Gloria Burgess

The Open Door
for my ancestors and our children

i wasn’t there…..i didn’t stand at the threshold
of the open door… back wasn’t wracked
beneath a ceiling so low even children lay prone
my spirit wasn’t riven…..i wasn’t cowed
bloodied……..shamed…… one stripped me
of my name…..i wasn’t there…..i wasn’t at Goreé
or anywhere along that shore

i was born inside the golden door
and i’m here by grace standing on the shoulders
of women and men stout in spirit fierce in soul
and oh by the blessed sanctity of God
though i wasn’t hounded through that open door
or driven to cross a merciless sea i still
have the sting of salt in my soul nightmares
of a watery grave…..i still search furtively
for signs of my tribe outstretched hands a cool
drinka water calabash smile……i still tread softly
muted by the glare of ghostly strangers…….i still push back
the rising bile when a glassy-eyed elder looks too long
or wide…..i’ve learned to question all kinds of kings
to stand firm on the laps of queens…..some days
i can’t tell the difference and fall to my knees
dragged down by the tide all over again


“The Open Door” is reprinted from Gathering Ground (University of Michigan Press); The Open Door (Red Oak Press).


Gloria Burgess’s poetry celebrates the spiritual and evocative oral traditions of her ancestry—African, Native American, and Celtic. Her poetry appears in diverse publications, including The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South, Gathering Ground, The Open Door, and Journey of the Rose. In her latest book, Dare to Wear Your Soul on the Outside, she weaves in threads of inspirational poetry, narrative, and reflections, along with the touching story of her father’s life-changing relationship with Nobel Laureate William Faulkner.

Lyn Coffin

Paradelle on Love


Once, our hearts were open. We made love.
We made love once our hearts were open.
We turned and embraced in huge, unmade spaces ruined by war.
Unmade, we turned and embraced in huge spaces ruined by war.
Once we turned and embraced open war in huge spaces we made,
our hearts were ruined by unmade love.

Have you vanished from the face of this life?
You have vanished from the face of this life.
Still, I miss belonging to you and longing to have love.
Still, I miss belonging to you to have love and longing.
I have vanished from this life to miss longing,
and still you have the face of love belonging to you.

Our old blind pain did not help us find a way to God.
Our old pain did not help us find a way to blind God.
God could not let us be true to one another.
One God could not let us be true to another.
Let us find another blind God to be true to.
Our old one way pain God did not, could not help us.

Our old way of belonging to blind war turned
our hearts’ spaces to pain. We once embraced love,
and could have vanished from another God,
to find the one true face to help us. You were not open,
God. You did not let be, and have ruined us. And,
still, in this unmade life made huge by longing, I miss love.


“Paradelle on Love” is reprinted from Limbs of the Pine, Peaks of the Range (Rose Alley Press), edited by David D. Horowitz. More about the paradelle form here.


Lyn Coffin is a widely-published poet, playwright, fiction and non-fiction writer, as well as a translator. Thirteen of her books have been published, and two more are due out in 2013. She teaches Literary Fiction at the University of Washington (Department of Continuing and Professional Education), and a Translation Seminar at the Shota Rustaveli Institute in Georgia, the country, her teaching there support this year (2013) by the American Embassy in Tbilisi. Decades ago, one of her fictions was published in Best American Short Stories 1979 edited by Joyce Carol Oates, and plays of hers have been performed on Off Off Broadway, as well as Malaysia, Singapore, Boston, Detroit, Ann Arbor, and Seattle. She is currently working on a full-length translation of the great Georgian epic, The Knight in the Panther Skin, by Shota Rustaveli. She will lead a presentation on the poetry of Mohsen Emadi at the 2014 AWP in Seattle. She has been named Wordsworth poet twice, mostly recently this summer. Her awards include an honorary PhD. from the World Academy of Arts and Culture (UNICEF) for “poetic excellence and her efforts on behalf of world peace.”


Amethyst Dauphin



My identity is the abandoned house
neighbors point
to tell frightening stories about.
I know which ones they believe.
My identity is a black joke on Father’s Day
a ghetto butterfly in the suburbs
a porn studio
is not a window
I stopped looking at
others in order to understand
I am a bearded woman
a mid life crisis
a body bag
a place to dispose all of my dead weight.
I am an unkept bedroom.
I know where everything is.
I am trying to be as fluid as word
I want my character to be
rearranged and made better.
I am a poet.
I write to make love to my existence.
I am an old folks home.
There are war stories in my make up.
Sometimes I grow tired of fighting.
I am an antediluvian breath who
can hardly hold themself in.
I spend so much time thinking about
my construct
I forget to thank ancestors who
drink heartache like wine.
I am twenty,
and I am trying to understand my place in
this world so I document the person
my sadness makes me.
When I believed I did not have a right
to exist,
I stopped writing about what I
couldn’t change.
I wasn’t the person I wanted to be
so I evolved
became someone who wasn’t as
near as then.
I am unlearning all of the selves
who have been created for me.
I am trying to be my own god.
I don’t want someone else to take credit for saving me.



A self-described “gender fluid person,” Amethyst Dauphin was part of a slam poetry team preparing to represent Seattle at Brave New Voices, an international poetry festival. Dauphin aims to document the path taken to understand their gender, and reflects a deep regard for language rooted in the experience of growing up in a household where English, Spanish, French and Creole were spoken on a daily basis. Dauphin is a teaching artist, and has performed with Kwame Dawes, Rafael Casal and Buddy Wakefield, as well as Seattle-area musicians.

Tim McNulty

Willow Withes


My grandfather used willow withes
cut from a backyard shade tree
to tie back his grapevines to their arbors—
leafy rows that bordered
the other crops sewn into his small,
hillside farm.

With a bundle of cut swaths tucked in his belt
he strode the rows like a swashbuckler,
whipping wands and binding unruly growth
into order. Following along
with my armload of cut willow limbs,
I could barely keep up.

I did better with strawberries.
scooching my butt down the dusty rows,
filling my grandmother’s big two-handled colander,
the taste of ripe berries erupting warmly
against my tongue.

Scooching, too, I could thin carrots
with the best of them,
grasping the lacy tops close to the soil
and tugging.
The small, fingerling carrots, rinsed
in the tublike yard sink,
crunched sweetly between my teeth.

Other days I gathered brown eggs
from the cloying henhouse,
or fed the rabbits in their shaded hutches,
or broke the ends off stringbeans
with Noni under the backyard willow,
her apron a brimming green horn-of-plenty.

Or watched plains of tomatoes ripening
on wire-mesh racks,
smoke from the summer kitchen redolent
in the fragrant air.

The green willow withes dried over summer
as the wine grapes thickened and set,
and by September, when all the family gathered
for harvest, their golden coils seemed
an organic part of the vines,

bound like memories, now
with the farm gone, shoring up the bounty
beneath yellowing leaves,
so it can be gathered,
and pressed and tasted.

Setting the glass down on the
white enamel table,
tartness waking the tongue.


“Willow Withes” will appear in Ascendance, forthcoming this fall from Pleasure Boat Studio.


Tim McNulty is a poet, essayist, and nature writer. He is the author of three poetry collections, Ascendance (Pleasure Boat Studio), In Blue Mountain Dusk (Broken Moon Press), and Pawtracks, (Copper Canyon Press), and eleven books on natural history.  Tim has received the Washington State Book Award and the National Outdoor Book Award.  He lives with his family in the foothills of Washington’s Olympic Mountains, where his is active in wilderness and conservation work.

Kenn Nesbitt

I Didn’t Go Camping
A Funny Summer Poem for Kids

I didn’t go camping.
I didn’t go hiking.
I didn’t go fishing.
I didn’t go biking.

I didn’t go play
on the slides at the park.
I didn’t watch shooting stars
way after dark.

I didn’t play baseball
or soccer outside.
I didn’t go on an
amusement park ride.

I didn’t throw Frisbees.
I didn’t fly kites,
or have any travels,
or see any sights.

I didn’t watch movies
with blockbuster crowds,
or lay on the front lawn
and look at the clouds.

I didn’t go swimming
at pools or beaches,
or visit an orchard
and pick a few peaches.

I didn’t become
a guitarist or drummer,
but, boy, I played plenty
of Minecraft this summer.


Copyright © 2013 Kenn Nesbitt
All Rights Reserved


Kenn Nesbitt was named the Children’s Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation in 2013.  He is the author of numerous books of poetry for children, including The Armpit of Doom: Funny Poems for Kids (2013), The Ultimate Top Secret Guide to Taking Over the World (2011), The Tighty-Whitey Spider(2010), Revenge of the Lunch Ladies (2007), Santa Got Stuck in the Chimney (2006), When the Teacher Isn’t Looking: And Other Funny School Poems (2005), and The Aliens Have Landed at Our School! (2001), among others. In addition to writing books, Nesbitt has also written lyrics for the group Eric Herman and the Invisible Band. His lyrics are included on the CDs What a Ride (2007), Snail’s Pace(2007)Snow Day (2006)Monkey Business (2005), and The Kid in the Mirror(2003). Nesbitt’s poems have appeared in hundreds of anthologies, magazines, and textbooks worldwide, and were included on the television show “Jack Hanna’s Wildlife Adventures.” Nesbitt is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. His website, Poetry4kids, is an online “Funny Poetry Playground” that features poems, lessons, games, and poetry-related activities. He currently lives in Spokane, Washington with his wife, children, and pets.

Beth Bentley

Short Trip Back


I wanted to place my foot
once more on the burning sidewalk,
stalled in a Minnesota August,
thinned, pocked and feverish
with adolescence, my disease.
I wanted to suffer those years
when I pottered around the neighborhood,
a homesick explorer held captive
by the natives, worshipped
in outlandish ceremonies, kept celibate,
my untranslatable messages
smuggled out from the interior
by birds; held so long I became
like my captors, simple-minded,
chained to the wheel of food and sleep.

I was so far from my own country
I thought I had made it up:
a temperate place
where even the speech was liquid,
where one’s body was a blessing,
where I could put on thought
like a skin and become whole.


Beth Bentley has taught in the Northwest and elsewhere for over thirty years. Her poetry has been widely published in journals and anthologies, including The Gettysburg Review, the Atlantic, the Nation, the New Yorker, the Paris Review, Poetry, and the Sewanee Review. Bentley’s poetry collections include Little Fires (Cune Press, 1998), The Purely Visible (SeaPen Press, 1980), Philosophical Investigations (SeaPen Press, 1977), Country of Resemblances (Ohio University Press, 1976), Field of Snow (Gemini Press, 1973), and Phone Calls From the Dead (Ohio University Press, 1972). She has been living in Seattle since 1952.  

Kimalisa Kaczinski



I think of the journey
my hands have been on and I am
pleased. Stroking my own belly
while my son hiccupped inside
me. My hands that stroke this face
of the man I love, and the way
his eyes light into mine. I think of the poems
these hands have written, poems of loss
and forgiveness, trying to understand
a bit of this world and my place in it.
I think of my hands and how they used
to remind me of my grandmother and her age,
I so wanted that for myself and never thought
it was possible. But here I am, at the dear age
of 51, older than I thought I would make it, and again,
I am pleased.

I remember swimming for the first time,
sure the weight of the water would betray me, but my hands,
oh, my hands, they held me up and I made it
to the edge of the pool. I think of the way that my hands
reached to my Cindy, my best friend when we shared
the death of Riley. We held on tight, and have yet
to let go. I’ve brushed my own bangs away from my face
and been tender. I’ve tied my shoes and made potato soup, carefully
peeling each potato, my hands stirring and being cautious
of being burned. This arthritis that has stricken me, taking away
two fingers and a thumb, the cruelty of a disease inherited.
These hands reach across time, sure of their journey, a fine cross
placed on my forehead as I was confirmed, my hands folded
in prayer. A lifetime of looking ahead is yet to come with these
hands, and what else could I say but that I am pleased.



Kimalisa Kaczinski lives in Cheney, WA with her partner, the songwriter and poet, Dwayne St. Romain. Her work has appeared in many fine journals. Kimalisa’s  poems are deeply inspired by that which she finds in nature.

Lorraine Healy

Ode to the Palouse at Harvest Time

The Palouse, Eastern Washington State


In the beginning the sky
was blue and wheat was yellow,
the clumps of sage were their exhausted green,
and so the farmers said
let the barns be red, and the barns
were red.

Today the wheat is ready, a thread
beyond golden
except a summer storm rages in its mess
of purple clouds and stops the day.

The old Danes and Swedes
are in the Farmers’ Cemetery
where death suits their natural reserve.
Grey slabs for Petersens, Larsens,
for every blessed Hanson.
And here and there, a perfect garland
surrounds a lovely, tiny marble lamb—
splurge for a child of wheat-like hair,
stolen by diphtheria.

The afternoon leaches
the rust of rain out of everything,
until the dry stubble
bursts with cricket and grasshopper.
Again the world a spark away
from wildfire, one unconscionable
flick of lightning touching down,
one idiot match flung out
a car window and why
do we call them wild
these fires arsoned by thoughtlessness,
ours, God’s?

Come sunset, an almost solid haze
rattles everything from here to the horizon:
the chemical ghost of weedkiller,
dust from ten thousand fallow fields,
over the silos, over the Quonset huts,
over everyone’s sins.


Lorraine Healy is an Argentinean poet and photographer living on Whidbey Island, Washington. The winner of several national awards, including a Pushcart Prize nomination, she has been published extensively. The author of two published chapbooks, Lorraine is a graduate from the M.F.A in Poetry program at New England College, New Hampshire, as well as from the post-MFA Program at Antioch University Los Angeles. Her first full-length manuscript, The Habit of Buenos Aires (Tebot Bach Press, 2010) won the Patricia Bibby First Book Award. Lorraine’s newest chapbook, Abraham’s Voices, will be out in October from WorldEnoughWriters Press.”

Cheryl Waitkevich

Before Everything Happened



before everything happened

the kids ran steps 2 at a time

laundry was folded regardless.

roses bloomed lilac colored,

trumpeted dawn and daylight.

before everything happened,

we rode our bikes past noon

the sun burnt the backs of our necks

we fell into the moon.

planets aligned for a moment

Jupiter filled the heavens.

swans swam in ice covered ponds.

before everything happened, I still lied.

you still hit me with the baseball bat

before everything happened

it had all happened, though we hid it.

pretended the dog ate it  even though it was

too large for a mastiff to swallow.

the regurgitate was there

under the trampoline and we all saw it.

the moon wept while the red roses bloomed

you were sweet on me once,

I too was on you.

before everything happened.



Cheryl Waitkevich lives in Olympia with her husband, 2 chihuahuas, 2 cats and 4 chickens. She writes, “I am a poet–but find it difficult to say that word, never mind print it. I write for people I love and as a way to capture my memories and feelings. I work at a local hospital…. It helps me take myself seriously when I dare submit a poem.”


Student Poem

The Windowsill


In a great blue house there is a woman
looking at the ocean
As if strings are holding her back
and the windowsill is as far as she can go.

She wishes she could feel the cold sea,
let the cold ocean breeze touch her,
walk over sharp rocks
avoiding cuts in her feet.

She wants to feel the grass tickle her,
to see the big evergreen trees,
to smell the ocean,
to be a part of it.
But the strings are holding her back
and the windowsill is as far as she can go.

She wishes to swim away in her daydream as a fish.
She wants to cut those strings,
break the window,
and fly away free as a bird.
Away to her wishes in the sea.



“The Windowsill” was written this year by Lucy, a fifth grader at Whittier Elementary in Seattle. Lucy worked with Writers in the Schools writer Erin Malone, who visited Lucy’s classroom many times over the course of several months with challenging and engaging poetry lessons. “The Windowsill” is an ekphrastic poem, written in response to  Edward Hopper’s painting, “Cape Cod Morning.”

For examples of WITS poetry lessons and poetry by students, please peruse the WITS Blog.