials
an artist doesn’t need to make a thing
an artist can suggest a thing
i’ve learned to be suggestive
to take people partway
which leaves them work to do
for which they must move & grow

what do i fear?
i fear getting rid of everything
& walking away like a penitent
so that’s exactly what i want to do

i fear stasis & wasting time
& that is not what i want to do
but i know it is good for me
boats grant me that
so i have a boat

i fear not being brilliant
& there is no cure for that

i want to have nothing to take
so i have nothing to lose

boredom is also freedom
but boredom is a luxury
that must be bought

i want the freedom that comes with poverty i want a red sweater & time to see it unravel one peach should matter more than a crate full of peaches

i make meaning to correct the world
does it need correcting? no
what needs changing? i do
what resists change? i do

when i feel myself getting diluted by society i retreat & ask myself who am i? what do i want?
i quickly realize i do not want
what others want
this helps

what stalls my art?
a never ending trip to the mirror
trap doors falling floors
the committee of should
expectations lovers nostalgia misunderstandings these same things drive my art

i do not wish to make of my art a business i can live without everything but meaning though i do need to see a dentist

to what am i bound? on what do i rely?
where are my buffers? am i too comfortable?
ease heat music walls the known thing.. get rid of these

the stuff i found in the center of my spirit took away my reasons for making art for 6 months i made nothing why would i do this or that superficial thing when i knew what i knew about spirit?
it might be good & clever but who cares
this isn’t about clever
this is about growth

my art
is it pure?
is it relevant?
does it change anything?
what needs changing? i do
what resists change? i do

i have trouble making connections
between my emotions & experiences
there are no real lines between money & work a vocation is a vocation is a vocation

what constrains me defines me
thank you for seeing this



A K Mimi Allin has twice crossed the Pacific Ocean by boat, has worked as a climbing ranger on Mt Rainier and has served in the Peace Corps. Allin lives and works as an artist in Seattle WA. She holds an MA in Writing from The City College of New York. Her performance-installations have premiered at the Seattle Art Museum, The Olympic Sculpture Park, Bumbershoot, Smoke Farm, Tether Gallery, Artscapes, ArtSparks, Arts Crush, Guiding Lights, ACT Theatre and Litfuse in Tieton. In 2006, Mimi became a household name for her yearlong project “The Poetess at Green Lake.” In January 2010, she fulfilled a self-designed residency at NBBJ Design & Architecture Firm to become the nation’s 1st Corporate Poet. And in the summer of 2011, she drew a line around 14,410′ Mount Rainier with her body to effect “Tahoma Kora,” a 36-mile, 65-day prostrating circumnavigation. At the heart of Allin’s work is the pursuit of home and the search for the sacred. She is interested in the potential of ritual, inquiry and quest to act as catalysts for personal growth, inviting her audience to transform by transforming herself. Her art often takes her outside and involves physical labor, time spent inhabiting, activating, redefining spaces. To sate her desire for feedback, and because she believes it is through the community that we know ourselves, she builds triggers into her work that ask the audience to speak and participate.

John L. Wright


for Jack Cady (1932-2004)

I was well on my way to essays
when you unexpectedly assigned the class a poem.
A love poem, you said,
twenty-five words or less, don’t use the word god
or the word love, and make it honest.

As if conspiring, on the edge of vision a smudge
of green in a wooden bowl—
Granny Smith apples my wife bought for our son,
coming home from college.

Twenty-four words and three couplets later
you couldn’t budge a word or line I had scribbled
on that chalky green-board.

Then came the grateful lover’s remorse: Oh,
where have you been all my life?
Then poetry moved into my files, onto my shelves.
Then my obituary changed.


John L. Wright is a retired physician who wrote his first poem in 1988 at the age of 58. His poems have appeared in eleven anthologies including, Floating Bridge Pontoon Four, Eight,Ten and Review # 5. He has published three collections: Through an Old Wooden Bowl  in 1999 (The Swedish Medical Center Foundation); As Though Praying: Poems from Decatur Island in 2003 and The Beginning of Love in 2005, both self-published by Bluestone Press.  John and his wife, Lanita, have lived on two wooded acres in Woodway, WA. since 1964; here they have raised two sons, five dogs and too many cats to count; here, too, while gardening or landscaping many of his poems have had their beginning.