Joan Moritz

In My Kitchen


As I put away the butter dish,
I see my grandmother buried
in the plastic pleats
of a bread wrapper.

She often comes to me unbidden,
hidden in a flour tin, caught
in a curl of kitchen string, again
some unexpected place,

again her dark hair with its sifting
of ash, braided and twisted into a bun,
the lace collar like a benediction
on her old crepe dress, each

appearance a surprise, each ending
the same: she lifts unleavened eyes
to mine, rises from her hiding place,
and slowly steps into the oven.


“In My Kitchen” previously appeared in Drash: Northwest Mosaic.


Joan Moritz has published fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Born in New York City, Seattle has been her adopted home for nearly 40 years. Her recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in Tilt-a-Whirl,  Blue Lyra, and Drash: Northwest Mosaic.

Jess Walter

A Brief Political Manifesto


I was driving around the packed Costco parking lot
looking for a space and listening to some guy
on NPR talk about America’s growing suburban poor
when I saw this woman with four kids—
little stepladders, two-four-six-eight—
waiting to climb in the car while Mom
loaded a cask of peanut better and
pallets of swimsuits into the back
of this all-wheel drive vehicle
and the kids were so cute I waved
and that’s when I saw the most amazing thing
as the woman bent over
to pick up a barrel
of grape juice:
her low-rise pants rose low and right there
in the small of her large back
stretched a single strained string,
a thin strap of fabric, yes,
the Devil’s floss, I shit you not
a thong, I swear to God, a thong,
now me, I’m okay with the thong
politically and aesthetically, I’m fine
with it being up there or out there,
or wherever it happens to be.

My only question is:
when did Moms start wearing them?

I remember my mom’s underwear
(Laundry was one of our chores:
we folded those things awkwardly,
like fitted sheets. We snapped them
like tablecloths. Thwap.
My sister stood on one end,
me on the other
and we walked toward each other

We folded those things
like big American flags,
hats off, respectful
careful not to let them
brush the ground.)

Now I know there are people out there
who constantly fret about
the Fabric of America;
gay couples getting married, violent videos, nasty TV,
that sort of thing.
But it seems to me
the Fabric of America
would be just fine
if there was a little more of it
in our mothers’ underpants.

And that is the issue I will run on
when I eventually run:
Getting our moms out of thongs
and back into hammocks
with leg holes
the way God


“A Brief Political Manifesto” originally appeared in The Financial Lives of the Poets (Harper Perennial, 2010).


Jess Walter’s work has been translated into more than 20 languages and his essays, short fiction, criticism and journalism have been widely published, in DetailsPlayboyNewsweekThe Washington Post, the Los Angeles TimesThe Boston Globe among many others. His nonfiction book, Every Knee Shall Bow, was a finalist for the pen Center West literary nonfiction award in 1996. His novel Citizen Vince won a 2006 Edgar Allan Poe award, and his following novel,The Zero, was a finalist for the 2006 National Book Award. His most recent novel is Beautiful Ruins.



Koon Woon

“A Season in Hell”


“When you come in to work each morning,
Remove your bodily organs and limbs
one by one. Hang them up on the hooks provided in
the walk-in box, then put a white apron
onto your disembodied self, pick up a knife,
and go to the meat block,” said Alex the manager.

I was also drained of blood and other vital bodily fluids.

After the morning rush preparing pork adobo and chicken curry, I
ate lunch with Fong the chief cook and Lee the dishwasher.

In the afternoon, I examined souls and kept their merits and demerits in a ledger.

For the three months I worked at City Lunch near the Bart Station,
I paid my rent and gradually became robust enough to walk to work.
The entire city of San Francisco swung with the rhythm of my walk,
and stars appeared in the middle of the afternoon with a sliver of the moon.

Meanwhile, at Fisherman’s Wharf, the stingrays came to the jetty
and whipped their tails against rocks; tourists paid me to dance on
the waves. I carefully tread water and remembered to breathe.

In the end, I was evicted anyway from my castle that glowed at night.
For lack of anything better to do, I walked from hilltop to hilltop,
burned newspapers to inhale the smoke, then climbed down to the water
beneath the Golden Gate Bridge and harvested seaweed.

I waited until one sunny day when the water was warm and calm,
then swam all the way to Asia and got replacements for my disembodied self.
I did not forget that I was a ghost. And
that was my first season in Hell.



Koon Woon, “paper son” name for Locke Kau Koon, is from Nanon Village in Guangdong Province of the PRC.  He immigrated to the USA in 1960 at age 11 from Hong Kong. He is fourth-generation immigrant to the USA from the Locke family. He owes his progress in poetry from the red dirt and the short pines he found beyond his second-maternal Uncle Li Gar Sum’s house in Bow Lung Village, and in America, the kettle moraines of Wisconsin where his dear friend Betty Irene Priebe helped him come back from the private hell of mental illness. Koon Woon’s first book of poems is The Truth in Rented Rooms (Kaya Press, 1998).  His second book of poems, Water Chasing Water, is soon available from Kaya Press (NY, NY), under the astute and kind guidance of his editor/publisher Sunyoung Lee.  He lives in Seattle.

Neile Graham

On Skye


Hard to know the right madness here—
Skye’s hills have the twisted pine scent
of Montana, the air of Coyote’s

bitter-bright games—but here the road
crosses the bridge where Macleod
said goodbye to his faery wife

and leads to the ruins of Trumpan Church
where Clan Macdonald was burned alive
by Clan Macleod. The crofts crumple

like abandoned ranches, houses and barns
folding in on themselves, stones falling
one by one. Here it was not hard weather

that emptied the fields but the Clearances:
the landlords and everywhere their sheep.
Stacks and hills and emptiness. Stones

rearing to the sky: churches and brochs
bending stone by stone nearer the grasses,
castles full of nettles and sheep, weeds

growing right to the sea, and everywhere,
on church walls, sea rocks, corners
of the castle windows, a strange green fern,

bright with brownish stems, everywhere
springing from the cracks in stone.
I dreamt a dog whose hair was these

ferns, thick, rich, alive. Looking at her
I saw how the stones love this land,
how the rain and wind and tides love stone,

how the grass does, how the woman who once lived
in the fallen croft shaped scones
from flour and sang while her children—

who grew to leave for the New World—
woke to the sure rhythm of her work
and the haunting lilt of a piper’s tune

reeling in the righteous wind.
All this, with my fingers woven
into fronds on her back, moving from the cool

green growth to the warmth that rose
from her skin. And in the pause of flying home,
right at the Rockies’ feet, there she is again:

standing stiff in the wind as my plane
touches down on the runway right by her.
A wolf on the tarmac, the blowing snow

swirling around her feet like fog,
like the cold and deep warmth
of her feral, human breath.



Neile Graham is Canadian by birth, but has lived and worked in Seattle for over 22 years. She holds an MFA from the University of Montana, where she worked with Richard Hugo. Her work has been published in many American, British, and Canadian journals, and she has three full-length collections of poetry, most recently, Blood Memory. and a CD recording, She Says: Poems Selected and New. Her writing projects have been supported by the Canada Council, Artist Trust, and the Seattle, King County, and Washington State arts commissions.

Paul Fisher

In My Father’s Absence


Men make women messy,
my mother loved to vent
while supervising pickups
of plastic soldiers from my room.
But I was six, too young
to count the dead,
too full of spunk to quake
before the high-pitched chorus
echoing each a cappella rant.
Perhaps the better half of God
once raised her voice
while ordering untidy worlds,
rewinding wind and whirlpools,
boxing ears and grounding boats.
I see her on the seventh evening
watching leaves and snow
descend in whorls like cereal and sugar
her ragamuffin children stir and spill
among the twigs and burls,
the wooden blocks and battle gear
she reads like bones,
then sweeps from forest floors.


“In my Father’s Absence” originally appeared in Nimrod International Journal.


Paul Fisher was born and raised in Seattle, and currently lives in Bellingham. He earned an MA in Art and Education at Washington University in St. Louis, an MFA from the Poetry Program at New England College in New Hampshire, and is the recipient of an Individual Artist’s Fellowship in Poetry from the Oregon Arts Commission. His first full-length book of poems, Rumors of Shore, won the 2009 Blue Light Book Award, and was published by in 2010. Recent poems have appeared in journals such as Cave Wall, Crab Creek Review, Naugatuck River Review, and Nimrod International Journal.


Claire McQuerry


The wicks are electric
in Iglesia San Dominic.

Sear of filament in glass:
tiny coal, a forty-watt

star. None of your cathedral
glitter, clutter of light

on the paving, this grid
of switches, little

circuit timed to twenty-nine
minutes and after, nothing

whiskered with soot. No remnant
but the afterburn, blue

on the dark globes
of your eyelids. Some

things in life are not meant
for such precision—the snug

dovetail of your joined hands;
the bent maple outside

my window, aflame
with leaf, its sheath

of frost; flickered
approximation of star—that dark

voice, and our reciprocal
lights. Trace elements

in smoke, fine blue
strands that rise, streak

the marbled mouth of a saint.


“Votive” is reprinted from Lacemakers (Southern Illinois University Press, 2012)


Claire McQuerry’s first collection, Lacemakers, was winner of the  Crab Orchard Prize and published in 2012 by Southern Illinois University Press. She is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Missouri, where she serves as the Contest Editor for The Missouri Review. Her poems have appeared in Mid-American Review, American Literary Review, Western Humanities Review, Louisville Review, Los Angeles Review, and others. She lives in Richland.

Cynthia Neely

Birding at the Potholes


Red epaulets flash on marsh grass,
draw our scopes from familiar fields of view,
the hunt for something to lift us
from our narrowed focus. We search

for cranes, whose stilt legs barely
carry them, whose wings loft them
graceless – a run, stumble, flap – before air
becomes substance that will bear them.

Our son follows, crane-legged, iPod-eared.
He doesn’t hear the calls that pull us forward,
doesn’t see the meadowlark, bibbed and shining,
the porcelain painted puff of chucking quail.

His footprints are as big as ours, but
he won’t fill them, his head bowed, back bent
to minutiae: ants, scat, a feathered sign of struggle,
the treasure of pebble and spent shotgun shell.

He has no interest in our quest; the present
and the past are all right there
under his feet, no need to scan the sky
for cranes, already gone.

“Birding at the Potholes” previously appeared in The Raven Chronicles and San Pedro River Review.


Cynthia Neely is the 2011 winner of the Hazel Lipa Prize for Poetry with her chapbook “Broken Water”, published by Flyway: Journal of Writing and Environment. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in, among others, Bellevue Literary Review (Honorable Mention – Marica and Jan Vilcek Poetry Prize, 2011), Crab Creek Review, Floating Bridge Review, and Raven Chronicles, and are included in several sonnet anthologies.