Christine Johnson-Duell

My Husband Explains Light Years to our Ten-Year-Old Daughter


He pours the last of the blueberries on breakfast yogurt,
a few more in her bowl than in his, and considers her question.

A unit of measure; not time, he says, but distance. He mentions
stars. (Like those in her eyes when she’s with him; those in my eyes
and his, in some distant past, it seems, though the light’s still steady.)

He says it’s the way light travels, which is to say: velocity (something
we know about; having lived this decade, tracked light’s orbit
back to the start, watched each turn alter the image).

And what will remain?

For me, the bits of kitchen conversation that floated me awake. For him,
those lopsided blueberry portions, perhaps. For her? Who knows

what will burn away, what will remain, light years, of course, from now.



“My Husband Explains Light Years to our Ten-Year-Old Daughter ” first appeared in Poet Lore..


Christine Johnson-Duell’s work has appeared in CALYX, Poet Lore, Alimentum, Cranky (poems) and The Boston Globe, The Seattle Times, Drash, and Parent Map (prose). She was awarded a Hedgebrook residency in 2007, was a semi-finalist for the “Discovery”/The Nation award in 1996, and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington. Johnson-Duell lives in Seattle with her husband and daughter.

Bridget Stixrood

Mad lib beet powder


There are these little _______(color 1) bugs you see in the summertime that are attracted to ______(color2  you want to put with color1) things.

In the sun they appear ______ (adverb +verb) on the _____(color2)  making you ______ (verb) your ______(body part) in confusion.

_______(common saying) or too much ________ (element) and you are seeing ______(psychedelic plural noun).

Soon you’ll see they are all over the _______(something you are proud of noun) tracing your art. You have to be careful not to smear their ________(color1) bodies all over your work. It’s better to _____(physical movement) and let them ________(satisfying word). While they are working you will want a perfect ______(a noun you love) of something. A(n) ________(green food).  A ________(color1 food). You’ll like a(n) ______ (color2 food), u will like ______( the dish you just made), u will like ______(what you drink it with), ull like _______(verbing), ull like _____(verbing), like ______(verbing). ___________ (sometimes, anytime, always, never) it takes that much.


Bridget Stixrood recently moved back to Seattle after 7 years on the East Coast, where she received a BA in poetry at The New School in 2009 and co-ran the historic 1796 Fitzwilliam Inn and Cheshire Tavern with two other women in their twenties. Bridget Stixrood’s work spans poetry, performance with video, and food.

Kathleen Smith



Our dreams are like crows:
messengers from the other side.
They get about as much respect.
We’re not pleased with their harsh voices
or the carrion they strew.

I have heard crows mock a dozen other birds.
The shadows, it seems, do not speak directly.
And just so, dreams. Their dark lightning gashes
the rounded landscapes of our well-kept souls.
Their wild voices mock our measured tones.



Early on, Kathleen Smith had the good fortune to encounter a wide variety of working poets. Influenced most by the Montana poets, Kathleen has been writing since 1965. Recent retirement in Roslyn has freed up more time for writing.

Jeanine Walker

I Become a Nest


One must have a mind heavy in thought
to gather shadows like eggs in an apron.

Captured, they yield: I move to quash
their gloomy nature. Slatted cupboards,

mouse holes, knots in trees, vineyard arches
now pull in light like a poem.

But no––it’s just fantasy––shadows
secure a propensity to multiply, whether

I wrap them up or not.

One must have a mind heavy in thought
to keep shadows like eggs in an apron. 

Shadows wet the ground they walk on;
anguish makes an apron damp.

But for me, I find true,
when I shoo dark shapes into my folds

like children beneath an attic’s eves
I become a nest for the resting shadows.

They crack; they birth in me; they fly away.


Jeanine Walker holds a Ph.D. in Creative Writing & Literature from the University of Houston. She has been the recipient of a Donald Barthelme Memorial Fellowship and an Inprint Brown Fellowship. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Cimarron Review, Cream City Review, Gulf Coast, Narrative, and Web Conjunctions. She has worked as the Writers in the Schools Program Manager at Seattle Arts & Lectures since 2009, has been a member of the Seattle performance poetry groups The Four Horsemen and Re Drum Machine, and she writes, sings, and plays trumpet for the country music duo The Drop Shadows. Jeanine also teaches poetry classes at the Richard Hugo House and serves as the emcee for the Cheap Wine & Poetry reading series.


Jack McCarthy 1939 – 2013


(Seattle, WA)  Jack McCarthy, one of America’s celebrated slam poets, died in Seattle on Thursday, January 17, 2013 at the age of 73 following a brief illness.

The author of thousands of poems, numerous audio recordings, and eight books of published poetry, including Almost A Remembrance, Good Night Grace Notes and What I Saw had recently completed his latest book, Drunks and Other Poems of Recovery, which will be published in the spring of 2013 by WriteBloody Publishing. Recovery has been an integral part of his life, having been a grateful and loving member of Alcoholics Anonymous for the past fifty years.

McCarthy is a legend in the slam poetry community. In the 1990’s he was named ‘Best Standup Poet in Boston.’ In 1996 he was a member of the Boston poetry slam team that went on to the National Poetry Slam Championship.  He was named ‘Best Standup Poet’ by the Boston Phoenix in the 1990s.  In 2000 he was a semi finalist in the individual category of the National Poetry Slam. And in 2007 he was the winner of the Haiku category at the World Poetry Slam. Jack was also featured in the documentary SlamNation, produced by five-time Emmy filmmaker Paul Devlin. SlamNation premiered at the 1998 SXSW Film Festival and was awarded best documentary at the 1998 Northampton Independent Film Festival. It was broadcast on Cinemax/HBO and Starz/Encore.

Jack and his wife Carol relocated to Seattle, Washington in 2003 and he has been active in the local poetry community throughout Washington. His last public appearance was at South Seattle Community College (SBCC), as the featured poet at the 18th Annual Poetry Reading. Mike Hickey, Seattle’s Poet Populist and an instructor at SBCC, praised Jack’s contribution to the poetry community, “He was not only one of the best slam poets this country has ever produced, but also one of the kindest, gentlest, and most compassionate. To those who loved him, from Boston to Seattle and countless points in-between, he was a legend on the page, on the stage, and in life.”

Taylor Mali, one of the most well-known poets to have emerged from the national poetry slam movement and one of the original poets to appear on the HBO series Def Poetry Jam praised his countless contributions. “Because of the way Jack McCarthy bridged the divide between academic poetry and the poetry slam, it’s possible for poets like me to actually make a living in spoken word. I’m not sure I could do what I do if it weren’t for Jack.”

“Jack McCarthy’s poems tap you on the shoulder, buy you a cup of coffee and start telling you a story,” said poet Hope Jordan. “Before you realize it, you’ve laughed, you’ve cried, and you have understood the perfectly visible relationships between things you never before dreamed were connected. Things like longing and lawn chairs, cars and Catholicism, navigation and newfound love.”

“Jack hopes to be remembered as an integral member of the movement to restore poetry to its rightful place in everyday American life,” said his wife Carol. “He believed that when Americans think of poetry, they don’t think of school and homework, but of laughter and tears; a shortcut to the heart.”

Born in South Boston on May 23, 1939 to John and Hannah McCarthy, Jack is survived by his loving wife Carol McCarthy, his children Megan McDermott, Kathleen Chardavoyne, Ann McCarthy, stepson Seth Roback, his six loving grandchildren, and sisters Hannah McCarthy and Judy Winship. His brother Leo preceded him in death.

There will be two memorial services to celebrate the life, the love and the words of Jack McCarthy. On Saturday, February 9, 2013 friends will gather at Follen Unitarian Church in Lexington, Massachusetts at 2PM. It will be followed by a reception at the church and an ‘open mike’ at Chelmsord Library.  In addition, there will be a memorial service on Saturday, February 16, 2013 in Marysville, Washington at the Evergreen Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at 2PM, followed by a reception.

Additional information about the memorials, as well as some of Jack’s more popular works of poetry can be found at

In lieu of flowers Jack has requested that donations be made to the Evergreen Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 1607 Fourth St., Marysville, WA 98270.

An article about Jack in the Worcester Telegram.
Tributes for Jack McCarthy on his
Facebook Page.

Jack McCarthy on The Far Field.


Christine Robbins

Waiting-for-a-Diagnosis Suite

1. Burn Pile

Trees speak the language of your silent wood.
Ashes are meant for everywhere and set
a wing-dust on the leaves, enough to fill
the empty lines of another’s fingertip.

2. Loam

There are weeds in the garden
and your diction’s gone.
Relax. There is nothing here
that won’t eat you – that would not
take you up against itself.
All that’s housed under the slice of moon
wears the lobster bib, for no part of you
isn’t full of sweet white meat.

3. Night Storm

Air rises to a pitch
that sticks in the throat.
Wind is sharking the huge pine
that leans toward the roof, and you wait
for the snap. Then, the soft rain.
It all falls in time —
another air, another weight,
another voice.

4. And After

You will open either way
to find what your sore arms
can bring, like a warm
golden orb against the chest.
The answer is nothing,
a nameless stagger
and a voice going silent, less yours
with each day. You will always wait
for the right word.


“Waiting-for-a-Diagnosis Suite” was first published in The Georgia Review.


Christine Robbins grew up in Northern Virginia and has lived in Olympia,Washington for most of her adult life.  She is a graduate of The Evergreen State College and received an MFA in creative writing from the Rainier Writing Workshop in 2012.  Her poems have been published in The Georgia Review, Talking River Review and the And Love… anthology (Jacar Press).

A High School Poetry Experiment

Creative Writing Class/Photography Class Exchange: A New Source of Inspiration
by Jim Deatherage


During my 42 years of teaching secondary English, 36 years at Richland High School, one of the most rewarding activities resulted when I paired my Creative Writing class with the Photography teacher’s class.  Students and teachers alike grew from the experience.

When I first approached the Photography teacher with my idea of collaboration, he was at first reticent, but quickly warmed to the idea.  It was simple.  I had a three-phase plan for our students.  Phase one: his photography students would take a picture of their choosing and my Creative Writing class would write a poem that captured for them the photo’s point or essence.  Phase two: my writers would write a poem and have the photography students take a picture that resulted from their reading and analysis of the poem.  Phase three:  Students who had not had the option of connecting with the other paired student prior to the group presentation were encouraged to work together…jointly choosing a topic for a poem and/or an idea for a photo.  After each of these phases/exercises, our classes would meet together in the library and a picture would be projected on the screen after the poem was read or vice versa.  In both cases, both writer and photographer would then have an opportunity to share their ‘creative/artistic’ intent and react to the other’s interpretation.

The time frame for these was basically seven to ten school days, during which students also worked on other class projects.  Specific due dates helped keep students working.  Poems had to be written, edited, and polished and the photos had to be taken and printed.  The photography teacher had all photos on a disc for viewing during the presentations.

Each presentation was brief…maybe five to seven minutes in length.  The picture was shown, the poem read or reversed.  After this there was a time for sharing by the artists.  Students were keenly interested in how their work was interpreted and were equally anxious to share their original intent.


  1.  No contact between writer and photographer until after their presentations.
  2. Students are paired randomly by lottery/drawing.
  3. Specific instructions are given and due dates firmly established…this aided both teachers in motivating their students to complete the work and to take more pride in their work as it would be shared with all the students involved in the project.
  4. This provided a unique and much desired expansion of real audience for both groups of students.  Hard copies of the photos and copies of the poems were paired for display in the library and several hallways, enabling other students to see the work done by their peers.  Again, another ‘reason to do well.’  (So well in fact, that several photos and poems were stolen.)
  5. The teachers modeled the process in advance.  The example below is the result of Phase one, where the Creative Writing teacher received a picture and wrote a poem.  We were bound by the same rules as the students.  This proved very powerful as the teachers were able to share their own frustrations in completing their part of the project to their satisfaction.  I often shared my struggles with my class, soliciting student opinions on the many subtleties of writing my poem.  Likewise, the Photography teacher experienced a unique sharing with his class regarding the varied aspects of photography.  This sharing creating a equaling  of sorts that encouraged student growth in both classes.
  6. These high school students were mostly seniors, although a few juniors were also involved.  We did the project with the classes we had during the same period of the day.
  7. A really special aspect that resulted from the project for writers was their increased  intensity in peer editing.  The photography students actively pursued their teacher’s expertise regarding advanced techniques to compose the ‘perfect’ picture.
  8. Other students working in the library quickly surrounded the two classes and quietly listened to the presentations.
  9. Other teachers/librarians/counselors and principals were invited to attend the presentations.
  10. Students were given a simple form to fill out after each presentation, providing them the opportunity to critique the process and the individual presentations.  This feedback was at first somewhat intimidating, however, by the second phase of the project, the students requested the forms and provided some very valuable insights and advice to improve the process all the way around.

Richland High School, 2010 (and other years)
Jim Deatherage, Creative Writing teacher
Shawn Murphy, Photography teacher


Coastal Logging Town, 1998
by Jim Deatherage


This morning’s mysterious

shafts of light slice

deep wounds,

baring those years before

the bustling town went bust.

You can imagine them, before it all went bad,

this building teeming with children’s voices,

hymns and hallelujahs,

the bell’s sweet salutation.

Look at the looming remnant of trees;

they leaned hard, heard it all,

and shook their bristled heads.

Who knew what that could mean?

Or consider the ocean just beyond,

its tide indifferent

to their loss of hope.

You know the fog’s response,

rising and falling,

blanketing their sufferings.

I like to think they were all like us,

had dreams,

could see clearly through that fog,

imagined lives enriched, fulfilled.

When it happened,

some blamed God,

shook their gnarled fists at the sky.

Others slowly succumbed,

bereft, empty as the church.

Then they were gone.



Photo by Shawn Murphy

Joe Milutis

[ Hear Joe Milutis sing licorice.]



like is like life is like loaf is like kettle is like line is like inert is like link is like ink is like kink is like kick is like lick is like like is like Ike is like psych is like physical is like hysterical is like America is like amorous is like amoral is like amorphous is like Orpheus is like endorphin is like dolphin is like Dolph Lundgren is like Ralph Lauren is like Sophia Loren is like dinosaur is like so are we is like sour tea is like sortee is like sorted is like sordid is like so did is like soda is like Yoda is like ode is like node is like knowed is like now is like snow is like rain is like fog is like hail is like mail is like letter is like litter is like lighter is like lighter and lighter is like ever after is like love is like like is like not-like is like dissimilar is like simile is like metaphor is like analogy is like analog is like digital is like finger in ass is like Fingal’s Cave is like Felix Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture Opus 26  aka Fingal’s Cave is like allusion to another text is like illusion is like ill is like i’ll like all your posts is like aggressive sort of is like like but only sort of is sort of sort of like like or just like like like just as is like like sort of without like is like was is like as like is like so is like not like is as is has have and ‘tis is like forsooth like truth is like truant is like rue is like street is like avenue is like transport is like boxcars moving on the horizon is like a pretty girl is like a melody is like a song like from long ago is like just yesterday is like today is like tomorrow is like tomorrow is like tomorrow is like an island like an islet like Kate Winslet like to let this apartment like your roommates is like room is like moon is like June is like a limpid pool is like the problem with like is like link is like hyperlink is like the demise of analogical thinking is like dot com is like dot org is like dot edu is like dot net is like the blog is like the twitterfeed is like the book club is like the talk show is like chicken is like like “ing” is like liking like is like linking likeably is like wow is like let’s just like everything is like Hitler in reverse is like Hitler still like alive in South America like in that movie in which everything is not like you think like nothing turns out how you’d like is like your worst nightmare is like if this went on and on is like forever is like fever is like river is like reverse is like verse is like poem



Joe Milutis is a writer and media artist, and author of Failure, A Writer’s Life He is the author of many hybrid works including the fiction-performance-installation The Torrent, and various web-based non-fiction experiments.  He teaches in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington-Bothell, and as faculty for Bothell’s new MFA in Cultural Poetics.

Milutis will be launching his new book Failure at Elliott Bay Book Company in a launch event with Amaranth Borsuk on January 25 at 7.

He will also be reading a new experimental translation of a German translation of Robert Creeley’s number poems (which emerged from a collaboration with Robert Indiana) as part of the Henry Gallery’s Now Here is also No Where show.  The reading will be on Feb 28 at 7 pm, and will be followed by a discussion on collaboration in the work of Frank O’ Hara and Willem de Kooning.  He will be joined by Gregory Laynor.


Bruce Beasley

Self-Portrait in Ink


As the gone-

jet-blasts into evasion, vanishing

while its ink-sac spurts
a cloud of defensive

mucus & coagulant
azure-black pigment,

octopus imago in ink, so the shark

gnashes at that blobbed
sepia phantom,

that disperses into black

nebulae & shreds
with each shark-strike

& the escaped
octopus throbs

beyond, see-through
in the see-through water, untouched—:

so, go
little poem, little

& -print, mimicker

& camouflage,
self-getaway, cloud-

scribble, write
out my dissipating

name on the water,
emptied sac of self-illusive ink . . .


“Self-Portrait in Ink” is reprinted from Theophobia (BOA, 2012).


Bruce Beasley is a professor of English at Western Washington University and the author of seven collections of poems, most recently Theophobia (BOA Editions, 2012) and The Corpse Flower: New and Selected Poems (University of Washington Press, 2007).  He won the Ohio State University Press/Journal Award for The Creation, the Colorado Prize in Poetry (selected by Charles Wright) for Summer Mystagogia, and the University of Georgia Press Contemporary Poetry Series Award for Lord Brain, a poetic meditation on neuroscience and cosmology.  Wesleyan University Press published his books Spirituals (1988) and Signs and Abominations (2000).  Beasley has won fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Artist Trust, and three Pushcart prizes.  His work appears in the Pushcart Book of Poetry: The Best Poems from the First Thirty Years of the Pushcart Prize and other anthologies.



Student Poem

Galileo Demands An Apology
by Sarah Groesbeck


“Eppur si muove: and yet it moves.”
– Galileo Galilei

How fickle and stubborn
you are. Once praising my telescope and
the celestial bodies uncovered,
now branding me a heretic
for going against God and His scripture by saying
we are not the center.
I set out only to discover the truth;
to follow the evidence
with a mind open to wherever it may lead.
You, however, carelessly dismiss my results
by thumbing through verses.
And yet it moves.
I implore you, open your eyes and look
to the heavens, to our sister Venus
and the revolving moons of Jupiter.
See what I see;
only then will you discover
the Earth is moving.


Sarah Groesbeck, a Seattle native, is a student at Highline Community College. She is going for her AA degree with an emphasis in Mathematics. She decided to be brave and took a Creative Writing class where she discovered a new delight in poetry.