Eric Stepper

What You Say

“Some have tried to help
Or hurt: Ask me what difference
Their strongest love or hate has made.

I will listen to what you say.”
William Stafford

Here you are at my office door again–Bill,
Going on about the stock market and the Federal Reserve–again.
Nominal GDP, gold index, bond fund, funds rate
Short term, long term, rate hike, inflation spike.
The conversation street is one way,
And you supply me my opinion.
I find myself wandering,
And try not to almost make sense,
Start a sentence–I don’t know where it is going–
And see if I can find the end.
Bill at my office door, here I go again.



During the day, Eric Stepper is a mild mannered CPA, but at night he leaves the numbers behind and works on poems.  He recently took the next step in his poetry vocation by taking a creative writing class with Derek Sheffield at Wenatchee Valley College.  This is his first published poem.  A board member for the Chelan County Literacy Council, he lives in Wenatchee, Washington, with his lovely wife, Kristina.

Samar Abulhassan

For My Mother on her 60th Birthday


I am putting together a parcel to send to my mother,
a bilingual volume of poetry, poems translated from the Arabic.

I read the poems in English, pausing
to lift words in Arabic and copy them in my notebook.
My innocent wide-eyed script. I don’t make a dash
to represent a pair of eyes,
or forgo luxurious curves, like someone fluent might.
Earnest child, setting out each word to sea,
releasing the palms with the blessing of heat, to take flight.

I cannot chart my mother’s spine, whether the book
is a paperweight, pretend-chamber of colored sand
or will she ingest the Arabic like liquid,
and veer to the translation, only to hear a small hum inside her:
Sky, brain, heart.

My ink traces your silhouette.

Here is an unknowable space, this margin between mine and yours.
In the spine, I cast a river over despair, a path in which all eyes must pass.


This is just an entrance.

The Butoh master offers, “I speak baby English. Enjoy.”
We move while words are slowly spoken.

Previous generations are summoned.

The accent of my parents used to make me cringe
but this Japanese man has rinsed English into something bald, phosphorescent.

Mother, let’s find this flower through your body.
Flower never sinking, the Butoh master
recites over and over,
as we circle around the room, invisible

I am trying to lift it
to become the girl who cannot see
but dances to the music.
A line has been whispered from
the center of my head
to the ceiling.

Now the body crumpling, seething.


I reach long for the tender symphony. “And in the evening light they started to dance.”

At your son’s wedding, your body leapt up, wooden.
No buoyant whoosh inside, like a loosening, after many prostrations.

So here:
Now that the museum guards have gone home, slip inside
this hypnotic light show.
The sea roars at your feet.
The page is soaked with glittering sea dragons murmuring
Dance on into the night.


Mother, think about the legendary songstress,

vocal cords so
strong she had to stand
several feet away from the microphone.

Feet, arms, belly, yield to reddened.

Most of all, we long for touch. Who has congregated in this room?
I am listening for the wider stance.
Take, for example, gesture. Your word for it much more sensual,
a true beginning. A long sigh and whisper together.
A word learned by the body.



Samar Abulhassan earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Colorado State University in 2001. She teaches for Writers in the Schools, a program of Seattle Arts and Lectures, and the Richard Hugo House. She has published three chapbooks, and lives in Seattle.

Seattle Public Library Haiku Contest

Children, teens and adults are invited to celebrate National Poetry Month and enter The Seattle Public Library’s first haiku contest. Write a haiku that celebrates the library in your life and submit it beginning Monday, March 4. Your haiku is due online before 5 p.m. Friday, March 15. Winning entries will appear on the Library website beginning April 1.

For more information, go to

Raymond Carver’s 75th Birthday Event


A downloadable poster for you to help publicize your Roethke/Carver event



The Raymond Carver Festival will be celebrating the legendary author and poet’s 75th birthday in a series of events this spring in Port Angeles.  You are invited to take part in your own community with programs for adults and children, schools, civic organizations, and libraries.

Please note the “Carver/Roethke” button that has been added to The Far Field banner, above.  There you will find resources to help you create a program around the poems of Washington’s own Raymond Carver, along with Theodore Roethke.  Poet Tess Gallagher (Carver’s widow and a student of Roethke) and poet Alice Derry have secured permissions for poems  by Carver and Roethke that you may download for reading, recitation, and discussion, and have designed lesson plans for high school students and elementary students.  There is even a beautiful poster that you can download to help you publicize your event.

Please help us spread the word about this marvelous opportunity!

Gerry McFarland

Skipping Stones


I remember the sway of her forearm gentle
as she stepped small by my side up the hill
to the dam at the end of the steep boulevard.

The man-made lake. Summers then were loose,
sunny, long as the warm sidewalk uphill
from her yellow house. We didn’t know the dam

would burst when the fingers of the old fault
worked loose the bound water onto
the evacuated neighborhood. We were

thirteen. We didn’t know she would be thrown
from a horse in Denver, restrained in the brilliant room
while they set the bone, scrubbed the wounds.

We knew the words to Unchained Melody
and all the names of the Beach Boys. We were the small
flesh of the world. We didn’t know the imminence

of her father’s death. I didn’t know
what it meant when my forearm brushed against hers.
The stone has to look like this, I told her.

She showed a girl’s disinterest, wandered, mute
down the shore, touching the hair she had spent an hour
setting while I demonstrated how

to fit the stone in the knuckle, bend close
to the water, swing the arm parallel
the earth. I threw my heart out the end of my fingers.


“Skipping Stones” is reprinted from Sanskrit.  


Gerry McFarland graduated with an MFA in Creative Writing from Rainier Writer’s Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University. He is a co-editor at Floating Bridge Press. His work has appeared in Zyzzyva, Crab Creek Review, Pontoon 8, Sanskrit, Crucible, Berkeley Poetry Review, Bayou and many others. He was awarded the 2005 Sam Ragan Prize and was a finalist in the 2003 WinningWriters.comWar Poetry Contest.