John Olson

Inventing Emotions


Sometimes I invent emotions. I make them out of neon and punctuation. Semi-colons, for instance, are seminal to an understanding of linen.
Commas are drops of hesitation. Colons are bold.
Somewhere at the end of a sentence, I rub the night. Sparks fly. I follow a pain to the end of time. I live in a palace of thought. Everything is composed of butter, chlorophyll, and the ancient molecules of midnight.
I have a Cubist tongue and a Dada nose. My haircut used to be a garage. Next time you see a ghost at the supermarket it might be me. Then again, it might also be Thomas Paine, or Pablo Picasso.
I define pain by its weight. Paintings hanging crookedly on walls.
I watch The Kinks on YouTube, and redeploy them as a proposition.
Each day I run past the house of the symphony conductor I see him holding a glass brain with a fugue in it.
Music does this to people. Makes them wonderful and cogent, like the smell of dirt in front of the radio station just after the pansies have been watered.
Do you see the way the earth grips a tree? It is actually a tree gripping the earth.
I do not yet have a name for this emotion. The emotion itself is incomplete. But what emotion is ever whole and self-contained? Ask that woman over there, laughing and eating popcorn. She will tell you that the caliber of all emotions depends on the diameter of Tucson. But that’s only because she is from Tuba City, and is watching a movie about blank-eyed underwear-clad zombies.
I hate the fourth of July.
I prefer Halloween.
Which is why I’ve never been to Texas.
But I ask you: what are your specific needs? Say anything you want. I can always use a little ambiguity. I love ambiguity.
Emotions are difficult to pin down because each word has different properties. In the Museum of Invisible Injuries, for instance, the word ‘cook’ actually means ‘combination.’ And if you say the word ‘bone,’ an Iranian woman appears from the shadows with a huge gem on her finger, a ring that symbolizes the disembodiment of gherkins.
An emotion is thick and puzzling like a forest. It takes a long time to fully feel it. What is the point of becoming president if all you feel is power? Even lawn mowers feel power. Power is not where it’s at. Where it’s at is infinity. The exhilaration of light amid the pornography of black.


“Inventing Emotions” is reprinted from Larynx Galaxy (Black Widow Press, 2012).


John Olson is that author of eight books of poetry, the most recent of which is Larynx Galaxy, which Black Widow Press published in 2012. He published Backscatter: New and Selected Poems in 2008. He is also the author of three novels, including Souls of Wind (Quale Press), The Nothing That Is (Ravenna Press), and The Seeing Machine (Quale Press). He is the recipient of The Stranger’s genius award for literature in 2004 and three Fund for Poetry awards. In 2008 Souls of Wind was shortlisted for a Believer Book of the Year Award, and in 2012 he was one of eight finalists for the Artist Trust 2012 Innovator Award. He is currently at work on another novel tentatively titled My Other Car Is A Bed In Paris. His blog, Tillalala Chronicles, may be accessed at




Kim Loomis-Bennett

Marnie Clark


Every time he got to me, every time he lay on me,
I wore a path to a thistle-choked ravine.

Past the garden, past father’s grave,
when step-father got his hands up my skirt,

prodded into me—Marnie, my darling, my dove
his calluses against my raw thighs, my neck when I struggled.

I’d stare across the ravine—blue hills like frozen waves.
A stern breeze scrubbed his stench from my skin.


He was awfully quiet; how Mother knew I couldn’t say.
After he left, I saw her sharp face peering in the shed window.

I slid off an old bench, yanked my dress into place.
She stared in like I was a stranger—I stared back.

Mother ranted at my gaunt figure when I couldn’t eat,
lost my job at Hoyt’s café—mostly she missed my pay.

I paced my room at night, always a book in hand,
always a lantern glowing low, softly reading Bible lore.

Her face soft, my little sister Helen
hugged her ragdoll, lulled to sleep by my footfall.


Mother gave me pills to start my monthlies,
banished her husband to a cellar room—Marnie, my dove.

Helen asked why her daddy slept down with the spiders;
I said they caught his bad ideas, wrapped them in webs.


I was sent to work at an all-woman’s hotel, west of us in Seattle,
rode the train out, ready for liberty, even if only as a Lincoln Hotel maid.

I found amusement in foreign travelers’ voices,
odd curios in waterfront shops, the long shadows of tall buildings,

even a tinge of contentment in polishing mahogany furniture,
making up brass beds with horsehair mattresses.

The mist off Elliot Bay washed my mind. Mt Rainer’s white peak
oversaw my dreams. Outside my window in the worker’s quarters,

fog leaned against the heavy green of the cedar trees,
mellowed wagon and car traffic, held the slight light of the lilacs.


I counted how many rooms I’d clean before Helen could be safe,
counted on getting a little house—away from him.

I turned calendar pages, the days adding up so slowly.
Poured my savings onto my bed, the money measly in my hands.


Another maid showed me the new Hillside Brothel
on Tenth Avenue South—I listened in the hall,

heard the man’s moans, the short time he was in and out,
saw the cash, knew I could do that.

At first I spent the extra on a white silk wrap,
rouges, perfumes and creams, trinkets and toys for Helen.

Later, I found my way into gambling parties, lost
track of my Hillside wages, worked extra to make it back.


Mother wrote: Helen moved away for a bit,
I threw away the coat you sent. Stay away.

Making beds by day, lying on them all night,
the counted-on money never amounted to much.

The dark over the city, the dark over the ocean—
my hopes tangled up in linen.



Kim Loomis-Bennett is a life-long resident of Washington State, besides a detour into Oregon where she met her husband. Her poems and book reviews have appeared in The November 3rd Club, The Copperfield Review, Poet’s Quarterly, and Hippocampus Magazine. Her most recent work is included in The Prose-Poem Project.  She teaches at Centralia College. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Wilkes University and will graduate with her MFA, January 2014. She lives in Lewis County with her family. Her work, Soiled Doves: A Poetic Sequence, published in 2011, is available as an ebook.


Jane Elder Wulff


As the years pass, as I ride this train, watching
days and weeks go by outside the window
(everything the same in here, unchanging,
only a little shaky from time to time),
I begin to feel that I am carrying
Death’s suitcase.

This bag of flesh, blood and bone, containing
the news and means of my destruction, goes
with me everywhere, unassuming, inevitable.

Sometimes I set it down and walk away from it,
and there it sits alone on the platform, but only
temporarily. No one ever picks it up. Of course
I always go back for it, and then I keep it by me,
next to me in the empty seat, near at hand in the
dining car, always closed.

Strangers make conversation, and no one asks
about Death’s suitcase. No one ever says, “Well,
what’s in the suitcase?” And I never bring it up.

It bears its tags and patches, its scuffs and scars
to show where it has been, and it grows stiff
with wear, and more dignified. I would not be
without it now, for love nor money.
You will not catch me
leaving it behind.



Jane Elder Wulff was born in Florida and lived in the South until age ten, when her family moved to Pullman, Washington. She attended Antioch College, received a B.A. in English from Washington State University, and came to Vancouver, Washington in 1967 with an M.A. in English and Creative Writing (the first such combined degree offered by WSU) to teach English at Clark College. From 1988 to 2012 she worked full time as a freelance writer for clients and regional publications to support her own work in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Currently she is concentrating on her own work.

Bill Mawhinney

Don’t Laugh at My Library


When you sift through my office after I die
you’ll confront a wall of poetry books.

I hope you won’t snicker like I did
when I dismantled my boyhood home

and found forty pairs of black socks
in Dad’s dresser drawer. Why so many?

If you wonder that about my books,
just know I couldn’t part with steady companions,

summoned round my heart to hold at bay the howling roar
of the bullshit train that clanged past my door.

The wall studs buzzed with honeyed hives
of language stored on these shelves.

Before they go to Goodwill, riffle their pages,
glance at my underlines.

There’s where my soul snagged, where
shards of reflected majesty

sang their fierce clarity
through lines of inert ink.

These shelves bulge with poems
that gave me the gumption to pull up my socks

and stride through the turning world.
So, for pity’s sake, don’t scoff too harshly.

With each passing year and each passionate purchase
this library was the brightest utterance

I had at my disposal. When I read them,
I was their audience. When I didn’t,

they became mine.


“Don’t Laugh at My Library” is reprinted from Cairns Along The Road (2009).


BILL MAWHINNEY lives with his wife Wanda, an abstract painter, and two cats in Port Ludlow.  He organizes and hosts Northwind Reading Series in Port Townsend, performs poetry in local retirement homes, tends his Japanese garden and talks with herons while combing the Olympic Peninsula beaches.

Terri Cohlene


I’m wearing my
hey big boy
come ‘n get it
hoochie mama
Saturday night
go to town looky here
goodie bag
neckline to my navel
hem hiking to home plate
jungle red silk

He’s wearing his
cool breeze
I don’t think so
not in a million years
even if you were the last woman on earth
crease up the front
frayed at the edges
high water
medium tan

We triple lock the door behind us,
silently ride the elevator to the lobby,
glide through the turnstile door.
He sits on the edge of a park bench,
feeding this morning’s burnt, twelve-grain
toast to the pigeons.

I hail a yellow and black checkered, up town taxi.



“An Unlikely Couple” is reprinted from Pontoon 8.


TERRI COHLENE grew up in Skyway, a suburb of Renton, Washington.  She is the author of eight books for children and Clique, a stage play for young adults.  Her poetry has appeared in the anthology, America at War, and journals such as Pontoon 8 & 9, Floating Bridge Review, and Switched on Gutenberg.

Linda Malnack

Double Life of a Still Life


They breathed
once, planetary in their skins, red
ripe, indebted

to the sky, but attracted to earth.
Yellow lanterns
hung by wind, pears over marigolds.

And peaches,
their washes of fuzz hazy in the blue
dish beneath

a reincarnated sun and its pitted
lover, the moon
who looks, ever looks into the white

will be. So this
is what fruit becomes, longitudinal
light, its juice

running, the weighty abuse, a glad
letting go.
Grass’ sweet buffer–romance,

seeds, skinned
knees. All in the time it takes to deal
a blow, a hand

of hard luck: pulp slick in the dirt,
last life of a still
life brown in the orchard, and you

taking what was,
what is, and smearing its sad cider all
over your hands.


“Double Life of a Still Life” is reprinted from Northwest Review.


Linda Malnack has published poems in many journals, including The Amherst Review, the Seattle Review, and Southern Humanities Review. She won the Willow Springs Poetry Award in 2000 and the William Stafford Award (Washington Poets Association) in 1998. Currently, she volunteers as an associate editor for the poetry e-zine, Switched-on Gutenberg.

Sandra Meade

Elegy for a Clown

SANDPOINT –“The Idaho State Police are investigating an apparent suicide that occurred in the Bonner County jail Tuesday, September 27. Jeremy, 20, was found by detention staff.

Even at seven you were a natural Harpo,
too loose clothes, big shoes
nothing ever really fit you,
a fool too simple for reading
but already a master of gesture.

“Teacher, Teacher, I did a trick today.
They teased me at the bus and I did a trick.
and they laughed. Watch.”

A sweeping gesture of generosity,
the open hands
and expectant smile,
head tipped sideways
one shoe up,
the grand bow.

An innocent stooge,
pockets stuffed with cafeteria food.

They found you duct-taped to a bed
your thin wrists wound motionless
to the rail. For endless days
your biggest trick, the smile, taped shut.

I tried to send face paint and books
but there was a wall
of institutional silence.
Now, at 20, your final trick:
head oddly cocked on a rope,
hands hanging loose,
a silent mime in the end.

How the angels
must have gathered
with their big red noses,
the saltimbanques, the payasos-
big shoes and soft bellies,
choirs of buffoons.
How their large hands must have lifted you,
rocked you with hilarious laughter.
Silly you, coming in with a cord at your belly
and leaving with one at your neck.

Little clown, I salute you.
My own face colored by your news,
I lift the bubble wand and blow,
perfect globes
reflecting light
float in your direction.


“Elegy for a Clown” is reprinted from Stringtown.

Sandra Meade’s poetry has been published in Stringtown and Raven Chronicles, and she recently received a Pushcart nomination for her poem “Elegy for a Clown.”  In 2012 she wrote and illustrated a children’s book, “Caty Beth Chooses.” Originally from Montana, Sandra Meade received her B.A. in Education from the University of Montana where she studied under Richard Hugo.  She currently resides in a handbuilt stone house in the piney woods near Newport, Washington with her husband Mike, where she was a public elementary school teacher for over two decades. She is founder and director of Scotia House, a Pacific Northwest Spiritual Retreat, open to all faiths and traditions. She is a member of Spiritual Director’s International and received her certification in spiritual direction from Gonzaga University in 2003.  Her hobbies include gardening, hiking, fly-fishing, cross-country skiing, and playing the bodhran.


Sarah Koenig

Ransom Note

To Whom It May Concern:
We have your pet rabbit. Meet
Us at the corner of 65th and Spring
And we’ll hand it over, no questions.
OK. Maybe we’ll ask a few questions.
Why can’t birds fly backwards?
I have seen their ragged feathers
Sometimes and I know they want to
Do it. I have seen them resting
In the eaves, weary from long days
Of flying. Why do rabbits crawl into
Holes? Where do ants build a nest?
Would you come home with me?
I’ll make you a pot of tea.
We’ll sit by the window, safe from
The rain, and talk for hours,
Like two encyclopedias meeting
For the first time. And your rabbit
Can hang out on the kitchen floor,
Chewing grass from the backyard.
He will be utterly contented.



Sarah Koenig has a Master’s Degree in English from the University of Connecticut and has taught English and writing at home and abroad. For over 10 years she was a reporter and freelancer. Her stories have appeared in City Arts magazine, Seattle’s Child magazine, Overlake Hospitals’ Healthy Outlook magazine, the Weekly Herald, the Enterprise Newspapers and the newspapers of the King County Journal. She now works in the Workforce Education Services office at Highline Community College, where she helps students obtain funding and other support to retrain for a new career.


Linda Bierds


At hand: the rounded shapes—cloud white, the scissors—sharp,
two dozen toothpick pegs, a vial of amber glue.
It’s February, London, 1953,
and he’s at play, James Watson: the cardboard shapes,

two dozen toothpick pegs, a vial of amber glue.
White hexagons, pentagons, peg-pierced at the corners—
he’s at play, James Watson, turning cardboard shapes
this way, that. And where is the star-shot elegance

when hexagons, pentagons, peg-pierced at the corners,
slip into their pliant, spiral-flung alignments?
Where is that star-shot elegance? This way? That?
He slips together lines of slender pegs that quickly

split in two. (Pliant, spiral-flung, one line meant
solitude. But one to one? Pristine redundancy.)
He slips. Together, lines of slender pegs quickly
conjugate. White hexagons, white pentagons:

not solitude but—one, two, one—pristine redundancy.
So close the spiral shape, now. Salt and sugar atoms
congregate: white hexagons, white pentagons.
So close the bud, the egg, the laboratory lamb,

the salt and sugar atoms’ spiral shape. So close—
it’s February, London, 1953—
the blossom, egg, the salutary lamb. So close
at hand, the rounded shapes—cloud white, the scissors—sharp.


“DNA” is reprinted from Virginia Quarterly Review and First Hand (G. P. Putnam and Sons, 2005).

Linda Bierds – DNA from UW College of Arts & Sciences on Vimeo.


Linda Bierds was born in Wilmington, Delaware. Her family settled in Seattle when she was seven. She earned her BA and MA, with an emphasis in fiction, from the University of Washington. Her many collections of poetry include Flights of the Harvest Mare (1985); Heart and Perimeter (1991); The Ghost Trio (1994), which was a Notable Book Selection by the American Library Association; The Profile Makers (1997); The Seconds (2001); First Hand (2005); and Flight: New and Selected Poems (2008). Bierds is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Ingram Merrill Foundation, the Poetry Society of America, and the MacArthur Foundation. She teaches English and writing at the University of Washington, and lives on Bainbridge Island.


Thomas Hubbard

Foggy Places

Funny thing about places, Tootsie, they’re everywhere. On the other hand, there’s only one place: everywhere. Still such a clear memory, your little cabin on Blanchard Mountain. Now that was a place.

The guy you rented it from found new tenants, somebody told me. I wonder, do our ghosts, yours and mine, still shower together in that tiny bathroom and wash one another? Did your oak table and stained glass lamp and all your candle holders leave shadows when you carted them away to wherever you live now? When new renters climb the stairs each night, do they feel warmth, passing that shelf where your mother’s photograph perched? She looked like a very interesting woman, an obsessive lover, perhaps. Sometimes I wished to have known her, but you always said she would have ruined me. Maybe so, enit? Anyhow, she was already dead, after going broke and crazy in her mansion. And some days I feel ruined.

Cold lurks outside this window where I stay now. The temperature isn’t remarkable, but it numbed my fingers just walking inside from the car. It came last evening and stayed over. Something in common with Blanchard Mountain, eh? And this winter fog seems sad, doesn’t it. Maybe the fog remembers all Blanchard Mountain’s lovers from time’s beginning? Maybe this fog weeps with their music, droplets clinging to those few leaves of last summer still unreleased, each reflecting this brand new, unfamiliar world.



Thomas Hubbard is a mixed-blood, of (probably) Cherokee, Miami, Irish and English ancestry who grew up among factory workers in the fifties midwest.  A teacher of writing and other subjects, he has worked also as a carpenter, blues musician and freelance writer. He won the Seattle’s Grand Slam in 1995, and since has written three chapbooks, Nail and Other Hardworking Poems, Junkyard Dogz, and Injunz.  He has also published an anthology including 32 spoken word performers, titled Children Remember Their Fathers.  His poetry, fiction and reviews have been published in numerous journals.  Hubbard has served as vice president of the board of directors for the Washington Poets Association, and currently serves on the editorial staff of two magazines: Raven Chronicles and Cartier Street Review.