Kay Mullen

Out of the Alphabet Horn


tumbles the fruit and fire of my life,
the heart and harvest of words.
As a child I learned to breathe soft O’s
and Ah’s, click T’s and K’s, letters

strung like beads of stone.
Our ancestors survived on oxen, inverted
the yoke to form A. Clans clung to seeds
of insight and drew a bow on the eye

of history. They predicted with patterns:
B hogans standing to guard the rivers,
V hooks for prodding horses with H-fence
protections, O’s in the eyes of osprey,

M’s estuary. Letters tumbled to me
over centuries. Even Einstein withdrew
from questions of monkey tail’s Q,
astonished at history ahead of itself.

There is always room in the beta
for the Buddha, bract of the scauler willow,
women with eyes in their hands,
drawing the unpredictable bow.


“Out of the Alphabet Horn” is reprinted from Tattoos on Cedar, 2006.



Kay Mullen’s work has appeared in a variety of poetry journals and anthologies, most recent journals: Valparaiso Poetry Journal, Appalachia, Wrist Magazine, San Pedro River Review. She has authored three full-length poetry collections, Let Morning Begin, 2001, A Long Remembering: Return to Vietnam, 2006, and most recent, Even the Stones, 2012. Kay received an MFA in poetry, Rainier Writing Workshop,Pacific Lutheran University.


Heather Curtis

Trees of my Childhood

Returning to home of my youth
I walk the yard –
Lingering among the trees
I climbed and knew as a child.

They gave me pause
and entreated me to
embrace them.
Shoulders swooning
and heart willing
I nearly did –

I longed to engage them
in conversation,
like the days when they were
the greatest actors
in my most masterful plays;
We performed daily while I lay
in their arms and played at their feet.

But I stopped short
under the gaze
that I assumed was
judging from the window.

I was ashamed then,
and again, more fervently,

Heather Curtis grew up in Wisconsin and earned an English degree at the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, before migrating to Washington. She currently resides in Anacortes where she writes, enjoys nature, and is actively pursuing publication for her poems. This is her first.

John Davis


Today I’m lonely for light brown rain clouds
layered like frango mint ice cream, a flavor
gone the way of downtown department stores—
boarded up or sold. Saturdays I rode the bus
through Industrial Seattle, pulled the bell-cord
at Frederick & Nelson’s, beelined
past perfume counters, ran down brass-railed
stairs, quick right into the Paul Bunyan Room,
spun in my own orbit on a metal stool
until a waitress wearing a black and white

maid dress, hairnet, pencil tucked behind her ear
wiped a rhapsody of handprints and perfect
circles of plates and cups, scribbled frango mint
milk shake on her pad. How I spun,
thrumming, kicking the leg of the stool—
a young John Glenn circling the Earth.
Heaven arrived in a metal container,
condensation sliding down the chalice like angel
blessings. In that first moment of pouring
and swallowing, I was the ice cream, the milk,
the frango, the body and bread of Christ and life

everlasting, Judgment Day, the place
where questions about angels were answered,
sugar traveling to invisible bouffants in my body.
I was every rivet of the metal, was sugar
melting ice, was Marilyn Monroe’s eyes.
Every vessel in my body whispered frango,
frango. On the wall Paul Bunyan ran
in brown and green earth tones. On the stool
I spooned chunks of heaven with my straw,
swallowed, toasted the first day of the universe.


“Frango” is reprinted from Jeopardy.


John Davis is the author of Gigs (Sol Books) and The Reservist (Pudding House Press.) His work has appeared in The Beloit Poetry Journal, Cider Press Review, Crab Creek Review, Cream City Review, Cutbank, Iron Horse Literary Review, The North American Review, Poetry Northwest, Rio Grande Review, Sycamore Review, and many others. He lives on Bainbridge Island where he teaches high school and performs in rock and roll bands.

Washington State Poetry Presses in the NY Times

Today New York TImes blogger Dana Jennings reviews four “micro presses” from Washington State:  Sally and Sam Green’s Brooding Heron Press, Paul Hunter’s WoodWorks Press, the late C. Christopher Stern and Jules Remedios Faye’s Grey Spider Press, and Copper Canyon Press (wonderful, yes, but beyond micro!).  Here is the link to a longer appreciation that includes excerpts from some lovely poems.

Mary Lou Sanelli



The sun was hot, the wind calm, the sea
spectacularly blue.

I am not a tourist on this island
drawn to the center of action,
the center stage where hula dancers sway.

I’ve come for the edges, a rocky rim
over a black sand beach, colossal leaves
cupping tiny red fruit.

And to meet my friend’s fiancee

who cuts three mangos down with a knife
(“a man with a knife instead of an iPhone?”
I whispered to Amira, “how manly is this?”)
and, minutes later, sitting cross-legged on sand,
we tore through the reddish-green skin,
juice dripping down our arms.

We swam and walked and swam
some more and I don’t remember every detail
about our sun drenched afternoon
but I do remember how the wind came up
and blew the lid off Kaila’s cooler,
the sand sharp as glass against our cheeks,
and how Amira’s face remained calm,
unfazed, and I remember thinking
she looked a decade younger than the year before
and how this seemed perfectly natural
and fitting.

I remember she smelled of coconut oil
and Kaila smelled of beer, his breath yeasty.

I remember Kaila running up to the truck, opening the door for us.
I remember his strong, hairy forearm held Amira close.
I remember Amira winked, reached for the top of my hand
to give a little squeeze, huge
in meaning, though.

I remember she mouthed the word, lovebirds.

And, oh, how I wanted to believe in that word.
I wanted to believe that Amira may have fallen,
but Alika had caught her. I wanted to believe
he was a man capable of such a catch.

I stared at the two of them. I pretended not to.
I stared some more.

I had this thought that things were going to turn out
“just fine.”

If “just fine” was a man dressed in board shorts and slippahs,
who cared what happened to Amira,
who would give her a sense of home in his little house in Kailua.

I hoped for a man who would not just open our door
but his—I am looking for a better word here, but there is none—heart.

Naturally I heard every other thing I said to myself: “Alika?
Don’t kid yourself. Men like him open only their zippahs.
Don’t let his adorable cottage draped in bougainvillea
fool you otherwise.”

I countered: “Mainland pessimist!
I am fed up listening to you.”

I remember after that exchange
there was a somewhat strained atmosphere in the truck.

If only in my seat.


Mary Lou Sanelli is  the author of seven poetry collections and a recent book of essays,Falling Awake, selected as “one of the most fabulous 2008 Northwest titles” by Seattle writer/reviewer Lesley Thomas. Among FriendsA Memoir was a bookclub choice throughout the country. She is a regular columnist in City Living Magazine for Seattle’s Pacific Publishing Newspapers, as well as for Art Access Magazine, and her commentaries have been aired on Weekend Edition and NPR. She presents her staged reading of her book of the same name, The Immigrant’s Table, throughout the country.


Eric Ode

The Barnacle

the barnacle
hunkers to hide
until she is only
a stony, cone-shaped shell,
silent and still,
in the shallow tide.

But when I stop
and when I sit
and when I watch
and wait a bit,
she reappears to dance about,
in and out,
this way and that,
like a feather on a fancy hat
caught in the wind.


“The Barnacle” is reprinted from Sea Star Wishes (Sasquatch, 2013).


Eric Ode is a national award-winning children’s singer, songwriter, and author.  His original music has been recognized with Parents’ Choice Awards and is heard on many comilation albums and national children’s radio programs.  His book of children’s poems from the coast, Sea Star Wishes (Sasquatch, 2013) was National Children’s Poet Laureate Kenn Nesbitt’s book pick for July. Eric Ode lives in Bonney Lake.

Joseph Powell



Even her porch was lined with boxes,
and cats, rheumy-eyed or clear, lay on shelves
above the washer and dryer, on cupboards and chairs,
or scratched in plastic dishpans filled with sand
spread like pots to catch a leak.

Her dentures didn’t fit, red lipstick
wobbled over wrinkled lips, a thin grime at her temples,
but her sheets were laundered every week.
When she invited me in, the laundryman,
she sat in a rocker and wrote a check
in a slow tottery script, stopping to tell little stories.
I watched the pen pause, hair float in window light.

Her cats were small-town legendary.
And though she had over fifty,
people kept dropping off more.
They walked away without ever going inside
where crusty saucers spotted the floors,
cats ate from the frying pan and dishes on the stove,
and the smell like an animal larger than all the cats together
moved everywhere at once on brown toes.

I didn’t know the inside of her life—
what love had done, the paths ridicule
made through whatever garden she was prone
to dream of, the pathos that seemed an answer,
that nugget of loathing required to love this much
the things others abandoned.


Joseph Powell has published five collections of poetry.  The first book, Counting the Change, won the Quarterly Review of Literature’s Book Award in 1986.  The most recent books, Hard Earth (2010) and Preamble to the Afterlife (2013),  were published by March Street.  His book of short stories called Fish Grooming & Other Stories  was a finalist for the Washington State Book Award, 2008.  He has also co-written a book on poetic meter called Accent on Meter published by the NCTE in 2004. For his poetry Joseph Powell has won a National Endowment for the Arts Award (2009), an Artist Trust award (2005), and the Tom Pier Award (2006). He has been Central Washington University’s Phi Beta Kappa Scholar of the Year (2004), and was awarded Distinguished University Professor in Artistic Accomplishment (2009). He has taught in the English department at Central Washington University for the last twenty-nine years.

Arlene Naganawa

Michael Jackson Dreams the Elephant Man


The thick bones float toward him,
the great misshapen skull bathed in white.
Shyly, he touches the explosion of cranium,
traces the cauliflower
ossified at the back of the head.
Presses his fingers against the spine,
feels pain locked in the vertebrae
of twists and spirals, feels nights
crouched in a hall beneath the crudely-
lettered sign: Half-Animal Half-Man.
Feels the rising velvet curtain.

The head rises before him, luminous.
The dreamer feels the scalpel
slicing tissue, gouging bone, chipping away
imperfections, carving his soul into something
more exquisite than God intended.
Weeping in white light
the monstrous skull whispers:
I was not loved. Yet, I believed.
The dreamer echoes:
Yes, to be beautiful,
bleeding under the bandages.


“Michael Jackson Dreams the Elephant Man” is reprinted from Crab Orchard Review.


Arlene Naganawa’s poems have appeared in The Floating Bridge Review, Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, Crab Orchard Review, Cider Press Review, Caketrain, Flying Chickadee, The Comstock Review and elsewhere. Private Graveyard won the Gribble Press Chapbook Contest in 2009 and The Scarecrow Bride was the Floating Bridge Chapbook Award runner up for 2013.  She lives in Seattle.

Mark Halperin



Inside the old, gray stone house,
its eaves trimmed in the flat-board,
Midwest style of the neighborhood,
the children are learning Hebrew
and history and to be Jewish
as best they can where Jews are few.

Maybe they are learning to be rare
while old snow melts from the roof
and the sun, absent recently, proves
it can shine in the blue
and white sky. These are colors
the children would be sure to notice, who

are learning the flag of Israel
and their ties to all that history.
Recognize them? They’d rather be
screaming and chasing each other
under them like other children.
And they will soon, but must wait. More

than one of my uncles would have said
Jews can’t live in Yakima or
the town we drove from. One would be sure
we’d never be American
enough, another terrified
we just might, all of them come

too far not to understand
only the shadow of the past
grows, but thinner, more odorless.
The children sit in a room
waiting for their parents
to rescue them from Temple Shalom.

They are further away all the time,
as Temple Shalom is, under its blue
and white skullcap. It weathers the distance
carried even here, the Jew’s
childlike refusal whose name,
if there is one, like God’s, we must not use.


“On the Steps of Temple Shalom” is reprinted from Time as Distance (New Issues/Western Michigan U Press).


Mark Halperin’s fifth volume of poetry, Falling Through the Music, was published by University of Notre Dame Press (2007).  He is co-author of Accent on Meter (NCTE), and co-translator of A Million Premonitions, poems from the Russian of Victor Sosnora (Zephyr Press).  Halperin lives near Washington’s Yakima River and fishes avidly.

Esther Altshul Helfgott

Letter to Abe

– after Izumi Shikibu, a woman of ancient Japan
with thanks to Jane Hirshfield and The Ink Dark Moon

I’ve written
the story of our years
together, Abe
They still hold me
All of them.

At Thornton Creek
I saw a cormorant sunning
on a rock
I looked for you
but you weren’t there.

I wonder
which galaxy you’re in
Are we still
under the same moon?

I wish I knew
where you were tonight.
I would visit you.
Will you send me a message
soon? I’ll wait.

I don’t remember
yesterday. It’s the same as today.
The only difference is
the planet moved
slightly –

How lucky I
am to have
this chair,
the one you used
to sit in.

It took
you eight years to die.
All that time
I waited for you to get better.
Why didn’t you?

to Mozart , I see
us holding hands,
snuggling in the movies
watching Amadeus.

when I look in the mirror
I see you.
Even our hair is the same—
— curly and mussed.

no longer
a mourner’s

There is
no sorrow in my missing you
only gratefulness
that we have

But on some days
like today
the third anniversary
of your death
my heart longs.


Esther Altshul Helfgott is a nonfiction writer and poet with a PhD in history from the University of Washington. Her work appears in Blue Lyra Review, Journal of Poetry TherapyMaggid, American Imago, Raven Chronicles, Floating Bridge Review, Beyond Forgetting: Poetry and Prose about Alzheimer’s Disease, HistoryLink, The Seattle PI blog pages, and elsewhere. She’s a longtime literary activist, a 2010 Jack Straw poet, and the founder of Seattle’s “It’s About Time Writer’s Reading Series,” now in its 23nd year. Esther’s book, Dear Alzheimer’s: A Caregiver’s Diary & Poems, is forthcoming from Cave Moon Press in 2013. The poem presented here is from her next manuscript, “After Alzheimer’s: Poems & Diary.”