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A Literary Journal for the North Pacific Rim VO LUM E 11, N O. 2

CIRQUE A Literary Journal for the North Pacific Rim Volume 11, No. 2


Anchorage, Alaska

© 2021 by Sandra Kleven & Mike Burwell, Editors

Cover Photo: Art: “Reds,“ by Kay Haneline, Art photo: Tony Flores Table of Contents Photo: “Diplomacy,“ by Nard Claar Gyotaku rendered Octopus: Ron Graham Design and composition: Signe Nichols Intern: Lauren Scantlebury ISBN 9798513577652 Independently Published ISSN 2152-4610 (online)

Anchorage, Alaska All future rights to material published in Cirque are retained by the individual authors and artists.


“This memoir is like no other book I have read. It will entertain you as it crushes you.” – MARTHA AMORE

Matt Caprioli was born in California and raised in Alaska. He holds an MFA in creative writing from Hunter College, where he was a Hertog Fellow. His fiction and essays have appeared in Newtown Literary, Opossum, Best Gay Stories 2017, and Chicken Soup for the Soul. His story on moving to New York is featured in the Netflix docuseries Worn Stories. He teaches English literature and writing at Lehman College in New York City.




Poems so compressed the page itself trembles. So brave, in dark places, the reader clutches the poet’s sure hand. Apportioning the Light shines. It shines. AVAILABLE AT AMAZON OR BY EMAIL:, $16 - CIRQUE PRESS Sandra Kleven & Michael Burwell, CIRQUE Publishers

“A life lived to its fullest, a craft perfected so that it seems seamless, the highest compliment I can give to any writer. I read it from its beginning to its end without putting it down. Kudos to Cirque for publishing Apportioning the Light.”


Karen Tschannen has been published in Alaska Quarterly Review, Ice-Floe, PNW Poets and Artists Calendar(s), North of Eden (Loose Affiliation Press), The Sky’s Own Light (Minotaur Press), Crosscurrents North, Cirque, and other publications. Tschannen was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2016. Her perceptive verse is notable for the care taken with language in both the sound of a phrase and the appearance on the page.




Find on Amazon or your local book store.

Lily is Leaving Poems by Leslie Fried “…our house is tiny a chicken coop once a crazy quilt now of wood and windows under the great fir…” Leslie Fried is an archeologist of the soul, digging through the fractured histories of ancestors, and her own past with parents, lovers and sons, to describe the forces that mold our characters and haunt our dreams. She uses her acute powers of observation, and vivid images and metaphors, to relate both the depths of trauma and the heights of delight. —Tonja Woelber, poet, whose collections are Glacier Blue, and Tundra Songs

Born in Tel Aviv, Israel, Leslie Fried came to New York at the age of six. Her parents’ families came from Poland and Lithuania and ultimately settled in Brooklyn. She turned to poetry after thirty years as a scenic artist in theater and film, and a muralist working in paint and plaster. Her writing reflects her love of imagery as a means for addressing difficult subjects. In this, her first book, she draws on the themes of death, love, family and history to weave her emotional tapestries. Ms. Fried is Curator of the Alaska Jewish Museum in Anchorage. She has two sons, Daniel and Julien, and a granddaughter Sacha.

$15 Available on Amazon January 2021 Pre-order at:

New Release by

Vivian Faith Prescott

From Cirque Press, Silty Water People is a collection of poems exploring the effects of assimilation on contemporary Tlingit/Scandinavian families in Wrangell, a small island community in Southeast Alaska. Two hundred and twenty years after colonization began, through the complex themes of intergenerational trauma, identity, racism, and history, Prescott uses mythology, geological time, and a deep connection to place to weave Silty Water People.

“...universal resonances within its sense of place...” - Ishmael Angaluuk Hope, author of Rock Piles Along the Eddy

“Deeply personal and powerfully written...” - Nicole Stellon O’Donnell, author of You Are No Longer in Trouble and Steam Laundry

“...characters landing like words, like rain, onto the text-peppered page...” Available from Cirque Press, your local Indie bookstore, and Amazon.


- Kersten Christianson, author of Curating the House of Nostalgia

“We won’t soon forget the bedrock exposed in these poems.” - Emily Wall, Professor of English at the University of Alaska Southeast, and author of Flame, Liveaboard, and Freshly Rooted

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A vibrant community of diverse Alaskan writers of all levels and ages, coming together to find and share our voices.

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Engaging, empowering, inspiring and expanding a statewide community of Alaskan writers. We rely on member support to offer dynamic programming statewide: Free Public Readings with Acclaimed Authors Classes & Workshops to Hone Your Skills Generative Retreats in Beautiful Places to Foster Your Work A Weekly Newsletter & Blog to Help You Stay Connected A Community of Shared Support

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Reverberations from Fukushima 5 0 JA PA N E S E P O E T S S P E A K O U T SECOND



F U K U S H I M A : Ten Years After This anthology conveys the enormity of Fukushima, the first nuclear disaster of the 21 st Century, on both the environmental and human scale. Contributions by Nobel Peace Prize nominee Dr. Helen Caldicott, Fairewinds Energy Education founder Maggie Gundersen, and professor emerita Dr. Norma Field discuss the Fukushima nuclear disaster in the context of social, political, and environmental concerns. Poems by 50 Japanese poets portray the disaster from a personal perspective, including prophetic visions of a nuclear future, the plight of nuclear refugees, the relationship of exploiters and the exploited in Japan’s nuclear power industry, and the deception by which nuclear power was sold to an anti-nuclear Japan. Truly an eye-opening read. Available soon through popular online and local bookstores. Pre-release price of $14.99 includes mailing (signed upon request) Contact: This collection of poems is essential reading, as are the essays. I wept reading this book and you will too. —Melissa Tuckey, editor of Ghost Fishing: An Eco-Justice Poetry Anthology Poetry speaks the language of the heart, and this is the language of peace and justice. One cannot read these poems without feeling the very real threat posed by the so-called “peaceful” uses of nuclear power. —David Krieger, President Emeritus, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation The poems and essays featured in the book help us fathom the unfathomable and understand the injustice inherent in nuclear power from a deeply human perspective. —Kelly Campbell, Executive Director, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility The human health toll of environmental radiation exposure extends far beyond thyroid damage. Obfuscation of this truth constitutes an unforgiveable wrong against those irretrievably harmed by these exposures. —Trisha T. Pritikin, The Hanford Plaintiffs: Voices from the Fight for Atomic Justice

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During the pandemic we have all had ample time to write. In response to these unprecedented times the Oregon Poetry Association published this Pandemic 2020 Anthology. All the poems are by OPA members. We are happy to present this stunning artistic and historic document. While the pandemic raged, nature thrived. Spring burst into summer and wild animals roamed our backyards. We poets weeded our gardens, baked, tended our children, and wrote poetry. We observed our neighbors from afar, adjusting to the new social norms, not touching, and drawing cautious breaths behind our masks. We were lonely and fearful, furious with the lack of government response, though few of us reflected our frustration in our poetry. Last summer, wildfires swept through Oregon, burning some of our homes as well as entire communities. A pall of thick smoke blanketed our state, making it even more difficult to breathe. In the United Stated alone over five-hundred-thousand people have lost their lives due to contagion. Poets in this anthology lost loved ones and wrote of their grief. We have suffered through a tumultuous political upheaval and yet we continue to write poetry.

“As an OPA board member, having read through these poems, I can attest to the quality of writing. Oregon poets have tackled an amazing variety of subjects. Some of the poems directly reflect the scourge of the virus in costs of human life and suffering. . . I also noticed that many of these poems were celebrations, able to juxtapose the beauty of Nature surrounding us in a time of upheaval.”

—Susan Morse, OPA Executive Board Member

Dale Champlin, Editor

You may purchase

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in the store at— Products/257464 and on Amazon.

Oregon Poetr y Association

Drunk on Love

Twelve Stories to Savor Responsibly

By Kerry Dean Feldman

New from

CIRQUE PRESS “For the characters that haunt this provocative collection of stories and poems, Love is their god, its pursuit their religion. They do so with reverence, abandon, and, best of all, with humor.” Don Stull, coauthor of Slaughterhouse Blues

“An offbeat Tom Robbins-esque romp that stands tiptoe on the brink of erotica and oozes with sexual energy and honesty that will skip your heart, cause a belly laugh, and have you ponder exactly what the fairy dust of love-lust is really all about.” Monica Devine, author of Water Mask

Cirque Press proudly announces

Life Revised A M E M O I R

Life Revised

by Leah Stenson


Life Revised A ME MO I R by Leah Stenson

Leah Stenson is the author of Heavenly Body and The Turquoise Bee and Other Love Poems (Finishing Line Press, 2011 and 2014); a regional editor of Alive at the Center: Contemporary Poems from the Pacific Northwest (Ooligan Press, 2013) and co-editor of award-winning Reverberations from Fukushima: 50 Japanese Poets Speak Out (Inkwater Press, 2014). Her full-length book of poetry, Everywhere I Find Myself, was published by Turning Point in 2017. She serves on the board of Tavern Books. More at

Life Revised is a literary montage of poetry, narrative prose, essay, newspaper reportage and images in which the author examines her reactions, as a child and as an adult, to the simultaneous loss of her grandparents— one by suicide and the other the unintended consequence of that suicide. This unflinching and revealing exploration of personal tragedy takes us beyond the author’s suffering through her creative, emotional and spiritual development and ultimate healing. “…a moving and courageous book….” — Lex Runciman “…elegant prose and heartfelt poetry… fresh and vital to the last page.” — John Sibley Williams “…wise and compelling.” — Penelope Scambly Schott

Sandra Kleven—Michael Burwell Publishers and Editors Available on Amazon or email: $15 Memoir

Author Photo by Anthony Bruzzese

New from



Stories by r e d e a H k r i K l u Pa

"Each story in this collection is cut from flesh – believable, bearing witness of their own survival, and depictions of this scrum where life is lived on the edges." —James Crumley, Author of The Last Good Kiss "Paul Haeder is an American voice from an America most people forgot exists... except those living in it. It is a postcard from the dark shadow land of western consciousness. Read it." —John Steppling, Playwright, Critic, Teacher

Includes Beautiful Photographs by Photographer Makenna Haeder and Paul Kirk Haeder

Available on Amazon

Cirque Press proudly announces in the Spring of 2019

K A R L A L I N N M E R R I F I E LD Mystical and visual—Karla Linn Merrifield’s latest volume of poems, Athabaskan Fractal, takes the reader on a monumental journey across the Far North of the American continent. Here is a collection that is surpassingly beautiful. Here is a reverence for nature where lush descriptions abound. Here is life in all its extravagance and austerity conveyed in poems of intimate details of texture and form and set against the vast sweep of endless space from sea to shining sea. You’ll quickly discover why Merrifield is widely regarded as a supreme observer of the Earth’s majesty. “In poems of intimacy and celebration, elegy and generous mythologizing, Karla LinnMerrifield’s new book is teeming with the ‘minute particulars’ of her Alaskan travels. Here you will find that the fir trees, the mists, the creatures, the stones themselves come lovingly alive. But in our 21st-century world of ecospheric drama and disarray, the ‘field guide’ reveries are shot through with the stark realities of our desecrating human footprint. Athabaskan Fractal will take you places that Frommer’s and Lonely Planet can only dream of!” Ralph Black, Professor of English, The

College at Brockport (SUNY), and author of Turning Over the Earth

Available at Amazon or, email:


Sandra Kleven-Michael Burwell, Publishers

Karla Linn Merrifield, a nine-time Pushcart-Prize nominee and National Park Artist-inResidence, has had over 700 poems appear in dozens of journals and anthologies. She has 13 books to her credit, the newest of which is Psyche’s Scroll, a book-length poem, published by The Poetry Box Select in June 2018. Her Godwit: Poems of Canada (FootHills Publishing) received the Eiseman Award for Poetry. She is assistant editor and poetry book reviewer for The Centrifugal Eye. She is a member of Just Poets (Rochester, NY), the Florida State Poetry Society, the New Mexico Poetry Society, and The Author’s Guild.

With great pride, CIRQUE PRESS announces the publication of

The Lure of Impermanence by Carey Taylor With a deft touch, Carey Taylor’s poems acknowledge all that drifts to dust as well as the lure of possibility in every new start. Firmly rooted in the road of observation these poems merge onto a highway we all must travel—towards the fleeting nature of all things.

“…An impressive debut collection of poetry that deeply satisfies the ear and the mind… There is power in the understatement. Such masterful simplicity is never easy.” Gary Copeland Lilley, author of The Bushman’s Medicine Show CIRQUE PRESS Available at Amazon , or email:

$15.00 - CIRQUE PRESS Sandra Kleven - Michael Burwell, Publishers

Carey Taylor was born in Bandon, Oregon and has lived her entire life on the western edges of Oregon and Washington. Her work has appeared in regional, national and international publications and she was a Pushcart Prize nominee in 2015. She received a Master of Arts degree from Pacific Lutheran University and a Bachelor’s Degree from Linfield College.

Joseph L. Kashi Attorney at Law ~ Accidents and personal injury claims ~ Business sales and purchases ~ Commercial and business law ~ Real property litigation 907 – 398 – 0480 205 East Beluga Soldotna, Alaska

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Our mission: to build a literary community and memorialize writers, poets and artists of the region.

From the Editors My strength is from the fish; my blood is from the fish, from the roots and berries. The fish and game are the essence of my life. I was not brought from a foreign country and did not come here. I was put here by the Creator. —Chief Weninock, Yakama, 1915 Cirque 11.2 is our 22nd issue. A Janus issue in the sense of facing both ways. We acknowledge losses here. The loss of my husband, Richard Kleven, who, three months past, died where I sit to write this. Who now seems to turn on the bedroom light in dark hours. The world of writers has also lost Joanne Townsend, Cirque contributor and Alaska Laureate. Steven Levi her partner in the journal, Harpoon, writes of her in this issue. Nonfiction writer, Sherry Simpson, a friend to the bear, died unexpectedly, too young. Barry Lopez, too, is remembered in these pages. Land Ethic: Writers were invited to submit work that spoke to issues of ecology, responsibility and that work to save the planet. Those we chose are marked with the octopus glyph. We thank Ron Graham for allowing us to use his Gyotaku rendered depiction of an octopus. From this group we have selected the next winner of the Andy Hope Award. Carolyn Kremers has been chosen as the winner of the Andy Hope Award. This award recognized her seven page poem, “The Arctic Refuge Coastal Plain: Fifteen Motets.” The award given annually recognized an outstanding piece of prose or poetry from the pages of Cirque. Tlingit poet and writer Andy Hope was a political activist from Southeast Alaska. In 2008, at the age of 58, Andy died after a brief battle with cancer. The Andy Hope Literary Award was established by two Alaskan poets, Vivian Faith Prescott and her daughter Vivian Mork, winner of the 2021 Alaska Literary Award. Kremers’ poem can be found in this issue.

Pandemic Blue a sonnet

by Marie Lundstrom I buy a box of fifty masks and loudly groan, "This will prove to be a long and messy war." My grocery lists go to younger folks less virus prone Who take the risk of shopping at the store. I miss those hugs from family and folks I love Through my storm door, some ''window love" we share But we "touch" at distance, not even glove to glove We can't see smiles, and we all have shaggy hair. I grieve for losses, not only those my own No more movie nights in my crowded living room. I miss our choir—I don't like to sing alone. Breakfast with friends doesn't work online with Zoom. We think of vaccine as our long-term, "normal' hope But I still wash twice with bar and liquid soap.

COVID-19 is loosening its chokehold. Collectively we seem to be assessing our losses while discovering some unexpected benefits. Zoom, which was not embraced, became ubiquitous. It was the way we met. And we learned that we could bring a world of readers, together. It was not that bad. It was actually amazing. And, as summer approaches, it feels like good things are coming. There are shadows of discord but good does win. Light will win. The bad do not win—not finally, No matter how loud they are. — Alberto Rios We are grateful to the vison of Paul Haeder who, as guest editor, developed the Land Ethic concepts that shaped this issue. He set up a call for submissions on this theme. The result is an issue with reverence for life of the land even as we mourn the dead. The result is the largest issue we have published by more than twenty pages. Paul Haeder describes his stint as guest editor in the essay “Overshoot” that follows. By way of introduction, he offers the poem, below.

Salmon Nation, Salmon Forests by Paul K. Haeder, inspired by Cirque #22 cover artwork wy-kan-ush, salmon to Columbia basin people --pum – the creator sees pum fragile so conjures up grand council offers salmon first food of gods then water, home for King of Fish longhouses built for offerings spring, chinook, sockeye, silver bodies of creation tribes sing sacred reverence salmon: the returner, anadromous egg sac gestation in clear fresh water migration to sea, return to home tributaries circle of reproduction, death, return – life salmon from Latin salmo, salire, to leap; indicator species now keystone for all species giant firs nitrogen loads from the carcasses eucharist to all our wy-kan-ush We have survived. Some of us. Others are gone. Let’s manage well our one wild life. — Sandra L. Kleven Publisher, Michael Burwell, Editor

Cirque: A Literary Journal for the North Pacific Rim Sandra Kleven and Mike Burwell, Editors Cynthia Steele, Editorial Assistant Signe Nichols, Designer Lauren Scantlebury, Intern Published twice yearly near the Winter and Summer Solstice Anchorage, Alaska

Magic Spores Makenna Haeder

OVERSHOOT By Paul K. Haeder, Guest Editor for Issue #22

Literature and Art Deployed for Systems Change There can be no ecological revolution in the face of the current existential crisis unless it is an anti-imperialist one, drawing its power from the great mass of suffering humanity.… The poor shall inherit the earth or there will be no earth left to inherit. — John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clark, Hannah Hollmean, “Imperialism and the Anthropocene,” July 2019, Monthly Review

Oh, sing the deep song of lament, let it enter the depths of the person, until what we call the soul is shaken. This might be me overshooting the target in a literary journal, but patience, kind reader, to use overshoot in the parlance of ecology: I don’t trust in such automatic technological optimism. I believe the world for all practical purposes is finite. And that overshoot is likely when there are significant reaction delays in a system: lags in the perception of and localization of limits; in the time-consuming, multi-stakeholder decisions to stop expansion; and in implementing the slowdown. Once in overshoot, contraction is the only way out. The way down to sustainability is longer if the underlying ecosystem has been damaged during the overshoot. — excerpt from 2052 by Jorgen Randers While we are all connected to the ecosystems of planetary life, as well as the physics of air and dynamics of all chemistry, we are also asked, I believe, as poets-writers-essayists-fictionados-graphic artists: Do we come to the aid of anyone in the world in destress? Is an injury to one an injury to us all? Yet, the very nature of the writers and artists collected in this literary magazine is to be solitary, to get it going — their art — as long as it is galvanized to a pathway toward our muse(s). Or maybe for some artists, the creation is all part of a mental state, a fugue, some catharsis. Is it overdramatic or overly philosophic and political to believe artists have that call of duty? The very fabric of humanity is tied to what the big “A” in art can, shall, must and will mean and accomplish in this 21st Century of, shall we say, many Great Resets in humanity. I am serious about the literary, journalistic, and philosophical writing arts. I’ve been at this literary game since I was 15, and then, as an environmental activist since the same age, though when my family lived in France and when we hit the Mediterranean, there was sort of the essence of Cousteau in the air and water from whence I rose. Or gestationally, as I was born in San Pedro, California, and spent four years of my first life stage in the Azores. It took me a couple of more years past 16 to understand the power of humanity, social justice and universal human rights to really shape the way forward for me and for the planet. We’re looking at 47 years in this multiplicity of voices that have overtaken my life: journalist, fiction writer, poet, photographer, educator, social worker, sustainability wonk, and, well, precarious worker in a country where capital rules. There have been several dances with the devil in the realm of what our laws might say is criminal activity.

I have come to this brief assignment by Cirque to read and conjure up some collective as someone who takes this role of the artist seriously. With that, I have looked at, read, parsed and understood what I absorbed as part of a goal of making sure the “A” in Art is “accessible” while still being “authentic,” all the while making sure these works are “adjudicated” by some universal muse. Asked to be a guest editor of this Cirque edition, I have had to stave off all those past lives which have percolated: At age 19, I was part of the birth of Persona, the first undergraduate literary magazine of the University of Arizona (my short fiction, “The Streets are an Open Wound,” garnered some recognition: a Pushcart Prize nomination). Then push and pull obsessions of becoming a great American novelist, and also newspaperman, teacher, and more. From that point forward, I grafted life after life onto a literary mask, and into my own persona. Those hardscrabble years, both triumphant and horrific, now have allowed me not only to be more steeled in revolutionary thought and praxis, but also to understand the great depth of disjointedness, discombobulation, almost a collective Stockholm Syndrome and petite misanthropy we in this culture are shackled with. Good or aspiring art is the way toward breaking those shackles and chains, in some small life-affirming and even lifesaving way. Here we are now, Cirque, a literary journey through the hearts and souls of Pacific Northwest (to include Hawaii) writers, photographers, artists. My task was to read and peruse, ponder and absorb, and ruminate and rectify my own biases with the creative spasms and gestations of people who want to collectively (in a minor way) be part of a single cover-tocover literary arts journal. There was much pleasure for me, as in the gourmand’s drive of consuming tasty multiflavored art. The avalanche of ideas from my own past lives has triggered my own need for expression and creative “guest editing.” I threw in the “natural world and land ethic” theme, sort of late in the submission game. Let’s call this an “ask” for anyone willing to fit into the generalized parameters of Cirque’s push to have a semblance of connection to The Land Ethic. Easily, I can list a triumvirate of deep philosophical underpinnings from Aldo Leopold which would be entire Cirque issues unto themselves if we were to go that direction: full literary journals hitched to each one of the following philosophical but grounded themes. We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect. A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise. The oldest task in human history: to live on a piece of land without spoiling it. Look at those weighty concepts of Leopold, and then take one deep breath after another deep breath, holding in 10 seconds each, standing up if possible, and then exhaling through the nostrils. Into the mouth. Ten seconds. Out the nose, slowly. Deep breaths for a genetic sense of this oxygen-blessed world, a place where if that 20.9 percent O2 level was to sink a few percentage points, all things on earth would turn, well, brown. Yes, in some tropical areas, oxygen levels have dropped 50 percent. In the ocean, well, it is losing its breath. Deoxygenation! Contrarily, imagining an earth with say 23 or 24 percent oxygen, well, then, bam, any little spark could rage through the land as uncontrollable fire.

Like the earth’s biospheric systems, from atmosphere to terrestrial; soils to the oceans; its deep benthic regions to the magma, artists are teetering on a precipice in many ways as we have gone from an oral species to a written species to now a digital species (and in the nightmares of many, transhuman). The theme of a “land ethic” might seem quaint to some, forced to others, and yet foundational and truly holistic to a few. Do artists have a responsibility to reflect their own vision and CinemaScopic perspective of the world to hook some universal connection in their work? Do we all live in a time of lamentations? Are many artists now in this Reset pre-during-post pandemic given to what many in my current vocation — working with adults with Intellectual and/or Developmental Disabilities — call dysthymia, or a persistent depressive disorder? The soul of this issue, it seems -- as these literary and visual choices I’ve pondered along with fellow editors Cynthia, Lauren, and Mike — is a balancing of lightness and darkness, wind and calm, fire and water, oxygen and carbon dioxide. Is it a yin and yang of those forces of nature Homo Sapiens ponder and from which we view the world, challenging the left-right brain spheres toward a coalescing of creativity and logic. Or is it war between the two hemispheres? Given all of that “burden” — the weight of the dreams-hopes-aspirations-vulnerabilities of artists coming to Cirque with open hands and hearts with submissions — I believe what the reader will flesh out after getting through the kaleidoscope all the four editors constructed is a collection of written works and created visuals that indeed do bear witness to the world. Allen Ginsberg puts it well, in the first stanzas of his 1954 poem, “Song” The weight of the world is love. Under the burden of solitude, under the burden of dissatisfaction the weight, the weight we carry is love. The weight of this collection for me includes all the songs left in the unpublished pile, all those works that may still be works in progress. The weight of editing is a serious conundrum of bargaining, and as a trauma-informed enlightened kind of radical, I feel a thanks, a gracias, or in the words of Squamish, Huy chexw a. From my brothers and sisters of the Colville-Okanagan ( ńsélišcń ), I also say to those who were not included in this collection, “ ha? ti? kw řast ? ti? kń xast. “ I’ll see you later. That is a real tribute to tenacity and pushing through the pain of rejection. Life itself is a rejection of our inner selves, and it is this collection that weaves together a collective consciousness. I hope. Add to that the design and fabric of the layout, and we have ourselves an orchestration of the truly creative forces of a few dozen magnificent people. It’s just the full circle of being a writer, an artist — “see you later” -- ha? ti? kw řast ? ti? kń xast. We will see each other again, in the works of long-dead artists and writers, and in the words and brush strokes of those we cherish who will not be published. The art of editing is the art of being able to let go. In this collection, you will see repeatedly the small octopus image of the work of Ron Graham. Again, that decision was based on a Zoom meeting with Sandra Kleven, Lauren and Cynthia, whereupon I noticed the cephalopod on Cynthia’s wall behind her. Each time that octopus floats on a page will indicate a submission that fits the loose guidelines of the Land Ethic theme.

Leopold or Rachel Carson would be happy to think our small contribution singing the illumination of ecology and respect of nature for which they ascribed to humanity are reflected in this image of the octopus. Here’s a little bit of octopus mythology from the Polynesians found in Hawaii: And so, creation begins in the origin of a new world from the shadowy reflex of one that is past. . . . Unsteadily, as in dim moon-shimmer, From out of Makalii's night-dark veil of cloud Thrills, shadow-like, the prefiguration of the world to be. From the Hawaiian account, creation is set forth as stages. The very first we have life springing from the shadowy abyss and dark night. Then in a flash, they have the appearance of living things: the zoophytes and corals come into being; followed by worms and shellfish. This is a survival of the fittest early on, as each type is “declared to conquer and destroy its predecessor.” “This struggle for existence in the sea has its parallel with the evolution of animal forms: plant life begins on land and in the sea-- first with the algae, followed by seaweeds and rushes. As type follows type, the accumulating slime of their decay raises the land above the waters, in which, as spectator of all, swims the octopus, the lone survivor from an earlier world.” (from research tied to Adolf Bastian, Topics Folklore, 1881). In Native Americans’ eyes, the octopus symbolizes powerful energetic depths and are teachers for those willing to learn (be blown away with the 2020 documentary, My Octopus Teacher). Octopuses are born in the sea, live their lives on the sea floor, and indeed symbolize the necessity of being grounded in our lives. I affirm my hope that all the artists whose work is in here, those that didn’t make the cut, and everyone opening and touching these pages will find many lessons in the process of reading this very fine literary journal. One breath in, one breath out. On page turned, another page regaled. Life affirmed. Life grounded in art. — Paul K. Haeder, December 5, 2020, Waldport, Oregon


A Literary Journal for the North Pacific Rim

Volume 11 No. 2

Ron Graham

TABLE OF CONTENTS OVERSHOOT Paul Haeder, Guest Editor Literature and Art Deployed for Systems Change 29

NONFICTION Keri Ault Marriage During The Apocalypse 37 Mark Basquill Somewhere Under the Rainbow 38 Jeff Fair Leaving 39 Jennifer Fernandez The Cuban Brown Rabbit 41 Rebecca Goodrich Saving My Soul From Scientology 43 Joe McAvoy Nasty Nora 45 Daniela Naomi Molnar River Notes 50 Kim Stafford The Hut on Ninilchik Dome, Summer 1968 52 Cynthia Steele Strawberries and COVID 55 Elizabeth Thompson Airport 57

FICTION S. W. Campbell The Devil 59 Jonathan Worlde The Cassandra Project 62 Corbin Muck The Waves Become Foam 65 Larry F. Slonaker Through the Stubble 75 Bob Stark Stars Mark My Destiny 79 Robin Woolman Humming 80


POE TRY Luther Allen neighbors 82 Constance Bacchus Who has time to breathe smoke anymore? 83 Carol Barrett Cutting Limbs 84 Mark Basquill What crime did you commit? 85 Robert Bharda Kitchen Talk 86 Joann Renee Boswell View From My Window 86 Nicholas Bradley Matins, November 87 Kristina Boratino Listen 88 Jeffery Brady In Our Sleep 89 Dan Branch Elegy 89 Mike Burwell Fukushima—Elegy for the North Pacific 90 Caitlin Buxbaum Wild Bill 91 Abigail B. Calkin Crevasses in My Brain 92 Tim Chamberlain After Sunset 93 Ann Chandonnet River Birch (a watercolor) 94 Margaret Chula The Last Moth 95 Linda Conroy Pandemic Neighborhood 96 Diane DeSloover The Last Time I Held You 97 Monica Devine swimmerets 98 Steven Dieffenbacher Ice 99 Gretchen Diemer Fire Season 99 Lemongrass 100 Randall Dills The Last Days 101 Eileen Duncan Walsh Appearing Act 101 Gene Ervine Lost Time 102 Helena Fagan Zoom Burial 102 David Fewster 1969: A Suite in 3 Parts 104 Nancy Fowler A Passage through Chihuahua 108 Leslie Fried Seward First Winter 109 Lenora Rain-Lee Good Baby Whale and Ferry Boat 110 Jim Hanlen The Old Poet 110 Suzy Harris Endogamy 111 Jennifer Healey The Cave 111 Alicia Hokanson The Grounding Line 112 Michael Hughes Okinoshima 113 Sarah Isto Husband 114 Brenda K. Jaeger Keeping in Step 115 Eric Johnson Baxter Bog 1955 115 Susan Johnson To the Yakama Nation 116 Carolyn Kremers The Arctic Refuge Coastal Plain: Fifteen Motets 1999-2021 117 David Laws And Now, a Word from Our Sponsors 124 Eric le Fatte White Chuck Glacier 125 Rosemary Lombard Eruption 125 Janis Lull That Time I Was Stung 126 Shawn Lyons October 126 Jenny McBride Climate Talks 127 Jerry McDonnell WhoooooPee 2021 127 David McElroy Kintsugi 128 Karla Linn Merrifield Nightmare Rainbow 128 Ruby Hansen Murray On Puget Island 129 1000 Pilots 130 Vivienne Popperl Piano Lessons 131 Shauna Potocky Everything Now Is Patience 132 Diane Ray Hello? Thought you should know 133 David Rutiezer Mother’s Day 134 Steven Schneider Kachina Natural Bridge Moonglow 135 Connie Wasem Scott The Shape of My Hand 136



V o l . 11 N o . 2 Suzanne Simons All the Old Thinking 136 Judith Skillman The First War 137 Kathleen Smith Eagle 137 Kaye Spivey Turning Off 138 Cynthia Steele Lupine and COVID 139 Leah Stenson Shavasana 140 Richard Stokes Cloak of Loss 140 Mercury-Marvin Sunderland A Pearl Necklace 141 Kathleen Witkowska Tarr On a Bus Through Lower Silesia 143 Carey Taylor Returning 144 Lucy Tyrrell Grief 145 Cheryl Waitkevich Remembering Magdelena 145 Margo Waring Mother’s Day Poem 146 O. Alan Weltzien Social Distance 147 Ursula Whitcher Unmarked Country Roads 148 Marseille 148 Wendi White The Moirae 149 Conversion 149 Melody Wilson Apology 150 Palimpsest 151 Tonja Woelber Lynn Canal 152

P L AYS Doug Capra A Social Distance (A One-Act Play) 154 Robin Woolman Worship 163

FEATURES PROFILE Dan Branch ‘49 Writers’ Alaskan Writers Series: Doug Pope 171

REVIEW Tom Sexton A Review of Doug Pope’s The Way to Gaamaak Cove Cirque Press, Anchorage, AK, 2020 174

INTERVIEW Kerry Feldman An Interview with Vivian Faith Prescott July 15 — August 16, 2020 176 Jack Smith An Interview with Tess Gallagher 181

FEATURE Paul K. Haeder A Remembrance for Barry Lopez The Eye of the Wolf — Measuring Myself through Death 186 Steve Levi A Rememberance for Joanne Townsend 191

REVIEW Sibelan Forrester Interlocking Voices: A Review of Olga Livshin’s A Life Replaced: Poems with Translations from Anna Akhmatova and Vladimir Gandelsman, Poets & Traitors Press, 2019 192





Lily Pads Jan Jung


V o l . 11 N o . 2


Marriage During The Apocalypse On Labor Day Monday, I wrote a really lovely piece about my husband. I wrote about laying in the sun on the Oregon Coast, with a gentle wind and the sound of the ocean roaring behind us. My hand was making shapes with the sand and even though Jeff was looking at his phone, it didn’t matter. It was utterly relaxing and connecting and pretty much perfect. That was 5 days ago. Tonight I am writing this from our spare bedroom. I am typing the keys with more force than before. My eyes are burning, but that’s because of the smoke, not because I am crying. I didn’t cry tonight but I did flip someone off. Our idyllic day at the beach ended when we drove back into Portland and experienced the beginning of the smoke. High winds and hot temps created a perfect scenario for wildfires. The smoke from existing fires had blown into the city and had created air of yellow/green thick soup. That night I woke up at 2AM, with the wind blowing so hard I believed our tree would snap right into our house. I ended up going downstairs to sleep on the couch. It was just too intense.


Lindsey Morrison Grant

The next morning I felt dumb. How is it that a Kansas girl got scared of a little wind? I wasn’t the only one. Our 130 pound dog refused to go outside, even though it had been over 12 hours since he had been out. It took 25 minutes and a full string cheese to get him outside and he started back toward the house, mid dribble. It turns out both of us had reason to be anxious. The fires that were

going got bigger and new fires started and by Thursday the air quality was worse than any city in the world. If that sounds dramatic, it’s because it was dramatic. All week I have slept on the couch, where I can breathe. Jeff is posting articles online about our air quality but he keeps leaving our windows open and he keeps sitting outside smoking cigarettes. He is blasting the air conditioner even though it’s chilly out as he is convinced this is making it better. Today we fought about ribs, even though like most fights it really wasn’t about the surface issue. He had a big pack of pork ribs that needed to be cooked and he didn’t think it would be a big deal to use the grill. I thought that would be the most obnoxious thing he could do to our neighbors. He relented, opting to cook them in the oven, for over 5 hours, filling the house with the smell of barbecue. My eyes were burning and my throat hurt, and still he sat on that chair on the back porch, “doom scrolling” on his phone, losing track of time, filling his own body with Portland’s poison air. This has been a year that has had so many layers of pain and loss and trauma, that when you complain about your own experience, you can’t help but compare yourself to others. I can’t breathe deeply in my own home because it is old and the smoke gets in. But at least I have a home. But at least I don’t have COVID. But at least I can get pulled over without worrying about getting suffocated by a cop. I can’t believe I am expected to keep working through it all, but at least I have a job. It never stops. The pandemic shutdown started off this way between us. We fought about what was essential and about risks. We were a perfect target for each other’s rage that comes along with feeling grief and fear. It may all be Trump’s fault, but he’s not the one who didn’t do the dishes. We felt stifled and stuck and eventually we came together and reformatted our partnership. To use an overused phrase, we found a new normal. Just like we had to do when we moved to Oregon. Just like we had to do when we had kids. Just like we will do as we watch what feels like the end of the world close in around us. We’ll come together eventually. We will get back to the beach.



Mark Basquill

part of a lot of my days since I was fourteen. First, I ran extra miles under South Philly streetlights to give myself an edge on the competition for basketball. Later, I rowed dark morning miles on the Schuylkill to try to catch more experienced, more graceful, and quicker scullers. If I sleep past seven, I’m either sick or hung over. Starting my day on the road or the river just feels beautiful and right.

Somewhere Under the Rainbow I live only a few miles away from dawn on the Cape Fear and try to meet with her whenever I can. By the time I parked on the gravel lot of the Wilmington Marina on Saturday the eastern sky had barely started glowing red and orange. Some friends accuse me of being overcompetitive, and they’re probably right. They see the restless, striving me that sees rivers in sections of twothousand-meter long six-lane wide Olympic race courses before I see their wild wonder. They may not see the darkness reluctantly give way to the light. A ridge of deep purple storm clouds stalled to the southeast on the Brunswick County side of the river. Squalls often get stuck there before deciding whether to move harmlessly out over the Atlantic or turn the channel between the Marina and Keg Island into a frothy mess. A ribbon of lightning slid almost horizontally along the Brunswick County bank as I grabbed my oars from the trailer and carried them to the dock. Still solidly before sunrise, my rowing partner Joe pulled his truck next to my Kia and sauntered up the small hill overlooking the dock. “Howdy, partner!” Joe called. “Lightning,” I said. “Gonna have to wait. If we get out at all.” “How’s the river?” he asked. “Potentially friendly?” I offered. “Ripply. But the tide is going out, breeze is freshening. It could crap up quick if the squall line decides to cross and the wind blows up the channel.” Joe nodded and grabbed his oars. He is in his seventies. Neither of us needs an alarm clock to wake before the sun. Joe grew up on a Virginia farm and still makes the Energizer bunny look like a sloth. He’s only been rowing for fifteen years, but he’s really getting the hang of it, slowing down, staying connected to the breath and the boat, learning how to not argue with the river. Moving to meet the morning has been the best


Janet Clemens

I didn’t even ask if Joe wanted to wait to see if the river would allow us both to start our day right. We walked to the dock. The methodical acceleration of a crabber’s diesel interrupted the symphony of gulls and songbirds. We watched a crabber drop his pots and bobbed with the dock as the crabber’s wake hit. Thunder rolled in the distance. The pesky squall line remained undecided. Droplets of drizzle carried the smell of heavier rain. A fuzzy line arced in front of the storm clouds to the southeast. “Cool,” I said. “A dawn rainbow.” More ripples creeped toward us as the breeze picked up again. The sun rose a little higher. The line sharpened. Behind it another line formed. “It’s got a twin,” Joe said. We instinctively grabbed our phones and took a few pictures of a twin rainbow that would live less than twenty minutes. “That settles that,” Joe said. “Let’s get the boats in the water and see if we can row under the rainbow,” I said. The twin rainbow’s short, full life had ended by


V o l . 11 N o . 2 the time I launched my Hudson single scull, Me Imperturbe. I paused to the leeward of the island. Joe followed twenty meters off port. I checked the sky to the southeast. The stalled front had apparently decided not to interfere with our morning row. “Joe!” I shouted. “Dolphin!” Barely ten meters off Joe’s port bow, a dolphin breached. Joe’s bow glided over the puddle of the dolphin’s re-entry. We paused, admiring the gifts the rainbow left. For the next minute a pod of three dolphins shared their breakfast with us, lazily breaching, slipping quietly beneath the surface, moving more smoothly against the current than Joe or I ever will. By the time I removed my phone from the wetbag to try to get a picture of the pod framed by the rising sun, their breakfast was over and they had disappeared upriver. Joe and I smiled, paddled a little further down the cove, lined up across from each other and went through Saturday’s workout. 2020’s pandemic has paused racing at all levels indefinitely, but it hasn’t stopped the urge to meet the sun with speedwork. Four one thousand-meter intervals with five hundred meters rest. Our splits were solid. One section was a touch over four minutes. Very competitive for our age group. Perhaps my friends are right. I’m still way too competitive. Usually about things that don’t matter much. Like throwing orange balls into ten-foot high hoops or racing slivers of boats that are barely seaworthy. We finished our row. I lashed Me Imperturbe, to its rack and looked out over the river. The ripples had laid down. The Cape Fear was distinctly friendly now, flat as glass, its surface mirroring the billowing amber and cream cloudscape. “I think I got you on that last start,” Joe said. “Sure did,” I said. “You’re moving the boat very well. Connected. Finding the flow.” I smiled. I would have liked to beat Joe in that start, but I had already won the day. A twin rainbow, a pod of dolphins, a ripply river, another sunrise. Perhaps my itch to compete has always fueled an urgency to open my eyes, to connect, find flow, and witness wonder that can only be seen at sunrise somewhere under the rainbow.

Caitlin M.S. Buxbaum

Breakers, Cape Otway, Victoria, Australia

Jeff Fair

Leaving There was a time in my life when I thought of this place as my spirit land. I came here for refuge, escape, the solace of stars. I came to listen for truth. And heard it, too, not so much from the roar of Rapid River on quiet nights or the old hoot owl down on Tyler Point, but rather from within. I came to know this place, and in doing so, quite by accident, to know myself. I came to love the landscape, and as a lover to fight for it. Twenty-four years of coming. Now, due to reasons of the heart and other wild country, I find myself leaving it. But first: a final good-bye. One more day on the water—by way of annual tradition—with my rare companion and local comrade-at-arms, Jim Yarnell. We came out here this morning in my little work boat (courtesy of the power company that operates this reservoir), not as we ought, but as we are able. Today’s excursion will be, by necessity of schedule, a working trip for me. If we make it. Yarnell appeared in his doorway earlier, suddenly in his 70s and a bit worse for wear. I watched him totter down our gangplank in a hunter orange STIHL cap (slightly askew), self-inflating life vest, and the usual size 11 black canvas sneakers. A worrisome sight. He carried a small vial of nitroglycerin in his trouser pocket. His wife made him show it to her as a prerequisite to leaving the house. Another change this spring, sudden and irreversible, with continued effects. He’s forgotten his fishing rod, our lunch, the beer. Traffic on the river. I dodge and swerve among boats of

40 every form: motor, pontoon, plastic kayak, traditional paddlecraft. Beautiful bronze-skinned women in white jogging bras paddle a red canoe with Connecticut numbers on the bow. Jim notices them after they look away, and waves to the backs of their heads. “It never used to be like this,” I say. “Perhaps you’d rather see jet skis,” says Jim. To be honest, I tell him, I’d rather see a single old skiff with a fisherman or two who actually give a damn about the area. In his usual, soft, considerate way, Jim argues that we need places like this for people to discover the natural world, learn of its beauty and value, form their own ethics. True enough, I say, but are you sure that’s what all these people are doing? Half a mile upstream where the rivers join—my preferred site for traditional ceremonies—I count seven more boats loitering about. So we take our communion here instead, beneath the outstretched benedictory wings of an osprey soaring overhead, in the company of loons. It breaks my heart to see so many people here after all the time we have both spent drumming up protection for the place in order to keep it like it is. Or as it was, to be exact. Lake Umbagog has been discovered by commercial recreationists, the local chambers of commerce, throngs of innocent souls from Down Below seeking a taste of the northwoods, and perhaps most fearsome and hopeful of all, by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Where once was timelessness, we see only a matter of time now until the press of human recreation, commerce, and bureaucracy infiltrates and overtakes what peace is left. Ah well, I tell my friend, this only makes it easier for me to leave, move on, retreat toward a wild and emptier place. Yarnell is right, too, and I know it. We must provide introduction to wild places for the growing masses who are bound to overtake them anyway. If they learn to appreciate it, better chance they’ll take care of it. But too many people on a delicate landscape is dangerous too. The logic circles back upon itself. The modern paradox of wild places. To hell with it for now. We roar off onto the lake, our Elysium, our workplace. What we do out there is not important. Think of visiting friends, old places, old stories, the laughter of loons and cognac, the smell of warm pine needles on a dank lakeside breeze. Keeping tabs on the spirit of the place—that’s my job. In the evening we motor back across in the cool breath

CIRQUE of early autumn. Yarnell is mumbling again in his soft gravelly voice, inaudible over the whine of the outboard. For the hundredth time today, I throttle back to hear him repeat himself. “This may be our last one of these rides,” he says, pretending to peer off into the wind. “Good chance I won’t be around next year.” I shut off the motor. The empty lake, gray and huge and quiet, rolls beneath us. On the gentle ridges beyond, a few of the hardwoods are already showing color, the promise of the passage of seasons. I look around me, full circle. The lay of the land is comfortable, familiar to my eyes. Inlet Ridge, Metallak Island, Moll’s Rock, Leonard Marsh, Aziscohos Mountain, Carry Ridge, Pine Point. I know it well. Yet as I sit here, poised in my farewells, my knowledge of it seems suddenly frail and insignificant. I know so little of it, so few of its secrets, really. I want to embrace it all once more, relive its many moods and stories, learn again more deeply. I see it as any home place is seen, comprehended, more fully appreciated, more deeply loved, at the moment of separation. Life, I trust, is much the same. “Are you doing OK with that?” I ask my friend. He pauses to consider. “Not really,” he says with a fragile smile. “You see, life’s been good . . . .” Life, most sacred of landscapes. Our ultimate home, as seen from the end of the trail, I suspect, is life itself. Impossible to stay, so difficult to leave. Did I say it would be easy to leave this place? If so, I was mistaken. Despite the traffic, the crowds, the mutability of my comrades, I could no more leave this place behind than I could the spirit of a dear friend. A part of my own spirit, rooted in the rich soil of joy and memory, will always dwell here. The wind lifts our hair and moves us in silence across the broad face of Umbagog, toward the eagle tree, back toward where the rivers meet. “Yarnell,” I tell him, “next year don’t forget your fishing rod. And bring some beer.” “I may not be here.” “I’ll find you.” “Good,” he says. “You’re on.” “Leaving” appeared previously in Appalachia (1998)


V o l . 11 N o . 2


Jim Thiele

Jennifer Fernandez

The Cuban Brown Rabbit I Googled, “Are there rabbits in Cuba?” because I couldn’t remember if I’d ever heard anyone in my family mention any. I attempted to retrieve a story, an anecdote, anything. I tried to remember if we ever saw one together in Miami when I was a child and whether that might have prompted them to tell me a funny story about one. They’d all come from a small town in Oriente, nestled in the crook of a bay and while it was surrounded by farms and forests, I doubt any of them saw a rabbit there. A great-uncle once told me about the day their town got its first traffic light, which as it turned out, was a cardboard sign painted red on one side and green on the other. It was someone’s job to sit in the middle of the intersection and hold up the sign to direct traffic. I pretend there’s a story about how one of them once saw a rabbit sitting at the intersection waiting for the “light” to change. Every day I find a rabbit in my yard. Sometimes it’s morning when the light is bright with newness and the grass is still wet. The rabbits take refuge in the shadow of the pear trees, their long dewy bunny feet sopping.

Sometimes I see them at dusk, after what I imagine was a full day of nibbling grass and hiding under parked cars. My neighbor has constructed an elaborate set of bunny barricades to protect her vegetable garden. I watched as a large lumbering bunny made a burrow in my yard where I suspect she’ll have her babies. I’m excited for the day my yard is overrun by tiny baby bunnies. An invasion of cuteness. I don’t mention this to my neighbor. The rabbits make me feel far from them though. Distant from that cardboard traffic light. Cut off from the stories I’d heard as a first-gen child. The Pacific Northwest feels as far away from that tiny town on that tiny island as you can get, and there are days when it feels as if there isn’t a single point of connection between my life and theirs. In my Google search, I learn about the conejo pardo Cubano, the Cuban Brown Rabbit. Having crossed Oryctolagus cuniculus, or the common European rabbit with ancestors of the Flemish Giant Rabbits (which are the size of human toddlers), the Spanish developed and introduced the Giant Brown Rabbit to Cuba. After many years of Cuban ingenuity, cultivation, and cross-breeding, a perfectly-sized dusky brown Cuban rabbit was bred. It’s described as a “rustic” animal (read hardy), able to survive despite insecure food sources, and uniquely resistant to aggressive parasitic occupations. In other words, they bred them to be a lot like themselves — able to adapt and survive in difficult environments. My search though also brings up recipes for Cuban rabbit stew, which makes me wonder if you could use any kind of rabbit. The rabbits in my yard are a tawny brown and don’t look much like the Cuban Brown Rabbit. The Cuban rabbits are larger and appear to have a lot of meat for stewing. My yard rabbits have tiny ears and are a bit on the scrawny side in comparison. I imagine you’d have to use several of my yard rabbits to make stew. Though the logistics alone of killing a rabbit seem baffling. Sure I could buy one of those wire traps they use to catch and neuter stray cats, but then what? I don’t delude myself about where meat comes from. I know they all used to have mothers and faces. But the truth is I’ve never killed an animal. The idea of having to asphyxiate, slash its throat, drown it, or shoot it (god, how would I even go about shooting it?), seems daunting. The myriad of death scenarios makes me realize again, how different my life is from theirs. My great-grandmother raised and killed pigs and chickens in her backyard. She’d swing the chickens around by the neck to kill them. All I do is walk up to a counter. And so the stew, which I thought might help link my life to theirs seems to do just the opposite. Yard bunnies live to see another day, spared.

42 # I met with a local eco-spiritual guide when I moved here. I’d heard she helped people connect with the land. She was blond and blue-eyed, her skin pale pink. She spoke to me a lot about Celtic spirituality and encouraged me to go out into the woods to connect with my “indigeneity.” She told me to imagine the forests on Whidbey Island as the Sierra Maestra. I considered explaining that my people come from a tropical island covered with Royal Palms and Caribbean pines and don’t have trees like the ones we have here. They don’t have snow, winter, or sleet. They don’t have eagles, orcas, or bears. But I stayed silent, cautiously optimistic as I sat surrounded by ferns. Ultimately I left feeling silly, as if the American Robins and Western Grey Squirrels had found it all very amusing. Though, if I’m honest, I’m not sure if my indigeneity is very indigenous. It’s possible my ancestors were marauders, conquistadors, missionaries, or financiers looking to make bank on said marauding, conquest, or mission. Maybe they were the ones bringing the rabbits. On a phone call with my mother I ask her what she remembers about living there. The memories are those of a 5 year old, the age she was when she left. She tells me about the pig and the chicken in the backyard, she tells me about the neighborhood park, and about my great-great-grandmother who had long bright white hair that she’d arrange in a bun on the top of her head. I’ve heard all these stories before, but I listen again, hoping for a new nugget of information the 5 year old had forgotten to include before. She tells me about a cousin’s birthday cake. It was “big and pink.” I think of those black and white pictures of birthday parties I’d seen. Children who I’m now putting together were cousins standing around the dining table, behind them a row of parents. Aunts and uncles I’ve never met. I imagine the sepia cake’s meringue rosettes are an intense artificial pink. I give the little girls brightly colored dresses too. Gingham yellow and white, candy red stripes, solid sky blue. I pretend they’ve been playing outside with the pigs and chickens and when called inside by one of the nameless aunts for cake, they all come running, bare hot feet slapping on Spanish tiles. They’re told they have to stand around the table for a picture before they can eat. My mother is small, both in age and size and so she’s placed in the front, her head peeking up above the table. They’ve moved the cake over to one side so she can be seen in the picture. I don’t know anyone with kids. My memories of children’s birthday parties are now at least thirty years old and while I suspect they haven’t changed all that much, it’s not likely my mother and her

CIRQUE cousins sang “Happy Birthday” or ate pepperoni pizza at their birthday parties. Maybe they had rabbit stew. # There’s a woman at work who greets me every day with “Buaaynohs diiiiiahs.” I’ve never once spoken to her in Spanish she just assumes I speak it (I do, but that’s not the point). She doesn’t seem to worry about whether I find this offensive (I do) or amusing (I do not). It doesn’t seem to matter that I respond in English or ignore her all together on days when I can’t even with her bullshit. If I were to speak Spanish here, my dialect would sound foreign, different, and defective to the ears of those who’ve learned phrases using apps on their phones. If I’m honest, much of me feels foreign in this place. I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to down parkas and I’m terrible at driving in the snow. There are no local restaurants that serve dishes which remind me of home and the Latin grocery stores I’ve found, don’t carry the products I grew up eating. In fact there aren’t many things in this new place that help me feel connected to the tiny island they came from, not even my yard rabbits. In a way I suppose, I am the conejo pardo Cubano, the Cuban Brown Rabbit, adaptable and robust, resistant to racist sycophants, able to survive in unfavorable conditions. A hardy Cuban species adapting to life in the Pacific Northwest. # Looking out my front window, I can see a sliver of the Olympic Mountains. Sometime before we bought this house, back when it was still painted fluorescent green, the house across the way built a second story thereby effectively blocking most of the mountain view. Today the slice of mountains I can is glowing. Luminescent snow caps soak in and reflect the rare and precious sunshine. It’s as if the mountains want that sunshine all for themselves, but they know the rest of us need it too, so they share it. It’s hard to look at these alpine glaciated relics and imagine guerilla revolutionaries hiding out there. I can’t seem to connect these mountains with Pico Turquino, Cuba’s tallest peak. But in thinking of Cuba’s people, the ones decimated by the Spanish — the Taino, Ciboney, and the Cimarrón, I’m reminded of the ravaging of local tribes like the Klallam, the Snohomish, and the Hoh. The Northern Flicker that comes to my suet feeder? His identical cousin the Cuban Flicker, lives in the Sierra Maestra.


V o l . 11 N o . 2

Rebecca Goodrich

Saving My Soul From Scientology In April 1994, Rebecca Goodrich left her husband and the cult of Scientology that she’d been involved with for twenty years, ending up on Unalaska Island, future home of the “Deadliest Catch.” Her daughter and son remained in California to finish the school year as Goodrich explored what she came to call the Real World. Saving My Soul After Scientology is in the editing phase. My island mentor, Jerah Chadwick, alerted me to the imminent arrival of Janice Schofield, who’d soon fly in from Homer, Alaska. Janice, author of several books on foraging, would speak on “Alaska’s Wild Harvest.” After that, she would lead a three-day wild plant collection and food class. I went to Jerah’s office to register, as this was part of my credits for college. “I’ll finally see what cotton grass and mousenuts are,” I said, as I filled out the inevitable paperwork. The class would be a much-needed break from divorce negotiations, planning and purchasing to build the houseboat, trying to extricate my kids from their father, and looking for work. I also hoped the class would help me get to know others in the small community better. I’d been on-island only six weeks. Truly, a stranger in a strange land, though it was turning out to be mostly paradise. At Janice’s talk, I learned that mousenuts are the root of a plant, high in carbohydrates, which were hard to come by before the Russians and Americans took over the Aleutians. Cotton grass is a bog plant. The white fluff was used by the Aleut in diapers, as wound dressing, or to fill pillows if goose feathers were in short supply. Remaining class spaces filled quickly. Two women who were turned away were vocal in their dissatisfaction before they flounced off. “We weren’t going to sign up anyway because this is too New Age to be Godly.” I’d always wanted to “stalk the wild asparagus,” especially after the book by Euell Gibbons was published in the early 1960s. When I worked in the book business in the early 1970s, Stalking the Wild Asparagus was a steady seller. As a little girl in the Holly Park subdivision of Los Angeles, foraging had almost killed me, but that didn’t discourage me. I was a hungry child and learned early

on that the adults in my life didn’t necessarily bother to stop what they were doing to attend to my needs. One afternoon when I was four or five, my parents had a neighboring couple over for cocktails. I took matters into my own hands and went looking for food. I knew some food came from plants. In our yard, the only thing edible were Mom’s mint plants. She’d already used quite a few of those leaves for the special grown-up drinks being enjoyed. Next door I went, and further on, trying to look like I was just taking a walk. Near the end of the block were some rosebushes. I liked their fragrance and ate a pink petal or two before I saw something promising beneath them.

Tundra cranberries in autumn, Alaska

Nancy Deschu

These were brown. Perhaps some fruit the roses dropped, that had dried out in the sun. I took one and crumbled it slightly, smelled it, and then tasted. It was lightly sweet, nicely chewy. I ate quite a lot of these, then took some home to share. Suddenly there were screams from Mom, lots of commotion, and I was whisked off to hospital. When we got home, I was still hungry, and with no dinner pending, I went back down the street for more of my crumbly brown snack, this time bringing two handfuls to share. Again, we went off to the hospital. This time my father explained that these pellets were poison put out to kill slugs that harmed the rose plants. So I had my stomach pumped a second time. I learned to nibble grass by watching my cat. On the edge of the neighborhood was a big honeysuckle bush with aromatic white flowers. After seeing hummingbirds dip from these, I plucked and sucked from them myself, enjoying the sweet taste. But I was always looking for

44 more substantial food, a forgotten walnut or apple tree in a gully or patch of strawberries near the railroad tracks. In the Los Angeles of my married life, it took a couple of hours each way through roiling masses of traffic to begin to get where anything wild lived. Finally, on the island, I’d be able to do something I’d longed to do. Here, just a few hundred feet in any direction, everything was at hand, and I was filled with a thrum of emotion, of hope, expectation, and fear. That by doing this class, fulfilling decades of longing, would mean that what I wanted was somehow right, approved. Absolution for daring to want. We could only hope the weather would cooperate. Amazingly, on the weekend of the plant class, the wind dropped dramatically and disappeared. With little in the way of Judeo-Christian education, I didn’t know that, for thousands of years, the wind — ruarch — was seen at times as under the direction of God, and sometimes as the breath or spirit of God. A fittingly nebulous word, usually feminine but sometimes masculine, the ancient Hebrews believed moving air sometimes embodied divinity. Later, Christ’s disciples would receive the Holy Spirit by way of a divine wind: “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind . . . ” Ever since I’d set foot on Unalaska, the wind had been a companion. Its absence left me feeling untethered, even unloved. We met at the school on Friday evening for assignments—what plants to gather, and how we’d cook them on Sunday. Janice Schofield was about my height, with apple cheeks, long brown hair, and a tanned, sinewy appearance I was beginning to identify with many who spent days outside in Alaska in all weathers. It was warm inside the school, and we piled our coats and backpacks on a table. Janice kept her belt bag around her waist every time I saw her. Her plane tickets were in there. Since losing a ticket home once, she’d adopted the fanny pack as a failsafe. We each needed to bring back enough leaf, stem, flower, and root for dinner on Sunday night. The one way to fail this class, my friend and plant buddy, Alice, reminded me, was to bring in anything toxic. We started our search at Front Beach Saturday morning, nibbling beach greens, which I liked, and beach peas, which I didn’t. Alice was more interested in the seaweeds than I, though the dark dulse was perfectly decent. I quite adored lovage and collected enough to take home and experiment with.

CIRQUE We moved uphill, swishing through rye grass. I picked some of the same chickweed I’d once industriously weeded from my yard in Los Angeles. In Palm Springs I’d first found dandelion sauteed as a side dish to steak, so plucked some leaves of that as well, though not assuming steak was in my immediate future. Another attractive herb, the silvery, storied wormwood, with multifaceted medicinal uses, went into my bag. Alice was looking to make her husband some liniment for his aches and pains, so wormwood was second on her list, with dogwood heading up that project. As we breasted the first hills, the several groups of us scattered, drawn by this plant or that. Their exclamations and examinations became distant as they crested. The hills quieted around me again. Alice drifted off to fulfill her assignments. I went on, examining the diminutive foliage, cutting a few leaves or blossoms. I strode, but slowly. Getting out on the tundra, away from town, out of sight of all human-made things, strangely affected me. Living things always did. My mother-in-law noticed I was ready for conversation only after a specific point when driving to Los Osos on family visits. Turned out to be just where I’d first catch sight of a small stand of California oaks. The wind was still, as though time itself had paused. Was I abandoned here, on the face of this hill, on this island? I was born knowing God was neither the hill nor the mountain, but hills and mountains always encouraged me to look up, toward God. Was I in the right place or the wrong place? Was I doing the right thing or the wrong thing, to be here? To bring my children here? The land rose and fell before my eyes, like the backs of so many olive- and emerald-dyed sheep bedded down to sleep. I knelt and grasped the low growth — the tangled crowberry, kinnikinnick, and other worts and forbs that make a kind of pelt worn by the tundra. My pants knees moistened with the many rivulets that trickled beneath the plants and pooled further into bogs that housed the sphagnum and cotton grass, Then, I sensed it, in a whirl: life, in every shape there that had ever been in every form it had ever taken or would become. For just one geological moment, as though this hillside was a wild animal briefly sharing its warmth reflected up from its fiery core. Alive, alive. That warm hill was alive, all the way down. My eyes closed. I wanted never to let go; to stay on the island forever. To add my tears to the streamlets, the mass of my body to the mountains, my feeble breath to the storms. Suddenly, the wind came, stirring wildness


V o l . 11 N o . 2 within me. I felt I could go anywhere and accomplish anything. That faded quickly, and as though I were pressed to the sand beneath a wave off Redondo Beach, I felt pinned to the side of the hill, dizzied as though by high altitude, naked before some unseen power. I felt smaller than small. Flowing around and under me, this wind, this energy, would scour me clean, particle by particle. Any particular identity I owned would vanish, leaving me as transparent as air, and as transient. For a moment, that seemed a very good thing, and then the voice of a friend brought me back to earth. “Beck,” said Alice in her crisp enunciation. “Take a look at these dogwood!” The flowers were pale and perfect. I showed her my harvest and samples of other plants I’d plucked along the way. The wind had faded to a wisp. It was time to take our finds to school and go home. Sunday afternoon we re-gathered at the school. My classmates and I ended up with nearly all the needful amounts of everything assigned for dinner. I laughed at myself: it took coming thousands of miles to Dutch Harbor to learn how tasty dandelion flowers were when they were dipped in batter and deep-fried. Cooking, tasting, and eating infused us with good cheer and the warmth of accomplishment. At the end of class, Janice gifted me a jar of her nettle pesto. Being on this island, for all its existential emotional perils, was good for me. And I was where I should be.

Texture of Our Loss

Ann-Marie Brown

Joe McAvoy

Nasty Nora I hadn’t so much come to Oregon as I had fled New York. Everyone wanted out back then. The diaspora cut a trail to Southern California via Colorado. I wanted no part of that. Driving off in late summer of 1975, I stopped my blue ‘67 VW Beetle convertible at the Pennsylvania border near the sign greeting inbound travelers: Welcome to New York The Empire State it read. I duct-taped a cardboard rectangle addendum underneath: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere In the mental narrative I had composed, New York—its people, culture and streets—was responsible for much of the anger and purposelessness that was increasingly defining me. I washed my hands of any accountability, tying my problems to the mundane, soulcrushing lives that I saw all around me, to the widespread discontent of my generation, to the smothering Catholicism of my upbringing. I blamed my father for the rest. One son to the cloth, one to the bottle. A phrase familiar to New York Irish Catholic families a generation or two off the boat. My father got the bottle. His drinking and abuse against my family—my mother, in particular— pitted me against him. The scar across his forehead bore testimony to my success in one encounter. He landed more than a few blows on me. My scars lay below the skin. A change of venue would make everything better. Eugene seemed as good a destination as any: It wasn’t New York or LA; I knew someone there; it was home to two of my heroes, Ken Kesey and Steve Prefontaine; it had a university where I could complete my degree; the legal penalty for smoking marijuana was five dollars; it was a short drive to snow-capped mountains, lush forests and a rugged coastline. How could anything go wrong with a plan like that? I traced out a quick, uncomplicated route on a fold-out map that would put me on I-90 somewhere

46 upstate where I could smooth-sail-it in a straight line to the Beaver State. A four-day trip, five tops. I didn’t bring much with me: Five or six hundred dollars from waiting tables; a canvas knapsack stuffed with a few flannel shirts, an assortment of tees and underwear, an extra pair of jeans, wool socks and a worn copy of Kesey’s Sometimes A Great Notion. The direct route was jettisoned somewhere in Ohio. There wasn’t much reasoned consideration or internal struggle behind the decision. I felt untethered and curious, as if I had emerged from a dark tunnel into a wide-open meadow, surprised at the choices available to me. Improvising a south by southwest journey through the heartland, I bee-lined it through the Midwest, desperate to escape its tedium, pulling over only when I couldn’t fight off sleep or hunger or a bladder near bursting. Slowing down on the blue highways of New Mexico and Arizona, I took a haphazard route through canyons and small towns and vast swaths of open desert. Tumbleweed blew across the road. Native Americans sold turquoise jewelry in small ramshackle huts along the road. The sky seemed endlessly blue. Entering California on I-10, near Blythe, I was unimpressed on the drive across to the coast, keeping a map open and ready for frequent consultations to ensure I didn’t end up in LA. Mid-evening I sat on the hood of my car in the parking lot of some uncrowded beach near Santa Barbara smoking a joint and watching the tip of the sun disappear below the Pacific horizon, amazed that I had made it this far. Following Hwy 101 north to the Bay Area, I headed inland for a short visit with a friend of mine who was attending the University of Nevada, Reno before making the final push to my new home. I entered Oregon just west of Klamath Falls, taking the back roads into the high-desert country around Bend before heading west through the thick rainforests of the Cascade Range on the east flank of the Willamette Valley. Everything I saw matched the vivid imagery of Kesey’s rendering: infinite stands of Douglas fir, Western Hemlock and Western Red Cedar—I know their names now, I didn’t then—running up steep hillsides and in wide panoramas of green undulations that, like the sweep of the ocean, ended at the horizon. The forest understory overflowed with salal and wild berries and massive sword ferns. The rivers, depleted in late summer, were still more forceful than any I had ever seen, rushing around and over boulders the size of small houses. I remember the shock of seeing my first clearcut. It was as if I had come upon the aftermath of a battle; the

CIRQUE carnage savage and staggering. Logging trucks labored up and down the rolling Cascade roads stuffed full of the old-growth casualties—their girths so wide—struck down in those battles. Above all, I recall a brooding melancholy that seemed familiar and oddly comforting. Thick tendrils of morning fog and smoke from woodstoves hidden within the trees wound above and into the green-black relief. Everything was muted; dense and unmoving. I stopped occasionally when I found a good viewpoint to take it all in, reading a few snippets from Kesey’s novel to compare the words on the page to the natal country which inspired them. The clean air chilled my lungs. The cries of the occasional hawk or eagle pierced a primal, holy quiet, somehow making me feel significant and miniscule at the same time. I drove into Eugene via OR 58 on a luminous, Indian Summer day a few weeks before classes at the University of Oregon were set to begin. Everything I saw seemed to stamp approval on my choice of destination. A low sun cast a warm, yellow filter over the valley floor. The surrounding hills and buttes sat against cerulean blue skies. The Willamette River rippled gently through and around the town. The evening air was crisp and bracing, the emerging stars populous and shimmering. I landed a job at a screen-printing company on the west side of town that paid me just enough to squeeze by, and I befriended a group of LA hippies who, though just a couple of years older, already had “old-ladies” and kids and lived off the land. Everything was falling into place. The rains began in late October. Prefontaine had died in a bizarre car accident up in Hendricks Park in May, a few months before I had left New York; an omen I somehow missed. The hippies were secretly cheating with each-others’ “old-ladies” and the young tough girls from the battered logging towns who had come into the “city” looking for excitement. They weren’t living off the land, after all. They were living off their parents or unemployment, food stamps, the WIC program and selling pot. A couple of them worked with me at the printing plant. They were caught stealing supplies and equipment to outfit their own independent shop. They turned on each other in the legal proceedings that followed. Eugene, in those days, still had the musty sour smell of sawdust from the lumber mills outside of town. The drizzly air reeked of it. I was always cold and wet and hungry, trying my best to grit things out. One wet,


V o l . 11 N o . 2 frigid night I found myself standing in the middle of a record shop just off the downtown mall with a few bucks to last me until the next payday. I was stoned, as usual, and alone, when I heard for the first time Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings building to a crescendo from massive speakers mounted on the walls, comforting me like the Virgin Mary had once done when I was young until I rejected all that. I stood, almost paralyzed, overcome by the mournful force and overwhelming beauty of the music. Tears ran down my cheeks. A young couple asked how they could help. I had no answer for them. I spent the last of my funds on the album—Thomas Schippers leading The New York Philharmonic Orchestra. I still have it. One sun-drenched Spring day, a group of us drove to the coast in a caravan of beat-up cars and vans to catch glimpses of gray whales on their annual migration north to their Arctic feeding grounds. We stood on the western-most tip of Cascade Head gazing out over the Pacific Ocean stretched wide and far before us. The sunlight glistened off the surface chop complicating our efforts to differentiate the wisps of spray off a windsheared whitecap from the blow of a shadowy leviathan just below the surface. A light wind moved through the trees behind us. The soft brush of rustling limbs and the concussive crash of waves commanded our silence and reverence. Someone pulled out a pipe. “This would be so beautiful if we were stoned,” he said. The epiphany those words brought to me made crystal clear what I had, till then, been unable to articulate. Though beauty and magnificence surrounded me, I did my best to avoid letting too much in. So wrapped up in my own angry story, I was unavailable for any other. Place was not my problem. The political disarray of my country was not my problem. The Catholic Church was

Sunlit Teapot

Janet Clemens

not my problem. My father was not my problem. I was my problem. The choices I made and the people I surrounded myself with were my problem. I resolved to clean myself up, complete school — which would take another couple of years — and make a real go at building an authentic life in Oregon; one without the baggage I had brought along with me from back east. “He couldn't seem to get his teeth into anything. Except books,” Kesey wrote of Leland Stamper, the benton-avenging protagonist of …Notion. These were the days, for me—in addition to Kesey and the authors assigned in my literature classes—of Kerouac and the Beats, Mark Twain, Bernard Devoto, Wallace Stegner, Mary Lee Settle, Ursula Le Guin, Kate Wilhelm, John Barth, Walker Percy, Willa Cather, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway and so many others. I would, in those hours I had to myself, sit outside on a bench across from a rundown strip mall on the northwest tip of a long narrow greenway that separated East and West Amazon Drives just south of the university where I rented an apartment and I read till the lack of light or the rain drove me in. The greenway was a largely ignored plot, running a thin mile south out of town. A creek, hidden under uncut, drooping grass, coursed down its center. A few slippery, moss-covered foot bridges dared infrequent interlopers to try them out. Flimsy, lichen-encrusted benches—like the one where I read—were thrown in no discernible order around the perimeter. There were no picnic areas, no running trails, no playgrounds, no gardens. The only human activity I recall were those times when someone took a shortcut from one Amazon Drive to the other. The strip mall reflected the Eugene that was becoming increasingly familiar to me: a once thriving logging town now on its knees from an industry in deep decline. Flaking paint, cracked brick and concrete, deadened neon signs, abandoned storefronts and broken or boarded up windows spoke to hardship and failure. One business thrived. A sign painted on its door warned those entering in advance: Nasty Nora’s Cafe. Five or six stools along a plastic laminate countertop of mottled yellow and white and a few tables along floorto-ceiling, rain-specked windows that looked out over a small, potholed parking lot crammed full of rundown pickup trucks and cars. The proprietress, Nora, ruled as advertised. She didn’t do small talk. Her words were clipped, her tone harsh and her eyes fierce enough to keep her bluecollar clientele in line. It was wise to be ready when she

48 appeared before you, wiser still to not give her any lip, however well intentioned. You ordered, you ate, you paid and you left. A ribbon of small bells jangled from the inside handle of the door when I entered the café the first time. Nora’s head swiveled to face me, her eyes still and unblinking. She was tall and angular, wearing a paleyellow waitress dress with a folded towel hanging from an apron tied around her waist. Her hair, greying though still streaked with brown, was pulled back and clamped tight, covered in a loose net. Her narrow eyes looked out over a thin, bony nose. I felt like prey. My hair was long and wild. I wore faded, patched blue jeans, a flannel shirt over a longsleeved thermal undershirt and an old, ripped deerskin jacket with long frills that one of the hippie wives had given me one day as I shivered outside somewhere, unprepared for the long, wet Oregon winter. “Sit wherever you want,” Nora said. She turned back to face the group at the counter, murmuring something that made them laugh. They wore the familiar attire of loggers: Thick hickory-striped Weyerhaeuser shirts, broad suspenders holding up worn cuffed Levi’s, cork boots scuffed and caked with clay and sawdust from the woods and the mill floors. A few craned their necks forward, turning to see the cause of Nora’s bemusement. Their faces were ruddy and weathered, their eyes red and tired. Someone let out a loud cackle. There was one stool open at the near end of the counter but two of the loggers shifted left to put me in the middle. A chalkboard menu hung over the short-order window looking into the kitchen from behind the counter. Nora stood in front of me within seconds of my settling in. “Are you going to order something,” she said, “or are you just going to sit there?” More laughter from both sides. I chose a grilled cheese sandwich and a glass of milk, relieved when she turned away to snap the ticket onto the wheel in the kitchen window. I took my time eating, stretching out the pleasure of a good meal and a warm, dry place to enjoy it. There were snickers from both sides when I pulled a book out of my coat pocket. When I finished, Nora stood on the other side of the counter, in front of me. “Dessert?” she asked. I counted out my money, looked up at the chalkboard menu and shook my head. “All I can afford,” I said, turning the collar of my coat up before leaving to return to the bench with my book. “Thank you.” She bussed the remains of my lunch

CIRQUE and was gone before I was off the stool. Money permitting, I ate there about once a week. Nora never said hello. I imagined in her eyes a deep disdain and I felt a shame of sorts, as if I had disappointed her. I read while I ate, paid up and left with a small nod and a thank you to which she responded in kind. One day, I came up short for the bill and was so fearful of her wrath that I stumbled upon the words while trying to explain myself. Nora crooked her index finger, summoning me to an empty table along the window. She tapped the seat of a chair. “Sit,” she said before disappearing through a swinging door behind the counter into the kitchen. I moved down, contemplating a break for the exit, unprepared for her to tear into me, to make an example of me. She came back out, her eyes fixing on mine. She didn’t speak. I couldn’t look away. A grizzled man burst out through the swinging door, came around the counter and slapped down a plate with a thick piece of banana cream pie before me. He winked before returning to his invisible duties in the kitchen. “Eat”, Nora said. She poured us both a cup of coffee and took the chair across from me. My hands were shaking under the table. I started to apologize. She wagged her finger to stop me. “Eat,” she repeated. “You are skin and bones. Eat.” I hadn’t experienced such a treat in a very long time. “Joe,” she repeated, after she asked my name. “I see you reading out there all the time, Joe. What’s going on?” It wasn’t a rhetorical question. “I have half a mind to call your mother and ask her if she knows what the hell you’re going through.” Where I thought I saw disdain, I saw tenderness. She asked me questions in a voice low enough to keep our conversation private. I told her I was a student at the university. That I had come out from New York late the previous summer. “Really?” She smiled. “New Yawk? I wouldn’t have known that.” She pulled the plate away from me when I finished. “Order!” she called out. The cook peeked his head through the swinging door. “Get him another slice,” she said. I protested. My stomach couldn’t possibly fit anything else in. She waved the man away and turned back to me. “I willed you in here, you know,” she said. I started to laugh. She cut me off. She was serious. “I willed


V o l . 11 N o . 2 you in here. Do not make me will you out.” She got up to bus and clean some tables. “Why Oregon?” she asked, when she returned. I told her about Prefontaine and Kesey. I told her about all the other New Yorkers going to California. “Good decision,” she said. “They can have each other.” I told her about the hippies and the disappointment that seemed to attach itself to me. I told her I was trying to get it together. That I was looking for a fresh start. “Yeah,” she said. I felt, once again, the warm soothing embrace of the Adagio and the Virgin Mary from my childhood. She didn’t probe much further on my circumstances and shared very little of hers but her eyes held mine—they would not release me—and I felt, too, as I did on the school yard, so many years ago, when Sister Joan pulled me aside as I was acting out—fighting probably—and said “I know what’s going on, Joey. I am watching you. Remember that. I will NOT (she drove that word hard) let you fail!” These kindnesses of unimaginable consequence. To feel loved and watched over as if by angels. To be lifted. I never took advantage of Nora’s generosity and visited only when I had enough to pay and would not, generally, let her treat me to that banana cream pie though there were times when her insistence was simply too much to reject. Her look could still scare the bejeezus out of me. I never entered the cafe before straightening myself up. I wanted to please her. Sometimes, when I was reading on that bench across the street, the cook would walk over to tell me that Nora said my lunch was getting cold and I had better get over there fast. One day, Nora and I talked at the far end of the counter—a seat she generally reserved for me—and she said, out of the blue, “Your parents did a very good job with you.” I didn’t know what to say. “You always said ‘thank you’ before you left,” Nora continued, “and you always meant it. I could tell.” That was all. I barely missed a week for over a year. She would throw me a smile whenever I came in though, on most days, she was too busy to talk. I ate and read in silence. My ex-girlfriend from New York, Kyle—my wife, now, of over forty years—came to visit. She ended up staying and we moved to a small house just west of the

university while I finished school. My visits to the café became less frequent until they stopped altogether. We moved to Portland to start a new life together. I don’t know what became of Nora. Did I say goodbye? I hope so. I don’t remember. A stain on my soul. She delivered a small miracle to me in the form of a slice of banana cream pie and it fills me still, as I recall it now. With gratitude. I don’t want to forget her. These memories nourish me. I don’t know what else to say. There is an immense debt built up inside me for Nasty Nora and Sister Joan and all the remarkable women who picked me up and cleaned me off and made me more than I could ever have been without them. I meant those thank you’s then and I mean them now. How I would love for these words to find all of you. Right now, dear Nora, you most of all.


Janet Clemens




Sheary Clough Suiter

Daniela Naomi Molnar

River Notes Underneath my house, two rivers begin. ~ The concrete of my house’s foundation presses down on the buried tributaries of two major watersheds: the Willamette River and Johnson Creek. I know little of their histories or ecologies. My impulse is to look them up online in order to learn more — binary electrical authoritative memory, tell me about this place that my body inhabits daily. Tell me what I ought to know. ~ I know: the Willamette River runs mostly north/south. It merges just north of Portland with the Columbia River and then heads northwest to the Pacific, reaching it at Astoria. I know that it is still a large river in Eugene, a city hundreds of miles south of here. I am contextualizing the river by its urban landmarks, imagining the nippled blue dots pinned to a digital map, denoting “a place.” ~ I know: Johnson Creek runs near Interstate 205. I associate it with “Felony Flats,” a traditionally rough, and, yes, flat, neighborhood in Portland, near my house. I once visited a dog shelter and went for a walk on a paved bike path that runs near the creek. I was walking with my ex-husband and a sweet, frenetic mutt who we did not adopt. The

creek runs near a store that sells large rocks. I plan to visit this store to buy rocks for a new garden. The store’s rocks are not sourced from Johnson Creek. ~ When I asked my students yesterday about their favorite place in the world, one said that her favorite place is inside an airplane, watching a prolonged sunrise or set. This “place” is an observational stance predicated on the constant, extremely rapid motion of the observer. Is that a place? And if so, where is it? ~ Does a point in constant motion constitute a place? ~ Sitting on my couch, a car speeds by behind my head, passing through the intersection my house’s corner lot abuts. An intersection is a kind of confluence, perhaps. A friend of mine is leaving the country for nine months. She parks her car by my house and I promise to move it for her every two weeks. The city has rules about the stagnancy of objects. Cars must move at a minimum of 14-day intervals. Rivers, which want to move both with their current, downstream, downstream, and laterally, up and over their banks, are often constrained, with neither type of movement allowed to them. High concrete walls barricade, constrain. Before these barricades were built, the Willamette’s banks changed position by hundreds of feet, depending on season, weather, and perhaps, too, on the river’s mood. A river can be angry. A river can grieve. A river can be captive, lonely, driven mad. ~ Rivers are shifty, moving according to an internal logic not accessible to the human mind. Today I say meandering to the river when I bike over it. I say wandering, I say volitional movement unbounded by linear truth. ~ Outside my window, a flock of small, gray birds moves from an electrical line to a patch of dew-strewn grass — line to grass, line to grass… a mass of small bodies moving as one diaphanous, dark, shifting veil. ~~~~ Barry Lopez’s River Notes begins, “I am exhausted.” The narrator has been standing by a body of water, watching it for a very long time: weeks or eons. I dream myself into the narrator’s vantage. I stand there, endlessly compelled to keep observing water. I am bewitched, transfixed, held in place by a force so much larger than my will or


V o l . 11 N o . 2 understanding. The water, or my unrelenting focus on the water, begins to break my body down, erode it as water always ultimately does. I begin to become like the water, or I begin to become the water. I enters it, it enters me. The seam between bodies of water blurs until it is meaningless, arbitrary as names. Generosity/terror. Freedom/lack of will. The forceful formlessness of water eventually makes all distinctions fluid. ~ Alice Notley: “he owns all things,” // “doesn’t he?” “He’s invented” “all the shapes” “I’m afraid he’s” / “invented mine,” “my very own” “body’” (“she was hysterical”) … “He owns form,” “doesn’t he?” “The tyrant” “owns form’” ~ The tyrant might own form but not formlessness. And a point in constant motion might not be a form. ~~~~ Sun rises through cold, thin clouds like gauze spread too thin on a wound so the blood/light bleeds through. ~ J and I talk. I tell him to be straight with me, to stop being so inanely polite. He tells me he’s worried about my mental health. I tell him to let me have my feelings. Let me have my grief. He tells me how sad I am. I do not disagree. I tell him he’s let himself become an administrator, not an artist, and that his medication has made him stable and dead and I don’t know where his lifeforce went. He tells me I need to leave my career. Where to go. Where did we go. Where did he go. Where did I go. Where do I go. ~ Oliver Baez Bendorf: “What I want from the river is what I always want: / to be held by a stronger thing that, in the end, chooses mercy” ~~~~ No river is visible from my window. Some stubborn, animate part of me continues to be baffled by this fact. ~ My week ahead is lined up on my phone in a grid of tiny, uniform, rectangular, color-coded boxes. None are riverine. None are even blue. ~ “impounded water body” ~ “drowned river system” ~

Bind a river in a tunnel and put a house on top. ~ To resurface a buried river is to “daylight” it. ~ The sound of a car driving by my house, a few feet from my head. Another. And another. ~ To eliminate noise, catalog all sounds. ~ To eliminate a river, pave, divert, drain. Now you have a ditch. A ditch is not a river. To eliminate a river, call it a ditch. ~~~~ Sleet and rain form a scrim of cold, translucent white on the black roof and on the pale green spheres floating like bubbles among the glossy dark camellia leaves — impossibly, buds. Tough shoots of grape hyacinth snake around stones to find cold light. Portents of spring in this paved, gridded place. And with these harbingers, a no in the pit of me. No. This is not home. ~ I see five cars from this window, two streets, a streetlamp, an electrical pole, a chain-link fence, five small houses much like mine — and not one river. Not one! ~ A dense cough is buried deep inside my chest. I cough but cannot daylight it. A friend sends me a photo of his air plant. He says it’s wild, trying to escape. I say that it’s a hopeful, plotting, free thing. Like we all try to be, he replies. ~ This morning, one old car pulled another down my street. The cars were drab and dented but linked with a fluorescent orange strap. They moved smoothly and slowly. The person hanging half-out of the car being pulled seemed pleased by the movement, its slow, smooth pace. They were going somewhere, steadily. Mummied in bright polyester, the passenger dangled out the car door and into the steady rain, watching the taut strap stay taut. ~ Lonely, languageless trees grow atop the buried confluence. Learned helplessness. We give up after a while, us breathing things. If a city tree’s roots send its signal-stories out into the lightless earth and no answer, no answer, no answer from a fellow tree… years of no answer… eventually the signals stop. The language is lost.



We learn to wait, perhaps lifetimes, before trying again. ~ I want a river because I want to be shot through with the same sort of breath that animates a poem, which is the same sort of breath that hovers inches above a river. This breath is a point in constant motion / a point in constant motion might not be a form. Formless, indefinite, unowned — it listens with a strangeness that cannot be tamed.

Kim Stafford

The Hut on Ninilchik Dome, Summer 1968 We had driven up the Alcan Highway from Oregon for the summer, my father was teaching at Alaska Methodist University in Anchorage, and I was casting about for some way to get into the real Alaska. “Want to fish?” asked a colleague of my dad. And the following afternoon, we were drifting down the Susitna River at flood stage in his canoe. As we hurtled along with the muddy current, he confessed that the little outboard at the stern couldn’t get us both back upstream. “But don’t worry,” he said, as my predicament became clear, “by law they have to take you out if it’s an emergency.” After a good fast run, we turned off into a tributary to camp for the night. The next morning, he waved goodbye, turned up the Susitna, and putted back upstream hugging the bank against the brawny current. It was the last day of the season, I saw several fishermen about, and I managed to catch a ride in a float plane back to Anchorage. I remember the brave little plane “crabbing” oblique from our destination against a stiff wind. Later I took the train to Denali, hitchhiked west across the open land for an hour, then told the driver of my third ride, “You can let me out here.” “Here?” he said, slowing to a stop. He scanned the empty horizon, then studied my tiny rucksack, thin casual clothes, and tennis shoes. “Okay.” He drove on and I set out across the tundra, figuring I could go north until I couldn’t see the road, then walk east for a day or so, and turn back south to find the highway when I felt like it.

Off I tramped, enraptured by the weave of low-growing scrub willow, tiny flowers, berries, lichen, and resilient ground that seemed to propel me along on springs. In an hour I stopped to rest, and there the mosquitoes just about killed me. Their black cloud had been trailing me, but when I stopped, they dressed my face and filled my nostrils. I began to flail, but they were winning. I thrashed open my poncho and huddled under it, steaming with sweat and assaulted by half as many. “I’m going to go crazy,” I thought, imagining myself breaking into a run until I collapsed. Then a boy scout moment: I fumbled out matches and like a blind man clutched at willow twigs, and managed to get a fire going, crouched hot in the blue smoke plume that drove off the bugs, and survived. This I did at every rest stop after, until I learned to climb a hill where wind kept the cloud of small assassins away. That night I slept on a low moraine, reveling in the wind and stars, and in the morning found the night track of a big bear that had passed below my little hill. Too stupid to be afraid, I crouched down to study it, instead of scanning the horizon over my shoulder as I should. Turning south, I found the road, hitched back east, had a glorious meal at the hotel—where I must not have been the first to be dressed in smoke—left as a tip beside my plate, a little seal I had whittled out of slate, and took the train back to Anchorage. Then by some fluke, I landed a job with a company called Offshore Navigation Inc., which was in the process of setting off explosive charges from a ship crisscrossing Cook Inlet in a grid pattern to ascertain the profile of the geologic strata below the sea…for potential oil deposits. At least that was my understanding. The Ninilchik outpost, one of a series of radio-signal stations along the Kenai, they told me, was manned by a fellow who had worked for ONI in Texas, before moving to the North country, a man named Wendell Ayers. An Alaska law decreed such a remote station needed a second person, for safety. I was hired, officially as “camp cook,” and flown by helicopter to spend the summer with Wendell in the Ninilchik hut. As we circled down toward Ninilchik Dome, I could see Wendell by the hut’s door waving. There was an open patch at the Dome’s peak for the helicopter to touch down, but they didn’t shut off the rotor—they’d just drop me and half a dozen boxes of provisions and fuel then lift away. I hopped out as the copilot opened the hatch, and started around to the left, sure I could duck under the spinning blades, but even over the roar of the rotor I heard

V o l . 11 N o . 2


the copilot bark “Down! Get back! Never go aft!” I could see, then, the tail rotor spinning into invisibility, and then I turned to see Wendell, arms folded, sizing up the new guy. He was smiling like he was watching the first foolish TV he’s seen in some time, and I was the star fool. In minutes, the boxes were on the ground and the helicopter lifting off, circling back north, and as its roar died away, I heard the hum of the generator, shook Wendell’s hand, and we started stowing the supplies.

by this—he cared about the place, and wanted it to look good. Or maybe he was just bored, needed a project. Previous workers had simply flung the cans downhill, along with other trash. I remember hooking a dozen empty five-gallon cans at a time to a rope, and crawling them up the slope to where Wendell worked with a sledgehammer to flatten them for burying. When we were done, he covered it all, and gathered moss to make it blend into what it had been.

Right away I could see my boss was an easy going guy who could relax with work, with a young clown like me, and with himself. Without discussion, I learned the chores, and we seemed to quietly compete to see who could do them first—cooking, cleaning, sweeping the tiny cabin twelve feet square, dropping the shutters if the wind got too fierce, keeping the Coleman lantern full, the wood box brimming, and the kindling split. After that, there wasn’t much to do but talk, or enjoy long easy silences, listening to the wind, or the radio, and feeling the hut flex and creak.

The routine every morning was to flip on the generator at eight, listen for a healthy hum that could last all day, and set the signal beaming forth, so the ships could get a fix on their exact location in coordination with similar stations’ signals each time they set off a charge. So our “work” for the day was to keep the generator going, and the signal live during working hours, then flip off the switch at five and savor the quiet.

I was 18, it was the Summer of Love, we listened to the Beatles sing “Hey, Jude” for the first time on the radio, and when August came, nightly accounts of rioting at the Democratic Convention in Chicago…and there we were, in the hilltop hut surrounded by miles of bush, truly away from it all. In one sense, it seemed the world was passing us by, so much news of free love and drugs and demonstrations to the south. But in another sense, we were at the center of something I was only beginning to understand. The hut itself was built of plywood, and anchored against the wind by four steel cables at the corners of the roof. When the wind came up, the cables howled and the hut shook. But the hut was in good order, well built, well maintained. It was a solid, practical structure, if vulnerable to winter storms and not designed to last forever. I remember the windows of clear plastic sheeting that popped and snapped constantly from gusts of wind. And if you didn’t latch the door properly, as Wendell explained when I first arrived, it would be gone and we would have a breezy summer. I remember an outhouse with a dug pit, and also a giant crater Wendell had shoveled open to smash and bury the years of abandoned fuel cans that had accumulated and seemed an eyesore to him. I remember being impressed

Otherwise, we had various projects. Wendell wrote long letters to his recent bride, Nicole, and I baked bread in the sheet-metal box oven set atop the Coleman stove, whittled creatures from alder wood (a bear, a whale, a cougar with a long curled tail), taught myself to make little baskets with spruce root and coiled grass (as a kid, I basically wanted to be an Indian), used the hut’s Fannie Farmer Cookbook to make marmalade (which I called “sliced spiced moose spine” for the whole disks I sugared down) with oranges ordered from headquarters especially for this project, and built a working banjo of bent willow drum, sheet plastic top, spruce neck fretted with baling wire, eye-bolt tuning pegs, and hand-coiled wire strings. It didn’t play very well—but it looked great, and the making of it took care of a good run of open days. Every few weeks the helicopter would return to drop off a stash of food, and a new set of the fuel cans to keep the generator alive. In anticipation of this, I remember a crackling voice on the radio, as Wendell called in a food order, asking how we were fixed for cooking sherry— which Wendell later explained was code meaning did we need some booze. He declined, another mark of his personal style. I remember huddling out of the wind in my little “room” under the storm-sculpted alder thicket, weaving a basket. Everything fit together in that place and time: the wind had woven its own basket of the alder stems, and I was making a basket of spruce root I had teased up out of the


CIRQUE One day, Wendell couldn’t stand the isolation, left me in charge, announced he was hiking to Ninilchik for a beer, and set out west by compass overland. I waited through the day, and as dusk descended scanned the succession of ridges between the Dome and the inlet with binoculars, but saw nothing. I was about to get on the radio and call in the lost man, when finally, long after dark, Wendell came dragging in, saying he figured he got to within a mile of Ninilchik but ran out of time. He made the final miles home, he said, by the Dome’s silhouette against the stars.

Kim Stafford at Ninilchik Dome, Summer 1968

earth, stripped of bark with my thumbnail, and split into long tough strands to thread through holes I had pierced in the turning coils of grass with a file-trimmed nail. What could be a better occupation than that, more fitting in time and place? Years later I read a line of poetry: “Somewhere a tree is weaving you a basket…” and I remembered Ninilchik. On one of my intuitive wanders down off the dome, after some serious bush-whacking, I lay down to rest, fell asleep, and was wakened by a rasping sound somewhere above me. I turned my head to peer up through the branches at what turned out to be a porcupine gnawing tree-top bark—but as I turned, something poked the back of my neck. It was a quill that this or some previous porcupine had shed just there, just for me. Again, I felt utterly in place, in keeping with the place, kin to what lived there, and learning how to live by the quirks and signals and patterns of the place. I don’t think Wendell felt the mystic connections I did. He was a company man, had worked for ONI previously (abundant Texas Tabasco sauce on every single thing I cooked), and spent his days basically listening to the radio and missing his wife, counting down the days to their reunion. (As I remember, they had married two weeks before he took this job—a fact that drove him wild every time he brought it up, he was so lonely for her.)

Some days later, when I announced I was going for a hike, Wendell got Kim Stafford out the camp pistol, and told me to put it in my pack. “Down there in the thickets,” he said, “well…you never know.” So I took the big heavy .45 and wandered down off the dome to explore. Rambled for a few hours, photographing odd trees, dry leaves, arresting patterns of grass, water-rounded stones, whatever caught my fancy. At a creek, I bent over to photograph a giant bear track in the sand, thrilled by my find, until, through the lens, I watched water seeping back into the print— and realized the bear had just stepped away. My hair stood on end, I glanced around in a cold sweat, and hustled for camp. After that, the pistol seemed a puny toy. Every evening we counted moose we could see through binoculars on distant ridges—I remember eighteen was the record: eight solo, and six with calves. We scanned the horizon for bear, watched sunset gather over the Inlet to the west, and beyond, the row of peaks with their perennial smoke from simmering volcanoes. The days started with coffee perked on the Coleman stove, then we’d start the generator, tune its hum for steady, then rest, read, or cook, or fiddle with something, or ramble. Then toward dusk, stop the generator, make dinner (we ate pretty well, but a week after a food drop, the steaks turned green), scan the ridges for moose, and call it a night. With the generator off, the silence was deep—except for the wind—and darkness was total. Toward the end of the season, Wendell flew south for Monterey and for Nicole (I remember him singing, over


V o l . 11 N o . 2 and over, “Comin’ home, baby, comin’ home to you!”), and I was left—contrary to state safety regs—for a glorious two weeks alone. I knew the routine, kept the generator obedient to the eight-to-five schedule, and kept the place in good order. That was a magic time. The great migrations were gathering in the sky for their journey south, endlessly wheeling and calling, the nights were getting cold, willows turning crimson, and I felt a deep connection to the place—my place, my home on earth… but not my place, a place older that had put up with us for a season, and our kind for some centuries, but then would pass on into eons of its own. I remember one particular night before Wendell departed, when there was no moon, and I went outside to see the stars. As I scanned the horizon, there were only a few distant lights, here and there a twinkle to the west, and the sky was a glorious inky black, salted with stars so thick they seemed to rustle against each other. As I craned my neck in witness, I could not help laughing from sheer exhilaration. It was primordial. I was seeing what First People had seen. In the presence of that sky, I felt original, indigenous. I was on the old earth, before we began to ruin it. I was privileged to see the original magic of Eden. When I came back into the hut, Wendell asked what I had been laughing about. I tried to explain, but failed. All these years later, I don’t know if I could explain. I was in the presence of something holy there, older than names or words, and laughter came out of me like a mountain spring. After fifty years, I tried to track down Wendell on the Internet. I found clues to him in Monterey. I learned he and Nicole had boys, now grown, of course. Wendell was a surfer, a diver, a swimmer. I could see he had a good life, settled, connected. But then I came to his obituary: a boat capsized in the surf, someone struggling, and Wendell swimming out to help. The others made it to shore, but Wendell did not. The screen before me blurred, that summer came rushing back in a wave, and I cried. I have many friends, good ones…but there is no one in all this world I can remember with—that summer on Ninilchik Dome when the wind howled, the hut shook, and the world was young.

Feeling Expression

Yuliya Helgesen-Thompson

Cynthia Steele

Strawberries and COVID Sifting under strawberry vines each week, I lift their long, leafy tendrils with god knows what on the end. Various shapes, colors, and stages of rottenness—or not. I’d planted new varieties in with the old, and two huge, crimson red, ripe berries appear among the tiny ones. I’d hoped for more. Returning a third week, many had ripened, but in each group, one to four spongy, gnarly-looking specimens would find their way to a flight from the square enclosure outside to the ground where the dogs would pick them off. Pausing, I lift and turn my purple kneeling pad to see two gray, small, oval, wet, slugs. I pluck them off of their slimy trails and hurl them out. Sifting through the bunches, I step on the cement, foursquare path and pluck, placing perfect berries in a plastic bowl. I push the flimsy gate, then secure the hook in its tiny hole. I hope a rinse of water will perk them up. This is my first actual strawberry garden. I am proud that this crop has brought enough fruit to make two small strawberry rhubarb cakes.

56 One, I bake for my daughter’s 22nd birthday today. One, I keep. We joke about being in COVID Times. She is quarantined at her father’s condo, where she was when her symptoms first appeared weeks ago. Her cake set outside on the porch at my ex-husband’s. The place he shares with his girlfriend. I ask my daughter, “With or without powdered sugar?” “You should put it on. I don’t think Dad has any.” I do. “It looks beautiful,” she texts, but I fret about whether it is done or not. I make an elaborate macaroni salad, just in case, and bring that, too. My daughter’s COVID symptoms fluctuate. We cannot foretell when or how they will stop. We just wait. Her taste and smell left her two days ago. Four days ago, her chest hurt. The doctor did not give her an inhaler, and I read online it’s important to use one right away. I brought her a spare. The strawberries, like her, we have to keep looking at, checking in each day to see if they are fine or not. Treating their symptoms. Too wet causes sponginess. And then there’s the relentless chickweed—only a few inches high but vigorous with an extensive root system. It’s almost like it throws blankets over plants and centers on the desired plant’s roots. Not unlike COVID and its ability to take over the lungs. Even its virus looks a bit like a berry close up. Unlike Chickweed, there’s nothing to try to kill COVID quite yet that we know of. My fourth-year garden with my now-husband is more fruitful than last year’s. The marriage still seems new to me. As strawberries grow, I practice using the word “we” again. And not just my daughter and I. I know that in past years, my then-single husband had gone out only a few times during the summer to get a small bowl of strawberries. Even so, he would forget about them in the refrigerator. They’d gotten used to his ways. I found a half dried-up bowl of them when I moved in. But, I feel the drive to make them flourish. I must do something. Keep busy. The cake is made only of freshly-picked strawberries and rhubarb, representing the hope of the season—for my daughter to get well. Things to return to goodness. I wonder, not quite randomly, about an errant tomato that landed itself in the middle of my strawberry bed, off from its four nearby plants. Did a bird pick it up and carry it? Did the vine snap? What shall I do with it? It’s way too small for fried green tomatoes. My mind travels back to easier moments. That

CIRQUE movie has always been my daughter and my favorite to watch together: “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle-stop Café” I’d run out and bought Fannie Flagg’s book of that title when the movie came out. We even ate them, fried in cornmeal, on occasion. This is the movie where Idgie Threadgood, Ruth, and Sipsey were strong enough to seem weak in order to save themselves and others. Then, there was the character transformation, “Towanda! Righter of Wrongs, Queen Beyond Compare!” And barbecue. We’d say, “Secret’s in the sauce,” like Sipsey did, with a wink. I text my daughter that I’ll bring her cake this evening for after dinner. She’s been sleeping today. No response. Still sleeping, I suppose. The tomatoes are all pale green. The strawberries are green, half and half, or reddening. And those very red all seem too ripe, but they’re still so sweet. I have to decide the margin between keeping and throwing away. I never liked deciding those things. I always let others decide for me. But this year feels different. Not with the gumption of a Towanda, but somewhere in between. This year, I know that I often forget God, this nebulous being who runs our lives. I forget to pray to said God. But, this day, I bow my head in prayer or hope (or both) to some magical being who can take us out of this, heal my daughter, grow strawberries, perfect life, and defy death. I text her every couple of hours to see if she’s okay. I know she will be because she’s young and strong, and those aren’t the ones who die, right? I refuse to track statistics online; I’d go mad. It’s late, July 27th, and I’m messaging her on the computer in the dark of night, telling her, as I try never to do, that I’m worried. Her last message was eight hours ago. I take my bedtime meds, listen to my snoring husband and dogs, and try to wait until morning. I download the PDF of Fried Green Tomatoes. Reading about Buddy dying and Idgie mourning him, "You know a heart can be broken, but it keeps on beating, just the same." Well, it didn’t help much. She texts me at 1:40 a.m. I’m still up. “Getting retested tomorrow.” I ask her symptoms: tired, stuffy nose. I said, “I hope your stuffy nose is all in your head.” She laughs. And now I can sleep.


V o l . 11 N o . 2 Elizabeth Thompson

Airport Before going to the airport I take the second antianxiety pill of my life. I’m not afraid of flying, I’m afraid of contracting COVID-19 on my way to face the battle against breast cancer. But, I’ve got this pill and its magic is traveling through my veins, fortifying the encouraging words on Alaska Airline’s website, “…we care about your comfort and safety.” I’ve got my N95 mask and Brené Brown’s podcast downloaded on my phone so her words of wisdom may carry me through this journey. There are just six of us boarding in Petersburg, where I know all the ground crew by name. On board I settle into my window seat. Across the aisle another middle-aged woman sits by her window in a homemade mask that matches her blue and green wardrobe. The rows behind and in front of us are empty. She pulls out her knitting. I relax a little more. A handful of masked humans sail south through blue skies, over emerald islands, to disembark into an almost empty airport. Social distancing takes no effort at all. My footsteps echo down the long and empty concourse. At the brightly lit rental car facility, all the counters are closed. A sign redirects me to the kiosk in the garage, a metal and glass box with one tiny open window. I stand six feet away from it, on a big green sticker, yelling my name through my mask to the blond young man who processes my reservation. We exchange pleasantries, he seems a gentle soul. He holds one shaking fist firmly against his chest, a still bloody scrape along his white knuckles. Occasionally his face tightens. “Are you in pain?” I ask. His blue eyes look down, then back up and I see him decide to trust me, “I’m okay, I just suffered some injuries in the Gulf War. I’m always like this.” As I’m signing the rental agreement, a middleaged East-Indian man in a Thrifty Rent-a-Car jacket approaches the kiosk. He smiles behind his mask, his eyes crinkled at their edges, “Good evening Madam,” he says in his beautiful British Indian accent, “what brings you to Seattle in these trying times?” “Breast cancer, actually.” His eyes widen, “Where are you going to go?” “Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.” “But that is my hospital! You are in good hands

Zigzag Road

Emilie Burnham

there!” He reaches for my luggage, “Let me, Madam. We will walk you to your car. Come Dylan,” he gestures as if scooping something towards us, “we will take this lady.” We walk slowly, six feet apart, three people alone on the vast floor of this parking garage. Dylan battling to control his flailing body, the older gentleman reassuring me that his brain tumor is shrinking, that he feels well and optimistic, that I could not be in better hands. When we get to the car, they watch me wipe it down with baby wipes I’ve soaked in 90% isopropyl alcohol, the best that I can do now that the store shelves are bare of anything that may keep one safe from the corona virus. As I get into the car to drive away, the two men and I remove our masks and we smile. “God bless you Madam,” says the man with the brain tumor. “I hope you’re okay. Stay safe,” says the boy who lost his body’s steady strength on the far side of our world. I drive through the empty garage with my window down, the cool air of Seattle sweet against my naked face and think, “how easy it is to love people.”


A Touch of Magic Toni La Ree Bennett


V o l . 11 N o . 2


FICTION S. W. Campbell

The Devil The knock on the door came about 3:30 or so. I was sitting by the window, trying to keep cool, watching the cars drive by and doing a crossword puzzle. You know, usual lazy Saturday afternoon shit. It wasn’t a hard knock. No, it was one of those light taps. The kind that makes you think the person on the other side might be a little shy or something. I don’t think anything about it, so I put down my newspaper and glass of sun tea and walk over to the door. Now of course we don’t have any peepholes, fucking peepholes are a luxury, so I just pull the door open to look and see who it is. I don’t do any of that half open crap. I just pull it full open. You know me, what the hell do I have to worry about? Anyways, I pull the door open and there he is, the devil, just standing in the hall. I know what you’re thinking. How the hell did I know he was the devil? Ain’t the devil supposed to be sneaky or something? I don’t know much about that, but he was definitely the devil. Red skin, black goatee, cloven hooves, horns on his head. It was pretty hard to mistake him for anybody else. We just kind of sat there staring at each other for awhile, him just kind of fidgeting in the hall, me just waiting for him to say something. I could tell he wanted something, and I really wanted him to make the first move, but I’m not the most patient man, especially when I have a glass of sun tea and a crossword puzzle waiting for me. Tiring of such crap, I finally said, “What you want devil?” The devil took in a big breath and let it out. “It sure is hot out today,” he said. Ain’t that something, the damn devil complaining about the heat. I shot right back, “Can’t be any hotter than hell I bet.” “We usually keep it at 65 degrees Celsius or so,” said the devil. “Celsius,” I replied, “what the hell is that in Fahrenheit?” “I don’t know,” he said with another sigh. “I think it's more the humidity. It's more of a dry heat in hell.” After that we just stood there looking at each other again. The fucker wouldn’t get around to whatever the hell he wanted, and I sure as hell didn’t want to stand

by the damn door all day. The ice shifted in my sun tea and we both turned to look at the glass by the open window. “Is that sun tea,” asked the devil? “Yeah,” I answered. “Do you think I could have a glass,” he asked? Now there was no way in hell that I was going to let the devil in my house. My mother didn’t raise a damn fool. “This ain’t no trick, is it,” I said? “Naw,” replied the devil, “I was just damning a guy down the hall. Apartment 4E. I just didn’t expect it to be so hot in this building.” Now this sounded plausible, after all, you know Mr. Monroe, dried up old piece of shit. Plus it was pretty fucking hot out in the hallway. So I said, “Yeah, it is pretty fucking hot.” “You should get some air conditioning in this place,” said the devil. “Yeah,” I replied, “that would be nice, but the landlord is a tight ass.” “Yeah,” said the devil, “I believe that.” Then he gave kind of a knowing chuckle like he knew the landlord or something. I don’t know, my mother didn’t raise no damn fool, but she didn’t raise a rude bastard either. I mean shit, the guy might be the devil, but that was no reason to be impolite. “If you wait here,” I said, “I’ll go get you a glass of sun tea.” “Thank you,” answered the devil, “much obliged.” Well, I’m a fucking idiot. I went to the kitchen and poured the devil a big glass of sun tea, even wrapped it in a wet paper towel to keep it cool. Of course when I came back he was already in the apartment, peering at my pictures on the wall, his frickin hooves scuffing up the hardwoods. I should have known better, but I hadn’t shut the door behind me, so now I had the devil in my home. “I thought I told you to wait in the hall,” I said. “Sorry,” said the devil, “it was just so hot out there. Just let me have my drink and I’ll be going.” “Okay,” I said, “just don’t touch nothing.” There wasn’t really much I could do. The devil was a big fella. You could tell that he worked out. He carried his

60 arms the way weightlifters do, slightly out and bent at the elbows like he couldn’t get them all the way down to his sides. It didn’t really seem necessary to carry his arms like that, he wasn’t the most cut guy I’d ever seen, but I was still pretty sure I couldn’t shift him. The bastard noticed me looking at him and gave his arms a little flex. “I can bench 285,” he said. “Ain’t that something,” I said. I handed the devil his tea and he got himself settled on the couch. Swear to god it must have taken him five minutes. He kept adjusting the cushions and slightly changing his position. Those poor old couch springs were squeaking like a bag of mice. Not knowing what else to do, I took back my position in the chair next to the window. The devil finally got himself settled, took a long sip of tea, and let out a sigh that sounded like it ought to have been coming from a lion. “That’s some good tea,” he said. “Thank you,” I replied, “my mother taught me how to make some damn good sun tea.” “Would you mind watching your language,” he said. “Sorry,” I answered. We kind of sat there quiet for awhile, him sipping his tea and playing with the edge of the paper towel, me staring out the window and doing my best to ignore him. Every now and again he’d say something, some crap about the weather or other such nonsense, you know, trying to start a conversation, but I’d only give him grunts in response. The devil was taking his sweet ass time with that sun tea. Just little sips every now and again, sometimes crunching on a chunk of ice. We probably sat there for an hour like that. Finally the last drops went in him and I started to perk up a bit. The devil didn’t get up though, he just sat there on the couch, smacking his lips appreciatively. “May I have another,” he asked? “You said you just wanted one,” I replied. “I’m still pretty thirsty,” he said. Well now my blood was boiling, but what the hell was I supposed to do about it? The devil just sat there, blinking at me like an innocent lamb, his big red hands wrapped around the glass. “Just one more glass,” he said, “then I’ll be going. Still a bit of damning to do today.” I said a few choice words under my breath, quiet enough where the devil wouldn’t be able to make them out, but loud enough so he would know that I was doing it. I got up, took his glass, and went back into the kitchen. I

CIRQUE poured him another glass of sun tea from the pitcher, and wrapped it with a fresh wet paper towel to keep it cool. When I went back into the main room the devil was still sitting on the couch, but he was looking at all my stuff. I didn’t like how he was doing it. He was doing it in that way where you know someone thinks you decorate with tacky garbage, but they’re not going to say anything because it would be impolite. I walked over and handed the devil back his glass. “This is a nice place,” he said, “what’s it cost you in rent?” “That’s none of your business,” I replied. “Ever think about having a roommate,” he asked? That was it for me. I could see where this was going from a mile away. “Don’t need one,” I said. “I prefer living alone.” “Really,” said the devil, “I think I’d get lonely.” “Excuse me,” I said, slipping back to the bedroom. I closed the door behind me, grabbed my phone from where it was charging on the bedside table, and went into the closet to make a call. You know how small my apartment is, and I sure the hell didn’t want the devil to hear me. Things were getting out of hand and I needed help. Luckily I knew a guy. The phone rang six times before he picked up. “Hello,” said Jesus. His voice sounded kind of loopy, like I just woke him up from a nap or something. I could hear a woman’s voice in the background. “Hello Jesus,” I said, “It’s Joe. I kind of got a bit of a problem.” “Jesus,” said Jesus. “It’s my day off.” “Sorry,” I said, “but the devil’s in my apartment and he won’t get out.” “How’d he get in your apartment,” asked Jesus? “He wanted some sun tea,” I replied, “when I went to get it for him he just walked in.” “Ha,” said Jesus, “classic devil.” “So you going to come over,” I asked? “Christ Joe,” he replied, “it’s my one day off, and I probably shouldn’t be driving.” “I go to church every Sunday Jesus,” I said, “Doesn’t that count for anything anymore?” “Fine,” he said. “I’ll be over in about fifteen minutes.” Jesus hung up on his end. I got out of the closet, plugged my phone back in, and went back into the main room. The devil was still sipping on his sun tea, though now he had his hooves up on my coffee table and was reading a People magazine through a pair of delicate


V o l . 11 N o . 2 reading glasses perched on his nose. I don’t know where the hell he got it. I don’t read People. “Who were you talking to,” asked the devil? “My mother,” I replied. The devil grinned in a way that made me want to punch him in the face. “How is she doing,” he asked? “Fine,” I said. It took Jesus forty-five minutes to get to my apartment. Forty-five minutes of watching the devil sip sun tea and make snarky remarks about celebrities. The knock on the door was forceful, several quick hard raps. The devil glanced over his reading glasses. “Who could that be,” he asked? “I’ll go see,” I replied. Jesus was a little worse for wear. When I answered the door, he was wearing a stained AC-DC t-shirt and a pair of baggy bermuda shorts that made his thin white legs look like toothpicks. His shaggy hair was pulled back in a ponytail and his beard was pretty ratty. He smelled a little bit. Grumpy is the term I’d use to describe his face. After a perfunctory greeting, Jesus pushed past me into the main room. His eyes tracked across my stuff. “Christ what a bunch of crap,” he said. The devil was eying Jesus from the couch. “What are you doing here,” he asked? Jesus clapped his hands together and gestured towards the door. “Time to leave man. Let's go.” The devil casually took off his reading glasses and returned them to a case in his pocket. “I thought today was your day off,” he said. Jesus chewed on the insides of his cheeks and narrowed his eyes. He was shivering with impatience. “Lucifer Beelzebub Satan,” he said, “it's time to get your ass out of here.” “No,” answered the devil, “I kind of like it here. It’s very homey, plus I haven’t finished my magazine yet.” Jesus was really pissed. You should have seen him. Just shaking. “C’mon man,” he said, “I got a girl down from Seattle. She’s got to catch the train tomorrow. I don’t have time for this shit.” “Not my problem,” replied the devil. “Damn it,” said Jesus. “Watch your language,” said the devil. “Fuck it,” said Jesus, and with that he charged forward and tried to manhandle the devil off the couch. It went exactly as well as you can imagine. Jesus probably didn’t weigh 130 pounds soaking wet. The devil let Jesus pull and twist at him for about a minute, and then, growing tired of it, casually threw Jesus to the floor with

If Heaven Is In the Attic, What Is In the Basement?

Jill Johnson

the indifference of a man throwing away a used tissue. I scrambled forward to help Jesus up, because you know, he’s Jesus. “Are you alright,” I asked? “Do you have a phone,” he questioned? “Yeah,” I said, “in the bedroom.” “Be right back,” he said, and with that, Jesus went into my bedroom and shut the door behind him. The devil got back out his reading glasses and went back to his People magazine. I sat back down by the window and clenched my fists. The devil peered at me over the top of his glasses. “You know,” he said, “letting yourself get so stressed out is going to take years off your life.” I didn’t answer. Jesus came out of the bedroom. “Who did you call,” asked the devil, “your dad?”

62 “No,” said Jesus, sitting down on the other side of the couch. “Whatever,” said the devil. “Can I have some sun tea,” asked Jesus? “Me too,” said the devil, rattling the ice in his empty glass. What else could I do? I mean after all, the guy did come all the way over to try and help me, even if it wasn’t working out so well. So I went in the kitchen and fixed them both up a glass of sun tea, pouring out the last of the pitcher. When I came back into the main room, the devil was making comments about celebrities again, while Jesus mostly chewed on his fingernails and kept glancing at the apartment door. Things stayed that way for probably around half an hour before someone knocked. I started to rise, but Jesus beat me to the jump, springing up and rushing to the door like an anxious girl waiting for her prom date. The devil and I sat waiting, listening to muffled voices before Jesus came back into the main room, followed by a tall man in a blue uniform. “Really,” said the devil, “you called the police.” Jesus pointed at the devil with an imperious finger. “That’s him officer. That’s the trespasser.” The policeman pushed his way past Jesus, his face stern until the moment he got a good look at the culprit. The devil smiled so sweet and the officer grinned in return. “Lucifer, you old so and so,” said the officer, “how are you?” “Doing well Frank,” replied the devil, “how’s the kids?” “Fine, just fine,” said the officer, “growing like weeds. You going to make Roy’s barbeque next week?” “I was planning to,” said the devil. This was all a bit too much for Jesus I’m afraid. He stood there, mouth agape, sucking air, and finally managed to squeeze out a single bark of an expletive. “Fuck,” said Jesus. “Is there any problem here Luci,” asked the police officer? “No,” said the devil, “just a bit of a misunderstanding.” “Alright then,” said the police officer. Jesus kept looking from the devil, to the police officer, to me. Tears of frustration were flowing down his cheeks. I just felt numb, though I did feel pretty sorry for Jesus. It had to be pretty embarrassing having a breakdown like that in front of everybody. With his face bright red, he fled out into the hall. The devil blew air out

CIRQUE through his lips with exasperation and then gestured towards me. “Do we have any more sun tea?” “No,” I replied. “We’re all out.” “That’s a shame,” said the devil, turning to the police officer. “I’m sorry Frank, afraid we can’t be as hospitable as I hoped.” “That’s okay,” said the police officer. “Is that fella going to be alright?” “Don’t worry about him,” replied the devil. “Sometimes he just gets that way.” So that was that. That’s the whole story. I can tell you think it’s a bunch of bullshit, but it’s the honest truth. Do you understand now? That’s why I stole your hundred dollars and slept with your fine ass cousin, because the devil’s in my apartment. I have the devil living with me and there isn’t a damn thing I can do about it.

Jonathan Worlde

The Cassandra Project January, 1969 The first ZeitNaut appeared on the northern White House lawn in the cold sunny morning, landing just fifty yards from the main entrance. Two startled guards pulled their .38 revolvers, the older of the two shouting, “Halt right there.” The astonished rookie fired point blank into the man’s body. The intruder gasped and fell to the ground, then disappeared just as miraculously as he had come. The two guards were the only ones to have seen the apparition. Questioned separately, they corroborated each other’s stories, that a white male, dressed in bizarre blue bodysuit, with some kind of tight-fitting helmet, had suddenly appeared out of nowhere in the midst of strange, distorted lighting, and had just as quickly dissolved into nothingness after being shot. No bullet slugs were recovered from the scene. In the absence of any photos or physical evidence, the internal investigation concluded that the two guards had somehow been delusional. True, the rookie’s gun had been recently fired, but there was no way to pinpoint exactly when. January 1979 At approximately the same time one decade later, on a crisp sunny day with snow on the ground, the second ZeitNaut touched down on the steps of the Supreme Court building across the street from the Capitol. The visitor, a dark woman dressed in a blue Nautical suit,


V o l . 11 N o . 2 with a futuristic helmet containing numerous lenses and gadgets, demanded of the guard at the door that she be allowed entry. It seemed she thought she was at the White House. The guard and several bystanders all testified that she spoke in heavily-accented English, declaring loudly, “I must see the President of the United States, it’s a matter of great urgency!” She was holding a small rectangular device in her right hand. The guard, alarmed at the stranger’s demeanor and aggressive manner, pulled his gun, and when he thought the highly agitated woman was deploying a weapon he fired first, the safety of the Supreme Court judges foremost in his mind. Again, barely had the woman’s body hit the ground when it seemed to dissolve as if she had been thrown into a particle accelerator. This time a nearby photographer managed to grab an unsteady shot. Numerous eyewitnesses confirmed the apparition’s appearance, agreeing there had been some kind of disturbance of light such as a magnetic force field. The subsequent investigation remained inconclusive, for who could explain such a phenomenon, especially without the evidence of the alleged intruder’s body? Given the photo and the various witness statements, the episode was eventually classified as an oddity like a UFO and shelved for future investigation.

before the press was to be admitted for the First Lady’s televised announcement of her annual fashion lineup. An intern was astounded to see the wooden podium seem to distort and wave like curtains, before an Asian female in stylish body suit materialized in front of her. She alerted White House guards, and the traveler was ushered away to a waiting Secret Service van, which departed the White House grounds. “Where are you taking me?” “We’ll be asking the questions, lady. And what kind of accent is that, Chinese?” “Are you kidding? Bronx.” “Yeah, sure, I’m from Brooklyn, and you ain’t from the Bronx.” “Language evolves over two hundred years. Listen, I’m here to see the President, so if you could just turn this vehicle around and take me to him now, I have an urgent message to convey.” “The only conveying you’ll be doing is at Secret Service headquarters, where you’ll have plenty of time to tell us all you want.” “I’m sorry, this is classified. I’ve been sent from the future with a dire warning.”

January 1989 At approximately the same time and day, one decade later, the third ZeitNaut materialized in the middle of the street on the south side of the White House, on Constitution Avenue, where he was promptly struck and killed by a panel truck. The driver, unable to brake in time, claimed to have seen a Caucasian male dressed in a blue workout suit with an odd helmet, who seemingly dissolved on impact. The truck’s bumper was bent, the only physical manifestation of the visitor’s untimely demise. January 1999 The fourth ZeitNaut never arrived at destination and tragically could not be recalled. January 2009 The fifth ZeiNaut landed in the Potomac River one mile from the White House and was swept away by the freezing current. January 2019 The sixth ZeitNaut finally hit the mark, landing in the White House briefing room just a few moments You Are Here

Tami Phelps

64 “Okay, we’ve got a few minutes before we arrive, and I’ve got a Secret clearance. I”ll take the bait, what kind of warning?” “The world is facing a devastating plague, and if measures aren’t taken now to combat it the future of the human race is at stake.” “And you know this because…you’re from the future, right?” “That’s right.” The agent chuckles. “Okay, so if you’re from the future, let’s see… who won the World Series in, say, what would it be two hundred years from now, 2218, is that right?” “No more World Series. It’s called the Solar Series now, but it’s all done virtually, with holographic players, between the Earth and Mars teams. Earth won.” Big laugh. “That’s a good one. Hey, you’re pretty quick. Okay, why is this plague you’re talking about so serious this time around, we’ve always had flu season and swine flu and that kind of thing.” She recites rapidly and succinctly as if aware this might be her only chance to get her message out. “This is the big one that you’ve always known was coming, super contagious, with a high mortality rate and greater population density. It is an inherent shortcoming of capitalism to only focus on short-term profits, whereas this challenge requires long-term planning and commitment of resources without any foreseeable profit, other than the saving of human lives….” “Now it comes out…so you are a Commie plant, just as I thought.” “… and most importantly, the world has a complacent, oblivious political leadership that can only think in terms of victory against their opponents rather than the greater good of mankind.” “So were you sent by the North Koreans or Chinese, or who?” “American Hemispheric Republic. We’ve finally conquered time travel, but we can only go backwards in time, and we get one shot, that’s it!” He laughs. “Then why did you come in January when the President is down in Florida playing golf at Asimov Futureworld resort?” “We have to launch when the earth is in closest proximity to the sun. We discovered that a stronger solar wind facilitates our decorporalization for teletemportation. TTT. Isn’t the President making a televised speech today?” “That’s the First Lady. You should have beamed

CIRQUE to Florida.” “Unless I can speak with your leaders, I’m wasting my time here.” The ZeitNaut lunges for the door handle. Even though her wrists are zip-tied together, she manages to push the door open. “Hey, grab her!” Before anyone can react she flings herself out the door, slamming onto the pavement at 30 miles an hour, to be run over by several cars. When the guards run to recover her body under the last stalled vehicle, all that remains is the lingering appearance of quickly evaporating star dust. June 2220 The ZeitNaut executive team gathers for a desperate strategy session in what appears to be an abandoned warehouse in the Mission District of San Francisco. The sign on the interior door leading to their gleaming laboratory reads, in English, Russian and Chinese: Cassandra Project. The small mess hall area where they meet sits outside the transpod lab where a chromeplated spherical launch capsule is being prepped by technicians. An air of exhaustion pervades the five members of the team. Through the diamond-glass window they can see the next ZeitNaut, a big-boned blonde woman, being suited up and checked by technicians next door. The mission’s African American director, Monk Coltrane: “It looks like we may have overestimated the human race’s instinct for survival.” Suzie Q, the Chinese social anthropologist: “Or underestimated their capacity for self-delusion.” Coltrane: “Big Mama’s not happy. Says she’s ready to pull the plug on us, let the species run its course if that’s what they insist. What options do we have left?” Isabel Lobo, the Mexican technical advisor: “We’ve already sent dozens of Nauts to all the major powers. In each case our technicians have either miscalculated, resulting in fatal accidents…” Alexander Eisenstein, transpod engineer: “The technology is too new and clumsy – hard to pinpoint the exact landing site, coupled with uncertainty on the ground…we still can’t stream real time.” Lobo: “…or just as bad, our people have been detained and executed in half a dozen cases.” Coltrane: “Kill the messenger.” J Lo Oh, team historian: “It’s hard working from such a fragmented record. When North Korea nuked Washington in 2025, the Dataclysm wiped all original


V o l . 11 N o . 2 maps, plans and models of the city. This was before Googlemaps had a chance to produce a holographic model. So we’re working from 2nd and 3rd generation data — still trying to access ancient Soviet archives.” Eisenstein: “Coupled with the infancy of this technology, our launches are too much hit or miss.” Coltrane: “It would be a shame if the first approved chronolo-disruption project in human history is also our last.” Suzi Q: “Our Nauts have all volunteered for these suicide missions, knowing we’ll never be able to retrieve them, and we’ve failed them.” Lobo: “We sent them all out last week to arrive at intervals of a decade apart around the globe, but results are depressingly uniform.” Coltrane: “Failure.” Lobo: “I don’t blame Big Mama for wanting to shut us down. Maybe as a species we don’t deserve to survive.” Coltrane: “Or maybe we should have tried something simpler, like assassinating Hitler.” Eisenstein: “We’re not confident we can reach back past two hundred years yet.” Coltrane: “So where do we stand now?” J Lo Oh: “It’s late in the game. By winter 2019 the virus has already taken root in Central China. After sending a dozen Nauts to Wuhan and Beijing, zip results. And we just lost the Naut we sent to Washington to arrive in January.” Suzie Q: “We can’t muster an international effort to contain it if no one is even aware of the danger.” Lights flicker from the power surge launching the ZeitNaut next door. Coltrane, nodding in the direction of the transpod: “There goes our last trained Naut beaming at this moment to the White House, arrival on July 4, 2019, in a final attempt at a breakthrough. We’ll know either way momentarily.” Lobo: “But in July Earth is too far from the sun, our Naut may not be able to reconfigure!” Coltrane: “We had to run the risk, when we’re sure the President will be there for the annual July 4th broadcast.” J Lo Oh: “Our records indicate the July 4th event was a tradition up until 2025.” Suzi Q: “If this doesn’t work, it’ll mean the total collapse of civilization as we know it, and we’ll all cease to exi….”

Corbin Muck

The Waves Become Foam Memory was getting to be an issue for Aunt Patricia. She didn’t argue with that fact overall; it was upon a field of particulars she did battle. Dates: how much she first paid for her truck, who was with who for Christmas last year, on things like that she wouldn’t give an inch. Her mouth would set in hard lines which strove to conjure the certainty that her words could not. When this happened, she would argue with a lively, persecuted vitality, but she would seem old. Like a sea pine, bent hard and craggy against a wind that blew only in one grinding direction. But it wasn’t the wind she resented, after all, she had always known the wind to be vicious. It had never tried to pretend otherwise. What was much worse was how kind, and agreeable, and earnest people could be when correcting her memory. All smiles while they took their shovels to her roots, to the only thing keeping her upright To try and get ahead of all that, she’d taken to the habit of running over the events of each day with someone else, as if it were a contract to be negotiated. This was usually done with her niece Katarina over the phone, but for the last week the young woman had been staying with her. During the day, the two of them would drift between the ocean and the house and the beach or, on a rare whim, into town. Then, sometime in the evening, they’d sit outside and rehash the events of the day. It was immediately obvious that they couldn’t be inside for a conversation like that. It made things feel too much like an interrogation. Outside, the roiling chaos of February was soothing or, at the very least, distracting. So it became their routine. They enjoyed it. Each night, around the same time, they’d strap on their heavyweather gear and head to the back porch. “Tell me about our day today, honey,” Aunt Patricia asked on the sixth night of Katarina’s visit. “We had some tea and bagels in the morning. Played a bit of rummy. Around 11 AM, went down to the water. You looked for sand dollars. I think you found a few complete ones. I dug a hole during the low-tide and watched it get smoothed out. Around two, I think, we came back for some lunch,” Katarina recalled. “What was the air like?” “It was foggy, even with the wind.” Rain lashed against the two women. They sat in low, rusted camp chairs, facing directly into the weather.


Foggy Stacks

Wind, gusty and uneven, packed the air. It roared. Clean smelling water burst around them. The denseness of the nighttime squall blocked out the sounds and smells of the nearby ocean. But they knew it was out there. Its churning hummed below the storm like the bellow’s breath of a vast forge. “And the evening?” Aunt Patricia asked, her words skimming over the edge a thermos held to her mouth. “Under Tate Point Bridge, gathering dry wood for the stove.” “Did we get much?” “Some, it’s been very wet all winter. You picked up some good driftwood though.” “I sure did. But that’s just for the bookcase. I never put any driftwood in the stove. It stinks and doesn’t burn well. It may look dry, feel dry, but it’s still got the ocean deep in it.” Aunt Patricia said slowly, tapping Katarina’s arm with the thermos through the darkness. “That’s what you say,” Katarina smiled as she took the offering. She popped open the lid and drank. Wine. Dark; itself adding depth to the blackness of her stomach.


Matt Witt

“It stinks,” Aunt Patricia continued, “And it’s smell clings to everything in the house. Ghost wood, eh? All bleached and haunting like it is. Ghost wood, honey.” The wind rose again. The clips and buttons of their chairs struggled in the tumult; each the tiny clang of a bell. The wind slackened. The bells quieted. Beyond, the ocean rumbled. Katarina turned and looked back towards the house. There was some other, sharper sound. “Your phone is ringing.” Aunt Patricia sighed and stood. She stepped over the squishy planks of the porch and went inside. The storm waited for her, holding mostly idle in her absence. Listening, maybe, like Katarina was trying to do. Suddenly, a sneaker-wave of light washed over Katarina from behind. She turned, squinting into the onslaught. Aunt Patricia was standing in the kitchen, talking with sharp and silent gestures into the phone. She was wearing a full body rain poncho. Even after being in the house for ten minutes, rain continued to stream off her. The carpet was soaked where she stood.

V o l . 11 N o . 2 Katarina lifted the thermos to her mouth, drank a long gulp, and headed to the house. Once inside, she beat the water free from her rubberized overalls and jacket. She gripped her long black hair and felt a slurp of chill run down her back. Aunt Patricia was looking at her, shaking her head and gripping the phone as if it were a leech that had attached itself to her ear. “And he’s supposed to do that here?” she said icily. Katarina dragged over a chair and pulled off a rain boot. Sand, dark, caked and battered looking, grated against her cold skin. “He isn’t Butch Cassidy and this ain’t the hole in the wall, Margaret. What do you think we got for him? He’s out there making messes for himself.” Katarina jerked the second boot free and set it carefully aside. The wine swam lazily in her. “No. No, I didn’t say that now did I? I understand, Margaret, but I am here to tell ya that that’s no way to turn things around. What do you mean why? Because it’ll feel like a reward; or some kind of vacation. And don’t try to guilt me with that ‘he says it’s what he wants’ blabbing. Dudn’t much matter what he wants, does it? Or it shouldn’t anyway!” Anger welded Aunt Patricia in place. “Whatever, Margaret, do what you was always gonna do. I’ll see him tomorrow. Fine, you too then,” and the call ended. Aunt Patricia turned and trotted away towards the front of the house. She reemerged in a thick set of pajamas, dark stains of water reflecting the hurry with which she changed. She shuffled back with the gray and charcoal curls of her hair hanging like seaweed. “John’s coming to stay with me for a while,” she said lowly and with a flick of her eyebrows. “John?” “Yes. John.” Aunt Patricia began husking dry bits of stove wood with a hatchet. Katarina, treading water in the pause, opened the woodstove door and prodded the burnt-through pieces for ember. From behind, her aunt spoke again. “He’s killed someone.” Katarina turned. “On accident,” Aunt Patricia added acidly, “But he must’a been high or drunk or something because he plowed that car of his over the railing on a long straightaway. It went down into one of them ditches south of Tillamook. Friend was with him.” “Is John OK?

67 “He’s fine, I gather,” the older woman said hammering the hatchet, little by little, through the cracking wood. “I mean, fine as he ever is these days.” “That’s awful.” Both women nodded. Both, each suspected, for different reasons. They got the stove going. The windows rattled against the wind. Katarina shut off the lamp and they watched the small flames grow. “He was high. He’s a murderer,” Aunt Patricia whispered. “Is that what Margaret said?” “Oh, god no. Margaret was tellin’ me how he’s being run out of town. Stitched up by the law. Woe is him, woe is her baby. She treats that boy with the care of caramel, and he still finds ways to burn himself.” “She’s probably worried about him.” “I would be too. They’re investigating him. Margaret thinks there’ll be a trial eventually.” “Was he intoxicated?” her words were stiff. “High? Drunk? He says he wasn’t. But what the hell else would he say?” “He might not have been.” “Guess the cops’ll sort all that out. Some of the tests they did came up positive but they don’t know if it’s from that night or not.” “He’s not in jail though?” “No. Hasn’t been charged with the worst of it all. Not yet, but it’s brewing. So Margaret’s tryin’ to get him outta town for a bit. Can you believe, honey, that he said he wanted to come here of all places. Ridiculous. Boy’s not been here in five years and now I’m supposed to roll out some kin’a carpet for him with this blood on his hands. It’s all the sudden just supposed to be like it was when you all were little? Back to it? No way, honey. Not for me. He’s gotta face what he’s done, not hide out in the dunes.” The flames spun a web of shadow over both their faces. The cold of the night’s storm seemed to touch from another world. Aunt Patricia reached for the hatchet anew, and Katarina went to change clothes. The next day, Aunt Margaret dropped John off with none of the grim ceremony Aunt Patricia had been preparing for all morning. The car crept up the gravel drive and was emptied with Aunt Margaret’s hearty hello, flare-gun smile, and fluttered breathing. John was slower to emerge. A large duffel bag bumped against his skinny frame as he stepped clear of the car. Aunt Margaret ran up to Katarina and threw

68 her arms around the younger woman. She was a life-vest against the undertow of Aunt Patricia’s silence. They chatted hastily on the front lawn: Katarina was good, yes. In town for the rest of the week. Oh, everything at school was going great, she just had the free time to come down, Aunt Patricia and her had thought about doing some clamming. Family’s good. All good. Good. Good. As soon as this shallow conversational reservoir had been exhausted, Aunt Margaret shuffled back to the car. She waved goodbye three times and was gone. In and out like a storm blown through. Aunt Patricia, Katarina, and John, filed inside. “Put your stuff on the couch there, John. You can have the pull-out, Katarina’s already got the spare room.” John nodded. He smiled a little for the first time as he looked around the house. “Same as ever,” he said. “Nope. Lots moved around,” Aunt Patricia tottered to the kitchen and began throwing open cabinets, “You just think that cause you ain’t been here for a long stretch.” “She got those new lamps this week,” Katarina said pointing at the shades that had Louis L'Amour style cowboys embroidered on them, “Loves them.” John nodded, “I think Uncle Mahlon would have liked that.” Aunt Patricia said nothing but slammed a cupboard in response, “I’m making tea. Katarina?” “Sure, Aunt.” She nodded and took the packets down from the shelf. John huffed his bag onto the couch. The house was small and listing from the accumulated clutter. For thirty-seven years it had been inhabited by two people, and then, for three years after that, just one: Aunt. Today, as all days, she wore a mottled brown cardigan overlain by a purple windbreaker. Her pants were paint-stained. Shin-high rubber boots ground down the sand that was perpetually sprinkled all over the kitchen. Katarina wore the same style of boots, and took pleasure in each step’s peppery feel on the linoleum. It coursed up through her toes. She wore a baseball cap low over her eyes, hair braided out the back, with fingerless gloves that she warmed every night by the stove. Her brow was freckled, though only faintly in the darker months. John’s eyes were clear, a plunging kind of blue, but his pants were too big and his cheeks had an unfamiliar edge. Sweat stained the crown of his camo beanie. He touched his face a lot.

CIRQUE They stood together under the extra tumult of Aunt Patricia’s tea preparations. Without comment, she had also begun boiling a pot of water and shaking various pasta boxes. “Thinking stroganoff.” “I always loved your stroganoff,” John said. She said nothing back. “Hey, Aunt, is it OK if I smoke on your porch?” “No. Smoke out in the dunes away from my chairs if you’re gonna do any of that. But bring back the butt. I don’t want to see any of your trash on our beach.” The emphasis of the word ‘our’ was sharp. John smiled limply and slid out the backdoor. “Jeez, Aunt,” Katarina said watching her cousin step off the porch and head towards the dunes. “You think I’m being ornery?” “I mean, you aren’t treating John like you used to.” “Sure ain’t. Why should I? John ain’t treatin’ himself like he used to. You see his eyes, all clouded?” “His eyes seemed the same to me, Aunt.” The older woman shook another pasta box. “Boy ain’t firing on all cylinders. Even now. When he was a kid, when you both were just little, he was always moving and talking and going on and on about the sand fleas. Look at him now. I ain’t seen life in him for a while, and everybody’s sayin’ he’s fine, he’s through it all. By god the way that sister of mine babies him. And I’m supposed to join in on the lying? After what he did? Last straw. I can’t have that John moving in on the precious space I got left up here,” she tapped her forehead. “Come on, Aunt.” She pushed, as if parting water, “You start to take account of things when space’s limited, Katty. And they tell me space is limited. Got no room to remember no murderer.” “You don’t know if any of that’s true.” “I know he killed that other young man. Read about it last night on the internet.” “But maybe on accident. You don’t know if the other part is true.” She stopped. “I know that if your Aunt Margaret says he might have been this or might have done that then sure as the hair on my head that that’s about as close to an admission as she’d ever give.” She returned to her pasta boxes. John hadn’t been back inside for a while after he stepped out, so Katarina followed to see if she could spot

V o l . 11 N o . 2 him. She slid the door shut behind her and stepped to the edge of the short, back staircase facing out towards the Pacific Ocean. Almost immediately, the land broke up into rolling dunes. Each dune was covered in long, swaying tufts of seagrass. They whipped in the morning wind. Blades. Fast and clean. Katarina, over the course of her nineteen years, had gotten to know the rhythm of wind on the Oregon Coast. In the morning, it was hectic and scattered, but without a base of strength. It glanced off her, rippled her jacket, or threw back her hat, but then passed into the distance like an unsubtle poltergeist. By midday, the wind had matured and when it blew, it blew low and constant. Sand hovered like a mirage about a foot or so above the beach and the dunes. A not quite air, not quite earthen current that could flow for hours. At night, the wind was fully unleashed. It lost the day’s temperance and its own timidity; it flew at her like an animal. This feral wind had been particularly rabid every night of the past six. In its wake each morning, the dunes were reshaped, remade. She couldn’t see John. The dunes limited her view. She hopped off the porch and made her way through the sloped sand. There were new paths and gaps between the seagrass, and she followed them with her eyes scanning the distance. The edges of green rustled around her in the energetic morning wind. The smell of salt. Waves snarling as they crested. Foam scattering as each crashed. Katarina spotted John about fifty yards to the south, standing on the beach. He was watching her pick her way through the dunes. When she looked, he waved. They walked to meet one another. Katarina stopped a few feet away with John crouching over an upturned crab. Its belly had been eaten away. All shell now. “She’s worried about you,” Katarina said. John looked up and smiled, “I know. So’s everybody.” “Are you doing OK?” “Ya, ya. I guess. I mean, they’re telling me I’m gonna have to come in for more questioning and there might be a trial. The cop swore I was on something.” Katarina nodded in the silence. “I wasn’t. The tests they did, or whatever, were bullshit,” John added levelly. “I didn’t say anything.” “Well, you’ve been around Aunt Pat for a bit here. Her opinion has a lot of gravity,” he paused, “Aunt thinks

69 I was high?” Katarina cleared her throat, “Maybe.” “Maybe, Katty?” “Well, your mom denied it, so Aunt’s going to think it’s true.” “That’s a hell of a way to live.” “She hasn’t changed on that.” John chuckled and nudged the dead crab with his boot. After a moment he nodded and turned to the surf. “How far you reckon we could swim out right now?” “I’m just out to visit with Aunt. I think she’s been lonely. I mean, it’s good to see you too though. I bet Aunt thinks the same thing, in her way. I don’t think I’m going to be doing any swimming while I’m here.” “Not even like in the old days? Don’t wanna try to beat the record? How far’d we get back then? I can’t remember exactly, but I know I could still swim down and touch the bottom. Never got far enough away to be really out there.” Katarina pointed vaguely out to where the first foam would show as the waves rolled in. “About there is what I remember.” “Bah, you were just a kid then. I got much farther.” “I don’t know. It’s been a while.” “It has, hasn’t it? I… I didn’t want to put Aunt out by coming,” John said shifting, “Everything has been so fucked up the last few days. I thought a bit of walking or swimming would help, you know? I kept thinking about how much time we used to spend in that water. Days like today, cold as today? Shit, wouldn’t have stopped us before.” “I think you’ve forgotten how cold it really is out there. This time of year, with the wind and everything, the pull is real strong and you’re so skinny,” she said feeling the cut of the words as she spoke. John screwed up one side of his face and looked at Katarina. “You and Aunt Pat are like two little peas. It was an accident, Katty.” “John, I didn’t -” “Total accident. I was tired, and I probably wasn’t paying close enough attention and, shit, I mean I feel fucking terrible. Everyone’s treating me like some kind of murderer. I lost my best friend. People don’t see that. They just wanna shove some drugs or booze or something in my hand to make it all my fault. I lost my best friend and nobody’s said shit. I don’t even get to be sad back home. How the fuck am I supposed to make this better

70 for people? It seems like that’s why they want me in jail. Lockin’ me up will solve it for them, will it? I don’t think so, so why do I gotta be put on the line for all that?” “Did you tell the police that?” “What do you think I’ve been tellin’ ‘em? Same thing I’ve been telling everybody. The truth. It was an accident.” The morning wind came again with its false promise. It offered to take what Katarina and John were holding. Katarina knew all about that. She let the dregs of the morning pass her by. But John was less prepared. His load was heaped at his feet and not heavy like he thought it’d be. The wind kept scooping handfuls of what was there and hurling it down along the surf. The detritus got caught in the dunes, in the water, and in the pines. It spread and spread over what they saw and, burying any more words, beat their steps back to the house. They ate Aunt Patricia’s stroganoff with the TV crowding out any possibility of sustained conversation. Aunt Patricia hated having the TV on while they ate. Always had. She had railed against it when Katarina and John were little. But today, just as they all sat down at the table, she’d stood again, walked into the side-room, and turned it on at a loud volume. She came back into the room without comment and attacked her plate. After the meal, they readied to return to the beach. None of them suggested doing so. Cascading signals just fell together one after the other, like a tide itself, sweeping them all out towards the sand. Katarina sat near the sliding door. Aunt snugged on a thick-fabric knit-cap. Katarina commented on the cloud cover. Aunt set the kettle on. Katarina took up her boots. Aunt did the same. John remembered the feel of the ritual but not its rites. He stood nervously by the door, gripping the handle and trying to look distracted. The firing pistol was Aunt Patricia’s thermos, now cleaned of wine and filled with bitter black tea. She threw the steaming water into it and was off the blocks towards the door. John scrambled to beat her outside. Katarina followed last with a few sandy stomps on the porch. They marched together. Up and over the dunes; through the rowdy seagrass; down the other side with long, sliding steps. This beginning of sorts, the cool fresh moment of re-greeting the ocean, had always been time for them to act as individuals. They mostly followed their old patterns without comment.

CIRQUE Katarina went walking over the wet sand to the north. Aunt Patricia scuttled about between the incandescent whites of shell or flesh or feather that lolled grimly on the sand. Only John was different now. He kicked at the dunes, keeping to their edge. Katarina could remember him, years ago, always moving towards the power of the water. He hit it hard. Like the skinny breach of a whale. As if he’d continue on and on and on and on to Hawaii or Japan. The beach, the thing that Aunt picked over and examined in minute detail, was just his runway. He built his speed only to slam himself against the first wave that rose above his knees. He thrashed forward, beating the hurled power all to foam. Now, he edged away from the water. He kept to the dunes. Katarina stopped as a long finger of high-tide approached her. She knelt down and let it wrap around her boots, running rough and salty and cold against her dipped hands. She loved the ocean too, but for the water not the power. All that movement in green-blue molasses. Waves have no agenda. They don’t seek to spend their force on anything, they just are. She would swim under them, feel the force pass by, and come up awash in cold. The shiver of the North Pacific waters would enshroud her senses until another wave approached and, moving numbly, she would shake it loose and dive again. It became afternoon, and Katarina returned towards the house. John met her. “Good walk? Loosen up some of that stroganoff? It’s sitting with me like a rock, don’t think I can eat that stuff anymore. Not like I used to.” “Well, we’re going to have it again tonight. Aunt cooks for days, not meals.” John smiled, “Ya, ya. I’ll take one for the team. So what about that swim later? You’re probably right about what you said earlier, but we can survive a quick dive, can’t we? I’m reacquainting myself to the idea of the cold like you suggested.” Katarina laughed, “That’s not what I meant. It was meant as discouragement.” John smiled, “But it sounded so much like a challenge. Anyway, that water never really warms up much. You know that. Could be just this cold in June and we’d a gone back in the day.” “June you got the sun.” “June you got the sun,” he nodded, “But we got the stove, and you can even take the first turn in the

V o l . 11 N o . 2 shower. Just a quick dip. Pump some blood into the veins, ya know?” Katarina laughed again. John was edging towards someone she remembered. “You wouldn’t get out past your shins.” “Oh ya? Don’t think I can? Well this will be just a taste then!” he skipped backwards towards the water, flipping his cousin off lightly. He whipped around and broke into a jog. The wind gathered interest in him. It flared up. It parted the air and pushed him forward. It, for a few strides, masked all sound. But it broke off, and in after it rushed their aunt’s voice. “No!” she shouted, “Damnit, John, no!” He slowed. Aunt Patricia was waving her arms. “Don’t you dare, God damnit. Stay outta that water.” They looked at each other. “Aunt. What… what’s the problem?” “Just stay out of it. Keep clear,” she seemed to be searching, hovering under the slow flap of her wings, “Don’t want you tracking in sand and gettin’ it everywhere.” “Track in sand?” “Yes! Stay clear. Get back up there! You can’t just come here and do whatever the hell you want, this ain’t no vacation! Stay out! You are waiting here. So wait!” she shook with the last words. Broken bits of shell crumbled from her grip. Small cracking sounds dropped to the sand. Then, overwhelmingly, the wind rose anew. John had lost his momentum but not its favor. It pushed him towards the sea. He stumbled slightly, bracing, looking over at Aunt. Her lip quivered and she spun back towards the house. That evening, another meal, the TV on again. Little springy tufts of stroganoff peaked out over the crockery. “Katty,” Aunt said, “What should we have tonight while we take our evening battering? I think another storm is set to come in.” Katarina dished herself some gray noodles, “Well, you’ll have your thermos. I was thinking maybe we could get out some of the cheese too. Keep it in the butter tin so it stays dry between bites.” “Probably too wet for the crackers.” “Ya, I think so.” “What should be in the thermos, honey?” “The usual.”

71 “Ah. Of course. I think something like the Merlot would be best. Don’t you?” “I can’t tell the difference, Aunt.” “Wine,” John joined late, “That’s new. I see why you visit.” “She visits, John, because I invite her.” “Bit chilly in here, isn’t it, Aunt?” Katarina swept in. “You want me to get the stove going, honey?” “I could do it.” “No, no. You eat. It’ll just take a second.” She slid out of her chair and over to the newspaper-lined wood bin. She tore at the printed pages, clattered up some pieces of kindling, and swung open the grimy, wrought-iron door of the stove. When it was all set she grabbed the hatchet. “John, you can watch the TV in the other room while Katty and I are outside.” “Are you going for a walk? I would come with.” “It’s not a walk,” Katarina explained, “we just sit out there and talk about what happened today. It’s a nice way to close out the day, right Aunt?” “Oh. Well, can I sit out with you two?” “You don’t have any rain gear,” Aunt Patricia countered hastily. “There’s lots laying around.” “But none of it yours. I don’t want you wearing out my things.” “Wearing out your things? It’s Uncle Mahlon’s. I used to use his old stuff all the time.” “That was when he was around to say it was OK. I know you haven’t seen it for yourself until today, but he ain’t around anymore. In fact, as I recall, you didn’t come ‘round any when he was sick neither so don’t try telling me there was some kind of deathbed permission granted. I wasn’t born yesterday. Nor the day before neither.” John leaned back. Aunt, to his right, was looking stiff-faced to the wall. “John came and visited Uncle Mahlon, Aunt,” Katarina said. “No he did not.” “Yes I did! I saw him at the hospital in Tillamook. You were there. So was Katty!” “No. Don’t try that on me. I remember,” she brought the hatchet down on a hunk of pine. It cracked apart. She grabbed for another after pitching both splits into the stove. “John was there, Aunt. He and Aunt Margaret came. We all came together,” Katarina said slowly.

72 “Like hell. I’d remember. You know how? Because I would have been seeing two sick ole’ wretches that day. Your Uncle all cleaned out by the cancer had his excuses, where are yours, John? They wouldn’t have let you out of the building if you’d have gone in your state, they’d have committed you. Ain’t no way you were there.” John looked over the table at Katarina. The hatchet clacked away. “I was there,” he said. “No.” “Yes, yes I was. We took a picture. I’m sure we did. Katty, do you remember taking a picture?” “I do.” “See!” “Stop it! Stop! Right now!” Aunt wheeled, still holding the hatchet. But there was no malice, no hot rage like they knew from her. It was a loudly spoken quietness; a shaking; a hard to see desperation all the sudden. “I can’t have you talking like this, pushing in on things. I can’t have you coming in and doing that. I need to remember it how I remember it. Now I got all this!” she threw down the hatchet, “And it’ll be bouncing around up here for God knows how long! Knocking things loose. Don’t you know there’s nowhere else I can go when you do this?” “What are you talking about?” “I don’t want to remember this John,” she said, “Not this. Not this now. Everything you got hanging off you, all you’re tangled up in. I don’t want this mixed in with those memories. It’ll get ruined. I can’t have it be ruined anymore! I need it to stay like it was.” “Aunt, Jesus, it was an accident,” but over these few words, John faltered. Like the air had shifted on him. He pushed his words across the table so forcefully that his own belief in them was pulled up and dragged away as well. After a desperate moment, he tried to fill the remaining vacuum, “You think I wanted any of this? I feel guilty, of course I do, but how was I supposed to know it would happen. We… we… we’d done it thousands of times, Aunt. I wasn’t even that tired… that, you know, out of it. It was bad luck! Just bad fucking luck for everybody, but I’m part of that. Everybody. I got hurt too. You think I wanna keep thinking about it? I can’t stop. It just tears at me. What am I supposed to do? Huh? Why can’t I go back? Or, or, something… start to go back? That’s just it now? It’s all done? This is me forever. That’s what you’re saying! That’s what I’m hearing you say. That it’s all done, sealed, and I’m this way forever to you. Whatever, Aunt. Whatever the hell you want to do. Good luck in your little fucking time-capsule.”

CIRQUE “Why’d you come here, John? Why’d you come?” “I thought you’d help me. I was wrong.” “Why?” “Because you used to.” “Things ain’t the same as they were. You better start realizing that. You can’t just turn around and have it all be behind you. It’s there. It’s there, and you can’t pretend it ain’t.” John’s arms were limp at his sides, “You get to but I don’t?” Aunt Patricia stared by the stove. The paper and wood and scorch marks sat cold. Flame, or any movement for that matter, wasn’t possible for a few moments. Aunt Patricia left. Her side of the house, far seeming, banged out a hurried rhythm. She came back out in her rain gear. “Aunt,” Katarina said, but the air rejected it. It was too early. The word broke up and sprinkled to the floor like tracked in sand. Aunt Patricia stooped to light the stove, scooped up her plate, and slid out to the porch. Silence poured into the room like cement. They had to move or be stuck there forever. “I’ll talk to her,” Katarina tried again. “Why?” John’s voice was venomous but limp. All fang but with no muscle to bite. “Well, I mean, I think she’s being pretty cruel to you.” “Do you think she’s right?” “About what? About visiting Uncle Mahlon? No, I told you, I remember you being there.” “No. About being unable to go back.” “Go back to what?” “How things were.” “That’s always true, isn’t it? Isn’t everything just forward?” “She doesn’t seem to think so. Isn’t that the whole point of whatever it is you two are going to do tonight? She always liked to pick over things like that.” “Maybe before. Maybe when we were kids. Now, well, you know, it’s so she can remember things. She wants to focus.” “And she just gets to choose what to focus on, but not the rest of us? The rest of us just get dragged down by the one thing whether we want to or not?” “I don’t know, John. But. Well.” “What?” he asked. They still hadn’t moved. The words weren’t enough. The cement quickened. “It seems like, well, maybe facing things will help

V o l . 11 N o . 2 you. If you do want to not get dragged down by the one thing, it seems like you probably can’t just have it weighing on you forever. You seem tired, John. Already.” “And you two are the experts now?” “You asked me.” “Well shit, yes, but because I thought maybe you’d understand. Fuck, Katty. You just said she was being cruel.” “She can be cruel and, I don’t know, right? I’m trying to help.” “Oh? Well it dudn’t look much different than all that!” he threw his hand after Aunt Patricia out into the gloom. The fire Aunt Patricia had lit was all smoke. It was burning over the print of the paper and snuffing itself out. The logs weren’t taking. Jumping up, Katarina hurriedly threw in an odd handful of nearby driftwood. They hadn’t been meant for burning, but she was distracted. The faded gray wood nestled into the fire and sat unscathed for a moment like the hollow-boned memories of water they were. But before she spoke again, they took. Ugly burners. Thick white smoke. Some smell that brought an unwelcome, meager heat. “You need to do something, John. You seem sick. I think you know as well as we do it’s not new, either. Aunt has a lot going on right now, and I’m sorry she’s not showing up for you how you’d like, but memory or no, I don’t think that’s what you even think you need right now.” “Don’t tell me what I think.” “OK.” “You don’t know anything. What’s it, a few quarters of college and now you’re some fucking life expert? That your degree?” “I don’t think I am an expert, John.” “Christ. Fuck it. I’m outta here tomorrow. You two do whatever the hell you were always gonna do. Have your sit out in the rain and talk some more shit about me.” He rose and went into the back room. Katarina closed the stove, banishing the rotten heat and smoke all up the pipe and into the clutches of the animal raging outside. Katarina pulled up the chair alongside Aunt Patricia. She’d changed into her raingear as well, and the night had indeed brought the squall. The wind tore at them, snarled, set its claws up their sleeves and down their necks. Rain poured from its open mouth. “You want me to go over the day, Aunt?” “No. I think we can let this one go. You bring the wine?” Aunt Patricia asked.

73 “John’s really upset.” “Good.” “You don’t really mean that.” “Why wouldn’t I, honey? He killed his friend because he was all messed up. If he wasn’t upset, I’d have harsh thoughts for him.” “Harsher, you mean.” “I mean harsh. I ain’t told him nothing he didn’t need to hear.” “Maybe.” “He’s your big cousin, honey. I know you don’t wanna see him having a hard time. Truth is, with or without us, he’d be having a hard time. I’m old, I get to be mean, long as it serves a purpose,” as she spoke, Aunt Patricia reached over and set her hand on Katarina’s knee. “What’s the purpose then, Aunt?” “Get him to snap out of it, honey.” “I’m not sure it’s working. He said he’s leaving tomorrow.” Aunt Patricia seemed to pause, but it was hard to tell in the tumult around them. Maybe she was just bracing. “He should.” For a moment, Katarina thought the wind had swept the rest of her aunt’s words away, but when it slackened, nothing followed. But Aunt’s hand hadn’t moved. It stayed, patting every now and again. “You think he’ll be OK?” The beast roared around them. Katarina lowered her eyes as it flailed against them. Aunt’s hand tightened. Nails distractedly digging into her niece’s thick pants. “Aunt?” Katarina looked up to see, just barely, John’s pale figure sinking into darkness. She’d almost missed him as he ran past them. He was shirtless and picking quickly over the dunes. Only a few more steps, and then gone. “What the hell does he think he’s doing?” Aunt Patricia shouted. “John! John!” But the words were all pushed back into her throat. A different roar claimed the air. “He’s gonna swim.” “What?” “He’s going to swim! He was talking about it earlier today,” Katarina said quickly. “Right now?” They jumped up and stumbled over the sliding dunes in pursuit. A single bead of light followed at their backs, but it could follow no further than to the top of the seagrass-lined wall. No glimmer, not even stars, called to

74 them from the other side of the Pacific horizon. “Where’d he go?” Aunt Patricia yelled. Katarina didn’t know. They descended away from one another. As the sand went from deep and shifted to hard and wave compacted, they drifted further to cover more ground. Katarina knew her aunt wasn’t far, but the wind’s ferocity tore apart any distance. It raged at them. Katarina was constantly wiping her face, throwing sheens of water off herself to try and keep her eyes open. Light crashed onto the dunes behind them. It rolled back and away. Theirs was a thin island between two tides. Wait! There he was. The thin droplets of indirect light glinted off his pale skin and she saw John waist deep out in the water. “John!” she shouted after him. He trudged forward, his back twisting and raking against the onslaught. “Aunt! Aunt he’s here!” The words were pounced upon and devoured. Katarina ran through the low waves. Craters burst apart with each stride. Her boots filled with water and sand. She tore them off and threw them backwards. She was heavy and bulky in her gear, and though they could move dexterously for a moment, her feet were already ice cold. “John!” He was swimming hard now. Plunging his hands like daggers at the bubbling black foe bearing down on him. She dove down. The waves carried past. She moved outward, kicking against their wake. He sliced forward. She dove down. The water crashing, the water passing. The ground continued to sink away. “John,” she coughed. He flared up and plunged. Two waves thrashed a slow course over where he’d been. One. Two. And then he was back up. Yelling. His arms beat around himself, but they were tiring. He sank, as if down a hole, arms folding upwards. Then he struck down again, not quite lifting himself above the water. Katarina sank under a sudden wave and swam forward. She emerged close to John. Her limbs ached. She grabbed his arm. He turned to her and even with the last, longest drop of light in his eyes, she could see his panic. He was struggling to keep his head above water now. She wanted to shout ‘Swim!’ at him. She wanted to convince

CIRQUE him to aim his energies in the right direction. But he moved wildly. He grabbed onto her and pulled her down. In his confusion he was going to drown them both. Even underwater she could hear his gasping. Her feet searched for the bottom and found nothing. She wrestled him free. He struck at the air between them, as if the sharp wounds of his knives could do more than slice the flesh of the sea. A wave came, she dove again. She emerged. John’s struggling slowed. She paddled near, waited for another wave and grabbed him just before its force took them, she swam as hard as she could. His ungainly body hung somewhere in the oblivion beside her. The wave passed. She waited, then moved. Again. The wave passed. She waited, then moved. Again. Finally, she could feel solidness replace the abyss below her. She pulled hard, dragging John. She was walking with him as he sputtered for air, but his legs were moving. They went slow, harried by the unforgiving waves. But they emerged. Aunt Patricia must have heard or seen or sensed them out there. She stood in the water up to her own waist and took John from Katarina as they came in. She was small, but her nephew was no thicker than a scrub maple so she took him easily. Katarina felt like she could barely walk. They all staggered back over the dunes. Sand and water and salt and flabby clothes and sound flopped onto the brick floor near the stove. John was still gasping. He was blue. Aunt threw more fuel into the stove. Fire waved up. She toweled John off and threw a pile of blankets over him. “Katty, get in the shower and blast the heat.” Katarina stood watching the fire. She was numb. “Katty. Now!” And she did. And some of the life surged back through her. But she didn’t wait for all the feeling to come back. She finished and returned to the main room. Hot, waving orange flags billowed from the stove. The air was humid, evaporating off thin skin and soaked towels. Aunt Patricia was holding John’s head as she spoke to him. “You were such a swimmer. Like we’d plucked you from the water the day you were born and that’s where you always wanted to go back to. Such a swimmer.


V o l . 11 N o . 2 You remember how I taught you how to kick in the water? Remember?” her hand swept his hair, “Pretty soon you were out there teaching me. Weren’t you? Weren’t you? Those waves couldn’t ever keep you before. You were something else. You hit them hard and beat all that everything to foam. Wudn’t a wave around that could knock you off course. Eh? Remember? Those waves ain’t going nowhere, honey. They’ll be there. When you’re back, they’ll be there waiting.”

Larry F. Slonaker

Through the Stubble 1. Well it coulda been worse. Like on the other side of the river. Or worse yet, on the bridge. Or like in a bad dream, all the way back at the school, in the parking lot, with her sneaking looks out the window, thinking aren’t they so sad. He just squats there looking at it. Like it’s his fault somehow. “Cmon,” I say. “You can look at it all day, that’s as flat as it gets.” Make a joke about it. “Let’s get over to Knudsen and borrow his pump.” He springs up and trots over, his face all of a sudden hatchet-sharp at the notion of seeing that old coot, scratching in his suspenders and telling bad jokes through the gaps in his mouth. “We’ll just cut through the stubble,” I say. “I’d just as soon pump up that spare and get this changed in the light as the dark.” He steps light and easy through the gap I stretch for him in the barbed wire. When he turns to stretch it for me, he struggles with it. That wire is pulled tight. I have to wait a few seconds so he can get it right—one foot on the bottom two strands, both hands under the top two, and lift. It’s warm for this late in the day, this early in the year. Even the stubble seems warm, with a soft glow almost like you see in a lamp. He walks to my right and a little behind, the shoots of straw crunching underfoot in the soil still soft from the rain we had. We go maybe a hundred yards and I think I am getting a whiff of something


Nard Claar

sweet in the air when I feel him stiffen. Then I see: one, no two antelope at the mouth of a little draw almost all the way to Knudsen’s place, way over by the windmill. “Nice,” he says. They see us, watch us—a little nervous, but kind of haughty, too, across the distance. Then they’re gone, evaporated into the dusky air. “Dang. Beauties, huh?” “Yep, beauties.” What’s funny is, he sees better than me. He does, and there’s nothing wrong with my eyes. He picks up stride again and I sneak a glance as we walk. Blue eyes, like his mother’s, and soft, but clear and sharp. Not muddy. “Dyslexia.” She wrote it out on the whiteboard. He, the chunky one, Principal White-Shirt, repeated it, slowly, like I’m not getting it. “Dys-LEX-ia.” Me, in dumb obedience, like a dog learning a trick: “Dys-lex-ia. Okay.” And she nodded and smiled, pleased, and gave me a little biscuit of a smile. Only thing about walking at this hour is the mosquitoes rouse. Not so many yet, but there will be from that rain. Which was a good rain, which makes you think, Shoot, we might get a good stand of grass this year, and maybe not have to sell half the heifers just to feed the other half. For once.

76 “Um, Dad?” He walks head down now, like he’s coaxing up words from the ground. “What.” He manages to look up, slow, those eyes wide like they’re waiting for a blow. “Um...what’d she say?” The cottonwood by the windmill catches a stray breeze and quivers. It’s what she didn’t say. She feels sorry for us but knows better than to show it, as that would end up a mess nobody wants. But for a second there I thought I caught that far-off look like his mother had, like something or someone was calling her and she couldn’t make out what or who. Like his mother. These spaces are wide, very wide, and sometimes they seem to suck the air out of you, and the dead quiet seems to whisper something. From those blue mountains eighty miles off, mouthing up to the dripping sun, all the way to this endless checkered field, it can feel like you’re in the middle of a vacuum that whispers. I know. But I’m getting this sweet smell again, rippling warm up into my head…. I give him a light jab in the ribs. “Have you been paying attention in class? Or got one eye on that little Debra Landsveerk.” Grunts, “uh-uh-uh,” which means, I don’t know. But he adds, “I been paying attention.” “He’s very well-mannered,” she said. “It’s not that at all. Oh no. I wish I had twenty more just like him. And he does try.” But ol’ Mr. White-Shirt couldn’t leave it at that. “But he simply can’t keep up on his own, and we just don’t have the resources to help him. Miss Pearson can’t give him the special attention he needs.” She went along with it. “He’s falling farther and farther behind. He needs help.” He has a handful of dirt. He’s picking out clods to toss aside. “Let’s pick it up,” I say, a little hard. He flattens his palm to shed the dirt. “Looks like you’re gonna have to drive the Chev back to Knudsen’s after we change the tire, because I can see his car isn’t there. We’ll have to take his old pickup. I think he keeps a pump right there in the bed for flats. Those tires are as bald as him.” “Heh.” He is chuckling at Knudsen’s bald head or at the prospect of driving the Chev, peeking over the steering wheel and keeping it in the middle of the road. They won’t let him drive in Great Falls, I don’t suppose. Stick to the sidewalks and playgrounds. Stay off the road, stay off the grass. Follow the rules. “There’s Shep,” he says. I strain to see, and there

CIRQUE he is, Knudsen’s Shep loping in a pool of shadow under the cottonwood and then splashing into the light, coming to us, and in seconds he’s on us, and he goes straight to the boy. “Hello, Shep-o,” he says, ruffling the hair from neck to tail. But he sees the hurry, so he falls right in step again, and Shep does, too. We’re a regular parade, walking along. He’s humming some song I don’t know. It was this exactly this time of day, this time of year, wasn’t it. Maybe even this same day. She’d stopped humming long before, of course, but on this evening with the light flat against the clouds and a few patches of late snow on the ground, looking out the kitchen window in her blank blue eyes, she said, “I can’t do this anymore.” I didn’t know what to make of it. “I know, it’s an awful lot of work for a person….” “No,” she said. Her voice was cold and stiff, like a glove left outside overnight. “I don’t mind the work. I just can’t live in all this space anymore. I’m lost in it.” “I’m not holding you,” I said at the window, taking my turn to look at the day’s last shrug. “I know. So I need to go. But I’ll be back. In just a few months.” And I believed her. Half-did, anyway. A year later, the half part has pretty much dwindled to nothing. “Shep, Shep-o,” he mumbles. “Um, Dad?” “Mm.” “Are they going to hold me back this year?” There’s a sweet smell here I can’t name for some reason, floating in this flat light amid the blue eyes and mosquitoes, a scent that reaches up into the nose and into the pool of the brain and sets there. I can’t quite place it. “Nothing’s holding you back.” “No, I mean—are they going to promote me?” “Probly not.” His eyes droop to Shep, who’s just jogging along easy, tongue lolling and tasting the evening air. “What difference does it make anyway, you’d have Miss Pearson whether you’re in the fourth grade or the fifth.” He doesn’t want to look up. “But what they think,” I go on, “they think you’d do better in Great Falls.” He makes a gasp sound. “Great Falls!” I can see it’ll be almost dark by the time we get back to the Chev. A dark blue-gray cloud has started to sweep across the bottom of the sky, pushing down a sweet smell. “They have special teachers there who can teach you to read better.” “I don’t want to go there.” His voice trembles a

V o l . 11 N o . 2 little. “It wouldn’t be so bad. There’d be lots of kids.” “Well, shoot.” His voice steadies. “I’d have to spend half the day on the dang bus.” Shep sprints off, after who knows what, toward Knudsen’s shack. “That wouldn’t make sense. We’d just about have to move into town, I guess.” I can almost feel his stomach clench. He says to the ground, “Move off grandpa’s place?” “I guess.” “But what about—who’s gonna calve and brand and all that?” “We’d have to think about selling it off, I spose. And I’d get something in town. Work for the Chevy garage or something.” I could feel his stomach wrapped all around itself. He couldn’t make any words, just a sound. “Whu-ush. Uh.” My old man always said if you don’t work for anybody but yourself, and on nobody’s land but your own, you can tell the whole world to go to hell if you want. On this land right here, he said, you’re free as can be. And it’s true, I’m free, as free as he was. To drag my tail in everything at dusk and think about what I should’ve done and what I didn’t do, what still needs to be done, and done right now. I sell cattle and the price goes up. I buy and the price goes down. Every winter I’ve put up hay, the chinooks blow the grass bare. Every winter I sell off the hay, it blizzards till March. But I don’t mind that. At least it’s predictable. It’s just that the fact is, the funny thing is, you don’t really own the land like he said. Other way around. 2. He barks, like. “Cmon,” he says. “You can look at it all day.” I’m not looking at anything, especially. I’m just not looking at him. There’s no air in his voice, like the tire. But then he kind of laughs. “Couple weeks ago I was over at the Farmers Union and some guy came in and asked Hector how much to fix his flat, and Hector says, “Special of the day, I’ll only charge you half-price if just the bottom half is flat.” And he laughs and I laugh. “Let’s get over to Knudsen and borrow his pump.” Dad says Knudsen is looney, but I think he’s funny. Like Hector. We go through the fence, and I’m better at stretching it now than last year, and into the stubble. The sun is flattening out and aims yellow-gold light at the

77 yellow stubble. Off a ways is Knudsen’s and— Ohh. Two antelope. “Beauties.” But he doesn’t even hardly look. He’s seen plenty of antelope, I guess. And they’re gone, like waking up from a dream, and whatever you were dreaming is gone. Then one shows her head again, just for a blink, and she’s gone again. It smells of dirt, wet dirt, because it rained on Monday. They go off and smell what’s coming up out of the dirt—they smell better than us. Almost all the animals do, says Miss Pearson. I have to ask. “Dad? What’d she say?” After a minute: “Whisper?” “Huh?” He gooses me, his thumb in my side. “Have you been paying attention?” I try to pay attention. But the words get jumbled. It’s like watching the river hit on the rocks. The words flash by and you can’t make them stop to make sense. She used to say, “Are you really trying your best? You can do it if you try.” She talked to the whole class. “You can do anything if you try! Be ambitious!” She straightened up and said from her nose, “Someday one of you could be president! Any one of you! Reach—” She reached for the ceiling and her dress hiked up above her knees—“for the sky!” “That, class,” she said very quiet, “is the American dream.” If I can try, I can do it. I bend over to get some dirt clumps. By the time I throw this dirt away, I will be ready to try harder than ever. I can do it. I can drive a car, so I can do that. Knudsen’s old dog Shep comes at us. He remembers me and I want to pet him but we have to hurry so we move. “Hmph, a parade,” Dad says. I love a parade. Mom used to sing that. I love a parade! The stamping of feet! Dum-dum-da-dum. I forget the rest. We’re getting behind. “Hurry up Shep.” And I can’t wait any more to ask: Am I going to pass? “What difference does it make.” Lots. It’s lots different. “You’ll do better in Great Falls.” I don’t want to move to Great Falls. I tell him why. It doesn’t make sense. Move to town, move off the place, leave…everything. Everything. And he works in the garage. But I’m not going to cry about it. Shep can tell I’m holding in. He runs back home, like he’s scared for me. Dogs know. But I’m not going to cry. Each stalk of stubble is two colors. Half-yellow in the sun, half-brown in the shade. I take the deepest

78 breath I can. The stubble smells like yellow and brown. Miss Pearson says the sun is a white horse. But it’s not. The sun is yellow-gold. And it makes a river, not like water but like melted gold, washing without any noise over rows and rows of stubble. Shep is standing there tongue out as we come on Knudsen’s place, the shack and barn and sheds squatting there kind of crooked. He laughs his thin laugh. “What?” I ask. He looks funny. His face is all twisted, almost like Knudsen’s. “It’s the other way around,” he mumbles. Knudsen’s old Studebaker pickup is waiting for us, rusty and brown, by the shack. “OK. Let’s see if the damn thing’ll even start,” he says. “Take ’er out of gear first.” I get in on the cracked seat. It smells old. I use two hands to roll down the window. “There’s no key.” “Of course not. Hand me that screwdriver there on the seat.” He flips open the hood and shorts to the starter with the screwdriver. It cranks rusty and high-pitched. “Gas!” he calls. “Not too much!” It cranks woowoo-woo. “C’mon goddamn you!” And like it’s scared it starts. The cab shakes. The steering wheel feels alive in my hands. He slams the hood down and walks back to the bed and rustles around back there through the noise of wire and cans. This goes on for I don’t know half a minute, until it stops and it’s quiet. He says something. “Christ.” I pull out the hand brake and scoot out for a look. He’s leaning against the wheel well, looking down into the bed, and all I can see is the top of his hat. “Wouldn’t you know.” “What.” Without moving his head he holds up his hand. It’s the pump. But there’s no tube on it. I just stand there waiting, not saying anything. After I could count to 50 I can hear his thin laugh, laughing into the pickup bed of wires and cans. He looks up at me. Still half-smiling. “You don’t want to move to Great Falls.” “Nope.” “Mm. Me either. Hey.” He lifts his head back, takes in air. “You smell something?” “Smell what?” “I don’t know.” Takes another whiff. “The night coming?” “Yeah, but…” It’s the dirt and the air. “It rained the other day,” I say. “And the grass.”

CIRQUE He nods. “My god,” he says. Smiles a little. “That’s all it is. The wet air and the soil.” He nods his head like Miss Pearson when Debra Landsveerk has the right answer. He keeps nodding while he rustles around in the bed of the pickup, metal banging and screeching. I can barely hear him. “Hell, why not. I suppose we can make it work. Get you somebody, a tutor. Someone who’ll”—he turns to me with a grin on his face—“toot ’er horn. Till you learn the music.” He thinks this is funny and I don’t know why. I try to smile a little. “Can’t cost all that much. One of those gals in Vaughn who went to college. I saw they had an ad once on the bulletin board at the Farmers Union.” He’s back to rustling around the bed, until all of a sudden the noise stops. And slow-motion like he raises up the tube and wiggles it so it looks like it’s alive. “Whattya know. I think we can tape this on with some electric tape. Enough to get by, I think. Don’t you?” “Sure.” “I guess we can tough it out for a while yet. You know—you don’t really own the land.” “No.” “No. More like you owe it. So, we have a debt we need to get paid.” “OK.” I take another deep breath, even deeper than before. The sun is falling, fast, dropping behind the mountains so fast you can see it move. We pile into the Studebaker. He pokes around for the headlights. They don’t hardly make any light at all. “Well,” he says, trying to see through the dirty windshield into the dusk. “Here we are in the dark.” And he laughs, a real laugh, brown and yellow and gold. And I laugh.

Diamonds Through Trees

Emilie Burnham


V o l . 11 N o . 2

by everybody due to his enormous strength and unpredictable rage. Nobody knew why he was so mad, especially not himself— everybody knew the look in his eye when the time came to leave him alone. “I am tired of civilization,” he would mumble into my cauliflower ear when nobody was within earshot. “Remember what Mama always told us,” I said. “Pluck the stars out of the heavens. The stars mark our destiny.” The next morning he would disappear on the next boat leaving port, leaving behind a wreckage of poetry.

Fine Saddles, Fine Food, & Fine Whiskey

Jill Johnson

Bob Stark

Stars Mark My Destiny Star flowers grow from the grave of my dead brother, who chased destiny from town to city, city to country, country to sea and back again. Mama told me to take care of him like a child but I could not because he was a man. My brother died trying to pluck the stars out of the heavens while I kept my feet planted amongst perennials watching stars sparkle in the sky. “I am tired of civilization.” He would say, disappearing into the bars or wilderness. “The stars marked my destiny.” He would say upon return. His beard was down to his sternum and dark red like embers after a raging fire. My brother was a walking flame. In the countryside, he was a logger, fisherman, farmer, soldier. A man admired by others, revered as a living legend. In town, he was a raging drunk. Avoided

He left without saying goodbye and returned in a small wooden box six inches by ten inches by a foot. His body was turned to ash and mixed in with the flower beds. I wanted to mix him in with the fruit trees and canes but I did not want to eat my brother; I was always the most literal of the family. When mother told us to pluck the stars out of the heavens, I thought she meant to pick a different star every year to identify, name and form a relationship with. Whereas my brother wanted to be in the heavens, he could not stand the planet Earth. Every color of the rainbow was in the flower beds expressing his vast array of emotions; emotions nobody but mother and I ever saw. Scarlets, crimsons, purples and blues, with a little bit of yellow here and there. One bed was entirely dedicated to the only color people saw, fiery red. The only thing my brother left behind was a hardwood box he had made and hidden under a pile of family photo albums we kept hidden in the attic. In the box was a map that led deep into the woods where an old growth cedar stood strong. Fresh dirt covered a dozen dry sacks full of paintings, drawings, sculptures, songs and poems. My brother left his tenderness in the woods. I must admit, please do not tell anybody, I too am tired of civilization. Of chattering voices without words, fake smiles on plastic faces, weak bodies and hard hearts, mansions of betrayal and closets of vanity. I am tired of the collectors of doubt and want to pluck the stars out of the heavens and vanish into destiny. So I sit here alone on my back porch swing painting a portrait of the stars for nobody to see. Apples fall from heavy branches onto a cover crop of clover and rye. Birds and bees zip from berry to tree like shooting stars. Cats chase chickens and eagles chase cats. Life is better when shared. The stars mark my destiny, people do not.


Robin Woolman



Faces, Angel Eyes

Hunched among her age-shattered limbs, Edith’s soul hangs on to life. She hears thunder practicing over the drone of the ocean and the thrum of the hummingbird threatening the straw sunhat that’s slipping down to her eyebrows. She cannot turn her head to see the roiling sky, cannot tilt her chin to wonder at the tiny bird’s obsession, cannot lift her hand to push her hat back. But she can listen. The waves, the thunder, the hummingbird, and, in the cavity of her own chest, the rattle of breath and the rusty muscle of her heart keeping irregular time. The hummingbird careens close to her ear, telling her secrets of her own life. Edith smiles to think she kept them even from her husband. The thunder clears its throat again as it prepares rain. Edith has stood up to plenty of angry men and soothed howling babies. Her mouth opens and a drop of saliva slips from her lip. The ocean grinds on predictably-- the needle at the end of a jazz LP. Edith’s tongue tries to find the coda. “What Edith? What did you say?” You ready to go in now?” The Caregiver looks up from her phone and tilts the straw hat back. There are oceans in Edith’s eyes. There are cataract clouds. There is the flash reflection of the hummingbird. The Caregiver laughs with surprise turning to see the rufous hummingbird that has landed on the bright and sticky feeder behind her. “No no no no,” Edith is singing her answer softly, “no, no, no, no.” The Caregiver turns back to the scrap of a woman

Lindsey Morrison Grant

in her wheelchair. “No? You want to stay out here? It’s getting cold. Are you getting cold? Rain is on its way…” “No, no, nO, NO!” Edith’s song is getting louder, more persistent, more tuneful. Two hummingbirds spit high-pitched bravado. Clouds clash releasing the vibrato of thunder. The first rhythms of rain tap the roof, deck, Edith’s straw hat. The Caregiver slings her phone into her apron pocket and trundles the wheelchair back through the slider. “My that came on fast, didn’t it, Sweetie.” Edith mumble-sings: “No, no, no…they can’t take that away from me…” The thunder bumps through its excuses, then lets the rain have it’s say. The hummingbirds spin off on their crazy-eightwings to rest, turn down the click track of their heart beats from one thousand to fifty a minute. Inside the care home, Edith is washed, changed and tucked into bed. She lies on her back, eyes on the asbestos ceiling tiles. The rain gargles in the downspout. The Care Home’s cat, black but for the white smudge on its chest, curves into the room, leaps onto the bed, and settles on Edith’s stomach. The cat begins a rhythmic purr. Edith cannot see the cat. Cannot move her claw like hands to stroke its fur. But she can listen. The purr replaces the sound of her own breath, the sound of her heart. Edith’s eyes blink closed. Her mouth falls open. The Ocean scratches on: needle come to the end of its long-playing record.

V o l . 11 N o . 2


Blue Bear Annekathrin Hansen



P O E T RY Luther Allen

neighbors they came for dinner and the next morning there was an elk skull on my doorstep. stark white in this cascadia greyness. he found it, a year dead, on his last colorado hunt. antlers bigger than the first bull i killed — tines turning like dark flames in that empty new mexican sky before he rose and died into my heart. don’t talk to me of totems. this is different.

Human Being

those first antlers were not saved but given away by someone else at a time when my life was not yet my own. they became knife handles.

why do i want to save things? maybe a faith, a hope about the way the world could work. each will be needed - the last piece in a puzzle to insert at just the right time that will make sense of things. close a circle. two coffee cans of nuts and bolts and screws and old .22 shells from my dad’s shop. dozens of rocks. books. notes. a painting of two doves, now 40 years old, that she made after i chose to pack out that first bull instead of rescue her from that cheap motel and her husband and his god we had both betrayed

Sheary Clough Suiter


V o l . 11 N o . 2

after dinner my neighbor had talked of bears. doing research in alaska. a grizzly charged his partner fired the grizzly hit him as it fell dead three seconds from beginning to end. since then twice he has seen a black bear and waited each bear came close sat down on its haunches just looked at him. a week later i took the bear skull i brought back years ago found about 30 miles from where he found the elk skull. left it in the cab of his truck. good trade, he said.

Tequila Freeze Yuliya Helgesen-Thompson

Constance Bacchus

Who has time to breathe smoke anymore? although a cigarette smells best when you quit remember it doesn’t taste the same, it isn’t chocolate or sex, you have a list of favorite things in summer breathing smoke can’t top it, swimming in murk, making your own rain, making your rain, making it rain, praying for rain & wind from the west, & a home filtered & limited, data phones, discuss smoke, scroll about wild attacks on sagebrush, hawks & the way they party in the sky, drinking too much, smoking their own, breaking off the filters, passing out, waking up rueful & wondering what they did last night.



Carol Barrett

Cutting Limbs Dead and gone. Some harbor green core, tough to split. If my father could see me now: pruning saw, nippers alternating to trim the limbs, cut coarse stock, leaves brittle brown.

Fingers of Light

Matt Witt

In work boots, he would stomp the pile to break what could be broken. Those that wouldn’t snap, he’d hit over his knee, yank apart. More timid, I try a thigh, jump when it works. His stack went onto compost, or bonfire fed by corn stalks, kiwi vines. Intention: clear away haphazard limbs, harbingers of death. Rake the final stragglers into the fire, going full blast to cover traces of what was, what grew, what left, as all things leave, singly, or in a grand havoc of heaps, splintering mulch for memory, for what will sustain us in the long song ahead.


V o l . 11 N o . 2

Astoria, OR

Lindsey Morrison Grant

Mark Basquill

What crime did you commit? You are impossible to spell, Schuylkill. You don’t look like an Eakins painting from atop Platt Bridge Imprisoned between an oil refinery and car smashing plant You look like shit. Worse than your green orange glow after Three Mile Island. What heinous crime did the clear stream of your headwaters commit To wear the convict’s oil-stained shit-shaded uniform? You smell like diesel, piss, rotting meat, and wasted ejaculations. Crimes against nature? Was that the charge? The wastebasket of all sex crimes. “Crimes against nature.” Is that a body? Are you carrying a body downstream to dump in the Delaware? Are you a murderer? No. That’s a fifty-five gallon drum with an orange stripe. Forty years ago you watched me run this bridge to strengthen young legs To outrow Yale on your muddy upstream waters. You saw me gasp car exhausts and toxic refinery fumes that would cancer kill my parents Their friends, and most of the old neighborhood decades early. Thirty years ago you witnessed my wedding in the shadow of the Philadelphia Museum of Art There at the Fairmount Waterworks you said Eakins captured the scullers with realism But missed the century of sludge and offal they rowed through. Forty years? Have you been doing time for forty years? My legs are shot. My wife and I are old. Our kids grown and gone. Our time about up. Why do you seem so stoic about your sentence? You slide and sluice down from mountains as you did when Eakins studied you As you did a century ago when coal and oil slag set you on fire Four centuries ago when Lenape camped on your banks and William Penn marked his spot And the Dutch named you Schuylkill “hidden creek” As you have for the hundred centuries since the last ice sheets carved your path Innocent on all counts and refusing to judge your temporary jailers Tunnel Vision Shania Deike-Sims



Robert Bharda

Kitchen Talk He plucks her the moon, the same that blossoms above their rooftop in as many faces he can imagine: amarone, primtivo; precious light, precious chatter. She nutrolls their laughter for hors d’oeuvres. He mulls the moon in her verbs.

Offering of Beauty

Mandy Ramsey

Joann Renee Boswell

View From My Window :: Bedroom :: Lincoln Street :: Roseburg, Oregon :: 1992

she leaves the TV on all the days of our lives and for each of the twenty-two cats’ nine lives. if I crane my body, just so, across my built-in double bed, I can squint, see tiny technicolor, practice bad lip reading until queen feline fills windowsill, grey fur spilled in sunlight. she collects raccoons too. the always full dishes out back attract Oregon cast offs. one summer

Nature’s Beach Garden

Matt Witt


V o l . 11 N o . 2

striped family of six moves in. we hold our breaths, watch them try to locate entrance to garage: tubing which lets cats walk the air house to garage and back. my box fan blows so much that year removing skunk stink, blocking bedroom screen time. I fall asleep scared of fire, strategizing three stories over driveway: pop out screen; toss photo albums first; then every blanket, pillow, hundreds of plush friends onto the van, L E A P . other times I listen to crickets, dream about that pink house: all of us cats with evil twins, pregnancy scares, drinking wine and slapping skunks.

No. 12

Brenda Roper

Nicholas Bradley

Matins, November Birdsong as night leaves its bed unmade –

who trots out, guilty, from our fallow garden

as light rouses to show roof and broken branch –

as I set back the clocks to preserve the day’s

as brightness beckons change, what disaster

design, to smooth disheveled sheets.

or favor will follow. The window-slant this morning – gray as Napoleon, the neighbors’ perambulatory cat,



Kristina Boratino

Listen I can’t take mama anywhere.

Cle Elum Sunset

Judith Skillman

Once, while hiking along whisper-winding trails, mama stopped abruptly, and took off her muddy, mellow-green Nikes. “The earth has an itch only your bare feet can scratch, my girl, never forget that.” Her crazed, crooked smirk bought us grace with fellow hikers as they passed while she delightfully jumped around in the mud and grime. Later, as the trail narrowed, she placed her slender hand upon a thick green-cashmere suitor. “Come here, and feel his grief.” She insisted. I knew better than to resist. As we progressed toward the viewpoint, the trail split into three different options. I looked back at Mama, who started making me lead when I was ten; she could sense my confusion. “Just because you feel lost or confused doesn’t mean your internal compass is broken.” She smiled, and waited for me to make the decision. Traditional camping at Lake Diablo always started with a near naked swim out towards the center of the lake. Mama jumped in first. “I want depth to drown out the superficial facets of my life!” she shouted, while making her way to the middle. As I cut through the crisp aqua waters, my arms and legs began to feel at home. Mama had always insisted I was a mermaid. “Can you feel the weight of her tears as you swim?” she asked, while lifting up a torn plastic bag that had ended up around her foot. Mama looked up, and sighed deeply. Moments later it began sprinkling. After college, Mama insisted we travel to New Mexico before I started working. The rich history and haunting beauty of Taos, and the old Catholic churches took my breath away. Toward the end of the trip we stopped at the Loretto Chapel. We had to see the miraculous staircase. There was a warmth and comfort to the stillness inside. Mama had been telling me I need to learn the art of listening to what’s being said in silence. I was trying, but once mama saw a priest, she got up. “Excuse me Father.” She had only spoken softly a handful of times in her life, and this was one of them. “The Hebrew word for salvation is Yasha, which means to be open, wide and free. Why don't we see that in humanity?” He was completely caught off guard. “Religion and faith should leave us feeling liberated, accepting, open-minded, and I just don’t see that when I look around. There should be greater unity amongst humanity, regardless of their religion of choice or their choice to not practice religion, don’t you think?” His smile was the only response she received. Towards the end, Mama wouldn’t hesitate to drop, and lay hands wherever she felt led. Cement parking lots, Hoh Rainforest trails, grass patches at a park, Snoqualmie Falls lookout, Cannon Beach, or the kitchen table, to name a few. Mama had no reservations when it came to her relationship with mother nature. “When our hearts are heavy, it’s easier to fall to our knees in prayer,” she insisted. “Tell me you hear her now?” She searched my eyes with tender tears impregnated in hers. “She’s pleading with us to listen.” Mama passed away peacefully, later that week. I’ve learned that if I listen, Mama is everywhere.


V o l . 11 N o . 2

Jeffery Brady

In Our Sleep My son sleeps with his chin in his hand, My wife says, “Your daughter does too.” And so we think, As we lie in bed on this long January night, Watching snow fall out our window– My hands clasped behind my head, Hers folded across her chest– About what it would be like For our children to walk in, Quietly, And see us sleep, Our hands drifted to Their usual spots.


Dan Branch

Kay Haneline

Elegy —After “Elegy” by Wendell Berry 1.


Elias taught me how to set a net for kings, the richest, tastiest salmon.

Miles and years away from the river, salmon and the silent ghosts fishermen swim through my nightmares. Some ghosts float out of bodies that had tumbled from skiffs into the Kuskokwim, the smell of whiskey still stinking up their boats. Others emerge from holes in weakened river ice or from bodies frozen on the tundra. Elias dies in his sleep.

He stood in the bow of his plank-bottom skiff, lead line in one hand, float line in the other, rhythmically tossing both up and out over the river. The lead line hit the surface like a series of fist blows and sank five fathoms. The other line, with its string of white floats formed a 300 foot long smile across the current. When enough kings ensnared themselves in the web wall, Elias pulled the net, coiling the webbing carefully into a galvanized washtub, used the net’s tension to ease salmon from the web.

3. In my dream, Elias’ plank bottom skiff slaps through chop. His spirit throttles back until the boat drifts and the engine murmurs. He’s not the fit fisherman of memory. He’s an 80-year-old widower with hands softer than his voice. “You should drive,” he says, “you can throw the net.”



4. So they will let me sleep, Elias, the veteran eulogizer celebrates my ghosts: Nicolai once dropped a swan with an impossible shot to break the spring famine of his family, Junior always made us laugh by mimicking ptarmigan during Eskimo dances at the National Guard Armory, Bummy fed his mother all winter with snared rabbits, dried salmon and his fall moose, Tuntu hauled drinking water ice for his mom, chopped firewood for his Uppa between stints in jail. All the river’s ghosts lived and loved and were loved even by those they hurt, Any of them could have been your friend, uncovered tiny tundra beauties. Every one of them could have taught you the trick of mourning by remembrance.

Volunteer Park Water Tower / Shadows, circa 1980 Kodachrome

Mike Burwell

Fukushima—Elegy for the North Pacific Sometimes a wave bends in on itself, crippled, limps 4,000 miles from a burning shrine in the west, topples to shore with more than wood or weed. Sometimes it brings death as a seal or a brace of guillemots, on Tuesday terns still as chalk, Wednesday, a score of murres upended.

William Waight


V o l . 11 N o . 2

We pour blessings over salmon and crab, but they offer up themselves only as the dead. On shores to the south, beaches warm to more salt and music where other men pretend their hem is another sea. Still, their children know they deform in the estuaries, in houses of polished dirt, among feeble corn. A diver finds an oyster with an eye, without shell. Nuts and milk won’t nourish. Sometimes poison takes too much away and we must go farther out into the trees to build our church, pen a new gospel saying: look away.

Hubcap Fence

Caitlin Buxbaum

Wild Bill He was the sort to find grievances everywhere. —David Reamer, Anchorage Daily News It occurs to me every town must have one, and as we travel this old, familiar road, I think about the RV with the toilet on top, surrounded by offensive, hand-painted signs and rusted heavy machinery in the marsh we used to pass on the way to school. But I never knew why, exactly, people thought he was crazy — the papers said it might’ve been the lawyers he blamed for the death of his first wife, the departure of his second with their sons, and a bad land deal with a gravel company.

Toni La Ree Bennett



What I remember is sitting beside him on a bench at LD’s barbershop in Wasilla beside the stacks of magazines with the smells of aftershave & tobacco, and the stranger danger my dad said I could ignore when the man offered me a piece of candy. Before I completed middle school, I heard he died. The mobile home & the signs & the junk stayed for years, the grass growing up around it, but eventually, someone must’ve hauled it all away. I never heard about a funeral, but his obituary asked for stories and pictures to compile in a scrapbook. Everybody liked him except the politicians, my dad says, and I wonder if this would’ve made him proud. A pastor said he was bipolar, and that in a moment of what passes for clarity, he told an Alaskan truth: I would not ever hurt anyone. It is for my advantage that I want some people to think I would.

Abigail B. Calkin

Crevasses in My Brain Uprising

If I had not had scarlet fever and lain in bed for months between clean white sheets and counterpane with feather pillows in my father’s bed opposite the window and if I had not had a raging fever and coma when I left the room had not floated out the window past yellow daffodils, narcissus, jonquils, tulips, crocuses, hyacinth growing in January out of feet of snow and had not risen between cumulonimbus columns above the cirrus floor and if I had not returned to find my mother in a family antique rush-bottomed rocking chair by the window mending, oblivious to my journey and if the crevices in my brain had not become crevasses too broad to cross

Sheary Clough Suiter


V o l . 11 N o . 2 then what would my senses have been what would I have given not to have to pretend to be normal to see how everyone else saw the world— things as simple as sensing objects in their own colors, sounds, smells what would my life have been with something as simple as clarity of thought, something as simple as not to create lies and stories when unannounced I fell to the ground or the wall I leaned against collapsed or a bell rang in the desert or on the ocean miles away from reality then who would I be today?

Tim Chamberlain

After Sunset In two months, the doctor’s wife aged ten years, the crazed lines of her face a blueprint of pain. There was little left to do. Across the bay, picture windows briefly blazed sunset fire, quenched to darkness minutes later. Everything he thought he knew had changed. The resident loon trilled off-key, and nodes and fissures marred the sandstone beach, a place once familiar as his own hand. The day was almost over, his wife’s silence in the kitchen buffered by TV murmurs on the counter. A fishing program showed a salmon freshly caught, silver scales turning pewter.

Red Sky at Night

Jim Thiele



Ann Chandonnet

River Birch (a watercolor) First, a Persian rug unfurls as a floor. A faux bamboo table unfolds to partner a wheeled cart. (Glint of the cart’s polished rails.) A swirl of white as a smart maid scurries through a concealed door, carrying a cooling sad iron at arm’s length. Second, the majestic butler turns his strength to shuttling four peacock chairs; he fluffs down cushions. A serving girl swoops from the portico twirling a tray of marron glace wreathed in candied violets— tops them with a screen beret. Next, trailing formal tails, a new footman, shy and able, bears the brass samovar as if it were a crown. Reverently, he sets down the alcohol lamp, folds damask at four places into gliding swans. Finally, concluding a tour of perennials, a wave of graces slides beneath a boxwood arch. All in white glide the four, parasols hiding both faces and feathered fascinators. In his turn, the hovering footman, (concealing a blush in a frown) pulls out each fragile chair. Now the parched millennials settle with the rustle of laying hens on nests, shepherding miles of bustles and drapery, while folding parasols, lifting diaphanous veils. Despite this effort, no gasps, no uncouth wriggles— only moues of calm.

River Birch

Fern Chandonnet

Perfect knees on slim limbs snug together, making four satisfying clicks-echoes of beaded purse clasps. Now the quartet adjusts crocheted gloves and swivels, each miss a Roman caryatid. Concealed by damask napery, forty powdered toes shod in jade brocade slippers enjoy a private stretch and wiggle. On this occasion: thin toast, orange marmalade, cream dense as peat. As oolong is poured, one sleek damsel is fooling with an insect bite with her broken nail, leaving a run in her delicate hose as well as the ghost of an abrasion-a pink rose petal interrupting her perfect shin. Light flickers through oaks like green ticker tape or a silent film unspooling.


V o l . 11 N o . 2 Four white doves nibbling pink cake, dissecting loves with four tinkling riffs, the belling of teaspoons. Delicately, with delight, Our maids swallow without visible chewing. (The brass kettle stewing is an old Turkish friend from nursery teas. Its metal ticks as it cools.) As day settles behind eight chimneys, black weathers graze beyond a green cliff at the foot of the lawn, beyond the ha-ha (named by a fool). With the first breath of dusk, the fine butler reappears, tacking across the sward like a yacht. A bead of sweat pens a wet line down his shaved neck. His fraught waistcoat is starched turgid, his collar sharp as a blade. Finally, the pale misses rise, exchange kisses, dissolve their afternoon coven. Parasols are left for collection as they rise, join hands and parade toward a parlor’s shade.

Margaret Chula

Mourning Cloak

Shania Deike-Sims

Some have even inched their way under the lids of canning jars, leaving trails of ghostly webs on the outside of packages and inside grain bags. White worms wriggle in the flour bins. We dump the infested food into the trash bin, vacuum every corner, wipe down surfaces with soap and water, and rinse with vinegar as the World Wide Web has instructed. Still, we discover survivors hiding behind curtains, underneath shelves, in dark corners. Days go by with no moths.

The Last Moth

Then, one day, there on the kitchen windowsill, a feeble stirring of wings— resigned

Returning from three weeks in Italy, we find that small gray moths have invaded our pantry—

like my mother in her final days, weak and gray, unable to feed herself.

almonds, dried cherries, cereal, coconut, Saltines. They have left the organic amaranth alone.

Its papery corpse leaves a smudge. Like soot, like a penance, on my palms.



Kerry Kraker

Kenmore Midnight

Linda Conroy

Pandemic Neighborhood In streets empty of their ordinary carnival a blue jay croons.

We’re glad you’re here, a sign proclaims. Take what you need.

Here’s a hurdle built of branches pruned from trees, with wire wound to keep deer out.

A pile of lumber, metal stakes, flower pots, a rake, a red bird house with broken roof. A mix of old and new, a rusty trike as garden art. Blue rubber boots, the soles worn out, lean on the freshly painted fence. Cheerful buttercups sprout.

Wicking planters made with plastic tubs and bottles, bamboo watering tubes. Now, peeping from the top new leaves of lettuce, kale and beans. In a rock garden partly built a man steps lightly, whistling, balancing a boulder on his shoulder.

Prudent choices making do amid this fear. There’s good right here. A vee of geese flies north. Two bean-stalks twelve feet tall help me believe.


V o l . 11 N o . 2

Diane DeSloover

The Last Time I Held You Your tender body pressed close to my proud grandma heart, perfect crown soft as down, eyelids drawn in newborn sleep. All the while the invisible threat traveled on unwashed hands and exhaled breath to every city, every town. Now, I pine for FaceTime glimpses, your skinny limbs becoming fat, tiny fingers finding sister's face.

Desi in Her Mother’s Dress

The last time I held you we knew nothing of separation, sheltering at home, that I would become a stranger hidden behind a mask. The last time I held you the world was just a backdrop for our moment, my pulse matching yours, your breath easing mine.

Ann-Marie Brown



Tree Woman

Monica Devine

swimmerets With my right hand, I twist the head off and flick it overboard. In my left the carapace vibrates still jumping in my palm. There is a book of secrets behind a prawn’s stalk-eyes a milky circle, a galaxy that swims inside it. A burst of orange, white stripes and spots, handsome crustacean of the north Pacific sea. I lift the pot from icy cold water, tails quiver and pound. I burn with shrimp fever, and wonder: Were we all females before we were males— hermaphrodites in a molting biology? Something happened in the dark seafloor, hot chemicals rose up—life. Or maybe we came from somewhere else, a deliberate infection from outer space.

Toni La Ree Bennett

A man’s dark beady eyes stared me down at the city summer pool, while Itsey Bitsey Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini blasted through the beachball air. My skin slick in the sun, tall and slender woman-child. My mother would never dress me so skimpily. There are white spots on my abdomen, too almost a dessert, sweet as prawns. His gaping swelled in waves, following my every move. The prawns, saved from large predators (except me), pulse like living hearts in my hand, the juices in my mouth, water. I wring the heads of females gorged with eggs, scrape away swimmerets with my thumbnail. After the naked twist and kill I hand-trim and flavor-seal. Rinse, peel, and steam. How do they taste, luxuriant with a sweet creamy texture? A leggy walk separates the shell from the meat— the girl from the bone.


V o l . 11 N o . 2

Steven Dieffenbacher

Ice Before this, it was only a possibility flowing from the high country, a silver, mirrored thread. Later it widened, clinging to riverbanks, whitening shoreline rocks across winter’s naked root. At my feet – before sun, before heat, before any rising current – it remains a star-armed glare of crystal armor ready to scar, lattices clinging to grassy hollows in spring’s savage borderland.


Steven Dieffenbacher

Gretchen Diemer Two Poems

Fire Season hills glowed in twenty-four hour daylight, we feared heat

and then rain that Saturday we fell to our knees in the mud

the inevitable flame, took our turns as lookout, went without sleep, breathed the smoke from distant fires

throughout the night rain poured we danced on the bank of the rising tide, grew drunk on a longing

I thought of you, dry riverbeds and all of us dying from thirst

for this night to go on forever for rain to drench the fires

fire stirs a madness stoked by a demand for answers, tell us where you land when your body disintegrates in smoke

end this drought, wash away dust and drown me in this world without you.



Lemongrass —for Jeff and KattiJo I light lemongrass incense in early morning a tangerine holder and plate for the ash. Gnats hang around my eyes and mouth. Fumes drive them away. Smoke from this small ember reminds me of home. Black spruce in flames. Fire closer with each lightning strike our words dissolved in dog howl and wind. Silent morning follows the night chatter of coqui frogs. The deep cowbell pulses of Hawaiian tree crickets, soft sleigh bell voices of Uhini iki disappear in the invader’s night chorus. When I open my mouth in protest I lose my voice in the scent of lemongrass. Moose and bear, rabbit and arctic squirrels stampede, lost in a black cloud of dust. Water in my glass steams and a light green gecko licks the condensation from the table, sunlight filters through banana leaves, mangos glow like small planets on fire. Dozers blaze a road through the forest a break between you and the flames how beautiful the orange reflection in windows lit up as if you were home The incense burns the tangerine’s thick skin. Our voices tangle in the airwaves a mix of warm ocean current of smoke cleared by salt spray and foam. We speak of the arctic daylight, evacuation, the rain that soon will come. I peel the tangerine, separate it into sections half for the arctic, the other half tossed into the tall Hawaiian grasses where feral pigs insects and wild chickens fight over the scraps.


Nam Nguyen


V o l . 11 N o . 2

Solar Flair

Tami Phelps

Eileen Duncan Walsh

Appearing Act Randall Dills

The Last Days The hottest summer on record. Before an A-frame beach cabin on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, she sits under the sun, cross-legged, drinking water from a canteen, droplets leaking down her smile lines. Sailboats idle in the strait, waiting for wind, reflected light from spars signaling secret messages to the uninitiated on shore. She watches butterflies, a shimmering fortunate few, the last of the luminous orange Checkerspots flitting above beach grass, coruscating like tiny distant explosions. She worries about the volcanoes—the ash might blot out the sun, the lava drown us in hellfire. She turns, runs into the cabin, screen door slamming, echoing, rousing the Great Dane, whose dolorous howl, like a fermata, drifts, and drifts, and drifts, over ocean spray— 57 days without rain.

A cuttlefish descends, cloak-like onto brown coral with crannies and stubs, or lengths of red kelp cut with shadow. Sand and shell fragments that shift in tide cause its skin to pearl and prick, to mirror. One fringe of fin girds the circumference, no spines or tines to reveal it. It undulates, hypnotic as a flame in the dark while tentacles poise to strike, or it can rest like a thin husk of kelp, and vanish. One porous bone under the sleek back buoys it. Bone that tapers like a feather, miniscule chambers that hold or release air against the briny press of the sea. Its topside grainy, as if wind trailed restlessly across sand. Each cuttlefish hides within lives set in rock, barb, or frond; fragments it passes by transform it. Yet it carries that one bone within that inhales and exhales, that perfects the eclipsed art of floating.



Gene Ervine

Lost Time We are told to make up for lost time, dawn raking a peak, a pyramid or even a whole range with light. Or sunsets that we haven’t seen pouring night into the Grand Canyon. But somehow we never can, it all flows onward and we are left noticing how quickly the light changes, moonrise to moonset or sunrise to sunset, to gloaming, dusk to dark of night. Hoarfrost melts, pictures lost in the revolution of our planet until there is only one door left for each of us to walk through into a place we have never been. Catch as much as you can of the gestures this world makes toward the light, present or past. Capture it all, with pen, ink, brush and paints or camera for the future. Try and hang on, to hold fast to the light and past wisdom, in this dim time with darkness looming. We need light fast, right now! All of it!

Vic Cavalli

Helena Fagan

Zoom Burial We waited an extra hour while the Chevra Kadisha,* two women short of the usual four, vigilantly prepared you. We waited while they wrapped you, my sister, in a white shroud with no pocket, all wealth left behind as you returned to the earth. I witnessed from my sofa, and though I could not see your coffin already resting in your grave, knew the plain pine, no nails, no embellishment.


V o l . 11 N o . 2

No pallbearers, no measured walk from the chapel, only ten bandits and the bandit rabbi at the grave; masks, gloves, hats making it hard to tell my nieces apart. The virus prescribed the rules, demanded each family bring their own shovel, no passing from hand to hand for your ritual last tucking in. We watched your husband crumple, fold toward the earth, his shovel falter, shards from his heart shattering mine. We heard the rabbi console and pray and then whiskey, your favorite, the entire bottle poured by your daughter onto the fresh dirt, conjuring your jubilant party-girl self. We saw our beloved lilacs tossed after the whiskey, surely invoking, for those of us who had traveled to Poland, the armful I carried into Auschwitz. We chanted, finally, the Kaddish, lips moving in frame after frame of Zoom companions with muted mics, then Julie waved into the camera, announced: I guess this is it.

*The society that prepares Jewish bodies for burial.

Stone Bridge

Jill Johnson



David Fewster

1969: A Suite in 3 Parts 1. Prelude “Mom, can I go to Woodstock?” In August of 1969, I am 10 years old. On school nights, my bedtime is 8 p.m., which puts me pretty much out of the loop when my 5th grade classmates are discussing the cool tv shows in the morning before the bell. (I think I was 16 before my curfew was raised to 10 o’clock.) Nonetheless, I’m optimistic about my chances. After all, I live in Rochester, in upstate NY, only a couple hours’ drive to Yasgur’s farm, and I feel this gives me an edge over kids in, say, Ohio or Nevada. “No,” my mother replies. “It’s not fair,” I protest. “Lydia Lunch’s parents said she could go, and I’m invited. Her babysitter, Kathy Acker, said she’d be our chaperone, so we’ll have proper adult supervision. Hunter Thompson is gonna drive us on the back of his Vincent Black Shadow, so you know it’ll be TOTALLY SAFE!” “You’re grounded,” explained my mother. “And I’m locking your comic books in the pantry for a week.” Lydia Lunch is from Rochester, NY. She is my age. In 1977 when we are both 18, we will tell our lousy, reactionary, square, voted-for-Nixon parents to stuff it and shake the dust of our podunk, industrial-wasteland shithole hometown off our shoes, Lydia heading for New York City, where she will become the undisputed queen of the No Wave’s music & film scene, me to Los Angeles, where I will learn to operate a 10-key calculator by touch. Only posterity will tell which one of us got the better deal.

Frigid Alaska Flamingo

Janet Klein

2. Main Theme Ringo hated his life. Ringo was in the studio with George working on a new song. George loved Ringo but sometimes George talked to him as if he (Ringo) was an idiot. Ringo was pretty sick of all the Beatles. What he really wanted to do was to join Yoko Ono’s band. The is a youtube on the internet of Yoko and the Beatles jamming, a minute-and-a-half fragment of Yoko screaming and highly distorted instruments bashing away that makes the Velvet Underground sound like the Beach Boys. And I’m sure a lot of the rage and aggression of this music was directly based on the conflicting threads of personal hatred connecting the participants, but in the middle of the maelstrom sat Ringo, drumming like a maniac, drumming like he was having the best time of his life, drumming like a release from bondage,

V o l . 11 N o . 2 a reprieve from those 2 years where he (Ringo) sat in the corner of the studio like a schmuck, smoking thousands of cigarettes and listening to some guy in a tuxedo from the Royal Philharmonic hit the same note on a timpani for 8 hours straight. Fuck that shit, that’s not why he got into Rock ‘n’ Roll. Ringo Starr, the man with the best backbeat in Liverpool. And don’t even mention George and his goddamn tabla players. Anyhow, what has George got to be so smug about? Ringo knows for a fact that his neglected wife is running around with Eric Clapton. Ringo identifies a lot with Eric Clapton these days, but he is afraid of John. John loves Ringo, too, but John is a mean drunk and if he got wind of his mate’s obsession with his new girlfriend he might very well bust a pint of Guinness across Ringo’s jaw. Not like George, who, when confronted with any unpleasantness, just muttered “Hare Krishna” over and over under his breath and sequestered himself in a hotel room with the Apple Scruffs. The only Beatle who doesn’t love Ringo is Paul. Paul wants all the love in the world for himself. Paul got rid of Pete Best so he could be the prettiest one in the band, and what possible threat could the dude with the enormous schnoz and backbeat be? Who would have guessed the sonofabitch was so LOVABLE? Oh well, he was part of the corporation now, and Paul’s job was to keep the corporation afloat. When Yoko first moved to London, Paul, as the only single Beatle, was the focus of her interest, but Paul was the kind of guy who would add one of his trite harmonies to “Don’t Worry, Kyoko, It’s Only Mummy’s Hand Lying in the Snow” and then demand co-writing credit. Screw that guy. Ringo’s love, however, was pure. His only dream was to be worthy to play on a song as good as “Don’t Worry, Kyoko, It’s Only Mummy’s Hand Lying in the Snow.” But for that to happen, he has to write a hit song for the new album Ringo forces himself to pay attention once more to George’s blather about chord changes. He will try. Echos Thiele He willJim try not to be an idiot.



3. Coda In 1943, there was a Warner Brothers cartoon, “HARE RIBBIN’”, directed by Robert Clampett. In it, Bugs Bunny and a hunting dog with a blond pompadour & Hungarian accent trade insults for a minute, dive into a lake, and spend the remaining 6 minutes of wacky shenanigans totally underwater for no apparent reason except for the animator’s playing with a ripple effect, and no explanation whatsoever as to why breathing and talking are able to continue unimpeded in what would seem to be unnatural and out-of-the-ordinary circumstances. It is one of the most surreal things I have ever seen. It is 2019. In a top-floor penthouse of a huge Miami Beach highrise a secret conference is being held by a consortium of billionaire real estate tycoons, developers, and their highest-ranked political factotums. A large video screen to the left of the podium is playing “The Cocoanuts”, the Marx Bros. first film from 1929 and one of the earliest sound pictures. Chico is trying to sell Groucho some swamp land. No one is laughing. No one has laughed at “The Cocoanuts” in almost a century. It’s a satire of the Florida land boom of the 1920s, and everyone who understood its points of reference are long since dead. The men at the conference watch the film like it was a documentary. The last time they laughed at a movie was 2006, when, in “An Inconvenient Truth”, Al Gore showed a power-point map of their state 2/3rds underwater. “Crazy Al!” they screamed, guffawing and peeing their pants in derisive glee. That joke’s over. Now they are looking at trillions of dollars of assets reduced to the value of an expired Safeway Monopoly game tab. And it’s not just the 1% who will be affected— regular folks, ones who were maybe counting on the little windfall/nestegg from Grandma’s condo in Ft. Lauderdale when she croaked—what’s that gonna be worth when the only thing it’ll be good for is as a B&B for starfish? And what’s going to happen to the millions who wake up and find their backyard is now part of the Gulf of Mexico? Florida has been the linch-pin red state for every



V o l . 11 N o . 2

regressive and inhumane legislative and judicial policy for the last 40 years that have made our country into Satan’s Spawn in the eyes of the world. Who in the other 49 states wants to take in this flood of cry-baby entitled refugees when they come scratching at our doors in what future generations will refer to as “The Great Asshole Migration of 2069”? NOBODY! That’s why Trump wanted to buy Greenland—so these fuckers would have a PLACE TO GO. The mood at the conference is bleak and somber. At the podium, a panel of gray-skinned scientists ramble incoherently about gill transplants, oxygen pills, nuclear-powered hydraulic ventilation systems. Suddenly Dr. Strangelove, still alive (!), wheels himself onstage and grabs a mike, brushing the panel aside like so many mosquitoes. “Gentlemen,” he booms, “I see no reason vhy it is our responsibility to incur the expenses of our customers’ modifications. They vill have to make their own adjustments, because it is in their best interest. Like Bugs Bunny.” At this, a curtain in back parted and a huge projection exploded on the wall like a ray of sunshine. The once-silent audience breaks into applause. Appearing before them was an artist-rendition of a 227 story highrise. 220 of the stories are underwater. Over the display, a banner reads “CUTTING-EDGE RETIREMENT/URBAN LIVING. STUDIOS START AT $800,000. WELCOME HOME. WELCOME TO OCTOPUS GARDENS.”

Step Up

Lindsey Morrison Grant



Nancy Fowler

A Passage through Chihuahua

We travel south in our air-conditioned bus, with window shades to block the glare from sunlight on the saline flats. A white wood cross, fades against the grays, the greens of sage, the rock-strewn mocha earth. A testament to those who progress north, survive the harsh Sonoran desert; those who trade us strength and endurance for cheap wages. Landscape, indistinguishable from many parched acres, except here waving flags and scowling sentries, rifles slung carelessly over their shoulders. Two cousin countries face each other on either side of an imagined line. The bus well supplied with bottled water, our thirst to be quenched is for knowledge and understanding. We seek the remnants of a pre-Hispanic people, yet avert our eyes from their descendants, who scuff along the road beside us.

Ancient Message

Long miles later, a dusty complex of broken walls. I imagine rustling water, the fragrance of roasted corn, the sweetness of baked agave. A flute song softly calls above the tumbling mix of sounds. Echoes of ten thousand voices within Casas Grandes, where macaw feathers of scarlet, burnished gold and azure blue, and baskets of shells from the gulf far south were traded for pounded silver and for turquoise from their northern Puebloan brothers. Outside this dreamscape: warehouse remnants made with cages that once held birds, both captured and bred, now skeletons ground by time, with feathers still intact. And heaps of shells, scattered in basements near bones of slaves doomed to live and die in darkness to make necklaces for trade. But on this day, laborers with rusted trowels and buckets filled with drying mud, patch the crumbled world together, and watch as we wander dirt paths among adobe ruins, along a snaking stone wall, the god Quetzalcoatl, the Feathered Serpent, who promised resurrection.

Jim Thiele


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Leslie Fried

Seward First Winter On Christmas Eve Pastor Ben tells it like it is says he’s gonna sing and he is nervous exclaiming over and over to us the hopeful you wanna make it happen you gotta sing sing out sing your guts out and he does finally The First Noel a cappella shaky to start then strong really strong I get it and bundle out alone down Fourth to the bay earthly cold and animal still to the other clamorous congregation of aching hearts that sing “Baby you make me feel” steeped in holy wine, beer and peanuts the night ticking away to beautiful Christmas.

Shoe slick town by a bay Resurrection they say I fear even now the wall of water could come any day carry me past bars, churches and knick-knack shops am I the only one waiting even in dream time for the sea to slip mountain to crack for the siren blast leave now get in the car don’t forget the kit: a set of clothes, snacks the wind-up radio, flashlight and list of emergency contacts, or just run brain singing heart singing bones singing as Fourth Avenue slips shakes grinds its gears and the sea rises crescendo of black water and rock then sleeps the night ticking away to beautiful Christmas.

XMas Tree on Beach

Toni La Ree Bennett



Knik River Mouth

Annekathrin Hansen

Lenora Rain-Lee Good

Baby Whale and Ferry Boat On the ferry to Anacortes a small bow wave never moved, never wavered. A baby whale, the Purser told us, thinks the ferry is mom,

Jim Hanlen

hears the engine as her heartbeat, the side's smooth and warm, just like her.

All I know is what I have words for. —Wittgenstein

Don’t worry, he said, When we dock baby will hear mom’s call. He’ll be fine Mom will be happy And I'll go get a cold beer.

The Old Poet When he talks about his creek he can only point and say that space over there, no words for tall trees, round sky or dirt, words that hold his life. His brain has emptied out, all that was rooted, now lost, words that slip under water. He had an idea he said. It's in that space over there. He once could jump one space to another and the creek danced with him. He kissed the blue. Now all he knows is the spaces are without words. Winter Flow

Steven Dieffenbacher


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Suzy Harris

Endogamy It’s Duane, he says. I’d like to know how we are related. He knows this because we have enough fragments of matching DNA to trigger the algorithm. I don’t see any names in common he says. His people are Scandinavian. Somewhere, though, he has hidden in his tree 12 percent Ashkenazi Jewish roots. Look there, I tell him. Somewhere in my 92 percent, there is a distant ancestor from the Russian border of Lithuania or near the German Black Forest who married a tall pale-haired stranger from the north, and somewhere Duane has dark-haired distant cousins who light candles but don’t know why.


Jim Thiele

Jennifer Healey

The Cave Writing through grief Is to be in a cave Under a mountain Trying to crawl from one side To the other On bare hands and tender knees In the pitch black Eyes searching and scanning For some spark Any light at all To lead the way to The next space ahead

Sometimes there is energy to tunnel through Solid rock with my only tool A plastic spork I think I’ve travelled so very far Many yards This is progress sister! Sometimes I spend weeks Crawling in a small circle Forming a depression With my own tears Like the pool made by the Drip drip drip of water From that massive stalactite up there

Sometimes sitting very still Getting comfy in here Listening to blackness Feeling silence Time is passing outside Millennia But here in the grief cave All is still My own breath the only real thing



Alicia Hokanson

The Grounding Line Cedars drop their yellowed fronds and the forest crackles underfoot. The sturdy ferns collapse under road-side dust as sun rises orange in haze and smoke from northern fires. Unrelenting heat in June saps the refuge from even this remote beach. News of storms and fires and acidic seas dries out the heart a little more each day. Antarctic glaciers retreating fast at the grounding line detach and begin to float, the ice sheet melting into the amplitude of tides, into diminishing returns, the inevitable sea level rise in meters, in meters over the coming years.

Flying over Canada, with a god’s-eye view I looked through the cloudless blue, down to the shores of Hudson’s Bay and saw it as a warm Riviera someday, and Greenland’s icy slabs fingering into the Atlantic grew greener under their frosted glaze. Now late August rain blown in on unseasonable storms has drenched our island’s soil and washed away the dust. Each morning the yellowing maples brighten a little more in the dew. The ferns lift their spiky greens above the soaked moss floor. Even in the heart of the disaster, the forest keeps trying its one unassailable word: renew.


Jack Broom


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Michael Hughes

Okinoshima Sun and clouds pass over the silver sky, and I think of death on the deck of a ship going to Okinoshima. I am already so close and every minute living is agonizing without light warmth or love. No, I don’t want to die, but the need of jumping from a high place or cutting a rusty knife across my throat— I close my eyes towards the vast sea And think of the woman and her baby I met and even for a minute, even if I lose myself and can never come back, I cling to their love Maybe— if I call my family when I get to my hotel room and cling to their love on this Christmas day, something will take root and grow into a new life


Jim Thiele



Sarah Isto

Husband He sets for me a rocking chair sideways on the narrow porch, knowing now our stairs are steepened by age and ills, and knowing my need for the imprint of yellow birches against an equinox-blue sky, the way they give their leaves to the frosted earth and stunted spruces, bright coins caught between dark needles, for the probability of sandhill cranes overhead calling one another to hold together as they spiral an updraft or stream their wavering V toward a gap in the fresh-snow mountains, for the mourning-cloak butterflies resting on a log or my shoulder, dark wings outstretched to catch the sun of shortening days before the chill pause of hibernation. He, my long-lasting husband, knows my need for the voice of the low-sung creek narrowed from the gush of May, my need to think forward to its first fragile skim ice, easily shattered, spinning downstream in glittering shards. Birth of winter’s long white, the final season of our years.

A Day to Remember, Turnagain Pass, Alaska

Tami Phelps


V o l . 11 N o . 2 Brenda K. Jaeger

Keeping in Step I have devoted my life to asymmetry and am now attempting Nirvana through guitar study with the metronome bliss found in steady rhythm an experience of uniform clicks the mundane elevated a trapeze swing to the next note being in sync with tempo breathing time and space in finite units I dance with the linear I embrace the sequential I lose myself in the all-knowing measured sound that somehow beats not long enough for a howl but short enough for a yelp and keeps coming no matter what


Nard Claar

Eric Johnson

Baxter Bog 1955 Below zero we cleared snow and skated on black ice that cracked and moaned. Methane bubbles hung suspended below our blades snickering and carving the surface to sugar. No houses stood within sight to see us Only a few black dwarf swamp spruce.

Underwater Leaves

Steven Dieffenbacher

Summertime we slogged over the tussocks, sometimes catching sight of trumpeter swans landing, legs outstretched forward, with white ungainly wings backpedaling furiously. Stripped to our underwear we dove into the icy water, only the top two feet warmed by the sun. We would swim down under the moss and sedges that jutted out from shore forming a watery cave. Roots hung down in the frigid darkness as our feet scissored and slithered the oozing peat below. On shore again and running home after pulling our pants over milk-white goose-pimpled thighs, to mother, panicked at what we had done. They never found the Cessna that sank in the sonar sucking muck. There is no bottom’s bottom to Baxter Bog.



Susan Johnson

To the Yakama Nation In the Yakima River at Roza Dam you collect returning salmon. You suck the sockeye through a tube into a silver tank. You truck them north a hundred miles, canyons, shrub-steppe, farms, and prairies, to Cascade slopes and Lake Cle Elum trapped above the dam. Then swoosh, a rush of scales into the water, the smell of home upstream, cold gravel beds, memory alive, a century denied. They fight, they dig, they nest, they drift above a thousand eggs, then rest in death like ghosts along the river edge. And is it love that leads you back and forth through time, and so to rise above the dams restoring life we thought was lost, and so to know the pulse of fish, of river, people, land?

Yakima River

Judith Skillman


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Carolyn Kremers

The Arctic Refuge Coastal Plain: Fifteen Motets 1999-2021 1. From the south: river rafts, folding kayaks, inflatable canoes. From the north: polar bear mothers coming to make dens. From the east: 120,000 caribou. From the Platte River, New England, the Rocky Mountains, Hawaii, South America, Asia, Africa, Australia, Antarctica: millions of birds. From Kaktovik: Inupiat hunters traveling by boat and snowmachine. From the Gwich’in: no one. This place is sacred. 2. Anyone who has been here and listened for more than a day understands. Or can, or might. A tiny blue butterfly flits to a yellow poppy. Lands. Folds up like a brown leaf. This destination is far and very wet. Songbirds, dragonflies, fat bumblebees: all are buzzing, whirring, humming, singing. Their wings are powered not by oil but by energy from the sun. Already they have taught us humans much. Where is our patience to keep listening?


Nard Claar





In the twenty-first century, some politicians used the word footprint.

If the people understood their relationship to all the four-leggeds and bushes and bugs and rocks and rainstorms around them,

They said they wanted to put it in the birthing grounds of the Arctic Refuge Coastal Plain. They called this primal place The 1002 Area and compared it to the size of Long Island, New York. The footprint would be only two thousand acres, they said, with drill pads, oil wells, pipelines, ice roads. (There was little water to make ice roads.)

if the people could fathom their vulnerability to the oceans and jet stream and thinning ice, they would want to protect this piece of coast for its own sake and for the planet and for their children and their children’s children, in perpetuity.

They seemed to think that only numbers were needed to paint this picture.

Until the sun becomes a cinder.


Some people said they would do whatever they could to keep drilling out of the Refuge. They gave money. They wrote letters, made phone calls, published editorials, articles, books, poems, photographs. They persuaded friends and relatives, flew to Washington DC, wore buttons, armbands, polar bear suits, carried signs, sang songs, stood in the rain and snow and hot sun. Some of them said they would take part, if necessary, in civil disobedience.

We never saw, we’ve only heard stories, read about, seen paintings of the multitudes of bison that wandered the rich grasslands and dry ravines of the Great Plains and the forests of northwest Canada. No one knows the total number of bison before Europeans arrived, but estimates range from thirty to sixty million. Never encountering a fence, a road or machinery, those endless herds gave food, clothing, shelter, and hope to human beings like us.


They said they would go to jail.


V o l . 11 N o . 2 The wind-swept snow and jumbled sea, the filigree No chirping chickadees, no distant hum of traffic No sounds


the whine of wind that quickly covers all our tracks:

Arctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea)

Nancy Deshu

7. I have read that the ecosystems of the world are linked by birds. Such a beautiful, musical image -arctic tern to Antarctica buff-breasted sandpiper to Argentina northern wheatear to Morocco sandhill crane to Mexico tundra swan to South Carolina. If the ecosystems of the world are linked by birds, though, what happens if some of the links get broken? 8. Five days and nights in April 2007: a trip by snowmachine to photograph the Coastal Plain before it turns to spring – Boulders in the river, tumbling yet mute, suspended in transparent turquoise ice A single snowy owl, its eyes like yellow coins

Two snowmachines, two sleds, two male voices and one female A hammering of tent pegs into hard ice Water poured from a bottle to freeze and lock the tent pegs in Soft poof! of three caribou pelts tossed inside the tent to insulate the Arctic Oven's canvas floor Percussive fugue of parkas and sleeping bags zipping and unzipping The pumping pumping pumping propane stove Fog, white on white. Some days the sun burns through the fog in silken veils -apricot, saffron, watermelon Wind Silence Wind



9. November 2013 to December 2014 Dear Senators from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming: Most Alaska politicians refuse to support protection of the Arctic Refuge Coastal Plain. Or else they're afraid to. What about you? Please know that many Alaskans are not afraid. Please help us. In the face of climate change and the urgent need for citizens worldwide to turn away from dependence on fossil fuels, please support S. 1695 and designate the Coastal Plain as wilderness. 10. After President O's administration announces on January 26, 2015, that it will designate – by executive order – the Arctic Refuge Coastal Plain as wilderness, Senator M (AK) holds a televised press conference: “This administration has effectively declared war on Alaska," she says. "That's my view of it. And those are some pretty tough words. But what we saw on Sunday with the announcement that this administration is going to move towards permanent wilderness status for ANWR…it is a 1-2-3 kick to the gut of Alaska's economy. And we have said as a delegation that we will not stand it. We will not tolerate and we will do everything that we can to push back against an administration that has taken a look at Alaska and decided, 'It's a nice little snow-globe up there and we're gonna keep it that way.'”

V o l . 11 N o . 2 11. Dear Senator M, You speak with a stormy face and mighty voice, as if for all Alaskans. You admonish the President and the Secretary of the Interior for choosing sustainability, an intact ecosystem, and the future of the planet. You threaten to wield your power, as Chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee, like an oligarch with a gun. Your voice is angry and it is loud. But loud does not equate with truth nor transformation. 12. On November 8, 2017, Senator M, continuing as chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee, introduces a bill to open the Arctic Refuge Coastal Plain to oil and gas drilling. She has introduced similar bills before, without success, but this time her legislation will be attached to a tax bill supported by President T and many Congressional Republicans. Senator M predicts that the legislation will generate two billion dollars in royalties over the next ten years. According to the plan, half of the money will go to the state of Alaska and half will go to the federal government to offset tax cuts. The committee approves Senator M's proposal, 13 to 10, and the legislation moves to the Senate. On December 2, the Senate passes its version of the tax bill, 51 to 49, including the rider to open the Coastal Plain to oil and gas drilling. On December 20, the House of Representatives passes the reconciled version of the bill, including the rider, 224 to 201, and two days later President T signs the tax bill into law. On February 1, 2018, during a speech in West Virginia, President T tells why he supported keeping the drilling provision in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: "I really didn't care about it, and then when I heard that everybody wanted it – for forty years they've been trying to get it approved – I said, 'Make sure you don't lose ANWR!'"




13. In May 2019, several hundred Alaskans sign a letter to selected members of the House Natural Resources committee: Dear Representatives, We are writing as Alaskans to extend a hearfelt thank you for your vote in the House Natural Resources committee on H.R. 1146, The Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plain Protection Act. This historic vote marks a major Congressional effort to bring a bill to the floor that will advance protections for the Coastal Plain, rather than playing defense to oil and gas lobby efforts to exploit and forever change this sacred region for short-term financial gain. Alaskans are grateful for your work in elevating this issue to national attention… There are many in power who only see Alaska's future as a petro-state and who work to silence the many voices among us who do not agree with this vision. But we are here, and we come from all walks of life. We claim settler and indigenous heritage. We are young and old, rural and urban, and we are committed to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for spiritual, ethical, and economic reasons. We thank you for standing alongside us. 14. On September 12, 2019, the Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plain Protection Act is passed by the House of Representatives, 225-193. The Act is sent to the Senate, where it is read twice and referred to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee (Senator M still chair). By April 2020, five of the six largest banks in the United States – Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, and Citigroup – have announced they will no longer fund drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Only Bank of America remains. On August 17, 2020, the federal government announces its finalized plan to open the entire 1.56 million-acre area of the Arctic Refuge Coastal Plain to oil and gas drilling. The Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plain Protection Act, passed nearly a year earlier by the House of Representatives, remains in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee with Senator M. On August 24, two lawsuits are filed against the federal government over its plan. Written by indigenous and environmental groups, the lawsuits argue that the federal government did not adequately comply with environmental laws that require thorough impact assessments, and therefore it is illegal to open the Coastal Plain to the first oil lease sale, scheduled for December 22, 2020. On September 10, a coalition of fifteen states files a lawsuit that includes a request for a preliminary injunction. The injunction would prohibit the federal government from conducting oil lease sales in the Coastal Plain until the broader issues of the lawsuit are resolved.

V o l . 11 N o . 2

On November 30, Bank of America announces it will not finance oil and gas exploration in the Arctic. On January 5, 2021, a federal judge in Anchorage denies requests for a preliminary injunction made in three lawsuits filed by environmental organizations, tribal groups, and the fifteen-state coalition. The judge rules that the federal government will be allowed to conduct the lease sale. On January 6 – the day the US Capitol in Washington, DC, is attacked by hundreds of rioters attempting to stop certification of the Electoral College ballot count – sealed bids on oil leases in the Coastal Plain are opened in a live-streamed event held by the Bureau of Land Management. Only 11 of the 22 available tracts of land receive bids, from only three bidders. The bidders are Alaska's state-owned economic development corporation, a small privately owned Alaska-based company, and a subsidiary of an Australia-based company. No major oil company has submitted a bid. The amount of money raised from the lease sale is 14.4 million dollars, far less than the amount expected by Senator M in 2017. On January 20, President B signs an executive order that places a temporary moratorium on all oil and gas leasing activities in the Arctic Refuge. The order directs the Department of the Interior to review the leasing program and do a new analysis of its potential environmental impacts. Four lawsuits against the leasing program continue in the courts. 15. The battle for the Arctic Refuge Coastal Plain shimmers on and on Pay attention, says the Earth to all the earthlings Be resourceful Think back, think now, think far ahead Bear witness and

bring song / discuss / resist / discuss / resist / discuss / resist / discuss

Be humbled, amazed





Denali Schmidt

David Laws

And Now, a Word from Our Sponsors As a child I thought the warbling of birds was trying to tell me an important message, a missive from heaven, or perhaps from some feral place, a world somehow more authentic than my own small reality. Then I became “educated,” and I learned that birdsong is in reality about territory and mating, and that was helpful. It made me realize that I am not so very unusual, just another creature on the planet, lost, looking for safety and comfort, the hope of all on our sad, terrible, beautiful orb. Now that I’m older and my own departure fast approaches, I understand that warbling robins and screeching hawks, howling coyotes, croaking frogs, chirping crickets, the heat of the desert, the bitter cold of a blizzard, the smells of the deep forest and of the ocean air, the whisper of the wind through pine needles, and even the stoic silence of the mountains have a meaning larger than for me alone. I hunger for that message every day.


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Eric le Fatte

White Chuck Glacier It was as much the same glacier, as it could be. He had found the same spot. The black and white photo he compared over and over with placements of outcrops and lines of the ridges attested to that. They had aged. He was bitter and carried the passing of those in the photo like injuries. He noted how far the snow had receded, how the peaks jutted like discolored incisors through gums of the earth. Glacier I

Kay Haneline

They had kept to themselves and eroded on separate calendars. The glacier had lost its bravado. His joints and faith ached like the shearing of ice, still it smoothed some of the fractures to commune with the basin again. Rosemary Lombard

Eruption At my library’s celebration of Poetry Month, a small pile of magnetic words yielded this poem. rock-s jump-ing soar above mountain and sky earth animal-s star-e and say imagine the joy we to-o could fly Boulder Tree

Matt Witt



Janis Lull

That Time I Was Stung By a stingray, in the Sea of Cortez, Where I was lucky to be Wading like a queen in the warm bay, I thought, shark, because my leg felt gone. Out of the water came A bloody stump, didn't it? No. The leg was all there. Then how Could it hurt so much? A mystery. I never saw the fish, But someone on the beach said, Ray. Put it in boiling water. Which I did, almost, and damned If that didn't work. I was as happy As I've ever been, With my boiled leg and answered prayer: Let my body be my body still; It's everything I know.

Impression, Cape Otway, Victoria, Australia

Caitlin M.S. Buxbaum

Shawn Lyons

October Draped in gabardine, a dress out of date With soiled sleeves and frayed hem, and donned In leather sandals, stiffened and mudded by wear, She sluggishly passes over the dank earth, Dangling brown and black threads behind her. She passes, streaking the wet-leafed ground, Dragging decayed stems of weeds and clinging Twigs behind her, as she insensibly makes Her sad-eyed pilgrimage, treading heavily, Squishing the mulch of rot in her oozy prints. Above the bared trees a distant honking Jerks her awake and yanks her eyes skyward As the flock follows their noising into sight— A wave of geese traversing the twilight sky, Companions to her procession across the land.


Steven Dieffenbacher

She looks with longing from the darkening earth As another and another and another flock pass, Each wavering V of wings vectoring southward, All honking in homage as they wing over her, And disappear into the far-off glow.


V o l . 11 N o . 2

Jenny McBride

Jerry McDonnell

Climate Talks

WhoooooPee 2021

While you were talking another chunk broke off the Greenland ice sheet; there were no survivors.

What the hell they throwing at us in 2021? I’m greasing up my outfielder’s mitt, in the batter’s box, like Ty Cobb, giving the evil eye to the second baseman, filing my cleats, double tying my shoelaces, getting ready for the Show, the majors.

Hope was spotted flirting with leaders from developing nations, but she couldn’t get past security and enter the official area.

All I need is a contract.

While you were talking you might better have listened to the wisdom of the speechless, barely audible in the crashing of troubled seas.

Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream. Merrily, merrily, merrily life can be a dream. Allemande Left, Right and Left Grand, now Do Si Do and Promenade all.

Paris going down in flames of luxury hotels stuffed with delegates to a conference chiefly concerned with sustaining inequality. Coffee, anyone?

Crash on in virus, what goes around comes around head-on . . . pandemics history forgotten, luck be enough? Buckle up! That corona isn’t a beer chaser it’s rotgut whiskey. Hunker in cats, be ready for the show. Take the leap. New Year; try again for glory road, maximum output, watch the tree grow nose the flower, grab your ass, good times came once. It’ll happen again. Take a double header. Play it again Sam. Be the dude, man. Abide.

Glowing Harvest

Mandy Ramsey



Karla Linn Merrifield

Nightmare Rainbow There is a wailing question raised in flaming red, the haute couture of divorce. There is a wailing question posed in the garish yellow of modish cremation. Broken

Jill Johnson

David McElroy

Kintsugi You break and become more interesting, unsettling in grief, clattering in pieces like a broken bowl skittering across the floor. Some might call, some help you sweep your mess to align the design, make fit the jagged edge of what makes you whole. The crash, the slow smash of loss coming on is always there, but lacquer dusted with gold writes calligraphy mending your breakage.

There is a wailing question echoes in corny orange, day-glo, hippie spirit snuffed. There is a wailing question recorded in the green mansions of howler monkeys slaughtered. There is a wailing question reverberating in blue whales of blue oceans poisoned. There is a wailing question reprised in indigo rain of tropical trees deforested. There is a wailing question prayed in ultraviolet light of mountains still burning.

You might be useful again, bring food, water, or wine to those you love along with story of man’s repair. In time you might find yourself walking in a heaven of trees on a boardwalkwide boards, good footing, singing birds, handrails where appropriate.

Red Dresses

Lucy Tyrrell


V o l . 11 N o . 2

Tillamook House

Ruby Hansen Murray Two Poems

On Puget Island You who are neither fish nor fowl, neither fisher nor farmer, neither a retiree seeking bucolic spaces, nor a home girl generations in place walk to the river bank. In the house where Madeline lived twenty years ago, an old couple eating dinner. The man in a white undershirt facing the window, his wife beside him, framed in the picture window, a dark buffet behind them. Spiders like stars between the boom and cab of an abandoned crane, the yellow paint gone ochre and rust. A frilly lampshade in the dairyman’s house, an osprey on the navigation lamp, the curving eave on a guesthouse. In what had been Emerick’s, the cattle ranchers shape a barn by Temple Granden, work cattle on horseback. The too bright yellow, red and blue of Adirondack chairs on a deck beside the slough. Geese fly over, plaintive, did you hear, did you hear, did you hear?

Nancy Woods



1000 Pilots Wendover is abandoned, a row of barracks, weathered, windows boarded up, but the grounds are clear of tumbleweeds, blowing trash. In the ballroom of the officer’s service club, photographs of flight crews beside the sharp nose of a cockpit. USO dances, young men and women, wholesome, their uniforms, seamless skin, World War II conflated, polished into the Greatest Generation. In the snack bar, display boards with laminated documents from the air base. “Fiscal and Audit Files, Auditor’s working papers… 1946, “Bomb Design and Testing, Dropping the Bomb, Internal Security.” “Prior to the activation of W-47 at Wendover, early drop tests of the weapon had been made at another secret installation called Muroc, conducted by civilian technical groups stationed at Project Y [Los Alamos]. Outlined. Indentation. Verbs rendered, definitions, acronyms. A mechanic in a pit under the bomb bay of the Enola Gay. Each photo one moment during the war, when these men stopped, the PR photographers after them, again. The 216th Special Ordnance Detachment. Little Boy destroyed Hiroshima; Fat Man, Nagasaki. The pilots flew from Tinian in the Mariana Islands to Japan. A crew in the shadow of the UP an’ Atom on Tinian, men in shorts sit on the tarmac with legs folded, others crouch, the flight crew stands behind. They are lean, their clavicles fragile, bones visible beneath the skin. Some are deeply tanned. Most, but not all, are smiling. Each word an indictment, so coded with meaning, it cannot be taken lightly, little boy fat man. The words come apart under the weight they carry. The glow of hindsight, fashioning a narrative. Courage would mean a deeper look. Roof Lucy Tyrrell


V o l . 11 N o . 2

Vivienne Popperl

Piano Lessons Kopjes, South Africa 1925

Miss E. Bell-Robinson stands behind white lace curtains. Her fingers circle a cut-glass goblet. An amber liquid glints. She watches as I push through the garden gate. She sips as I reach up, lift and drop the brass door knocker. The thick oak door swings open. I blink in the sunless room, inhale the nutty, smoky aroma. Bottles of Irish whisky line a mahogany shelf. Miss E. Bell-Robinson sets the goblet on the piano, leans over, presses her long fingers over mine on the keys. Straitch, straitch to th’ octave! ‘ave you bin practicin’? Spread yer fingers! When we play a duet, her lips curl slightly up. The kids in my school spit. Ole spinster! They poke me in the ribs. They yell, ole Bell-Robinson’s panties fell down! They nearly hit the groun’! She picked ‘em up, stuffed ‘em in a pocket in her gown! Drunken ole witch! I twist away, clutch my music book. You don’t know her! I shout. I’d seen the glossy, black and white photo, the smiling pianist, her long fingers poised over the keys, her black dress tight and smooth. I’d seen the certificate, First Prize for Piano Forte, the gold seal. I still sometimes play piano, close my eyes, let the cascade of notes flow over me, smell the nutty, smoky aroma, hear Miss E. Bell-Robinson’s Irish brogue see her lips curl slightly up.

August Vase

Judith Skillman



Shauna Potocky


Tami Phelps

Everything Now Is Patience

She lifts her knotted knuckle hands Greeting ~ Welcome ~ Farewell She is waiting for the salmon.

Elder and I along the waterfront her fireweed face gone to seed long ago.

Face to the South rain on her lips Kittiwakes whirling she retires.

She smiles to me her giant jaw, jowls upturned against the weight of the world.

I take up the watch long Northwest light tide pulling out everything now is patience.


V o l . 11 N o . 2

Diane Ray

Hello? Thought you should know Monday, I’m having Death with Dignity my neighbor calls to say no, she won’t discomfit Reverend she’ll taxi solo, find her own ride My neighbor calls with thanks for acts of ordinary kindness while l squirm and try to figure out the neighborly thing to say Says she’s leaving on a daughter’s blessing, but, no, not God A call between good neighbors, she loved life until Big C No, He didn’t make the guest list she can’t garden, stand, or wander She loved life until it laced Barbed wire in her breathing she can’t eat or lift off pillow, she will fly before C takes her Death RSVP’s, No worries! lets Herself in singing Nina Simone I wish I could fly Like a bird in the sky how it feels to be free Seven minutes of glide time Queen of her own soul­

Faces, Alice Inez

Lindsey Morrison Grant



David Rutiezer

Mother's Day The dress I bought­, patchwork of dark-printed petals,

claim this garment that hastens the blossom colors of yesteryear,

stamens stitched into the fabric’s indigo dusk,

I realize my own hardened intention. I hope

fits her perfectly. Already it has given her

to help her unravel every lie thread by thread.

some of that same peace, how she first walked out the bedroom doorway beaming like a flower. Now there are curves I never knew she had and oh she is one formidable bloom this bright morning, shining from a face that has suited her fine and I dare anyone to look and call her token of a prior time the outdated, unfulfilled servant of immigrant parents, crumpled by unspoken wishes and thyroid cancer, or for one second to mistake her for the clinging woman-child whose object of care scolded her for not attending college, for varicose veins encasing her legs. This is the woman my father made walk five paces behind him in public. As I watch her time-chafed body maintain the shape of perseverance,

Guarding the Door

Jill Johnson


V o l . 11 N o . 2

Steven Schneider

Kachina Natural Bridge Moonglow And the moon rises higher: moonglow, moonshine, lustrous, resplendent. We see it here through the arch of the bridge, the Kachina Natural Bridge, carved from white Permian sandstone, sculpted by erosion, wind, rain. Now the moon rises higher, lights up the sage brush, brittle brush, Mormon tea alongside the arroyo that cuts beneath the bridge. This doubloon of a moon overlooks the White Canyon with its willow, oak, and cottonwood trees. Rock art carved at the base of the bridge – Kachina masks and dancers – dates back a thousand years or more. Surveyor William Douglas named the bridge “Kachina,” a more fitting name than “Caroline,” or “Senator,” the name given to the bridge by gold prospector Cass Hite. We are mindful of the natural and human history that has crossed over and under this natural bridge: ancestral Puebloans, explorers, surveyors, artists, hikers. Here in your painting is the dazzling, brilliant muse of moonstruck poets and artists, sentient sentinel. Now the moon rises higher in this Dark Sky Park, Apache plume, manzanita, and yucca lit up beneath the moonbeams, the moonglow. We will bed down tonight on the soft sand, not far from this Natural Bridge, listen to the coyotes howl across this desert moonscape, our minds bathed in silver, soaking up the light, the light, the light of this full moon.

Kachina Natural Bridge Moonglow

Reefka Schneider



Connie Wasem Scott

The Shape of My Hand We sat together in the yard gazing at October’s last show of green leaves and grass when the new moon slipped behind some clouds, washing all the greens a dull gray, gray as the cement under our picnic bench. I see a handful of crickets dried in a web there. Some say the new moon makes men more kind. But that night, I doubted your kindness, having watched it come and go as quick as desert rain. So I let go of your hand. Solitude

Let’s get out of the desert, you said. I wanted to stay. For a moment, we relaxed in our wanting, our shadows beside us, locked in the sand. Then the slim moon returned and faced us with the back of her head. That's why we left: no rain, the moon’s silence, the shape of no one's obedient hand.

Sheary Clough Suiter

Suzanne Simons

All the Old Thinking —for Breonna Taylor, after Robert Hass All the old thinking is about buying the latest iphone, pleated skirt, bumbershoot. All the old thinking is about fracking, extracting, conquering everything from thimble berries to our fears. All the old thinking is about pummeling your neighbor, the police, our black sister asleep in her bed, dreaming of a halo of bullets. The old thinking shape shifts into fatigue, how tired we are

1 World

Lindsey Morrison Grant

from competing, fighting, killing, wondering where our softness went, how it had something to do with cotton.


V o l . 11 N o . 2

Judith Skillman

The First War They have found the victims on the shore of Lake Turkana. Crushed skulls, embedded arrows and spear points. Even children, but no children of a certain age. Bones scattered in no particular order— perhaps the attackers needed hostages? The pregnant woman with a skeletal fetus in her abdomen. Signs of clubbing, evidence her feet were tied together. For the hunter-gatherers of Nataruk one cannot deny the welling up of anger, the spilling over of blind hunger and hatred. Herding others of their kind up and downhill, through chasm, into ravine. Carrying blunt instruments, urging the captured forward, pressing on until all arrive at the reserve. A quiet place inhabited only by rain.


Kathleen Smith

Eagle Eagle exploded from the sand and into our faces. He squeezed that space, imprinted his world. I felt my held breath hit my spine, our white heads almost touch. Saw golden gleam of beak and talons. Dense Intense Immense Valentine’s day where the Quinault runs into Pacific. Where ocean laps back into river. Where the dog plucks his orange ball from this primal foam at the precise moment before it disappears forever.

Afternoon Sky

Annekathrin Hansen

Lucy Tyrrell



Kaye Spivey

Turning Off I need to be out in open air tonight— I’m losing myself to caps lock rants of faceless names in cramped spaces. I need to listen to the rain drip rhythmically off the roof onto concrete, to people driving home late on a Tuesday, to enjoy the cool air and chill in my toes, the dim light coming through the window— I’ll write this poem by it and eavesdrop on the secrets of the insects who chirp in the bushes below. I’ll leave my phone inside tonight. I’ll leave the ego and the ravings. I’ll sit outdoors like we sometimes did as children with cocoa in our mugs, watching stars and wax candles flicker in the night. I want to take the back-lit screen and remove it from my dreams. I want to reconnect with feeling confident, not braced for an argument at every turn of the mouse wheel— not braced for death and the people bringing it. I am not bored out here by myself. I had forgotten what good company I can be.


Kay Haneline


V o l . 11 N o . 2 Cynthia Steele

Lupine and COVID We’d snap silly photos in front of lupine, serious, pea-like, purple flowers, who fold their petals in prayer. The bowl-shaped meadow fills with pools: of mosquito egg larvae rafts. I knew you loved me, felt it rather. Before the sky came crashing down in a hundred million ways. We joined hands along dirt paths, one of us looking backward. But, after the dying started (or we knew) halos of red, viral spikes, like poppies, invaded the lungs, a ventilator prompt, love became both precious and precarious. Reported daily: the number of deaths. To look or not to look at the stats. This became a dispute: to believe or not that there ever was a COVID-19. To live behind masks or go barefaced, inhaling microscopic specs. A world apart at the seam: All social events cancelled. I stood in my doorway, stunned. This must be a dream. Pandemic, uncertainty, quarantine. Before, we survived so much, not trying, Just leaning, as we did, upon each other. We’d eat fresh-picked berries, Toast wine to life (l’chaim). Have impromptu house parties. We believed: in hugging everyone, in matchmakers, in Karma, in God, in roads not yet trod. We never wondered whether we’d survive not touching, empty streets, closing shops.

Blue Lupine by Valdez

Cynthia Steele

Would it be enough, Supplemental money, early PFDs, Governmental checks? To walk alone or in our fear pods Touching strangers only with elbows. Some rebelled against mandates, shunning masks and social distancing, hugging one another, brazenly. Some care more about disease; Some more about humanity, they say. Numbers double, lupine bloom. We snap photos on cliffs by water, Our faces half covered, avoiding others. Fast mosquitoes bite us to feed wigglers The backs of our arms, unsprayed places. For a moment, now and then, we forget To keep track, because when we do watch the numbers, nothing makes sense. No vaccine, just more machines, uncertainty. Tell me you love me, just once more, please. Previously published in Blue Mountain Review



Leah Stenson

Shavasana Lying on my yoga mat in shavasana, position of the dead, my consciousness rises up through the skylight, to cumulus clouds, floats untethered from the roiling world below. It’s June, but it seems to be snowing. Small puffs of cotton from cottonwood trees waft by on the morning breeze like broken-off pieces of cloud. During yoga, I always remind myself to breathe, breathe deeply, breathe freely, release my cares, but I can’t stop thinking of that poor soul in heaven, his neck to the pavement crying I can’t breathe.

Tipping Point

Sheary Clough Suiter

Richard Stokes

Cloak of Loss Widower with young children wove the sympathy of others into a cloak he wore like a badge, relied so much on its comforts he regretted putting it away when the sun finally returned.


Sheary Clough Suiter


V o l . 11 N o . 2

Mercury-Marvin Sunderland

A Pearl Necklace a pearl necklace now eleven years old past before given on a fifth grade graduation how it still fits on your neck remember that day a blue polka dot dress cupcake lip gloss clear shoes and cameras that flash frizzy hair and bitten nails down to the quick i guess they said it was so innocent but that doesn’t mean ignorance which doesn’t mean bliss the danger of innocent is that it means you don’t know how to respond when you get your first rape threat the first out of so many a pearl necklace now eleven years old is old enough to be a hot august day before middle school begins remember how you first learned your grief

Pink Geranium

Jack Broom

in spending your preteen years avoiding being raped and just not understanding what it means when he grabs your shirt and looks down and you were lucky that you were wearing a training bra do you understand being a child and being stared at and panted being the constant playground joke every time he makes a public remark about how you need to stop wearing skirts because it’s just too tempting for him

142 a pearl necklace unbroken features a shell-like metal bead in the center why am i expected to be a tough hardened accessory when someone could’ve just spoken that day he searched through my underwear drawer

CIRQUE a pearl necklace is simple yet not here we are a body finally free of what he touched these clasps don’t break.

when i wake up from my ptsd nightmares about those days when he kept trying to manipulate me into doing again what i never wanted to do what i felt pressured into i don’t trust apologies because he apologized until the cows came home but always went back to doing it why do you always blame me when i was just a child and barely understood when he gaslit me constantly a pearl necklace gifted for a fifth grade graduation sits inside a shiny pink cloth envelope on my dresser i have not opened it in years but here i am feeling how delicate it is in my fingers oh child how your innocence both protected and destroyed you sweet child we have wept

Amaryllis Leaves

Jack Broom


V o l . 11 N o . 2

Kathleen Witkowska Tarr

On a Bus Through Lower Silesia Cranes rise over Silesia's fallow cornfields and apple trees in Poland's golden autumn. Gone, the Master Race, and army liquidators. Gone, the Party theorists, and killer thieves. In Warsaw, once the city of death and destruction, faceless operators seize the new horizon. Gleaming skyscrapers, and rows of cranes stand against Berlin skies. Everyone is welcome to dine at ethnic cafes, to ride on clean and speeding German trains. A maze of unmarked concrete slabs, covers an entire city block— a quiet public monument, for deep regrets and grieving, for all the murdered Jews of Europe. …Listen, nameless workers! weak men and bent women, blind poets, and forgotten hungry children... The cranes have come to crush you.

Tank Tread

Jack Broom



Carey Taylor

Returning There is a place in me that still knows water. Where the gusts of time and wind have etched me. Where language began—clam, cod, barnacle, bulb of kelp. * In a photo, I sit on the grass with mother, brother, grandmother—lighthouse behind us. My father may have taken this picture or he may have been tending the light. He was an expert at polishing the lens. In either case, he is preparing us for his absence. * On the bridge between mainland and island I am the shadow on the plank. Light of Cape Arago that no longer circles back. Mussels cracked and buried. Midden waiting for a future dig.

Entrance, Cape Otway, Victoria, Australia

Caitlin M.S. Buxbaum


V o l . 11 N o . 2

Lucy Tyrrell

Grief Where is that grief I had… —William Stafford He talks about shirts with empty sleeves in a closet, how grief tugs for a word or a gesture I wonder what to do with the grief I have— the empty sleeves of a world without justice, hanging hollow garments of disappeared Indigenous women, grief that hangs silent in closets of crackling wildfires, in the tug of flood waters rising I wonder what to do with the grief I have— empty raiment of wild species lost forever, the spinning blue shirtsleeves ironed hot.

Some Scars Never Heal

Sheary Clough Suiter

Cheryl Waitkevich

Remembering Magdelena Wakened from a dream. People hurrying in the rain, past windowless concrete walls. yellow streetlights cast long shadows, glistening from rain. There. A woman's face illuminated by neon separates the others hurrying past storefronts to avoid the cold. Her face framed by her kerchief she stares at the camera eye that is me. She reminds me of



my grandmother, who spoke Lithuanian, gave us cracked wheat bread with churned butter sugar sprinkled on top, fresh raspberries and hot chocolate. We ate at a wooden table, watching birds through a window, misty from the woodstove, always heating the kitchen. Small amounts of hard white butter in baby food jars. A plucked chicken boiling. A sprig of a plant in a water glass. She sang us songs in Lithuanian, bounced us on her knee, had stories we never knew of being a girl, working, threshing, plowing, picking kneading, fingers cold and red. I get up. Notice the thin meshed cotton of the dream hanging over the bed. Almost invisible if it weren’t for the threads of my past so present now. She is here with me, telling me why she spooned the sugar high on the raspberries and made hot chocolate every Sunday, as we sat at the kitchen table by the single paned glass window, playing with the bread box that always had one loaf of store bought bread. Asking me if I can hear the songs sung in the sacred oak groves of my ancestors?


Lucy Tyrrell

Margo Waring

Mother's Day Poem This was the house of my mothering, alone on the steep hill, at the quiet end of the road. Green, the color of the forest behind; stairs too many for carrying baby gear; willow tree too close, too easy to climb up but not down; porch with planter boxes, easy to dig up peas and carrots; cedar deck boards with wide spaces where a blue trike’s wheels stuck. The long driveway, ice covered in winter. In summer the yard filled with raspberries; tire swing and sandbox where the dead goldfish was laid to rest. Back yard where blanketed neighbors watched the red northern lights. These were the rooms for my mothering, bed big enough for three and dogs; narrow kitchen for side by side cooking; crib pushed against bookcases; renovations creating odd spaces for hiding. Across the way was Kat, foster grandmother, neighbor for my mothering, source of cookies and advice. This was the imperfect, beloved house of my mothering, at the quiet end of the road.


V o l . 11 N o . 2

O. Alan Weltzien

Social Distance Who would have thought? Wide space too far away to nod heads together, easy over coffee beer or food, or to touch or make love: buzz phrase, unplanned currency and oxymoron that governs our new norm, safe distance beyond coughs or sneezes range but removed from one another, reduced to smart phones and computers that promise we’re a part rather than apart; If we’re social creatures though some aren’t, we live against our grain when we huddle at home away from face-to-face in class or office or store or brewery or café or city park or campfire or choir room. Is 6’ enough? Should it be 12’? “Social distance” strains against itself, hygienic safe zone wars against our nature, constrains our movements, demands we damp down desire because getting together might sicken or kill us though staying put taxes our hearts so we seek other colors in our same gray days.

Cool Blues in Seward

Janet Klein



Ursula Whitcher Two Poems

Unmarked Country Roads I am taking the curves too fast. The road leaps up, is vertical, is past before I plan to turn. Some kid died here. Some kid always dies before we know to fear. At night the telephone wires turn silver just before a car shows on the rise. I met you so, alight before I saw you, leaning before I knew my mind.

Forest Form

Emilie Burnham

Marseille Father, on your birthday I am in the museum taking photos of the bones of ships. The wood arcs up like dinosaur ribs. I lean over the railing upstairs. To the rowers, hunched between wine-jars and fish sauce this ship would have seemed so small. It is so hard to know the size of things when we are close.

Hanging Hat

Toni La Ree Bennett


V o l . 11 N o . 2

Wendi White Two Poems

The Moirae* You watch from the woods, wondering where we rush: forever changing lanes, banking the turns, running ourselves senseless along our routes. We don’t notice that you quiver in the oak brush, but for the quick glint of your eyes barely catching our own. We accelerate

Baked Alaska, Up Close and Personal

driven by fear; then suspend our breath, still our minds, pray you will not startle, leap out before us, end our chance encounter— your velvet flanks flash in headlights, blood and bone embed between tree and grill, dashing our plans against death’s shatter proof glass. You are the silence of judges discerning when our lives must halt in darkness and give account. You pull us over when we cannot stop ourselves. * The Greek Fates

Conversion Before it is finished, before the ice tilts, the grapevines ignite, and gum trees explode. Before embers and waves cascade across the brittle grids we call home. I will fling myself naked onto the Earth, inhale her fertile musk, offer whatever tribute she demands so I may return to her good order: leaf and decay, soil and worm, bud and bloom.

Tami Phelps



Melody Wilson Two Poems

Apology Once, when you were not in bed, I crawled in, leaned against your headboard, thumbed through the books there: Reader’s Digest, Ann Landers, Xaviera Hollander. I found your candy bars, ate one, put the wrapper with the others, assumed you wouldn’t notice. I also went through your closet. Along with four or five Muumuus and Daddy’s homemade shirts, were two dresses, one green, one gold— both lame’. I stroked their sandy surfaces, let the light make them shimmer. I studied your nightstand: ashtray, tumbler, the bell you rang to call one of us for water. I counted the bottles of pills: Seconal, Talwin, Darvon, swallowed one tablet. I was rehearsing for life in the space you would vacate. Manipulating all the particular parts of you, while there was still time.

Chrysanthemum. Egg on Stainless

Jill Johnson


V o l . 11 N o . 2

Palimpsest The paper crane inked onto my skin seems subtle now. It needs another color, maybe a sunrise or some words. A damselfly on my daughter’s arm, books on the arm of her wife: the urgency of meaning. The need to be seen—and heard. My sisters’ names inscribed on my back, the letters on Kyle’s fingers— L…O…V…E…; H…A…T…E. Maybe it’s adaptation. Stains to remind us of griefs, loves. Celebrations, proclamations— one after another they alight like moths on the sooty surface, obscure the bark until its margins fail. And as the ciphers rustle one against the other for space still open on my skin, I find myself wishing I could molt. Slide out of this season, this skin, and start again. Like a snake or a baptized saint. A blank slate, disconnected from the past. A virgin rising from the sea. An evolution. I would come to my daughters with my glowing hide and a red, red apple, saying, “Eat.”

The Autumn of Her Life

Tami Phelps



Tonja Woelber

Lynn Canal Green islands dot this inland sea of soft gray water, dark blue mountains, sea mist curling, curving, channeling through valleys. A humpback pushes her blunt head above the surface, slides slowly down, periscope from the underworld. Navigation buoys toss about their moorings as seals circle, shiny black eyes blinking, then sink like stones. You, too, appear and disappear, spirit guide in a land of mist and echoes, my ears attuned to your whispers, your resonant silence.

Swans on Tern Lake, Summer 2020

Teri White Carns

V o l . 11 N o . 2

Riverstone Leaf Mandy Ramsey




P L AYS Doug Capra

A Social Distance A One-Act Play July 2020. Mid-afternoon. Clear skies. Bright sun. A park with a large gazebo at one end with a stone wall around it. Two trees shade an inner circle of stone benches ten feet from the outside wall. Cement paths meander around the edges of the park and go by the gazebo. PATRICIA (PAT), 70, sitting on the gazebo’s outer stonewall facing out, looking at her cell phone. A tote bag sits beside her. She has a mask around her neck ready to use if necessary. PAT glances up and sees something, stands up, shields her eyes from the sun. She grabs the tote bag, carefully steps back over the outer wall, walks to one of the inside benches, sits. PAUSE. WILLFORD (WILL), 75, also with a mask around his neck, using a cane, enters and stops just outside the stonewall facing PAT. Bends his knees and tenses as if ready to jump up onto the wall in one motion. PAT: (Stands) Don’t you dare! WILL: What? Think I can’t? PAT: If you break your leg, don’t come running to me? WILL: Your mother used to say that to the grandkids. (He carefully maneuvers to stand on top of the stonewall and spreads his arms wide, cane in one hand, as if to say “Voila!) PAT: You fool! Now let’s see you get down. (WILL realizes that might be a problem. Squats, one hand on the stonewall. With the other he places his cane on the ground and uses it to carefully step down.) PAT: That’s not how you did it 50 years ago. PAUSE. How’s the leg? WILL: Nothing’s wrong with the leg. PAT: You were in the hospital. Blood clot. WILL: I figured you’d find out. What? Someone put it on the Facebook thing? PAT: No. Your nurse called me. Now don’t pretend she didn’t give you my message. You’ve been going back to pick up your meals, right?

V o l . 11 N o . 2


WILL: What’d she tell you? I thought there was some kind of privacy. That HIPPY thing, you know. PAT: Our advanced directives are still good, and we agreed to share medical information with each other. You know that. (She notices something in the park, stands, takes out a pair of binoculars from her tote bag, and observes.) Oh, look. The White-Face Ibis are back. A flock of them, and they’ve landed at the edge of the park. Over there. See? WILL: (Stands and looks.) Damn grub-eating crows with long necks, sharp bills, and big feet. (PAUSE. The both sit.) PAT: Did you know the Egyptians practically worshiped the ibis, sacrificed them to their god Thoth? Mummified hundreds of thousands, maybe millions. WILL: Did you know the University of Miami mascot is an ibis named Sebastian? PAT: As a matter of fact, I do. WILL: Should have figured. What? You write an article about them? PAT: No, but I include them in my lectures on ancient mythology. Do you know why Miami picked an ibis? WILL: No, but I bet you do. PAT: Well, not really. But my guess is it’s because legends say the ibis is the last bird to flee when a hurricane approaches, and the first bird to return once the storm has passed. (Four youngsters, ages 10 to 12, come running on stage with a soccer ball. They stop in front of PAT and WILL. One of them looks out ahead. “Hey. Where’s Jason and Stacy? They’ll be here. Come on, let’s go. I want goalie, etc.” Their voices fade as they head off stage.) PAT: I brought my iPad. Thought we could FaceTime with the kids and grandkids. WILL: How they doing in all this? PAT: When did you talk with them last? WILL: They call every week. We talk. PAT: What do you talk about? PAUSE WILL: (Stands). They’re flying away, the whole lot of them. Mucksuckers. Kids must have scared them off. PAT: They come and go. It rained a little last night. Brings up the worms and grubs. Probably off to another place, another empty park. Not many people out these days. These ibis are usually in the marshes. (PAUSE.) Where’ve you been sleeping?



WILL: I’ve got places. I’m all right. PAT: What places? (PAUSE) You can go back, you know. (PAUSE) How’s Clara and Phil doing, and the kids. WILL: She’s not talking to you. PAT: So. You keep in touch with them, too. WILL: Every week. They call. (PAUSE) PAT: She told you, then. WILL: You said something stupid. (PAUSE) PAT: Yes. I did. Did she tell you what? (PAUSE)

Stacks at Dawn

Matt Witt

WILL: Bet you didn’t know that the Maglan’s symbol is the African sacred ibis. PAT: I remember seeing that on the pin they gave you. Unit 212, wasn’t it? WILL: (PAUSE) Israeli Special Forces, 212. Two years, I was attached to them. We did a few missions. Long time ago. Course, back then we didn’t exist. Even you didn’t know what I was doing. (PAUSE) PAT: Shall I call the kids? They’re expecting us any time now. All three of us can be on at once, with all the grandkids. WILL: They’ll be four. PAT: Clara, too? With Phil and the kids? (PAUSE) Did you know about this call? WILL: Barbara called you asking about me. PAT: They didn’t know you were in the hospital. They couldn’t reach you, so they called me. They were concerned, Will, so I called the facility and talked with your nurse. She told me… WILL: What? PAT: That you think they won’t let you back in – until the test results come in. How long has it been? They’re willing to isolate you for a while, you know. You can go back. WILL: First day in the hospital, before the procedure on my leg, they did the test. That was a week ago. No results. It’s too late now, anyway. I’d have to get another test. PAT: Any symptoms? WILL: No.

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PAT: When did they discharge you? (PAUSE) WILL: Thirty-four, thirty-five years ago… PAT: What? WILL: The Maglan. In Afghanistan. They were a new force then. Then I was off to Africa with them. (PAUSE) PAT: I remember. You couldn’t tell me anything. You’d be home for a while. We had a nice life here in San Diego, didn’t we? (PAUSE) When you were gone, I’d try to get some information. I knew it was special forces work, but I didn’t realize how dangerous it was. WILL: Nobody knew. Not even my commander at Pendleton. PAT: One time I tried to get hold of you when Clara had her appendix out. Remember? They had no Capt. Wilford Roskov on any list. You must have the wrong name. That’s what they told me. (PAUSE) Where are you sleeping tonight? (PAUSE) WILL: Wasn’t until a few years after 9/11 that word got out about us. Even now, their missions are classified. (PAUSE). Wonder why their symbol was the ibis. (PAUSE) PAT: I said something really stupid. Hurt Clara’s feelings. Why’d I do that? WILL: Stupidest thing you ever did? PAT: No. That was signing our divorce papers. You never did. WILL: Still have ‘em. (Smiles) Still thinking about it. PAT: What, after almost 20 years? WILL: Big decision. (PAUSE) PAT: What’s the stupidest thing you ever did? WILL: (smiles) Running the bulls in Pamplona. PAT: Pamplona? You ran the bulls. When? WILL: Long before we met. I was young, stupid. Damn that Hemingway. Spent a week there for the festival. Nearly got myself killed. Ever seen the films of that event? You’re running right beside those beasts. I got knocked down and one or two stomped right over me. Lucky I wasn’t gored. Several were that year. I think a runner died. (PAUSE) PAT: I would have thought you’d have said walking out on us.



WILL: That would be second. (A young woman pushing a baby carriage walks past them.) PAT: You can’t just wander around. Where are you sleeping? Is anyone checking your leg and changing the dressing? (PAUSE) WILL: I’ve been in worse situations than this — firefights less dangerous than Pamplona. I can take care of myself. (PAUSE) Thought you might know why the Maglan symbol is the African sacred ibis. PAT: I don’t know. But I have a theory. (PAUSE) WILL: Sally changes it when I pick up my meals. Gives me my meds, too. And I got a place to stay. (PAUSE) PAT: Why don’t you go back? They’ll take you in. WILL: Don’t want to infect anyone else. If I got it. (PAUSE) (JASON and STACY, dressed for soccer, enter and trot across the stage, ad-libbing some dialogue, and exit.) PAT: It was Moses. WILL: Moses? PAT: When Moses attacked the Egyptians, they sent serpents against his forces. He knew what was coming, that the Egyptians worshipped the ibis. He also knew the ibis was the serpent’s only enemy, so he carried those birds with him in baskets and set them loose. Could be that’s why the ibis is their symbol. WILL: You know your Bible. PAT: It’s not in the Bible. Book II of Josephus’s Antiquities of the Jews. Chapter Ten. (LONG PAUSE) My cancer’s back. (PAUSE) I’ve known for a while. WILL: Why didn’t you tell me? PAT: We don’t talk that much anymore. Any information I get about you is through the kids, or lately your nurse. (PAUSE) WILL: You know…all those walks we used to take around this park…you with your binoculars looking for birds. I never recall seeing those ibis. PAT: Every few years they come back. You never really cared for the birds. WILL: I enjoyed your care for them.


V o l . 11 N o . 2 PAT: You did? (PAUSE) WILL: You still have all those hummingbird feeders around the house? PAT: Even more. (PAUSE) WILL: Doing anymore lecturing? PAT: Up until last year. I’d do one course a semester. Until… (PAUSE) WILL: When’d you find out? PAT: Three months ago. WILL: Do the kids know?

Two Chairs

Lucy Tyrrell

PAT: No. That’s why I sent word for you to come but, apparently, you already knew about, you knew, about this phone call. I wanted you to be with me when I told them. (SOUND of a text arriving on a cell phone). Hold on. Got text. (PAT handles her iPhone) It’s from Barbara. She’s managing this FaceTime for all the kids. (PAUSE) She says Katie can’t make it right now and Clara is ready. Can we wait an hour? WILL: Why not. What’s another hour? PAT: I’ll tell her that’ll be fine. (She texts back) WILL: (stands) Those muck-suckers are back. (PAUSE) How’s Matt doing? He’s six now, isn’t he? PAT: (finishes texting, then stands and looks at the birds with her binoculars) Seven. He’s supposed to start second grade in two months, and Jessica’s going into fifth grade — but who knows what’s going to happen. Barbara’s been home schooling them since mid-March, right through the summer. WILL: What about his eyes. They don’t want to talk to me about that. PAT: He had an operation. WILL: They didn’t tell me. When? PAT: In November. Looks good. He’s doing much better with his school work now, and Barbara says he actually enjoys reading. (PAUSE) WILL: Is Jake still playing soccer? PAT: (laughs) He’s working on his Phd now. I think his boy Sam is in middle school. You used to help coach Jake’s team, remember?



WILL: When I was home. A few weeks here and there. PAT: You were good at it. (PAUSE) WILL: Before…you know…this park was almost empty when I’d come here. Well, I suppose so – it was usually during mid-day when people are at work. But these days the park’s filled with families playing bocci or flying kites, throwing or kicking a ball around. It’s never like this in July. Too hot. Kids are usually at the beach or on vacation…or… (PAUSE) PAT: Or what? WILL: Oh, I don’t know…whatever kids do these days. Notice how many families are out for a walk together, especially after dinner. Or riding bikes together. Look at those kids playing soccer…and the couple with the two little girls having a picnic, over there. (PAUSE) PAT: You come to this park for walks? WILL: I’m just ten-minutes away. Never see you here, and you’re just down the street. PAT: I’m here in early or late morning. (A young couple walks hand-in-hand past them. They’re obviously in love. They exit.) We used to come here for walks, remember? WILL: Well, yeah, when the kids were little…mostly. PAT: I do recall us going for walks together…when you were home. When the kids were at school or with friends. WELL: (Looking where the couple exited) Those two look pretty friendly, huh? PAT: (PAUSE) Where are you staying tonight? You do know we’ve got three spare bedrooms at the house? WILL: Couldn’t take the chance of me giving this to you. PAT: You probably don’t even have it. And if you do, so I die of that instead of this. You give it to me and I’ll give it right back, you damn fool. We’ll both die. At least we can do something together. Where are you staying tonight? WILL: Remember Rome? PAT: That was before we were married. I met you there. You were on leave. Carol and…what’s his name? (PAUSE) WILL: Brady? PAT: Oh, yes. Col. Brady Phillips. Is he still alive?

V o l . 11 N o . 2


WILL: He and his girlfriend got a place not far from here. I’m staying in the treehouse he built for his kids? PAT: I remember that treehouse. How in God’s name are you getting up there? WILL: Think I can’t do it? PAT: Brady must be in his 80s, at least. Didn’t one of his kids break his arm falling out of that treehouse…and Carol. What happened to her? WILL: Oh, she died several years ago. PAT: Carol must have been at least 20 years younger than Brady. Strange…she died first. WILL: He always liked them young. His girlfriend’s about your age, you know. A real looker. PAT: Did he at least build you a ladder? WILL: There’s a rope. PAT: Oh, don’t be funny. You couldn’t shimmy up a rope anymore to save your life. WILL: I used to do that stuff and more all the time. You think I can’t? (PAUSE) PAT: I’d like to watch. (PAUSE, then they both laugh) WILL: He’s got a sturdy aluminum ladder in his shed. PAT: You’re going to kill yourself. WILL: I know – If you break your leg, don’t come running to me! (PAUSE) PAT: Let’s take a walk. We could at least sit out in the garden and do the FaceTime from the house. I made some mint tea this morning? WILL: We still got mint growing? PAT: It’s spread out everywhere. The avocado tree…you should see all the avocados…I don’t know what to do with them. The lime tree’s still there but doesn’t do so well anymore, but I still get a few every week. I don’t know how you could stand a slice of lime in your mint tea? Ruins it. I picked a few limes yesterday. (PAUSE. A Soccer ball comes bouncing and rolling on stage and rests between them. They both get up to get it and meet in the middle, both quickly pulling up their masks to cover their face. PAT pics it up and hands it to WILL. He holds it for a moment as they look at each other. PAT pulls down her mask, then WILL’S. They stand face to face. One of the soccer kids enters to get the ball. She stands observing PAT and WILL. They finally notice her.)



WILL: (To the girl) Want the ball? (The girl nods) Tell me then – Which goal keeper can jump higher than a crossbar?” (The girl shrugs). Don’t know? (The girl shakes her head “No.”) All of them. Crossbars can’t jump. Ha! (The girl looks at PAT as if to say, Huh?) He tosses the ball to the girl and she exits.) PAT: (Watching the girl exit) I don’t she got it. WILL: (Watching the girl exit) Boy, they could benefit from some coaching. And a little more time on ESPN. PAT: Oh, let them just play. Look how much fun they’re having. (SILENCE. Pat sits. WILL returns to his spot but doesn’t sit. He watches the kids play soccer.) PAT: We need to start getting ready to make that call. WILL: (He looks at Pat, then back at the kids) Do any of the grandkids play soccer? PAT: I think Ben does, on his high school team. WILL: Is he any good? PAT: I don’t really know. (PAUSE) But I bet he could use some coaching. (WILL Looks at PAT, then sits. Long PAUSE) PAT: Look. Why don’t you walk me home…like you used to before we were married Remember? WILL: We still are married, remember? (PAUSE) PAT: We can sit in the garden with some mint tea. You can even put a lime slice in it if you want. And we’ll make that call to the kids. Then…you can leave…if you want. (WILL stands. Looks out again at the kids playing soccer. Walks toward PAT.) PAT: You forgot your cane. WILL: What? You think I need it? (WILL goes back to get his cane. Watches the kids play soccer for a moment, then goes to PAT. They slowly walk off stage together arm in arm. We can hear their words fade as they exit – “Are you really sleeping in that treehouse? Sometimes. Mostly I camp out on their front steps. Oh, stop it. Where’ve you been sleeping? At Starbucks.) BLACKOUT


V o l . 11 N o . 2


Janet Clemens

Robin Woolman

Worship Scene: A dark room full of ragged taxidermized animals—perhaps a storage room of a small natural history museum. Marten enters, finding his way carefully and nervously into the room. He comes to a stuffed arctic fox in attitude of snarling. A table in front of it has unlit candles, a large earthen bowl and other items. It is an altar. He lights a candle, strokes the fox ceremoniously from nose to tail tip, places one hand on his head, the other on his heart and breathes deeply. Then backs away to sit on the floor. Pika enters the same way, nods to Marten, repeats the ritual. Pika: Breath of Earth, We Remember. Raven and teenage daughter Wren enter together and begin to repeat ritual. Raven and Wren: Breath of Earth— There is a kerfuffle and voices off stage. Those on-stage freeze in attitudes of listening, fear, anger as if they too are stuffed creatures. Thistle: Ouch, damn/



Mantis: /Shit, careful. Thistle: Where? what are these? Wren didn’t tell me— Mantis: --They’re dead. But be careful; they’re fragile— Thistle: --Can they move? Where’s Wren? Frozen Characters have relaxed. Pika moves toward voices and helps to guide them in. Pika: Mantis, greetings. And you must be Thistle? Welcome!

Mantis and Thistle enter. Wren hurries to Thistle’s side.

Thistle: Uh, no. my name is Laney-- (Wren stops her and whispers in her ear.) Um, yeah. Thistle. (as if tasting the word) I’m Thistle. Mantis: Cirsium Arvense! An invasive variety. A survivor species. It is… (regarding Thistle) rather prickly. But hardy; propagates by underground rhizomes AND seed! The Worship requires spreading. Survival is always in the hands of the persistent…and young! (Begins ritual) Thistle: (Whispering to Wren) You worship a dog? Is this one of the banned cults— Mantis: Vulpes Lagopus. Arctic FOX, not dog. We have no idols, Thistle. And the Presenteers may have banned us but we are not extinct…yet.

Enter Monarch, an older woman with a walker. All form a circle with her.

All: Breath of Earth, We Remember. Thistle: (She is trying to keep up with group, but her word echoes the others) --Remember—

The group settles to listen to Monarch.

Monarch: Business first: The Tailing you may have heard about is true. Obliterators discovered 3 acolytes practicing in the old Plastetics warehouse. They were given Bits and Incentivized to find others. Fortunately, they seem to have been a cell unto themselves, without connections to the greater population of Worshippers. I believe we are safe…There are times when the short-sightedness of those in power plays into our hands. (others enjoy the joke) Let us begin today’s Remembrance with-- (sees Thistle) oh, hello. And you are? Thistle: Laney. (She is nudged by Wren) Thistle. My name is Thistle. Mantis: Raven and I have given her the name of Thistle. She is young, but we need to enfold acolytes

V o l . 11 N o . 2


further and further from personal memory-- Invoke the deeper Collective Memory lest the Worshippers of Remembrance also become ex-Monarch: (Waving away explanation) Yes, of course. And you have vetted her? Wren: (Stepping forward timidly) Monarch, she’s my friend. Practically a litter sister. Raven knows, right Mom? I’ve been sharing the natural histories with her since we were young. She begs for them and tells them back to me better than I can. I needed to let her know…it’s all true! The stories are true! The animals, the plants, the food that grew in the ground and in trees and of skies that could be blue and nights freckled with stars. And she believes, don’t you, Thistle? Thistle: I…I want to… It’s so…fantastic. Monarch: Breathe, Thistle. That’s how belief begins. Look around you. All of these creatures once swallowed the Breath of Earth as you do now. The few animals you may see today: the dogs, pigeons, carp are an infinitesimal fraction of what existed as the Anthropocene drew to its inevitable destructive conclusion and The Presenteers initiated the Silencing of Science. The Presenteers need us to believe all of this is just a weak “theory” of the Past--A dangerous fairy tale that only breeds depression, dissatisfaction in our epoch of Currentcy. (pause) Ah, Thistle, do you even know these words: “Past?” “History?” (Thistle shrugs, unsure) Of course not. how could you? “The Now is How,” yes? Mantis goes rigid at these words. Monarch: That is the Teaching of The Currentcy. Well, my dear, The Now is How you must survive out there. But in here (gestures to the room) and in here (gestures to head and heart in the ritual movement) We Breathe in the Earth of the Past and dare to Remember-Mantis: (blurting out) Now is How! How is Now! She is taken with a dervish like spinning. She is stopped and supported by Pika and Raven. Raven: Shhhh. Breathe, Mantis. No need to Dizzy here. Raven: Please, Monarch, can we move on to the Liturgy of the Species? Mantis is triggering. Monarch: (Sharply) History! Context! It is necessary in all its forms, even the unpleasant ones! (She calms down) Yes. The Liturgy. Pika, please, The Reading. Pika: (Produces a small tech device and reads) From the Scripture of Species as set down by the Followers of Bradbrook. The Litany of Extinction: The Arctic Chapter: After each animal is named the group intones, “we remember.” Thistle begins by repeating with others, but then drops out. Pika: Polar bear, arctic fox, beluga whale, spectacled eider, ribbon seal, pacific walrus, narwhal, musk ox, sea butterfly—



Thistle: (Interrupting) But we don’t! These are just names made up, like you make up names for yourselves-Pika: --what? Thistle: We don’t remember! I don’t remember. And if I believe in this Past Time, in that other Earth planet with so many absurd, fascinating creatures…if I believe they existed, breathed like I am, like you are but then we just let them, made them all die, disappear, obliterate, then how can I…how can I deserve to BE?! How can any Citizen of Now…continue? Monarch: Thistle, you are experiencing Survivors’ Guilt. It’s okay. We have all felt it. It’s what has driven us to become Worshippers. Here we become not only Survivors but Intentional Survivors. Our purpose is to Remember, to Name, to Honor the Species our ancestors sacrificed. Here our despair turns to awe and awe to hope…Hope that someday we will again share the breath of earth with such miraculous creatures. Marten stands and takes a necklace with a few shells from around his neck. He places it around Thistle’s neck. Monarch: Thank you Marten. Let us move on to The Foundings. Wren: (fingering the shells) Whoa! Mollusks! (closing her eyes) I picture a sea of turquoise, white sand. Soft creatures in their spiraled helmets gliding— Pika: and hermit crabs that find the empty shells-Mantis: and billions of shells to be pressed into rock and lifted from sea beds— Wren: to be covered by glaciers and forests and mountain goats-Thistle: to be mined for counter tops and corner stones of industrial buildings—

Wren squeezes Thistle’s arm and shakes her head. There is an awkward pause.

Monarch: Yes, Thistle. That too. Even the clever Presenteers are reliant on what’s left of the planet’s resources even as they deny so much of its existence.

Marten retrieves the necklace and places it in the earthen bowl on the altar.

Wren: I found this!

She holds up a black feather. Strokes Thistle’s cheek with it before passing it around.

Mantis: Corvid. Crow likely. Bringer of the Sun so the ancient story goes. A Survivor species.

Mantis places feather in bowl. Raven pulls from her bag a tattered magazine.

V o l . 11 N o . 2


Raven: And we have…a National Geographic!

All respond with enthusiasm and reverence, gathering around Raven.

Wren: It has photos of Narwhals! Mantis: Monodon Monoceros! Thistle: The unicorns of the sea?! They’re real? Wren: Look at them, and icebergs, and/polar bears! Thistle: But these are just photos! Photos are fake. Anyone can make up a photo. Pause Monarch: Yes…well. In the Past it was…more difficult. There were sources, science-based sources that everyone believed, even if they could not experience certain things first hand. Thistle: Believed? So they were Worshippers like you? Raven: Sadly no, but there were…sects of “Environmentalists” like the Extinction Rebels whose texts we strive to protect from obliteration. They document the Earth’s Unraveling: the degradation of climate, the mass extinction, the-Thistle: Degradation? Oh, you mean The Change? (reciting) Change is merely a symptom of Time. Time is a human construct to serve human efficiency. Any and all Change is therefore in service to our glorious Present. The Now is H-Mantis: (angry) Stop. STOP! Are you questioning Our Truth? Questioning Our Practice of Remembrance? Raven: Mantis, Breathe. Monarch: Questioning is why we are all here. Questioning is how we escape the blinders of the NOW. Thistle, my turn to question you. Why have you come? Thistle: Because… I like the stories, the--histories? And… my dad is… (Wren encourages her) a Presenteer and I hate him!! Monarch: Go on. Thistle: And because…I found this—

Out of her sweatshirt pocket she pulls a small jar. Inside is a cocoon attached to ivy.

Wren: It’s moving! Wriggling /



Monarch: /Mantis? Is it…could it be--? Mantis: /chrysalis or cocoon, to be sure. I can’t believe it’s— Wren: It’s splitting open! Suddenly there is a high-pitched siren. It seems to physically freeze the Worshippers in place except for Thistle who is holding the jar. She pulls back into the shadows but doesn’t actively hide. Three Obliterators enter with a strobing light. They wear visors with blinders. Throughout the following action, Thistle seems to be invisible to the Obliterators and remains mobile, unlike the others. Obliterator 1: (Speaking into a device) Ordering immediate demolishing of present environment! Obliterator 2 and 3: Now is How. They search the immobilized Worshippers, confiscating items. The contents of the bowl are turned into a sack that Obliterator 2 holds. The feather falls to the floor unnoticed. Obliterator 1: Tethering worshippers Obliterator 3: Now is How. He lines up Worshippers and strings them together with a laser-like device. Obliterator 1 shines the strobing light on them. Obliterator 1: Repeating? All: Now is How. Obliterator 1: Commencing Scrolling!

Obliterator 3 marches the Worshippers out.

Obliterator 1: (addressing Obliterator 2) Trainee Richard, I’m charging you with final clearing. Obliterator 2: Now is How!

Obliterator 1 exits. Obliterator 2 waits until he is alone. He removes his visor and blinders and looks at the fox. He pets it. Sees the feather on floor. Is about to throw it into the sack. Then smells it, feels it, tucks it behind the fox’s ear. Thistle has been watching. She steps forward.

Thistle: Richie?


V o l . 11 N o . 2

Obliterator 2: Freeze! (Pulls out his weapon and points it at Thistle. Then squints at her) Laney?! What are you doing here? If Dad finds out, he’ll kill you! Thistle: Breathe Richie. That’s how Belief Begins. Obliterator 2: What? Thistle: The stories are true. Look!

She holds up the jar. A moth flutters inside.

Obliterator 2: Laney, you gotta get out— Thistle: No. My name is Thistle. And You—

She takes lid off jar and moth flies out.

Thistle: You will be called Moth.

She takes his hand and together they watch the moth. END

Follow Your Path

Janet Clemens


Madrone Bark Matt Witt



V o l . 11 N o . 2


‘49 Writers’ Alaskan Writers Series: Doug Pope

The Covid 19 pandemic continues to diminish opportunities for Alaska writers to get the word out about their work, The Alaskan Writers Series is an effort to help. ‘49 Writers’ board member Dan Branch shares a profile of Doug Pope. Cirque Press recently published his memoir, The Way to Gaamaak Cove.

I read about Pope’s dark night in The Way to Gaamaak Cove, his memoir recently published by Cirque Press. When they reach this point in Gaamaak Cove, readers might feel that Doug deserved to lose Beth as well as a pinky toe to frostbite. He had chosen to fly 8,000 miles south after his love told him that she wanted to take their relationship to another level. By the end of the memoir, readers will learn that because he was receptive to lessons from Beth and the wilderness, he kept her and all his toes.

Photo by John Sund

“What Madness is this? Is love your greatest risk or is risk your greatest love?” Doug Pope scratched these words into his journal while bivouacked 18,000 feet above sea level on the highest mountain in South America. He and two friends had been hunkered down in a tent for days as one blizzard after another prevented them from summiting the mountain. Bouts of explosive diarrhea and a dream about Beth, the Ketchikan woman that he loved, had disrupted his sleep.

Photo of Beth by Doug Pope

Howie Martindale photo

172 During a recent conversation, Pope described the book as a love letter to Beth. There is evidence of his love for her throughout Gaamaak Cove. But the book is more subtle than the colorful declarations of love that spice Cyrano de Bergerac’s letters to Roxanne. Each episode in Gaamaak Cove forms a ladder rung for a man moving from one who’s greatest love is risk into a husband and father who sacrifices risk for love. Pope’s book opens with “Kennicott Crossing,” an episode describing how he met Beth in Ketchikan and took her on a backpacking trip into Alaska’s Wrangell Mountains. From the story’s title, readers might expect an adventure tale describing a risky fording of the Kennicott River. That’s how it might have read. If he had written it before 2007. By that year he had racked up an impressive record of publishing adventure essays in the American Alpine Journal, Cirque, and Alaskan newspapers. In 2007, he shifted his emphasis away from the adventure to the impact of it on the adventurers. He refined this in Gaamaak Cove. Pope grew up in Fairbanks where adventures are cheap. On the way to a downtown bar in winter, drinkers often pass through air cold enough to freeze fog. In 1963 he started a six year stint at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks, graduating in 1970. He worked his way through college as a union laborer in the summer and a clerk in a men’s store in the winter. He admits that at first, he didn’t take college seriously, spending more time and energy drinking in bars than studying. One night in 1968, while partying with friends at Tommy’s Elbow Room bar, Pope learned that a buddy named Greg was going to go to law school. Greg earned his summer money as a smoke jumper and seemed an unlikely candidate for law school. This struck Pope like an epiphany—-if Greg could go to law school, he could too. Before that he could not imagine spending his life doing something other than construction or selling suits. He started to buckle down and take college seriously, managing by his senior year to get his grades up enough for law school.

CIRQUE Pope graduated from law school in 1973 and, after spending that summer in Hope, Alaska, moved back to Fairbanks. After taking the bar exam, he worked at a construction job until freezeup in October. By then he had passed the bar. Newly licensed, he walked into the Alaska Public Defender and told the supervising attorney that he wanted to work for them for at least a month because he was short on money. Two months later Assistant Public Defender Doug Pope convinced a jury to acquit his client of vehicular homicide. During the time span of the actions described in Gaamaak Cove, Pope worked as a legislative aid and served as a private attorney. He worked as hard for his clients as he did on construction projects. He expended a similar level of energy writing Gaamaak Cove. In addition to rich descriptive language, Pope delivers honesty in his book. Rather than portraying himself as the brave protector of a cringing spouse, he shows that Beth is often more comfortable in the wilderness than he.

Photo by Doug Pope

The episode called “River of the Bears” describes a descent of the Andreafsky River by Beth and Pope during their courtship. This passage reveals Pope’s commitment to truth: “I had talked big about seeking out rivers where there weren’t any footprints, where it is truly wild. When I got what I really asked for, I was on edge during the day and slept in fits and starts. One


V o l . 11 N o . 2 evening, on a long narrow gravel bar, Beth relaxed in the tent after we finished a meal of pasta and smoked salmon. A gentle breeze blew across the bar, carrying our scent into willows along a cut bank. A dark shape moved behind them and I heard a loud snort. I leaned over by the tent door. ‘Did you hear that?’ My throat was dry and my voice squeaked. No answer. I looked through the bug screen. Beth was reading a book. ‘Bear,’ I said in a loud voice. She didn’t look up. ‘They seem to be giving us a wide berth.'” After watching bears up close during several days of the descent, Beth told Pope, “It’s so exhilarating to be reminded every day we aren’t the dominant species.” When six months pregnant, Beth joined Pope on a month long descent of Alaska’s Noatak River. He describes the paddle in “Strangers” and “Arctic Char.” Later they would take similar trips with their two boys. The first such trip was a canoe paddle down the Gulkana River, which Pope writes about in “Black and White.” An hour into the trip their heavily laden canoe went aground on a rock during a lightning storm. Pope had to slip out of the canoe and into the river to free it. The following passage from the story illustrates the boy’s resiliency and trust in their parents: “Beth and the boys paddled toward two spruce trees hanging off a dirt bank while I bellied in over the side, toes dangling in the current. When we slipped under the trees, Beth reached up and grabbed a spruce branch and I grabbed another. Gusts rocketed across the river and rocked the canoe. Hail, big as marbles, floated around my feet. Charley looked calm. Matt burst into tears. ‘Oh, Matt honey, we’re OK,’ Beth said in a soothing

voice. ‘Dad’s back in the canoe and we’re all safe.’ ‘Hey guys,’ I said, ‘grab the tarp.’ They pulled it over their heads and ducked under. Beth and I held the canoe in place beneath the spruce trees. Thunder cracked above our heads. Charley peaked out his side. Lightning strobed on and off, and a gravel bar across the river looked like a black and white photo appearing and reappearing from behind a curtain. Matt fell asleep… After an hour, the lightning and thunder and hail moved on. Charley and Matt stuck their heads out. Beth and I let go of the spruce branches and paddled across the current to the gravel bar where hail had drifted three inches deep. While Beth and I brushed off a spot for the tent with canoe paddles, the boys made little snowmen and threw snowballs, shrieking whenever they hit me in the back.”

Photo by of Doug Pope by Beth Pope

Jonathan Evison, author of All About Lulu, West of Here, and The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving finds Gaamaak Cove “more than just a great adventure, it is coming-of-middle-age in which one man confronts life’s big questions, reevaluates his priorities, and discovers the biggest adventure of all—love.” Yes.



REVIEW Tom Sexton

A Review of Doug Pope's The Way to Gaamaak Cove Cirque Press, Anchorage, AK 2020 When Mike Burwell asked me to review Doug Pope’s The Way to Gaamaak Cove, I said I would because I was familiar with his essays published in We Alaskans many years ago, essays both my wife and I looked forward to reading on Sunday mornings. We’ve had a few cabins a day’s walk from a road, and I took several float trips before technology gifted us cell phones, but I’ve never considered myself to be capable of surviving for long in the back-county, so why do I find The Way to Gaamaak Cove such a compelling collection of personal essays that mostly take place far from the road system? The answer for me is that I can relate to Pope’s strong sense of something lost. The Alaska where Pope grew up was a place where your word was more important than your bank account, a world before oil was discovered at Prudhoe Bay. I arrived in Alaska in 1959 and was here for a little more than two years before I left only to return six years later, so I feel I have some connection to that lost Alaska where people seemed satisfied with enough and most people would laugh at the idea that enough is never enough. I doubt they could imagine houses with two or three garages full of so much stuff, the owners have to park in the driveway. One afternoon in the mid-70’s when I saw a man standing in front of the Captain Cook Hotel in downtown Anchorage wearing an actual tuxedo and carrying an umbrella, I knew the days when the “Alaska Tuxedo,“ a Filson jacket with matching

trousers, were just about over. The “outside” had arrived. While it isn’t often in the foreground, I sense that loss, that almost melancholy, in many of these essays. Pope’s account of trophy hunting at Lake Clark where a friend built a small cabin during the 70’s before it became a National Park and Preserve sums up one aspect of that change. He writes, “We banked hard around a point and the private lodges were just off our wingtip. I looked out my side and saw three men standing on a weathered deck staring at us with drinks in their hands and mouths agape. A huge plane on floats sat below us at a dock. Burly men in sweatshirts muscled moose heads with bloody necks into the back.” I imagine the plane called the Mystery Ship that Pope was a passenger in must have appeared to be a shipping crate with wings to the trophy hunters below. It


V o l . 11 N o . 2 goes without saying that, except for the heads, the rest of their kills were left to rot unless a local who needed the meat had a pretty young daughter. The rest could go hungry for all the hunters and most of their guides cared. That experience with trophy hunters and their disrespect for Native culture left him in a “very dark place.” In another essay we meet a man named Mike who moved deep into the interior to get away from the trophy hunters at Lake Clark. Mike in his small raft was floating the same river as Pope and his family. He offered to help Pope carry his kayak up a bank. He refused but they soon became friends. Mike seems to be a character right out of Jack London. Years later, and now married, Pope meets an exhausted German trophy hunter at dusk with only a caribou rack in his canoe, a hunter who has left the rest of the caribou to rot on the tundra. He refuses to let the man into their camp and when the hunter disappears on down the river, his mind flashed back to that earlier episode at Lake Clark. This time however his wife, Beth, reminds him that that trophy hunter is also human and he needed their help or at least their company. His wife’s

disappointment at his behavior hits the mark, but no matter how compelling Pope’s adventures are, and they are compelling, his love for his wife and for his children who are with him on most of his adventures are the beating heart of this collection. His wife, Beth, seems to be the wiser of the two, the one who keeps him away from that dark place. The account of hunting for the lost tooth of one of their boys on a gravel bar makes that clear. I don’t want to downplay the sense of adventure in essay after essay. There are many encounters with rough water, bad weather, and bears both brown and black, but it’s the small things that I will remember such as his description of eating a freeze-dried meal of chicken tetrazzini “that turned an ugly orange and smelled like dog food.” It was all they had left. His daughter, Natalie, “closed her eyes and pinched her nose to eat her share.” Pope is an acute observer. His observation that the “edges of willow trees had turned a lemony yellow” seems perfect to me, as does: “Across the river, caribou dove one after the other off a steep bank into deep water, white collars flashing each time one hit the sun’s rays and swam for our side.” He writes with humility and insight. He has “felt the pulse of the wilderness.” and knows the joys of family life. That’s more than enough for this reviewer.

Map from The Way to Gaamaak Cove



INTERVIEW Kerry Feldman

An Interview with Vivian Faith Prescott July 15 - August 16, 2020 Kerry Feldman: I read and thoroughly enjoyed the poems in your Cirque Press book, Silty Water People (Cirque Press, 2020). Am looking forward to hearing you read some of them on the July 16 Cirque ZOOM gathering for writers and readers of Cirque Journal. What might you read that evening? Why do you choose these? I will read a couple of your poems, also. Most are intensely personal, so I hope it’s okay if I read them. Sandy Kleven suggested I read some of yours. Vivian Faith Prescott: At Cirque’s book launch and reading, I chose to read poems that gave an introduction to Silty Water People but without revealing everything in the book. I started with “Indian Gerber” because it introduced multicultural themes. There are many themes in the book: childhood, multi-cultural identities, the Stikine River, the petroglyph spiral, snails, assimilation, and more. I read “The Dead Go to Seattle” because it illustrates the mythological truths in the collection. And reading “The Story Goes” gave a bit of my family’s history in Wrangell. “Sea Otter Parka” portrayed the darker themed poems in the collection, plus the poem won an award. The other poem “We Tell Ourselves Stikine Means Great River” told of the Stikine River, the silty theme, and the main assimilation theme in the collection. And the “Daughter of Tokens” poem is dedicated to my oldest daughter, Vivian Mork Yéilk’.

Writing program at UAA. I am familiar with that great program, and most of the professors who taught in it, until my retirement from UAA, as an anthropology professor, in 2010. When were you enrolled in that program? Did you live in Anchorage? What was the major take-away for you as a highly regarded writer and poet today from your years/experiences as a graduate student in a creative writing program? Any regrets?

Feldman: Thanks, looking back on that reading, I see what you offered to us. We learned from Sandy Kleven at the July 16 ZOOM that you and Sandy were together in the MFA Creative

Prescott: I was among the first cohort of Master of Fine Arts (MFA) students in the low-residency MFA program at the University of Alaska. I was their first low-residency graduate. I didn’t live in


V o l . 11 N o . 2 Anchorage but was living in Puerto Rico with the US Coast Guard at Air Station Borinquen when my husband Howie Martindale and I began the MFA program together. We are both poets. Then we transferred to Kodiak, Alaska, then later to Sitka, Alaska with the Coast Guard, all while completing the low-residency MFA. Meeting and getting to know other poets and writers, especially Alaskans, was the best thing about UAA’s MFA program. Being from Southeast Alaska one feels cut off from the rest of the Alaskan literary world. And meeting Sandy Kleven and talking with her about our poet lives changed my life. We had some intense and inspiring discussions. I learned a lot from my UAA mentors too. The MFA is the degree I always wanted. I went into UAA’s lowresidency MFA program already having a Master’s degree and PhD from the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF). And even though I had many singular publications under my belt, I still wanted to learn more about poetry. While in the program, I published a chapbook, Slick, and a full-length poetry collection about my family’s involvement in the Lingít language revitalization, The Hide of My Tongue. Feldman: During my graduate years in anthropology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, with over a hundred graduate students in our department, I discovered that the greatest learning asset available to me were my fellow students. Five of us (two women, three men, from all around the U.S.), prepared together for exams, pooled knowledge, refused to accept the competitive academic culture being handed down. We got A’s, and even today my closest professional friend was among those five. He reads and edits (ruthlessly) all my writing. Did you encounter during your studies at UAA or in the superb UAF graduate programs you completed, like-minded friends willing to share work in progress, critiques, and maybe personal stories of success, failure, pain, and joy? Or was your graduate experience a “loner” experience? Prescott: Some of the best times in my life occurred during the Cross Cultural Studies program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Vivian Faith Prescott

Howie Martindale

And it was all done via distance. My worldviews were changed, my mind opened. Angayuqaq Oscar Kawagley and Marie Olson Kaayistaan, were two of the biggest influences. I made many friends among the teachers and students. At that time the majority of UAF Cross Cultural Studies classes were either blackboard or audioconference. During the program I traveled to attend the World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education (WIPCE) in New Zealand and met Sámi from Sapmi. While there I also toured an elementary Maori immersion school. Also, my daughter, Vivian Mork Yéilk’, gave a talk at the conference. Even though I was a distance student in my degrees at UAF, I had an incredible educational experience. I used every opportunity to create my own learning experiences within my community. I was mentored by elders and set up experiential learning such as attending language immersion camps. I developed my own course studies whenever possible and included my creative writing in any way I could. I focused many of my Masters in Cross Cultural Studies courses on the art of storytelling within our indigenous knowledge systems. This had a huge influence on my creative writing. The anthropology department at the University of Alaska Fairbanks awarded me my PhD as an Interdisciplinary PhD. I conducted my studies under a special fellowship that allowed for students

178 to pursue their doctorate degrees in departments without an official PhD path. Basically, I designed my own program which had to be approved by the university’s Anthropology department in addition to the Cross Cultural Studies department, which Dr. Ray Barnhardt headed. Dr. Barnhardt also had a huge influence on my life. He mentored me and my daughter, who also completed the Masters in Cross Cultural Studies. My learning model was utilized to demonstrate to the university and funders that an Indigenous Studies PhD program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks could work. I am proud to be a part of that foundational work. Dr. Barnhardt, who steered the development of the PhD in Indigenous Studies at the UAF, presented my work as an example. I proved a student could learn in their community without setting foot on campus until they needed to defend their work. Turns out, I graduated from the PhD program at UAF at the same time my daughter, Vivian Mork Yéilk’, graduated with her Masters in Cross Cultural Studies degree. We graduated together in Sitka, Alaska at the UAS campus and I was the first person to be hooded and receive a PhD on their campus (excluding honorary PhDs). Our T’akdeintaan clan sisters, my daughter’s aunt Marie Laws and cousin Teri Rofkar, gave us raven’s tail/sea otter regalia to wear during graduation. It’s a memory and honor that’ll stay with me always. My dissertation was subsequently used by Sealaska Heritage Institute to acquire a several million dollar grant to perpetuate the Tlingit language. That’s very cool! Also, the Beginning Tlingit course I developed along with Carol Williams and Daphne Wright as an educational project is now being used to teach high school students in Wrangell. Feldman: Ray Barnhardt influenced a lot of us in Alaska. Great man. You laid the groundwork for very significant understandings of how to educate at a distance, especially in a world of COVID-19! What poet(s) or writers (in any language, genre, era) influenced you the most? How?

CIRQUE Prescott: As a new poet in middle school, I read Robert Frost. When I began to study poetry in high school I read Shakespeare and Edna St. Vincent Millay. I probably should’ve gone to the library and talked to a librarian about poets and poetry, but I was afraid of those big scary places. So mostly I depended upon my older sister to help pick out books. Sadly, in high school my literary worldview was westernized, and I didn’t know where to look for the other. As a young adult, I looked through Writers Digest for books on how to write poetry or prose. I ordered poetry selections from their club, mostly anthologies of English or American poets. I didn’t start college until I was in my mid-30s, having quit high school at age 15, so I had a lot of catching up to do. I was stuck in an island community, Wrangell, with no college so when I moved to Sitka, where there was a college, I was excited to learn. I started by taking a college level poetry class while I studied nursing. I was going to become a nurse, which I did, actually, become an LPN, then quit the subsequent BSN program—I was their top student—when in an existential moment, I decided to pursue my lifelong dream of being a writer. Basically, it was now or never. I had been introduced to Alaska Native Writers in a distance education undergraduate class through the University of Alaska Fairbanks: Mary TallMountain, Nora Dauenhauer and Sister Goodwin. Branching out, I discovered Allison Hedge Coke, Lucy Tapahanso, Joy Harjo, and Paula Gunn Allen, among others. Indigenous women’s voices were my first mentors. Then I delved into N. Scott Momaday. I was also influenced by a newish poet named Sherman Alexie and bought all his books as they came out. Little did I realize how his voice and influence would eventually silence women and other Native writers. And when I started to learn more about my Sámi culture I started reading Nils-Aslak Valkeapää and Paulus Utsi then stumbled upon Inger-Mari Aikio and Kirsti Paltto and others. I also researched the

V o l . 11 N o . 2 Kalevala from my Finnish heritage. Feldman: Your life story in education especially reminds me of the somewhat cynical comment that youth is wasted on the young. My best students, some going to Harvard, etc., were older, often females. Is gender significant in our appreciation and enjoyment of what is written, and how we write, how you write? Prescott: Gender identity in my poems is fluid. I identify as she/her. All genders and sex should be able to identify to my poetry in some manner. Many of my poems shift perspectives or voices and personas. I like to challenge myself with persona writing, but of course, I’m influenced by the culture I live, which is patriarchal and misogynist at its core. I’m always examining how I see things and trying to change the way I look at something, especially if it’s harming others or at least understand why I see things a certain way. I’d call that decolonizing. I fail sometimes, but that’s the human state of things. Reading and writing poetry causes me to think. Most of my persona poems, but not all, have a mother-sense. But I’ve also been a grandfather and a father figure in my poems. I don’t shy away from a different or unique way of looking at a topic. I evoke animal natures or landscapes to write about topics I can’t write about as a human. What’s it like to be a snail or a rock carving? Feldman: Does your poet-husband influence your writing? Does your daughter influence it? Prescott: I’m influenced by the poets I live and work with. My daughter, Vivian Mork Yéilk’, is an activist, artist, traditional medicines expert, ethnobotanist, columnist, poet. We are always talking poetry. My husband, Howie Martindale, is also a poet and edits my work. I’m able to share my rawest work with him or share ideas. Sometimes I find myself channeling his voice, though, so I have to be careful not to do that unless it’s really intentional for the poem. But sometimes his unique poet’s voice makes my voice braver. That

179 also happens when I might be working on a poem about a shared experience with my daughter. I can see how she might view the experience and that makes me go to places I might not otherwise want to go but is necessary in order to work the poem until the end. It’s not that I don’t have my own poet’s voice, but I am influenced and inspired by other poets. Feldman: Your mention of decolonizing leaps off the page. The phrase is from the New Zealand/ Maori woman Linda Tuhiwai Smith’s work Decolonizing Methodologies that moved many of us away from our unquestioned Western science perch that assumed western knowing involved only “objective knowledge” and ways of knowing. Thanks for mentioning that. Your poems dialogue with that colonizer myth. The humor and ironic cadence of some of your poems/prose/life experiences leaps off the page. Even as a male, from the Montana prairie, farm/ ranch kid, then in small town of 500, I know the John Wayne, cowboy-Indian myths that guided how you and I grew up. Because I grew up around actual “cowhands,” and men of the West, I never viewed Mr. Wayne as interesting, or any of his movies, which seemed absurd and boring. Although your poems in Silty Water People are intensely embedded in Southeast Alaska/ Wrangell geography and socio-cultural/political experiences, they ring true to me, reflect some of my evolving awareness of the BS being handed down as Western truth, values, history. Do you think there are, let us say, “universal truths” in your poems? I mean, the snail poem I read is very local, probably not meaningful outside of the context, EXCEPT FOR … what? How might this poem describe a “universal” condition of being a child? Prescott: I actually don’t care for John Wayne or cowboys or cowboy movies. But my ex did so that’s probably why I don’t like the cowboy motif. But I do love absurdity and irony. A few of the poems in Silty Water People are the absurdity of one persona’s

180 sense of cowboyness. These poems do speak to the Western worldview. I like writing about the truth that life is really odd sometimes. Often there’s no explanation for weirdness but my poems try to do that. I try to do that. So, when I write about the fucked up world we live in, the poems often end up with a bit of humor, and certainly irony. People are influenced by their surroundings and those identities shape who we are. I find people, cultures and landscapes fascinating. Nature, especially, is fascinating and my poems often explore the connections between how humans relate to place. Another truth is how we see others and how we see ourselves can vary wildly and changes throughout our lifetime. I’m not the same person now as I was when I was fifteen and newly married. But I enjoy writing about and from inside the head of that younger version of me, even though it’s difficult. I’ve been known to end a difficult writing session by quickly jumping up from my desk chair, sighing wow, and heading outside right away, down to the beach to be in the presence of the ocean and toss a stick for my dogs. A difficult writing experience can be good. Probably one thing people take away from reading my work is that my “truth” might differ from theirs. As for childhood truths, when my children were young, I saw them differently than I do now. I didn’t realize how being from Wrangell, a very assimilated community, would shape them. It wasn’t until I moved away, to Sitka and Hoonah, near my children’s traditional homeland, that I started to write and process how I was raising Native children who were struggling with identity. Sitka had a strong tribal presence at that time and Hoonah was filled with relatives and the language was still spoken there. As far as a universal childhood truth in my poems: childhood is complex. The poem “On Being a Snail” describes the T’akdeintaan origin of the clan name, the spiral way that benches are shaped around a clan house

CIRQUE fire, was one image that was explained to me. And, of course, the spiral on a snail shell and, also, in the petroglyphs and the spiral symbol in general. The spiral symbol is a large theme throughout this collection: the whirlpools on the Stikine River, cyclic time, snails, clan symbol, petroglyphs. So, if readers can relate to cycles, life cycles, nature cycles, etc.…then they can relate to the snail symbolizing a connection of place, landscape, and human. Feldman: Strong symbols. I think readers can relate to them, with a bit of your explanation. How has your doctorate in cultural studies at the University of Alaska Fairbanks informed your poetry or other writing? Prescott: My bachelor’s degree is in Alaska studies and English from the University of Alaska Southeast and during that time I began an indepth study of Alaska’s Indigenous history and my own studies in Sámi culture. This changed my worldview. Focusing on Cross Cultural Studies challenged my previously held colonizer worldviews. Being born and raised in Wrangell, my world was severely limited. But college changed me and changed my life and my family too. We started learning the Língit language, among other things. I started learning more about my Sámi and Finnish cultures. My doctorate, Lingit haa sateeyí, we who are Tlingit: contemporary Tlingit identity and the ancestral relationship to the landscape, was a part of that knowledge seeking. My Masters’ emphasis was in Indigenous Knowledge Systems so from that perspective my poetry, prose, scholarly writing and worldviews changed. Now, I look for meaning and connection and writing is one way I understand the world.


V o l . 11 N o . 2


An Interview with Tess Gallagher Tess Gallagher is the author of eleven collections of poetry, most recently Is, Is Not (Graywolf Press, 2019). In this wide-ranging meditational collection, Gallagher’s poems often draw from nature for lived experiences as well as for metaphors and analogies, and in a voice direct, yet complex in its authenticity. In Gallagher’s poems, the world “out there” is consistently internalized, meditated on—and in compelling ways. A beloved, “de facto mother” is laid out in death “on the only flat/ surface in the house, the kitchen table—like/ a banquet to which everyone is invited/ but to which no one can sit/ down.” A dream of shattered glass suggests “broken dreams.” A son, whose father wasn’t a father when he should have been, is retroactively “like a bank and his/ memory is floor to ceiling money.” Moles in the narrator’s garden are given personhood (upon hearing men discuss various methods of killing them); in the poet’s transformative imagination, they are re-conceptualized in human, socioeconomic terms: “they’ve unionized and are/ working out maternity leave and/ pensions.” This collection pulls us in because of its abundance of felt life and its inventive metaphors and analogies. The opening stanza to the title poem says much about the nature of the continual ebb and flow of life—a thematic pattern that informs this work: A brief reverie while sitting at the edge of the Pacific below Sky House, admiring the filigree maps of wave-froth inside the curvature as it rolls forward, then deposits its overlay of surrendered continents and ocean partings into the ebb left only moments before. Loss without sadness! I take my restorative like a shoreline whose surety is always: something is coming!

Tess Gallagher

Danielle Vermette photo

Gallagher began as a poet, but is also a fiction writer, turning to fiction in 1978, under the influence of Raymond Carver. She completed three volumes of short stories: The Lover of Horses (Harper & Row, 1986); At the Owl Woman Saloon (Scribner, 1997); and The Man from Kinvara: Selected Stories (Graywolf Press, 2009). As with her poetry, Gallagher’s stories draw our interest because they relate so clearly to our lived experience, whatever our particular personal background or social class, taking up such themes as aspiration, loss, and trust. The title story of her first collection, The Lover of Horses, provides an interesting twist on a familiar human trait—that of being gripped by something from without, so that human aspiration is charged with a magnetic pull. Gallagher gives a different expression of aspiration in “The Red Ensign,” from her second collection, At the Owl Woman Saloon. How much visceral charm can a 21-gun salute have on a person? “I Got a Guy Once,” also from her second volume, exhibits all

182 three of the above-named themes. Told from the point of view of a veteran Pacific Northwest logger, we see what’s in a logger’s DNA, what it feels like for the work to be running out, what it feels like when you can’t trust those who owe you to pay you what you’ve earned. Gallagher continues to write fiction, but in this case, based on oral stories from the late Irish painter and storyteller, Josie Gray. Until the pandemic, she regularly divided her time between Sky House, in Port Angeles, Washington, and Ballindoon, Co. Sligo, Ireland. In this time when borders are in question and immigrants unpopular, Gallagher has lived among the Irish, a population that has volunteered its young people all over the world in times of financial downturns such as the 2008 crash. The Irish helped build America. Then during what is called The Celtic Tiger period of the early 2000’s, Ireland’s economy rose and fell with its own influx of Polish, Romanian, Russian and other nationalities from Europe. Gallagher is a product of these crosscurrents and pulls, and her poetry and fiction inhabit a meditational space in the psyche of these events and their effects on identity and a fractured and re-managed sense of home. In addition to her poetry and fiction, Gallagher is also a screenwriter with a number of notable accomplishments. She was co-author, with her late husband, Raymond Carver, on a film script entitled Dostoevsky: A Screenplay, and in 2014 contributed to Alejandro González Iñárritu’s making of Birdman, based on Carver’s second collection, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. This film, directed by Iñárritu, brought him an Oscar, with the film winning four Academy Awards. Gallagher also contributed to the making of Short Cuts, based on Carver’s stories, directed by Robert Altman. She appears in Luck, Trust & Ketchup, a documentary about the making of Short Cuts, directed by Mike Kaplan. Currently, she is exploring several of her own stories for film, with cinematographer Michael McDonaugh, who shot the Portland film Leave No Trace. Danielle Vermette, a Portland writer and actress, has also been working with them on the development of these stories into episodes for a film series.

CIRQUE In this interview, Tess Gallagher speaks of her writing in three different genres, the influence of Ireland on her work, and her most recent collection of poetry. Jack Smith: Can you comment on your early poetry writing? Is your poetry different now than it was back in 1976, when you published your groundbreaking feminist first book? Tess Gallagher: I began in 1963 with Theodore Roethke, the great Pulitzer Prize winning poet, as my teacher. My poems were very musical and narrative, but with a rather mystical undertow. Across time they have been more and more shaped by my reading and living in Buddhism, and my love of asking images to break open entire inner universes, but with unlikely turns of thought that jolt one out of ordinary mind. I love, for instance, to write in what I call crazy mind. It’s a way of changing the sense-making proclivities of language to deliver more than sense-making! Smith: To what extent did Raymond Carver influence your writing? He was a poet as well as fiction writer. Did he influence your poetry writing? Gallagher: He influenced me to be more clear in my poems—instead of being so watercolor with washes of intimations and dark alcoves, mystery...He put on the flood lights in my poems. I had always reserved some off-stage whispers in my poems and maybe used language in a more suggestive way. But he liked concreteness. So I found myself writing more narrative poems and becoming much more direct. But the minute he died I wrote Moon Crossing Bridge, which was so opaque that my mother opined “nobody is going to understand you.” But she was luckily wrong. That book has had a great readership—maybe the most of any book I’ve written, for it is essentially a book of love poems. Smith: What about fiction writing? Did Ray influence you there?

V o l . 11 N o . 2 Gallagher: When we were first together in El Paso and I was on a National Endowment Grant and Ray was teaching at Texas A&M in 1977, I think it was, there was a spacious third bathroom in our house, and I decided to make it my fiction office. I could lock the door and write and feel beautifully cut off from the world. I began to write out of stories my mother had told me of her life in Missouri when she was young. And also my own early life in my hometown of Port Angeles, WA, when I knew a bank robber and when my grandfather would tell me about buying shoes in a shoe store from the bandit Frank James. Things like that. These stories became The Lover of Horses. Smith: You published your last collection of fiction, The Man from Kinvara, several years ago and have spent most of your time writing poetry— or returning to writing poetry, I should say—since then. Why the shift? Gallagher: Stories take a lot more time in the chair. And I think my back-and-forth life to Ireland meant I had to work in shorter forms that I could accomplish wherever I was for short times. Also I missed Ray’s side-by-side with me, I noticed, after I wrote At the Owl Woman Saloon. It was fun to write them, but lonely afterwards when I couldn’t share them with him. Smith: But it’s not like you’ve given up fiction writing since you’ve been fashioning fiction from oral stories by the painter and storyteller, the late Josie Gray. What’s that like? Gallagher: Yes, Josie Gray, my late Irish companion of 25 years, was a masterful storyteller, and I have been working on a new book of his oral stories that I had collected before his death in 2017. It is called Surrounded by Weasels after one of the stories in Barnacle Soup, the book we published while he was living. It really made me happy to finish doing that, but I have not had time to shop it around for a publisher. Blackstaff Press in Belfast, who published the first book, is doing only current books about current topics and from living writers—so this book isn’t a candidate

183 there. But I’m hoping I’ll find someone to take it on because it has a lot of what we loved in that first book—humor and savory particular ways of speaking and reacting to things, just the history and ways of Irish people in an entirely other time. Smith: How is that different from writing from your own experience and imagination? Gallagher: It’s more a job of filling in a bit of details that Josie might not think were needed but that we do need across cultures and in written form as compared to oral tellings. Also, I have to be so attentive to the diction and syntax and ways of Irish storytelling that are so very different from American ways. We tell everything in such boringly chronological ways and we put up barricades to keep any side-stories from coming in, while the Irish love detours and side shows and delays in their tellings. They will tramp off through the brush and shanghai a person on some crazy mindless errand that will somehow link up, eventually! Or not! Working on Josie’s stories with him was more like being a translator or a midwife! Smith: What’s the composing process like? Gallagher: Well I wrote more fully about this at the start of Barnacle Soup. For twelve years I taperecorded stories from Josie and then Dorothy Catlett—who was my and Ray’s secretary for some years—she took the stories off the tapes and typed them up. Then Josie and I passed them back and forth, getting them right. Smith: You’ve recently been working on film scripts for your stories. Tell us about that. Do you find that exciting? Gallagher: Michael McDonaugh and I have been working for over a year to bring my characters from several stories together in the style Altman used when I worked with him on the film Short Cuts. An actress and poet and fiction writer, Danielle Vermette in Portland, is also helping us. We break the narrative frames. The episodes are set in a logging town like where I was raised here

184 in the Pacific Northwest. I really love how these characters are developing completely believable other motions and impetus, and engagements, with each other. They essentially come alive in a quite new way! Smith: Your stories are not limited to the Pacific Northwest setting. Why did you choose stories with this particular setting for film episodes? Gallagher: The Northwest in Washington State is such a wild and beautiful place where Vietnam vets came after that war, and later vets from Iraq and Afghanistan, people looking to get out of the traffic of cities. I was born here and wherever I am on the planet I am sure to be headed back here before long. The fishing, the Indigenous American aspect, the mystery of the Olympic National Forest, the birds and animals ranging within sight every day, the logging history of which my family was a part—all of that makes for a great background to storytelling. Smith: Your stories are often rich with character, thought and backstory. How do you go about changing them to film scripts? Do you lose very much? How long will your film scripts run? Gallagher: To use the stories in film episodes one has to script the dialogue, the new characters we’ve added, the scenes and where they take place, finding the narrative arc to carry the push and pull that is taking place. We have to be thinking through our eyes more intensely and not just giving the run of dialogue from the story. Action has to be top dog and the dialogue riding along astraddle that so you never lose sight of the doings of the scene, the what’s happening and why. Smith: Until recently, with the coming of the pandemic, Ireland has been a second home for you. To what extent does your Irish life influence your poetry writing? For instance, the mood or tone—or possibly subjects for your poetry? Gallagher: My writing, as a result of my Irish

CIRQUE interactions, has more wit, I think, more agility, more story and mystery. There are states of being I call ‘Overlapping Time’ and ‘Liminal Experience’— these come from my Irish experience. There is a synchronicity of past and present times, and a portraiture of Irish life in its Chekhovian aspect— that is: just how simply a story is able to move and be emotionally freighted without any big dramatic things going on—just the quiet beauty and mystery of days and lives coming together. The poem “A ‘sit’ with Eileen” might be an example of this and also one called “Oliver” (both from Is, Is Not), about a young traditional Irish singer who comes regularly to sing at my fireside. Smith: In crossing countries and cultures, would you say your stories and poems bring us closer to each other in our present challenging times? Gallagher: If one has an intimate, lived understanding of even one other culture it gives you a better way to understand your own culture’s challenges. America is such a Lone Ranger culture, compared to how life is lived in Ireland, more communally, where the Irish clan is still invisibly present, especially in the countryside. The innate country-minded notion of protecting and helping your neighbor—of farmers coming together to accomplish things—is still strong in Ireland. When flooding happened there one spring, I was able to help my farmer neighbors get the support of the county council to redirect that water coming down off the valley ledge. The notion of giving shelter is something strong in Irish family life. Ireland is a country of people who have had to immigrate to economically survive, so they deeply understand the condition of being without shelter or sheltering in a country not their own. My cottage in Ballindoon, Co. Sligo, came into its own during COVID when my grandson and his girlfriend took shelter at my cottage for several weeks. They’ve since gone back to Austria and subsequently to Berlin. But the cottage came into another dimension when they had nowhere to live while I was exiled in America by COVID. They loved my cottage and felt safe there.

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185 ceases to exist, does it enter another sphere and if so what is that like? I was trying to find language for that. One of the books I am still learning from in this regard is Where Buddhism Meets Neuroscience: Conversations with the Dalai Lama on the Spiritual and Scientific Views of Our Minds. Smith: Can you describe how the title poem “Is, Is Not” perhaps enacts that sense of existence, then erasure that is so strong in the book?

Smith: How did you decide on some of the themes you work with in your current collection, Is, Is Not, for instance, death and dying, time, and the nature of dreams? Gallagher: These themes are embedded in the way my mind forages in the countryside, whether I am in Ireland or the Pacific Northwest. If I take a walk to Lough Arrow and meet the horses there, I will look into the horses’ eyes and maybe have some new recognition I wouldn’t have had if I just stayed in my chair and watched the tractors shuddering by out the window. Smith: Nature seems to play an important role in this collection. Gallagher: I notice that many people seem to live as if their head were a part of their computer. But my head goes outside and I walk it around first thing. I take it alongside the river. I walk in the forest. I walk on the stones at the beach. I listen for blackbirds and watch the heron rise over the marsh. Smith: How did you decide on the title for this collection? Gallagher: I started to realize I was in a metaphysical engagement with existence: what does existence really mean? And when something

Gallagher: That poem is in parts, and you finally arrive at this Irishman who dropped dead between two steps. Ever after that, the people who knew him or even heard about him ‘take a blessing’ from that very spot! So it is as if his death happens and returns every time a person remembers either the story or the actual event of his death or sees exactly where he fell and remarks on it. So in a sense he never truly dies to the collective mind in that parish! And now my poem immortalizes him too in the sense that anyone who reads the poem can ask about him, and where he died. In Ireland and in America when there is a traffic accident that takes a life, little memorials spring up. There are also unmarked memorials in our hearts and minds. Smith: What do you see as one of the greatest functions of literature, speaking of both fiction and poetry? Gallagher: Literature, both poetry and fiction, has as many ways to impact our consciousness on the planet as there are voices articulating the news of our lives. We are each carrying precious cargos of our pasts and those pasts of others we treasure. We each have dreams and feelings of what matters in our lives. As poets and fiction writers we may hope to leave a memorable impression of what we experienced, and how we dealt with the harms and joys and questions in an imaginative way. A poem or a piece of fiction, if it is powerful enough, can change our way of seeing and being. I aspire to that power, poem by poem, image by image, story by story.



F E AT U R E Paul K. Haeder

A Remembrance for Barry Lopez

The Eye of the Wolf — Measuring Myself through Death If I were asked what I want to accomplish as a writer, I would say it’s to contribute to the literature of hope. —Barry Lopez, About This Life

A passing. A death. Moving on. Back to earth. A new journey. He filled the air with lyrical words and ideas grafted to our role as writers and people living inside and with our natural world. He was steadfast in his role as a naturalist of sorts, but through and through he was a word conjurer. He came to me when I was young, inside his book about wolves. I was in Arizona jumping the skeletons of saguaros with my 360cc Bultaco and learning the art of passage: working with ministers and laypersons helping Central Americans cross that political line between USA and Mexico. Barry Lopez’s written words were in my heart: The wolf exerts a powerful influence on the human imagination. It takes your stare and turns it back on you. —from Of Wolves and Men Luckily for me, I heard wolves in 2002 along the Clearwater in Idaho, being let free on Nez Perce land. Now, 42 years later, the tributes to his life, his writing, and how he touched soil and words come trickling in. But the Lopez I also know is the young man who went to Notre Dame and considered being a Trappist monk, while a deep scar from his youth galvanized into his very being and turned him away from much of man’s ways.

He is a writer who helped humanity understand their stories are valuable. I remember the television interview of him years ago, with Bill Moyers. Again, Lopez stressed he might be considered a nature writer but, in reality, he was writing about humanity. “Every story is an act of trust between a writer and a reader; each story, in the end, is social. Whatever a writer sets down can harm or help the community of which he or she is a part.” He was a gifted wordsmith. And like Winona LaDuke, he wanted to “recover the sacred.” The land shapes us all, and for Lopez, he spent time in that land — exploring the Arctic over a span of five years as a biologist. His own biography is compelling in that odd American way. Nascent Dreams He was born Barry Holstun Brennan in Port Chester, New York. His family moved to Reseda, California after the birth of his brother, Dennis. He was raised in a low-income single-parent family for a while, and his mother married Adrian Lopez, a businessman, in 1955. Adrian adopted Barry and his brother, and they both took his surname. He died with laurels, awards, and 20 books to his name. Years fighting prostate cancer didn’t lessen his ferocity for wanting to be a “writer of help.”


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He ended up planting his field of muses to grow into an Oregonian. In this process of tending his writing and spirituality in this adopted land, he always spoke of this amazing place that for thousands of years was home to people with a real land ethic. People who planned to live here generations into the future. Who planned their lives, habits and culture around the fact they would not be leaving, or engaging in some Diaspora.

Barry Lopez

David Liittschwager photo

For me, Walt Whitman says it in a nutshell, what it was to be Barry Lopez: “Happiness, not in another place but this place...not for another hour, but this hour.” Part of Barry’s call to duty was acting as a bridge, a translator, an intermediary for humanity (Western Civilization) which has in general lost that language of animals. We have forgotten to talk to our brothers and sisters. He stated in an interview with Nick O’Connell.” I’ve always been deeply interested in animals, in what they were doing and where they lived. They are for me parallel cultures. I think about them a lot and spend a certain amount of time with them. Natural history is the metaphor I feel most comfortable with as a writer — a kind of natural history that includes geography.” When Lopez was 11, his family relocated to Manhattan, where he attended the Loyola School, graduating in 1962. He attended the University of Notre Dame, earning undergraduate and graduate degrees there in 1966 and 1968. He also attended the University of Oregon.

That manifest destiny, that interloper mentality of settlers, Lopez also discussed with me and my students, since I had spent much of my life in land conquered by Spain — Mexico and Central America. And others who knew Barry personally also write about this root in his own intellectual life. An amazing journey in time, space, and history, “The Passing Wisdom of Birds,” from Crossing Open Ground still drills into my core. Lopez writes about Hernan Cortez’s destruction of Tenochtitlan, the Aztec Capital known today as Mexico City. Not surprisingly, Charles V called this Aztec jewel “the most beautiful city in the world.” We know the story — after being driven out of the city a year earlier by Montezuma, Cortez then returns with a larger army and with vengeance in his heart and vindictive violence as his tool of domination. Lopez writes, Cortez’s army “laid siege to the city. Canal by canal, garden by garden, home by home.” This is the barbarity of the Old World launching its systematic destruction of a people, culture and their own praxis by gestating in a new land as conquistadores with guns, the holy cross and racism. Cortez set fire to the great aviaries and nests of wild birds found throughout the city. Lopez writes, “The image I carry of Cortez setting fire to the aviaries in Mexico City that June day in 1521 is an image I cannot rid myself of. It stands,



in my mind, for a fundamental lapse of wisdom ... an underlying trouble in which political conquest, personal greed, revenge, and national pride outweigh what is innocent, beautiful, serene and defenseless — the birds. ... Indeed, one could argue, the same oblivious irreverence is still with us, among those who would ravage and poison the earth to sustain the economic growth of Western societies.” I spoke with Barry when he addressed classes at Eastern Washington University and the two Spokane community colleges where I taught. I brought up the chaos of the country when we spoke. That was in 2006. It was easy to rebuke much of America then as it was clear to pundits, academicians and writers that this country was adrift (some déjà vu now, uh?). Easy to blame media, computers, celebrity culture and political impotence, for sure, but Lopez stressed to me and the students that we were widening the cultural disconnect with the land. He actually posed this very question in the end of that essay, “The Passing Wisdom of Birds.” Is it possible to move beyond a moment in the Valley of Mexico when we behaved as though we were insane? Lopez’s answer can be found in Arctic Dreams: “Staring down pecatta mundi that day on the tundra, my image of God was this effort to love in spite of everything that contradicts that impulse. When I think of the phrase ‘the love of God,’ I think of this great and beautiful complexity we hold within us, this pattern of light and emotion we call God, and that the rare, pure ferocity of our love sent anywhere in that direction is worth all the mistakes we endure to practice it.” Think Like a Mountain He hitched his entire life to the land, and the mental manifestation of what land language and biotic ethics mean to people who hold land as more than “just” sacred. The land is the very essence of our own DNA, as

Sheepscape, an Alaska Montana Convergence No. 2

Janet Clemens

many of us attempt to mine lost narratives in order to understand people who know the land and its inhabitants and geological prominence like the backs of their hands. Sure, I met Barry Lopez several times — in bookstores and classrooms: Missoula, Seattle, Spokane, Portland. His Arctic Dreams and Of Wolves and Men I read early in my own writing career. I am part of the geology connected to Lopez. I live on the Central Oregon Coast, and the fires we had in 2020 tore through his and his wife Debra’s property. The land will heal, but his 50year personal archive of all his writings went up in flames. Here on the Alsea River along the Pacific, I smelled the drifting ashes of those fires for weeks. During the fires, Debra and Barry ended up in Eugene, and many have stated that Lopez repeated

V o l . 11 N o . 2 these universal healing words we know from nature when asked what was next: "rebuilding, repairing, and replanting.” I remember another appearance, at Spokane’s Auntie’s Bookstore, 15 years ago when he was reading from a new collection that he choreographed along with his wife Debra Gwartney — Home Ground. The book is a collection of writers looking at this concept of America having a unique (in Western Culture) look at the land through terms that hitch entire ideas conceptually and literally to that terminology. The book’s subtitle says it all, A Guide to the American Landscape. In the collection, more than 45 writers, including Barbara Kingsolver, Charles Frazier, William Kittredge and Terry Tempest Williams, riff with the truly American terms found at the intersection of human culture and physical geography. Examples include just these -- "portage" and "outcrop," "windbreak" and "dry fall." "What distinguishes American literature -especially from European literature -- is this deep attachment to place,” Lopez told Ann Colford of the Pacific Northwest Inlander. "And it's not just in the usual suspects, like Cather and Steinbeck and Melville and Thoreau; it's there in everybody's work. Truman Capote. Updike. One of the impetuses in choosing the marginalia was this sense of, 'Look at all these people and how they think about the landscape.'" ACE — Adverse Childhood Experiences I have to end this remembrance of Barry Lopez with another path he crossed in his life, at a very young age, an adverse childhood experience for which I ended up also intersecting as a social worker for homeless, veterans, youth and those living with a developmental disability. Lopez and I talked about the precarity of my own work as a part-time adjunct, part-time journalist,

189 failed novelist with a New York agent and other gigs tied to social services. When I last spoke with him, I had not yet launched into working with the disenfranchised: substance addicted humans, or the just-released prisoners, homeless, and those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The impact of Lopez’s childhood trauma and repressed PTSD hit me hard. I read his 2013 article in Harper’s because someone who had remembered my reviews of two of his books when I was a reporter and Sunday book editor for the El Paso Times contacted me on Facebook. “Did you see that amazingly open, truthful and sad article he wrote about his own abuse? Wow?” Lopez was nearing seventy when he wrote this piece in Harper’s Magazine — “Sliver of Sky -Confronting the trauma of sexual abuse” (Jan. 2013). He was seven when his family was introduced to this man, who ran a sanatorium and was known in California for his ability to help alcoholics kick the habit. Lopez’s story of shame, packing away trauma, sublimating that five years of abuse he experienced into a life -- on the surface and deeper within through his own passages with nature, writing and teaching (he visited over 80 countries) — wallops any empathetic reader hard. While Lopez is compared to Henry David Thoreau and William Faulkner, he was in one sense carrying a shattered child inside. Here, one of the less graphic passages from the Harper’s memoir: From what I have read over the years in newspapers and magazines about scandals involving serial pedophiles, I have gathered that people seem to think that what victims most desire in the way of retribution is money and justice, apparently in that order. My own guess would be that what they most want is something quite different: they want

190 to be believed, to have a foundation on which they can rebuild a sense of dignity. Reclaiming self-respect is more important than winning money, more important than exacting vengeance. Victims do not want someone else’s public wrath, the umbrage of an attorney or an editorial writer or a politician, to stand in for the articulation of their own anger. When a pedophile is exposed by a grandjury indictment today, the tenor of public indignation often seems ephemeral to me, a response generated by “civic” emotion. Considering the number of children who continue to be abused in America — something like one in seven boys and one in three girls — these expressions of condemnation seem naïve. Without a deeper commitment to vigilance, society’s outrage begins to take on the look of another broken promise.

CIRQUE Yet Barry Lopez’s message, even among all the dire calls to action to stop the polluting, the razing, the clearcutting, the harvesting, the burning, the damming, the killing, comes to me in one of the last things he published — a forward to a biography of Richard K. Nelson, Raven’s Witness: The Alaska Life of Richard K. Nelson by Hank Lentfer (July 2020, Mountaineers Books).

Sitting at the Table of Greats Sure, my own life in the wild, inside nature, communing with manatees, hornbills, hammerheads or what-have-you has also been tied to not just the “land ethic” that Aldo Leopold wrote about, but also to recovering the sacred, which to me are the people who are in, by, because and for the land. There is no climate change mitigation for vanishing forests, coral reefs and rivers unless there are holistic and deep green relationships we build within the biotic community as we work with the community of Homo Sapiens. Interestingly, the work I have done with sexuallyabused veterans, people living as homeless, and even those who are deemed “people with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” as well as the work as a community college and K12 teacher, all tied into the threads that Barry Lopez gifted me to understand that connection — or in most cases, disconnection — we as a society have lost to the land.

Red-throated Loon (Gavia Stellata), Alaska

Nancy Deschu

This is an elegant and amazing connection to his own life writing in an old chair that Lopez had to mess with to keep viable as the place he found the fortitude and the ferocity of spirit from which to write and keep connected to Nelson the man who was a real person of the people and land: It seems appropriate for me to reflect first on the undistinguished chair I’m sitting in as I try to put together a few words to introduce you to this biography of Richard Nelson. I bought the chair long ago in a second-hand store, in Springfield, Oregon. I’ve had to repair it occasionally, to ensure its sturdiness. Two worn-out seat cushions, one atop the other, make it easier to occupy for hours at a time. Two newel posts brace a tapered backrest of wooden spindles. The caps of the newel posts gleam from the rub of human hands over the decades.


V o l . 11 N o . 2 I’ve written seventeen books sitting in this chair, and I hope to complete a couple more in the years ahead. In the early 1980s, because I sensed that resting my back against a pair of cured blacktail deer hides from Richard’s hunts would put me in a more respectful frame of mind when I wrote, and that they might induce in me the proper perspectives about life, I wrote him and asked for his help. Would he honor our friendship by sending me a couple of blacktail deer hides? These were from deer he’d been given as a subsistence hunter (as he understood that relationship with them) in the woods near his home. In my experience, no other non-native hunter’s ethical approach to this archetypal form of fatal encounter was as honorable as Richard’s. He hunted to feed his family, imitating the way his Iñupiaq, Koyukon, and Gwich’in teachers had taught him to, through the example of their own behavior

in engagements with wild animals —humble, grateful, respectful. I felt the hides might care for me as I stumbled my way through life, in the same way that our friendship with each other would take care of both of us in the years ahead. Even without the deer hides stitched to my own office chair, or the close camaraderie and corresponding with Lopez, I too feel that the words of poets and writers like Lopez will “take care of me in the years ahead, wherever that passage way Mother Earth leads me.” I am reminded that Lopez believed a writer’s job was “to be of service.” Again, Lopez stated many times that we as writers are not placed in this role to tell people what to think. Our job is to help people frame their own thoughts. And to know their own stories and be able to tell those stories to themselves, their circle of family, or in the case of Lopez, to the world.

F E AT U R E Steve Levi

A Remembrance for Joanne Townsend On January 2, 2020, Alaska lost a giant. Joanne Townsend, Poet Laureate for the State of Alaska from 1988 to 1994, died in Las Cruces, New Mexico. She was the embodiment of Alaskan quality in both her life and writing. Townsend arrived in Alaska the way many of us do: tired of where we were living and exhilarated with the chance for a new start. Born in Massachusetts, she went to nursing school in Boston. After her first husband died of cancer after a year of marriage, she remarried and headed West, first to the San Francisco Bay Area and then “propelled by an insistent urge to go North,” she and Dan drove the 3,070 miles to Anchorage in a 1948 Willy’s Jeep. For the next 25 years, she staggered the Alaska literary scene with her poetry. After the tragic death of her son Ethan in August of 1996, she moved to Las

Cruces, New Mexico and then to that Great Poetry Reading in the sky. She earned a BA from APU in Anchorage and then a Masters from the University of Arkansas/Fayetteville. Joanne is survived by her husband, Dan, of Las Cruces.

192 Townsend’s work has been broadly published in anthologies, including Hunger & Dreams (edited by Pat Monaghan); A Long Line of Joy (edited by William B. Robson); Whispered Secrets (1991), and Last New Land (1991, edited by Wayne Mergler). Throughout her work, three main themes are Townsend’s sorrow for losses related to her Jewish heritage, friends and relationships and her love of nature. The titles of her poems in A Long Line of Joy give some indication of these leanings: “Grandfather Poem 1,” “Consistencies/ Inconsistencies 1977,” “turnips or jump rope jargon/a feminist version of the Lizzie Borden story,” and “Running for Marlene.” In a literary artist’s statement prefacing these four poems, written at her cozy home nestled on Anchorage’s Twining Street, Townsend wrote, “For it is a crystallization of experience, the translucence shining through the print on the page that gives a poem its clarity.” She continued, “I remain old-fashioned in a technological age. As society becomes increasingly hung up on electronic media, audio-visual techniques, and instant playback, I nurture more deeply my lifelong passion for the meaning of words, the content of books, the significance and spirit of poetry.” From 1979 to 1981, Joanne and I edited an Alaskan poetry magazine, Harpoon. It appeared four times a year, and we made certain that each issue offered a spread of writers (as many as possible Alaskan), subjects, points of view and meters. It was a different magazine because we included lengthy reviews, editorial comments and recommended poetry books. Joanne and I were both passionate about giving Alaskan poetry a fingerprint. We both had Jewish backgrounds but from different perspectives. She grew up Jewish and suffered the slings and arrows of being Jewish on the East Coast. I was the son of an Italian Jewish Holocaust refugee who abandon his religion when he came to America. And Joanne and I were different poets. I viewed myself as a story teller be it in seven lines or a narrative saga in a dozen pages. Joanne was

CIRQUE an image splasher, condensing some of the most profound human experiences into the fewest number of lines. Together were argued, agreed, compromised and produced a high quality local magazine that included Alaskan poets we had never heard of alongside Poetry Pulitzer Prize winners. Joanne leaves a huge legacy which can, fortunately, be read at the Archives in the University of Alaska Anchorage. She will be missed and the kudos are both impressive and heartfelt. "Joanne became my good friend in 1974," said Ann Chandonnet, who now lives in Missouri. "She was a people person. Never an elitist. She got right down in the lovely mud of poetry with you and splashed with abandon." Eleanor Limmer stated, “I appreciate the unique voice of her poetry." In lieu of flowers or a celebration of life, Joanne would surely prefer you introduce poetry to a child.

REVIEW Sibelan Forrester

Interlocking Voices: A Review of Olga Livshin's A Life Replaced A Life Replaced: Poems with translations from Anna Akhmatova and Vladimir Gandelsman Poets & Traitors Press, 2019 Of course, a translator of poetry will bring those discoveries to her own poems, and vice versa. In the first part of A Life Replaced, Olga Livshin’s own poetry is interspersed with her translations of Anna Akhmatova, while in the second it intermixes with her translations of Vladimir Gandelsman. Many of Livshin’s poems are in dialogue with the two Russophone poets, sometimes addressing them and sometimes treating the same issues, especially exile and emigration or distress at

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the flaws in one’s own country of residence. Dr. Livshin is a scholar of Russian poetry who has taught in several big universities; she lives on the Main Line outside Philadelphia. She is admirably able to bring a different voice to each of the three poets involved—two in translation, and one her own in English (which also involves a significant amount of translation, since she learned English as a second language). The book has a fair number of words in Russian, transliterated or left in Cyrillic. Each page of poetry lists the author in fine print at the bottom, unobtrusive but convenient if the reader suddenly wonders. Who are these poets? Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966) is of course one of the most famous Russian modernists, mentor of Joseph Brodsky and other “Leningrad poets” in her late years, and the third Russian recipient of an honorary doctorate at Oxford University, which she was able to accept on her first trip ever out of the USSR. (She had traveled outside Russia before the Revolution.) Akhmatova was famously oppressed by Stalin, who had her son Lev Gumilev arrested and sent to labor camp; Livshin’s introduction

193 rightly notes that Akhmatova wrote odes praising Stalin in hopes of easing her son’s fate (…and they didn’t seem to help, though who knows: perhaps they kept him, and even her, alive). Poet, translator and publisher Jim Kates once commented that there should be a moratorium on translations of Akhmatova, Neruda and Rilke—and yet my word processor underlines Akhmatova’s name with red, while Neruda and Rilke don’t provoke that “error” message. Like Pushkin, Akhmatova is tricky to translate: she demands subtlety, careful word choice, and awareness of connotations. Livshin has chosen brief works by Akhmatova (only one is an excerpt from a longer work), and though she doesn’t strive for exact metrical equivalence (as some translators of Akhmatova have done—in many cases rather spoiling the result) the lines often move in an easy and unobtrusive iambic pentameter, aptly reflecting Akhmatova’s “classical” quality in Russian. Indeed, she became increasingly “classical”—practicing more traditional forms of rhyming, scanning verse—as she aged, both because that was easier to publish in the Soviet period, and because she herself became a grande dame of Russian poetry, a living link with the fin-de-siècle poets who had not survived Stalin. Akhmatova was also an authority on earlier classics such as Pushkin, and she published a few serious scholarly articles about him. In short, Akhmatova is a big deal—but Livshin doesn’t make a big deal about the crisp and accurate translations. She gives us a taste of the essential Akhmatova, and I hope she is at work on more. Here’s a quick example (the final stanza of a 12-line poem, p. 32): An angry “Stop!”, the smell of just-spilled tar, Some mystery mold spreading on the wall— Here comes my verse, already brazen, tender, For you, for me, for joy. That “mystery mold” brings the translation right up to the present, though the last two lines are timeless. Vladimir Gandelsman, born in 1948, lives



in emigration near New York City, which other Russian émigrés say is one of the few US cities that can compare with the centripetal Russian capitals

nation’s threat to the voices and culture of its own people. At the same time, they move through an émigré community that continues to identify and be identified as unlike everybody else. Both poets look sharply at the flaws and limitations of their new country, as well as the difficulties a poet might have in settling there. Since Gandelsman is not as well known as Akhmatova, here is a longer example of Livshin’s translation: A child is sleeping, one hand under her cheek, the other holding a doll. She is not dreaming of guilt; she is profoundly right. Like a deep layer of snow asleep in an empty yard: no factories nearby, no dark figures knee-deep in mud.

Olga Livshin

Shalimar Varvoutis photo

(Moscow and St. Petersburg, formerly Leningrad) for cultural riches and intellectual excitement. Gandelsman has written a lot of really good poetry, and we see a selection in the second part of A Life Replaced, which has the section title “In a Strange American Town.” He receives less attention than he deserves, perhaps because he also tends to write in “old-fashioned” metrical and rhyming verse, out of time with the non-metrical tendency of the Anglophone literary world today. Livshin admirably conveys Gandelsman’s wordplay and sense of humor, as well as his leonine personality (look up his photograph online!). Whereas she has a relationship with Akhmatova as another woman poet, inviting Akhmatova in one poem to join her in a former girlhood, she relates to Gandelsman as a fellow Russian Jewish émigré. They are immigrants as well as émigrés, of course, though the older Gandelsman continues to write in Russian, while Livshin writes in English. Both reflect a culture in which poetry is vital not because the nation’s survival is threatened (as has been the case in Ireland or Poland, say), but because of the

The snow in the empty yard is like the child asleep: consisting, radiantly, only of itself. This short poem (from page 55) hints at Gandelsman’s careful attention to surrounding reality and precise employment of punctuation. He deserves more readers, and although Livshin doesn’t bend over backwards to maintain his formal qualities she presents him handsomely. Livshin’s own poetry, mingled throughout the book, is tinted by the context of the two poets translated: the most noticeable difference (for someone who knows them in the original) is that she doesn’t rhyme and scan; her verse’s workmanship is manifested elsewhere. Topics include émigré/ immigrant stories, love, and motherhood. The speaker’s relationship to Russia becomes more problematic thanks to her other human relationships: in one part of “To Russia, with You” (pp. 77-81) the speaker predicts pleasures but also fear in taking her girlfriend to visit Russia, while in another she and her relatives fret about her taking

V o l . 11 N o . 2 her small son to visit family in Odessa at a time when explosions have happened in apartment buildings. The homoerotic voice in some of Livshin’s poems chimes with one of Akhmatova’s poems to Olga Glebova-Sudeikina, her friend and (maybe? probably?) lover. “Milk Mushrooms” begins with the love of hunting for mushrooms that seems eternally shared by everyone who grew up in Russia, then gives way to recollection of the history in which the milk mushrooms—“too bitter to bother,” as the mushroom guide she cites opines—were laboriously processed by women to make them more palatable as food in years of war and oppression. “The Face of Exile” addresses a Syrian refugee the poet met in Philadelphia. Some of her poems treat the history of Russian literature and culture, like the wonderful “Annas at the Stove” (pp. 47-48), which imagines Akhmatova speaking with Anna Ahrens in their shared apartment, the morning after their husband/lover Nikolai Punin was arrested. They are burning all the potentially compromising papers they can find to minimize the risk of more arrests, though this in turn threatens to destroy art historian and theorist Punin’s life work. A stanza from the middle: Ahrens whispers: “Anything could be evidence. What’s on his desk?” A doctor, a good cook, she knows how to solve problems, how to approach immolation as a task. I said just now that Livshin doesn’t rhyme, but there is “desk” chiming crisply with “task.” Coming to English as a second language conveys certain advantages. The book’s foreword picks out a line from p. 23: “It is summer everywhere, except war.” A native speaker of English would probably have said “in war” or “at war,” out of habit, but doesn’t that sudden naked noun stop you short? It evokes both the unexpected quality of war and war’s awkward (to say the least) lack of fit with the rest of reality; the word war works as a sore thumb in the line. Livshin pays attention to unfortunate recent events in the US, which

195 have a particular moral and emotional impact on anyone who came to the country as a refugee—as did Jewish émigrés from the USSR, the so-called “third wave” emigrants, whose younger generation has provided American literature with a number of prominent writers. Where Akhmatova is restrained and neat and Gandelsman humorously clever, Livshin herself is wilder and tends more to the unexpected. The book has a foreword by Ilya Kaminsky, another émigré poet whose work straddles original writing and translation/adaptation from Russian. Kaminsky has growing authority as a supporter of poets, as well. The foreword notes Livshin’s poetic influences without going into detail: it is a sort of amuse bouche. After two pages of acknowledgments, Livshin offers an introduction as well, five pages that begin with her experience as a child émigrée and continue with some background on Akhmatova and Gandelsman. All this means that the book offers several layers before the poems begin. Perhaps it reflects academic habit? Or it wants the reader to approach gradually? In any case, the “apparatus” prepares the reader to understand the poetry; anyone who picks up the book because they know Akhmatova or Gandelsman already will be ahead of the game. I can’t help mentioning the press’s clever name, Poets and Traitors, which picks up the oft-repeated and deeply suspect Italian wordplay “Tradittore – traduttore” (translator – traitor). It is especially to the point for a collection like this, where questions of migration and exile come up so often. Literature emerges here as a place of relative safety, given one country’s vicious treatment of refugees and immigrants and another country’s legacy of exclusion and oppression and current eruptions of homophobia, nationalism and violence. Even literature turns out to be not all that safe in A Life Replaced, but Livshin is a trustworthy guide.



CONTRIBUTORS Luther Allen facilitates SpeakEasy, a community reading series, and is co-editor of Noisy Water. His collection of poems, The View from Lummi Island, can be found at His work is included in the recent anthologies WA 129, Refugium, Poems for the Pacific, Poets Unite! LitFUSE @10, Weaving the Terrain, and For the Love of Orcas. His short story, “The Stilled Ring,” was a finalist in the annual fiction contest at He views writing as his spiritual practice. Keri Ault: I am a social worker by day and writer by evening and weekends, living in Portland, Oregon. I love being outside, exploring this beautiful corner of the world. I only hope that we humans can stop messing it up. I wrote this piece about trying to get through these times, while stuck in the house, with your spouse. Thanks for reading and for your consideration. Constance Bacchus lives with her daughter in the Pacific Northwest. She has writing in The Wild Word, Re-Side, The Gorge Literary Review, Silver Pinion, City Brink, Revolute, IceFloe Press, Salmon Creek Journal, mineral lit and Shrub-Steppe Poetry Journal. And her book, Lethe came out this year. Carol Barrett holds doctorates in both clinical psychology and creative writing. She coordinates the Creative Writing Certificate Program at Union Institute & University. Her books include Calling in the Bones, which won the Snyder Prize from Ashland Poetry Press, Drawing Lessons from Finishing Line Press, and Pansies from Sonder Press, a finalist for the 2020 Oregon Book Award in General Nonfiction. Her creative work has appeared in JAMA, Poetry International, Poetry Northwest, The Women’s Review of Books, and many other venues. A former NEA Fellow in Poetry, she lives in Bend, OR. Mark Basquill: I finished my doctoral training in Redding, CA and lived in the Pacific Northwest for a time before returning East. I've practiced psychology for twenty-five years and retain a sense of wonder for the natural world around me. Disconnection from our natural world seems to me to be a hidden root of many of our mental health problems. Toni La Ree Bennett is a fine artist, photographer and writer. She attended the University of Washington where she received a Ph.D. in English and a Certificate in Photography. She studied with Mary Ellen Mark in Mexico. Her photographs have appeared in Women Arts Quarterly (cover), Cimarron Review (cover), Nassau Review (cover) Rappahannock Review, Glassworks, Gravel, Grief Diaries, Memoir, Stickman Review, on the cover of Dear Caro, a poetry chapbook by Anna Saikin and her own poetry chapbook, Solar Subjugation, from Finishing Line Press. Her work has appeared in exhibitions in the Seattle area and in private collections and online at Originally from New York City, Robert Bharda has resided in the Northwest U.S. where for thirty-five years he specialized in vintage photographica as a profession, everything from salt prints to polaroids. His illustrations/artwork have appeared in numerous publications, both in the U.S. and abroad, and are current on covers of AADUNA, Naugatuck River Review, Blue Five NoteBook, and within recently published CATAMARAN and Santa Clara Review. His portfolios of images have been featured in Cahoodahoodaling, Blue Five, Superstition, AADUNA, Serving House Journal, The Adirondack Review, Cold Mountain, Cirque and Por-

ridge. Also a writer, his poetry, fiction and critical reviews have been published in The North American Review, Northwest Review, Shenandoah, Quarterly West, Willow Springs, ACM, Cutbank, Fine Madness, Kansas Quarterly, Cimarron, Yellow Silk, Poets On, Conclave and many others, including anthologies. Kristina Boratino was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, where her wanderlust soul is quenched daily by surrounding beauty. Kristina has been published in Cirque Literary Journal, Sonder Midwest Magazine, Compassion International Magazine, Route 7 Review, and more. She resides in Edmonds, Washington with her two children. Joann Renee Boswell is a teacher, mother, photographer and poet currently living in Camas, WA with her spouse and three children. Joann loves rainy days filled with coffee, books, handholding, moody music and sci-fi shows. Some places she’s been published include Untold Volumes, Voices of Eve, Western Friend and Mothers Always Write. Her first book of poetry, Cosmic Pockets, was published in 2020 by Fernwood Press. Nicholas Bradley is a Canadian poet, literary critic, and editor. His most recent book, Rain Shadow, was published by the University of Alberta Press in 2018. He lives in Victoria, British Columbia. Jeffery Brady writes from an old homestead on West Creek in Dyea, Alaska. He published poetry and wrote fiction at the University of North Carolina before moving to Alaska in 1978 to start a newspaper in Skagway. For 37 years he ran the paper and a small press, editing several books including his Skagway: City of the New Century. Brady retired to return to more creative pursuits. Along with his wife Dorothy, he operates Alderworks Alaska Writers and Artists Retreat in Dyea and is a co-director of the North Words Writers Symposium. Dan Branch lives in Juneau, Alaska. He won two first prizes for poetry, one awarded by Charles Bukowski. Kestrel included one of his essays for their Fall 2015 issue. Other pieces were recently published by Cardiff Review, Gravel, Metonym, Tahoma Literary Review, Punctuate, Swamp Ape, Windmill, and Portland Magazine. He recently received an MFA from the University of Alaska Anchorage where he won the 2016 Jason Winger Award for Creative Nonfiction. Jack Broom is a Seattle native who retired in 2016 after 39 years as a reporter and editor at The Seattle Times. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Western Washington University in 1974. His work in photography began in the 1970s as a reporter/photographer for The Wenatchee World, where he worked before being hired as a reporter at The Seattle Times in 1977. In recent years, his photographs have won awards at state-fair competitions in Washington and have been featured in previous issues of Cirque. He is currently President of the Puget Sound Camera Club, an affiliate of the Northwest Council of Camera Clubs. Ann-Marie Brown is a Canadian artist working on the west coast of BC in a house she shares with her husband, son, dog, and the occasional bear. Her oil & encaustic paintings have been exhibited across the United States & Canada, and have found their way into public, private & corporate collections.

V o l . 11 N o . 2 Emilie Burnham is a Seattle-based artist, visual designer, and design educator with an MFA from California Institute of the Arts. Emilie’s extensive time spent working in the Middle East gave her particular cultural insights that she contrasts with her Western up-bringing. The Middle East experience was a constant source of inspiration that instigated Emilie’s appreciation for sacred geometry and the ubiquitous patterns found throughout the region. Her ever-evolving body of work uses watercolor, graphite, and hand-drawn geometric patterns blended with landscapes. Emilie likes to play with ways of viewing, using foreground and background to mimic the idea of “seeing through” [something]. Mike Burwell’s poems have appeared in Abiko Quarterly, Alaska Quarterly Review, Ice-Floe, Pacific Review, Poems & Plays, and Sin Fronteras. His poetry collection Cartography of Water was published by NorthShore Press in 2007, and in 2009 he founded the Northwest literary journal Cirque. He’s been a Taos resident since 2013 where he finally found home among the wild landscape and its wildly generous poets. Caitlin M.S. Buxbaum is a poet, teacher and “former” journalist born and raised in Alaska. She has a Master of Arts in Teaching and a B.A. in English and Japanese Studies with an emphasis in Creative Writing. She wrote more than 600 stories as a reporter for the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman and recently published her seventh book, Interstitials, through Red Sweater Press. She currently serves as the Mat-Su Vice President of Alaska Writers Guild. Abigail B. Calkin has had novels, poems, and creative nonfiction books published. In the field of behavior analysis, she also has many published data-based articles, chapters, and books. S.W. Campbell was born in Eastern Oregon. He currently resides in Portland where he works as an economist and lives with a house plant named Morton. He has had numerous short stories published in various literary reviews. If you’d like to read more of his writing, check out his website: Doug Capra lives in Seward, Alaska and is the author of The Spaces Between: Stories from the Kenai Mountains to the Kenai Fjords. He has written the foreword for several books, including a 1996 edition of American artist Rockwell Kent’s, Wilderness: A Journal of Quiet Adventure in Alaska (1920). Capra has written a play about Rockwell Kent, and Nellie Neal Lawing, (aka) Alaska Nellie. He has also published poetry, essays, and many articles about Alaska history. A draft of his book about Rockwell Kent can be found at He is currently an advisor on a short film about Kent. Teri White Carns publishes haibun (Japanese-style short prose combined with haiku), articles about bread and wheat, and occasional blog posts about all things wheaten, at Wheatavore. Her lifetime awards include best poem in the 1980 Alaska Bar Association’s paper, Bar Rag for a humorous poem about fly-fishing and not catching fish. After a long hiatus, she has returned to creative writing, earning an MFA in Creative Nonfiction in December 2017 from the Antioch University Los Angeles’s low-residency program. Vic Cavalli studied the visual arts and photography as a young man, and later in life discovered the potential depth and force of literature. In graduate school, he concentrated on the complex interpenetrating relationships between literature and the visual arts. He has been teaching Creative Writing at the university level since 2001.

197 Tim Chamberlain is a retired English instructor, living in Victoria, British Columbia. His most recent poetry explores the uneasy relationship of truth to memory, a theme explored in “Memory of the Yellow House,” a poem recently published in Queen’s Quarterly, Summer 2020. Tim is currently working on a poetry collection set on Gabriola Island, BC, the place he lived from 1959 to 1980. As an English teacher in Kodiak, Ann Fox Chandonnet once had a "Twentieth-Century Fox" sign pinned to her back. Chandonnet grew up in New England, earned a master's at the U of Wisc (Madison) and lived for 34 years in Alaska. She has been writing forever and refuses to quit. Some of her titles include two volumes of poetry: Auras, Tendrils; and Canoeing in the Rain; and a food history, Gold Rush Grub. Her third children's book is forthcoming from Cirque Press later in 2021. Chandonnet currently resides in Lake St. Louis, MO, where she walks her dog, bakes bread and grows cherry tomatoes. A native of Massachusetts, Fernand "Fern" Chandonnet won an Alaska arts prize for a drama and a Pushcart Prize for a short story. He began taking photos to aid his wife, Ann, in acquiring the illustrations she needed while freelancing. He is remembered as a long-time comedic radio host in Anchorage. Margaret Chula has published twelve collections of poetry including, most recently, One Last Scherzo. Grants from the Oregon Arts Commission and the Regional Arts and Culture Council have supported her work as well as fellowships to the Vermont Studio Center, the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, and Playa. Maggie has been a featured speaker and workshop leader at writers’ conferences throughout the United States, as well as in Poland, Canada, and Japan. She has also served as president of the Tanka Society of America and as Poet Laureate for Friends of Chamber Music. Living in Kyoto for twelve years, she now makes her home in Portland, Oregon. Nard Claar,, promotes non-profits who value the environment, arts, and sustainable community. An avid cyclist, skier, and 2D and 3D artist. His work is currently exhibited in Colorado at 45 Degree Gallery, Old Colorado City, Academy Art & Frame, Colorado Springs, Manitou Art Center, Manitou Springs, and Stone, Bones, & Wood, Green Mt. Falls, as well as at Stephan Fine Arts in Anchorage, AK, Attic Gallery in Camas, WA, and the Encaustic Art Institute in Santa Fe, NM Janet Clemens is a long-time Anchorage resident whose creative pursuits through photography and acrylic painting are most often inspired by wildlife and landscapes, as well as by life’s contrasts and colors. Linda Conroy is a retired social worker who likes to write about the complexity of behaviors that make us human, our connection to nature and to the changing times. Her poems have appeared in various journals including Plainsongs, Heirlock and Soul-Lit. She is the author of a poetry collection, Ordinary Signs. Nancy Deschu lives in Alaska. She focuses on natural science and landscape photography. Diane DeSloover is a long time resident of Juneau, Alaska where she taught elementary school and raised her family. Retirement years have encouraged her to pursue a love of poetry. Diane has had her poems published in Cirque, Alaska Women Speak, the UAS Literary and Arts Journal, Tidal Echoes and in the Juneau Empire.

198 Writer/artist Monica Devine is the author of Water Mask, a collection of reflective stories set in Alaska that touch on family, memory, perception, place and culture. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee, a first-place winner of the Alaska State Poetry Contest, and her piece “On The Edge of Ice” won first place in creative nonfiction with New Letters journal. She has authored five children’s books and is published in three anthologies. See her essays, photographs and figurative ceramic work on her website Image Sculpture Verse at Steve Dieffenbacher has lived in the North Pacific Rim most of his life. Its landscapes and people are continuing inspirations for his poetry. His full-length book of poems, The Sky Is a Bird of Sorrow, was published by Wordcraft of Oregon in 2012, winning a ForeWord Reviews award. He also has three chapbooks, At the Boundary (2001), Universe of the Unsaid (2010), and Intimations (2018). He has won awards in Oregon for spot news photography, sports photography, portrait photography, and the photo essay in his work as a photojournalist, along with awards in reporting and page design. He lives in Medford, Oregon. Shania Deike-Sims enjoys photography, the outdoors, and working at a local gym. Gretchen Diemer: My work has appeared in a number of publications and a volume of my poetry, Between Fire and Water, Ice and Sky, was published by NorthShore Press. I taught in the village of Noorvik, on the island of St. Paul in the Pribilofs, and in the Mat-Su Valley. I now live in a small cabin in the community of Ester. I have a completed manuscript, poems written after the death of my husband, and started a new project, writing poems in place in one of my favorite locations, Hawai’i. The pandemic has upended the process as I planned to spend the next six months on the big island of Hawai’i, but I certainly am not the only person whose life has been disrupted. Randall Dills is a former academic and day laborer who now lives in a small cottage on a wooded farm on Fidalgo Island in the Pacific Northwest. He lived and taught in the American Midwest and South before returning to the place of his birth near the Salish Sea in rural northwest Washington State. His poetry is forthcoming in the Eastern Iowa Review. Eileen Walsh Duncan's poems have appeared in numerous journals. In 2020 her work is forthcoming in Alaska Quarterly Review, Pleasure Boat Studio’s zine Lights, Ramblr Online, the anthology Rewilding: Poems for the Environment, and the Voices in the Forest poetry installation for the city of Shoreline. She received the Bentley Award from Seattle Review, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Gene Ervine grew up playing in the wet woods of Washington State. When his wife, a teacher, got a job in a logging camp north of Sitka, they went north together. Since then he has been enamored with Alaska’s vast beauty. His work appears in Cirque, Clover, and recently digitally in Vox Poetica and the New York Almanack. He lives in Anchorage and continues to write poems inspired by this fine place. Helena Fagan splits her time between Juneau, Alaska and Cape Meares, Oregon, writing on her husband’s commercial fishing boat, on beaches, and when there is no pandemic, in coffee shops. Learning to live with loss, her mother’s history as a Holocaust survivor and the beauty of Alaska and the Oregon coast all influence her work. She has published in education journals, literary magazines and recently won the first Hoffman Center Poetry Contest for Poets of the North Oregon Coast and was a finalist for the Sally Albiso Poetry Book Award.

CIRQUE Jeff Fair: I've lived in Alaska for 27 years now, as an author and a wildlife field biologist who has chased loons for 43 years. My most recent book is In Wild Trust: Larry Aumiller’s 30 years Among the McNeil River Brown Bears (Univ. of AK Press, 2017). Kerry Dean Feldman, originally from Montana, is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the University of Alaska Anchorage. His publications are found in British, Canadian, and U.S. books and journals, including Cirque. Cirque Press published his collection of short stories, Drunk on Love: Twelve Stories to Savor Responsibly, fall, 2019. He’s working on a novel set in the 19th Century West told from the POV of a feisty mixed-blood woman who lived 103 years, as told to her grandson. Jennifer Fernandez is a writer living in the Seattle area. In her former life she was a theology, ethics, and philosophy professor. She is currently working on a collection of short stories titled unsaid. David Fewster was born in upstate New York. After several years of sordid fun in California, he moved to Seattle in 1987. His essays, sketches, fiction, and poetry have appeared in the LA Weekly, Exquisite Corpse, Seattle Times, Seattle Weekly, the Stranger, Cups, Point No Point, Cirque and the anthologies Revival: Spoken Word from Lollapalooza 94 (Manic D Press), Thus Spake the Corpse Vol. 2 (Black Sparrow Press) and elsewhere. He calls Tacoma home since 1996. His book Diary of a Homeless Alcoholic Suicidal Maniac & Other Picture Postcards was funded by the Tacoma Arts Commission. His other books are: The Seattle-Tacoma Express: Selected Prose and Poetry 1989-2016 (2016) and The Diary of Nanette Jenkins Volume I: (a tale of Old Seattle, edited and expurgated by) (2021). He plays with Heidi Fosner in the group Folksingers In Hell. Sibelan Forrester is a poet and translator (from Croatian, Russian and Serbian) living in Morton, Pennsylvania. Her book of poems Second-Hand Fate was published by Parnilis Media in 2016, and she is co-editor (with Martha Kelly) of Russian Silver Age Poetry: Texts and Contexts (2015). Her translations of poetry by Serbian poet Marija Knežević, Breathing Technique/Tehnika disanja, will appear in a bilingual edition from Zephyr Press in 2020. Most of her book reviews have appeared in journals such as Russian Review, Slavic and East European Journal, and Slavic Review. She hosts the Mad Poets Society’s “First Wednesday” reading series at the Community Arts Center in Wallingford, PA. Although her dissertation treated Marina Tsvetaeva, for some years journals would ask her to review books on Akhmatova, as if one Russian woman poet were the same as another. In her day job, she is a professor of Russian language and literature at Swarthmore College. Nancy Fowler has lived on the Olympic Peninsula in WA for the last fourteen of her 73 years. She writes to acknowledge the specific realities and existence of each individual, of each part of the universe's tapestry. And it is fun. Leslie Fried turned to poetry after thirty years as a scenic artist in theater and film, and a muralist working in paint and plaster. Her writing reflects her love of imagery as a means for addressing difficult subjects. She draws on the themes of nature, death, love, family and history to weave her emotional tapestries. Ms. Fried is Curator of the Alaska Jewish Museum in Anchorage. She has two sons, Daniel and Julien, and a granddaughter Sacha. Her poetry collection Lily is Leaving: Poems by Leslie A. Fried was recently published by Cirque Press. Lenora Rain-Lee Good lives by the Columbia River in Richland, Washington. She has three books of poetry published: Reflections: Life, the

V o l . 11 N o . 2 River, and Beyond co-authored by Jim Bumgarner and Jim Thielman, Marking the Hours, A Collection of Poems, and Blood on the Ground: Elegies for Waiilatpu. Her poetry has also appeared in several online and print venues. Besides poetry, she writes novels, short stories, radio dramas, and maintains a blog. She also quilts, photographs the birds on her river, and collects & tells terrible shaggy dog stories. She is a member of the local poetry group, Tarweed Poets and may be reached through the Contact form on her website, Coffee Break Escapes at In 1994 Rebecca Goodrich forsook California’s glitter for a houseboat in Dutch Harbor. There, Jerah Chadwick, future Alaska Poet Laureate (2004-2006), took her under his wing. Goodrich worked as WIC Secretary, wrote for The Dutch Harbor Fisherman, and was a stringer for KDLG radio station before moving to Anchorage in 1998. Active in Alaska’s literary community for twenty-five years, winning several awards for her diverse works, she published several chapbooks as well as the locally famous “Tina Fey for Governor” bumper sticker. Goodrich now lives in Sun City, Arizona, where the writing continues. Artist and teacher Ron Graham grew up hunting and fishing in Idaho and taught math for 16 years in Southern Oregon before moving to Hawaii and discovering the art of Gyotaku art displayed in galleries in Hawaii. Gyotaku the traditional Japanese ink method of printing fish, dates back to the mid-1800s. This form of nature printing used by fishermen to record their catches, has become an art form of its own. “I have come to the conclusion that it is near impossible to replicate some of the beautiful colors mother nature has bestowed the fish I print, but I try to depict the true colors of the fish as closely as I can and in as much detail as my skills and medium allow.” fishing_for_art/ He will be in Alaska June and July 2021, teaching his art. His web site is Self-identifying as a neurodiverse, two-spirit, elder storyteller with deep Pacific Northwest roots, Lindsey Morrison Grant currently resides in Left Coast Portland. Contact at empowermenthouse@email. com or an eclectic array of print-on-demand artworks at Studio Fuscata at Makenna Haeder: I love the magic and mystery of the natural world, especially the magic that floats throughout all of the Pacific Northwest. I appreciate the different dynamics each forest and meadow and rocky beach has to offer. Through photography I am able to see the world in a different eye and express my imagination in my photos. I will continue to show the world how I view the magical wonder of the Pacific Northwest through my photography. Paul Haeder has been a newspaper reporter in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Washington, Oregon, as well as journalist for magazines and newsgroups. He's widely published, from an early age -- 17 years old, Skin Diver magazine. He's been a radio show host, social worker, K12 teacher, college educator. He fights for people living inside the world of precarity, not only as a social worker but journalist. His latest regular column is in Portland's Street Roots, appropriately tagged, "Finding Fringe." His collection of short stories Wide Open Eyes: Surfacing From Vietnam was published by Cirque Press in 2020. He's currently finishing a nonfiction polemic on the good, bad and ugly of public education; a blended biography and autobiography about a Portland art collector; a short story collection; and a collection of profiles of people living on the Oregon Coast.

199 Kay Haneline has studied art at University of Alaska, Anchorage, the Oregon School of Arts & Crafts in Portland Oregon, Hui Noeau on Maui, and with Sonia King in Falmouth, Massachusetts, Janice Mason Steves, J.C. Hickok, Jerry McLauglin and Lisa Cootsona. Jim Hanlen has published several poems in English Journal, Cirque and 12 Chairs. He taught high school English 19 years in Washington state. He retired to Anchorage, Alaska. Annekathrin Hansen: I grew up near the rugged Baltic Sea beaches in North East Germany. I funneled my creativity for eight years while attending Waldemar Kraemer’s drawing and painting classes at Konservatorium Art School in Rostock, Germany. I also studied and received an Engineering degree and worked in Germany and Australia. I learned to interpret aerial photos and create all types of maps. In 2010 I moved to Alaska. In several workshops, I learned skills to sculpture, photograph, photo transfer, mixed media, paint and mosaic. Further self studies and life changes led to my recent artwork. Suzy Harris lives in Portland, Oregon. Her poems have appeared most recently in Clackamas Literary Review and Williwaw and are forthcoming in Rain and Switchgrass Review. She is working on a chapbook about becoming deaf and learning to hear again with a cochlear implant. My name is Jennifer Healey and I am a poet. Though I am 50 years old and have been writing poetry for years, I have never submitted one for publication, until now. I have lived or spent significant time in literally every state and territory you define as the North Pacific Rim. My grandmother's family came from Ketchikan, but a summer job in Glacier Bay showed me the magic of Alaska, firsthand. And there I met my best friend of 30 years who recently passed away. Perhaps this is why I am submitting now. It turns out, I am mortal. The Alaskan artist Yuliya Helgesen-Thompson is well beloved in the community. Yuliya uses broad brush strokes to exemplify the mood of each of her paintings. Each painting represents a dream scape that Yuliya tries to show using abstract concepts and illusory colors. Looking at her paintings allows one to understand the underlying feelings that lie within. Yuliya is trying to broaden her horizons and reach a larger audience through her Instagram page. To host events and create challenges for fellow artists. Follow her art_yuliya_ht/ Alicia Hokanson’s first collection of poems, Mapping the Distance, was selected by Carolyn Kizer for the King County Arts Commission publication prize. Her two chapbooks from Brooding Heron Press are Insistent in the Skin and Phosphorous. Recent poems have appeared in, Parks and Points, Raven Chronicles, Pontoon online, and Washington Poetic Routes. Her new collection, Perishable World, will be released by Pleasure Boat Studio in spring 2021. Retired from a long career teaching English, she now devotes her time to writing, reading, and political activism in Seattle and on Waldron Island. Michael Hughes is a graduate of Vassar College, lived in Japan for 5 years, and now calls Anchorage his home. He leads the creative writing group Anchorage Writers. Sarah Isto is a longtime Alaskan who lives in Juneau but spends spring and fall at a family cabin in the Kantishna Hills. She is the author of two Alaska nonfiction books. Her poetry has appeared in various journals including Timberline Review, Tidal Echoes, Penwood Review, Minerva Rising, Gold Man Review, Perfume River Review and Cirque.

200 Among Brenda Jaeger’s publications are: Cirque, The Salal Review, Calyx, Written Arts/King County Arts Commission, Calapooya Collage 16, Fishtrap Anthology, Whole Notes, Lynx, Northwest Magazine/The Oregonian, Cowlitz County Advocate, Musher Monthly/Bethel, and the 8th Annual Collection of Haiku/WPA. Her poetry readings include: Portland Poetry Festival Series, Quartersaw Gallery, Portland, OR; It’s About Time Reading Series, Other Voices Bookstore, Seattle, WA; News from the Writing Life, Looking Glass Bookstore, Portland, OR; Fishtrap Gathering, Fellow Readings, Wallowa Lake; Walla Walla Children’s Poetry Festival Presenter; and Calyx 15th Birthday Party Reading at Conant & Conant’s, OR. Eric Gordon Johnson was born in Fairbanks and raised in Anchorage, Alaska. In December of 2020 he completed his MFA in Creating Writing in poetry at the University of Alaska, Anchorage. He won an honorable mention for a short story in the University of Alaska, Anchorage and Anchorage Daily News writing contest. He published poems and a short story in Cirque Literary Journal. He also published a memoir in Anchorage Remembers published by ‘49 Writers. Jill Johnson splits her time between Alaska and Eastern Oregon. Feels lucky. Susan Johnson writes in Roslyn, Washington, her home of forty years. Her work has appeared in Earth’s Daughters, Raven Chronicles, Yakima Coffeehouse Poets, Windfall, Cirque, Rise Up Review, Poets Unite! LiTFUSE @10 Anthology, WA129+, Washington Poetic Routes, Poetic Shelters, and The Shrub-Steppe Journal. Jan Jung lives in Bellingham, Washington with her husband. She enjoys walking in the woods, choral singing, photography, and visiting with her three children and five grandchildren. She has worked as a mental health counselor and an elementary/special education teacher for many years. Jan has a passion for capturing images that might otherwise go unnoticed. Her photos have appeared in Cottage Magazine, Cirque, and in the children's book, Bridges Cloud. Janet Klein is celebrating her 50th year in Alaska, living mostly in Homer. She writes about the history and archaeology of Southcentral Alaska, especially Kachemak Bay. Her photographs, often accompanied by an article, have appeared in publications including Cirque, Alaska Geographic, Alaska Magazine, and others. Her latest book, co-authored with Deborah Klein, her daughter, is Alaska Dinosaurs and Other Cretaceous Creatures, published in 2018. This book, for people of all ages, contains scientifically accurate descriptions of Alaskan dinosaurs with black/white illustrations drawn by a Seward high school student. Poet and essayist Sandra Kleven has published work in AQR, Oklahoma Review, Topic, Praxilla, Stoneboat, F-zine and the UAP anthology, Cold Flashes. She was twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Her writing has also won notice in the UAA Creative Writing and F’Air Words contests. In 2015, Kleven was named to the Northshore School District, Wall of Honor as an outstanding graduate. Kleven has authored four books, most recently Defiance Street: Poems and Other Writing (VP&D Publishing House). With founder, Michael Burwell, Sandra Kleven is editor of Cirque. She works as clinical supervisor for a Native corporation. In 2018, Kleven and Burwell established Cirque Press. As of this date, in 2021 CP has published 17 titles of poetry and literary prose. Kerry Kraker: As an artist, I try to find beauty in all things; even a mundane suburban street has its charms.

CIRQUE Carolyn Kremers writes poetry and literary nonfiction, and is a dedicated teacher and lifelong musician. Her books include Place of the Pretend People: Gifts from a Yup'ik Eskimo Village (memoir), The Alaska Reader (literary anthology), and Upriver (poetry). She designed and implemented the MFA creative nonfiction program at Eastern Washington University and taught for many years at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. In 2008-09 and again in 2015-16, she was a Fulbright Scholar at Buryat State University in Ulan Ude, Russia. In 2019, she received a Kathryn Davis Peace Fellowship from Middlebury College to continue studying Russian. Her website: carolyn_kremers David M. Laws spent the first 17 years of his existence in south central Montana, a great place to be from. He came to Seattle in 1967, moved to a cabin in the Cascade Mountains in 1970, and came to Bellingham in 1993. After a successful career as a practitioner and teacher of musical instrument repair, he retired, and now spends his days writing poetry, arranging and playing music with four groups, and enjoying time with his wife of nearly forty years, Judith, herself an accomplished writer. He hopes one day to be more kind. Eric le Fatte was educated in biology and English at MIT and Northeastern University. He has worked correcting library catalog cards in Texas, and as the Returns King at Eastern Mountain Sports in Massachusetts, but currently hikes, writes, teaches and does research on tiny things in the Portland, Oregon area. His poems have appeared in Rune, The Mountain Gazette, The Poeming Pigeon, The Clackamas Literary Review, The Raven Chronicles, Windfall, Verseweavers, US#1 Worksheets, Perceptions, Clover, and happily enough, in Cirque. Steven Levi is a commercial and technical writer living in Anchorage. He has more than 100 books on the market ranging from history to mystery, self-help to creative thinking, and poetry to biography. He is a member of, a collection of writers whose books are “different.” Levi specializes in a unique brand of mysteries: the impossible crime. An impossible crime requires the detective to solve HOW a crime was committed before he can arrest the perpetrators. When it comes to history, Levi specializes in the Alaska Gold Rush. Levi's scholarly history of the Alaska Gold Rush – Boom and Bust in the Alaska Gold Fields – is a scholarly, in-depth examination of the era. His companion book, The Human Face of the Alaska Gold Rush, is a compendium of the interesting tidbits of that era. As a writer of both fiction and nonfiction, Steven Levi's motto is simple: "If you do not have something unique, you have nothing." David Liittschwager is a freelance photographer who, after working with Richard Avedon in New York in the eighties, left advertising to focus on portraiture and natural history. Now a regular contributor to National Geographic, Liittschwager has produced a number of books. Among his many honors is a World Press Photo Award in 2008 for his article “Marine Microfauna” in National Geographic. Olga Livshin: I am a poet and writer who translates Russian-language poets. My work appears in the Kenyon Review, Poetry International, and The Common, among other journals. A Life Replaced: Poems and Translations from Anna Akhmatova and Vladimir Gandelsman was published by Poets & Traitors Press in 2019. I hold a PhD in Slavic Languages and Literatures, and taught at the university level for a number of years before making the leap to teaching creative writing privately. I live outside Philadelphia with my tomato plants, raspberry bushes, endless sky, cat, parakeet, husband, and son.

V o l . 11 N o . 2 Rosemary Douglas Lombard has lived in Washington, Idaho, and Oregon. Years elsewhere for grad school and university teaching were good, too, but she always wished to return. Now, for the past twelve years, she has. Her roles continue her turtle cognition research and add poetry to a mix of writing, with awards and journals—the usual: chapbook Turtles All the Way: Poems (Finishing Line Press) features turtles all the way to the end; a chapter in Writing for Animals (Ashland Creek Press) teaches craft; and a creative nonfiction book about finding high intelligence in unexpected species (turtles!) is still underway. Janis Lull is Professor Emerita of English at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She has published poems in many literary journals over the years. Marie Lundstrom is a retired teacher, librarian, editor, and market gardener, but who is still active as poet and quilter. Shawn Lyons, by vocation and avocation, lived a life of many parts--classical guitarist, teacher at UAA, member of a literary salon group in Anchorage, and hiker and climber. In regards to the last, after many long hikes through many a valley and over many a summit, he was considered the hiking guru of South Central Alaska. As an ultra-athlete, he won the Iditashoe snowshoe race 9 times, and the 100-mile Coldfoot Classic, held on Halloween above the Arctic Circle, 3 times. For many years, Shawn’s outdoor narratives appeared in a weekly column for The Anchorage Daily News. He published articles and photographs of his hikes and climbs at his own website: and wrote popular guidebooks on hiking in the Chugach Mountains. He also studied 19th century literature and wrote poetry. Shawn Lyons, age 65, Anchorage, died suddenly before this issue of Cirque was finalized. Joe McAvoy lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife, Kyle, and their English Lab, Rosie. His essays, short stories, memoir and sport pieces, satire and poetry have appeared in Catamaran, The Timberline Review, The Opiate, The Sport Digest, Sensitive Skin, Speculative Grammarian, Points in Case and other literary journals and magazines across the US. Jenny McBride's writing has appeared in SLAB, Sou'wester, Columbia Journal, Common Ground Review, Tidal Echoes, and other publications. She lives in Douglas. Jerry Dale McDonnell is a retired Alaskan bush teacher and bear viewing and fishing guide and an actor and playwright. His fiction and journalism credits: South Dakota Review, Cirque Journal, Over the Transom, Mung Being, Alaskan Sampler-2015, Explorations, Dead Snakes, Dan River Anthology, Anchorage Daily News, Peninsula Clarion, Calaveras Enterprise and others. After three decades in Alaska, he has followed his grandkids to the state of Washington. David McElroy lives in Anchorage and is semi-retired as a commercial pilot of small planes in the Arctic. He attended the Universities of Minnesota, Montana, and Western Washington. A smokejumper, fisherman, and taxi driver, he also taught English in Guatemala and Seattle’s community colleges. He has three books of poems: Making It Simple, Mark Making, and Just Between Us (Univ. of Alaska Press, 2018). He is a recipient of grants from the National Council on the Arts and the state of Alaska Council on the Arts and Humanities. Karla Linn Merrifield has had 800+ poems appear in dozens of journals and anthologies. She has 14 books to her credit. Following her

201 2018 Psyche’s Scroll (Poetry Box Select) is the 2019 full-length book Athabaskan Fractal: Poems of the Far North from Cirque Press. In 2021, her Half a World of Kisses will be published by Truth Serum Press (Australia) under its new Lindauer Poets imprint. She is currently at work on a poetry collection, My Body the Guitar, inspired by famous guitarists and their guitars; the book is slated to be published in December 2021 by Before Your Quiet Eyes Publications Holograph Series (Rochester, NY). Daniela Naomi Molnar is a visual artist / poet / wilderness guide / educator / activist / eternal student. She founded the Art + Ecology program at the Pacific Northwest College of Art and is an active part of Signal Fire, providing opportunities for artists and creative agitators to engage with our remaining public wildlands. Her visual art has been shown nationally and has been recognized by multiple grants and residencies. You can read some of her recent poems in Fugue, Moss, and Bomb Cyclone. A member of the third generation of the Holocaust and a daughter of immigrants, she lives in Portland, Oregon, in the Cascadian bioregion, on the unceded land of the Clackamas, Cowlitz, Chinook, Multnomah, and other Indigenous peoples. Corbin Muck: I am an unpublished writer living in Seattle with my partner, Mariska. I was born in Portland, and have lived most of my life in the Pacific Northwest. I try to have my writing reflect the region. We are tucked up behind mountains and in thick forest with the Pacific lapping just behind us. It prompts a kind of isolated grandeur, a vastness so obvious that we turn in small huddles towards ourselves. That combination is special -- the expansive and the introspective -- and I love to try and show that string that unites folks along the North Pacific Rim. Ruby Hansen Murray is an award-winning columnist for the Osage News. She’s Winner of the Montana Nonfiction Prize awarded fellowships at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, Ragdale, Hedgebrook, and Fishtrap. See her work in High Desert Journal, Seventh Wave, Moss, Exquisite Vessel: Shapes of Native Nonfiction, Native: Voices, Indigenous American Poetry, World Literature Today, CutBank, and The Rumpus. A citizen of the Osage Nation with West Indian roots, she received an MFA from The Institute of American Indian Arts. With an equal love of sound, images, the written word and software, Signe Nichols has enjoyed working with authors and publishers for over 15 years. The creative outlet of helping artists achieve their design objectives and desires motivates me personally and professionally. Signe is inspired by being around other creatives and meeting Mike Burwell of Cirque in Taos, was perfect professional fate. Signe designed the cover and the interior of Paul Haeder's book Wide Open Eyes: Surfacing From Vietnam; she is the current designer for Cirque Journal and assembled the website pages for Cirque Press Books. You can connect with her at Nam Nguyen is a multimedia artist who enjoys photography, writing, and music. Tami Phelps is an Alaskan mix-media artist using cold wax, oil, photography, assemblage, and fiber. Her work has exhibited in national and international exhibits and is included in the permanent collections of the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, and the Museum of Encaustic Art in Santa Fe, NM. She is a regularly invited Artist-in-Residence at McKinley Chalet Resort, Denali National Park, Alaska. She grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, where she works in her studio loft. Online at www.

202 Doug Pope is an Alaskan writer and author of The Way To Gaamaak Cove published by Cirque Press in 2020. He writes nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. His first nonfiction story, about four friends trying to stay warm in a drafty cabin at forty-five below, was published in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner when he was a sophomore in high school. Other writings have appeared in Alpinist, Alaska Dispatch, American Alpine Journal, Anchorage Daily News, Anchorage Press, Cirque, A Literary Journal of the North Pacific Rim, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Juneau Empire, and the Turnagain Times. Vivienne Popperl lives in Portland, Oregon. She finds nourishment and hope in nature and poetry. Her work has appeared in several publications including VoiceCatcher, Willawaw Journal, Cirque, The Clackamas Literary Review and The Timberline Review. Shauna Potocky is a writer, poet and painter who calls Seward, Alaska home. She has a deep love of glacial landscapes, ice fields, jagged peaks and fjords. Her daily work is focused on the protection of public lands and helping people of all ages and backgrounds make meaningful connections to the natural world through education, exploration, and both literary and journal arts. Shauna serves as the state-wide chapter coordinator for ‘49 Writers and is a book reviewer for the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival. Vivian Faith Prescott was born and raised in Southeast Alaska and lives at Mickey’s Fishcamp in Wrangell, Alaska. She’s the author of five poetry chapbooks, two full-length poetry collections (including Silty Water People, Cirque Press, 2020) and a book of short stories. Her foodoir, My Father’s Smokehouse, is forthcoming from West Margin Press/ Alaska Northwest Books in 2022. Mandy Ramsey is an artist, mother, organic gardener, massage therapist, photographer, yoga teacher and emerging writer. She has been living off the grid in Haines, Alaska since 2000 in the home she built with her husband. She believes that flowers and the natural world can heal, connect, inspire and sprout friendships. Find out more on Ever the New Yorker in her bones, Diane Ray never lived longer anywhere than in her present hilltop Seattle home overlooking Green Lake. During Covid time her work appears in: Cirque, Canary, Sisyphus, What Rough Beast, Poems in the Afterglow, and in the anthologies Voices Israel, Sheltering in Place, and Civilization in Crisis. Ballet Zoom classes and family facetime are her grab at the golden ring and stab at sanity during this oh so long spaceship ride. Brenda Roper is an occasional poet artist whose love of travel corresponds directly to her love of photography. It comes alive when crossing borders of the foreign kind. Now that the US passport is deemed mostly worthless, she is leaning into the authenticity of the times: abstract walks around the hood, iPhone in hand. Keeping tabs on that fine line between apocalypse and hope. Anyone with a UK, AUS, Canadian or EU passport willing to marry this trapped in the USA traveler? Masked and at the ready in Santa Fe, NM. David Rutiezer, raised in Illinois and Massachusetts, sings and plays keyboard and ukulele, has studied music therapy, and since 2004 has been performing and developing The David Show, an interactive musical variety program for folks with Alzheimer's, young children, and people of all walks of life. He has performed and taught Israeli and In-

CIRQUE ternational folk dancing for all ages, abilities, and backgrounds. A 2012 graduate of the Rainier Writing Workshop MFA, David lives in Portland, Oregon, where he has volunteered for Friends of William Stafford, Cascade Festival of African Films and the Oregon Holocaust Memorial. More at Denali Schmidt was born in Macksville, Australia on April 27, 1988 and died in the Karakoram mountains on July 28, 2013. He graduated from California College of the Arts with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting and Design in May 2013. He was an able athlete excelling in skiing, biking, climbing and many field sports. He practiced meditation and studied with Shaolin masters in Oakland, California in 2010-2011. He enjoyed writing, camping, reading and cooking. He attended Waldorf schools in Australia, the USA and New Zealand for his early education. Reefka Schneider, artist, is the creator of the artwork in the highly acclaimed ekphrastic books and traveling exhibits Borderlines: Drawing Border Lives / Fronteras: dibujando las vidas fronterizas and The Magic of Mariachi / La Magia del Mariachi. She is currently working on a series of landscape paintings in Northern New Mexico and Utah, which includes “Kachina Natural Bridge Moonglow.” Together with her husband poet Steven, she has exhibited these works, accompanied by his poems, at Magpie Gallery in Taos and the April Price Gallery in Albuquerque, NM. You can see several of them at her Etsy Store Taoswatercolors. Reefka’s artwork has been published in Writing Towards Hope: Human Rights in Latin America (Yale University Press) and many prestigious journals. Her paintings in The Magic of Mariachi were recently exhibited at the Performing Arts Center at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. You can see some of Reefka’s art at and Professor Steven P. Schneider, poet, scholar, and critic is the founder of the MFA Program in Creative Writing at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV). He has an MFA from the Iowa Writers Workshop as well as a Ph.D. in English from the University of Iowa. He is an elected member of the Texas Institute of Letters. Steven is the co-creator with his artist wife Reefka of two bilingual, ekphrastic exhibits and books: Borderlines: Drawing Border Lives / Fronteras: dibujando las vidas and The Magic of Mariachi / La Magia del Mariachi. He is also the author of the poetry collections Unexpected Guests and Prairie Air Show. His poetry has been featured on NPR Morning Edition and in American Life in Poetry. His scholarly books on contemporary American poetry include A.R. Ammons and the Poetics of Widening Scope and two edited collections of essays entitled The Contemporary Narrative Poem: Critical Crosscurrents and Complexities of Motion: The Long Poems of A.R. Ammons. Connie Wasem Scott lives in Spokane, WA, where she teaches writing and literature at Spokane Falls Community College and enjoys the great outdoors with her Aussie-American husband Alexander. Her chapbook, Predictable as Fire, is forthcoming from Moonstone Press. Her most recent poems have appeared or soon will in American Poetry Journal, CITRON, The Shore, Streetlight, Cathexis Northwest, and elsewhere. Tom Sexton spends his days walking his Irish Terrier, Murphy, writing poetry, and making breakfast for his wife. Many years ago, he began the Creative Writing program at the University of Alaska, Anchorage and was the English Department Chair for many years. He is proud to say Mike Burwell was his student. His poetry collection Cummiskey Alley: New and Selected Lowell Poems was published in 2020 by Loom Press. Snowy Egret Rising from Chester Creek Press is coming out in 2021.

V o l . 11 N o . 2 Suzanne Simons is a long-time faculty member at The Evergreen State College where she teaches poetry and interdisciplinary studies. She recently helped establish the city of Olympia, Washington’s poet laureate program, and her poetry has been published in Cirque, Aethlon: Journal of Sports Literature, Passager, and Western Friend. A former journalist, Suzanne brings her keen reporter's curiosity, intrepid observation skills, and love of language to her poetry that intends to connect heart and head. Judith Skillman is the recipient of awards from the Academy of American Poets and Artist Trust. Her recent collection is The Truth About Our American Births, Shanti Arts Press. Her poems have appeared in Shenandoah, The Southern Review, The Threepenny Review, Zyzzyva, and elsewhere. Skillman is a faculty member at the Richard Hugo House in Seattle, Washington. Skillman also paints expressionist works in oil on canvas. She is interested in feelings engendered by the natural world, and the play of light in still life. Her art has appeared in Cloud Lake Literary, Artemis, The Penn Review, and other journals. Skillman has studied at McDaniel College, Pratt Fine Arts Center and Seattle Artist League. Shows include The Pratt and Galvanize. Kathleen Smith is a northwest poet with roots in Montana’s Flathead Valley. Her work has appeared in Raven Chronicles, Shrub-Steppe Poetry Journal, Windfall, Cirque, Helen: A Literary Journal, Rise Up Review, Baseball Bard, and The Far Field. She has won several awards from the Yakima Coffee House Poets and is included in regional anthologies from Okanogan Poems, Floating Bridge Review, LitFuse , and 129+ More Poets of WA. She lives and writes in the community of Roslyn, WA. Jack Smith has published six novels: If Winter Comes (2020), Run (2020), Miss Manners for War Criminals (2017), Being (2016), Icon (2014), and Hog to Hog, which won the 2007 George Garrett Fiction Prize and was published by Texas Review Press in 2008. He has published stories in a number of literary magazines, including Southern Review, North American Review, Texas Review, In Posse Review, Word Riot, and Night Train. His reviews have appeared widely in such publications as Ploughshares, Georgia Review, American Book Review, Prairie Schooner, Mid-American Review, Pleiades, The Missouri Review, and Environment magazine. He has published numerous articles in Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market and is a regular contributor to The Writer magazine. He has published two books on creative writing: Write and Revise for Publication: A 6-Month Plan for Crafting an Exceptional Novel and Other Works of Fiction (Writer’s Digest Books, 2013) and Inventing the World: The Fiction Writer’s Guide to Craft and Process (Serving House Books, 2018). Besides his writing, Smith was fiction editor of The Green Hills Literary Lantern, an online literary magazine published by Truman State University, for 25 years. He presently teaches for Larry Slonaker: I was born and raised in Great Falls, Montana, and have worked as a writer and editor at the once-renowned San Jose Mercury News, and the still-renowned Stanford University. There were a few stops at never-renowned places as well. I'm a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern. My wife and I live on a (very) small ranch in Northern California with a few horses, a few dogs and the Last Cat Standing. Kaye Spivey is a poet based in the Pacific Northwest with a great love

203 of rain, travel, and her cats. She has two poetry collections, Fragments and An Isolated Storm and has been published in such literary journals as Written River, Dual Coast Magazine, Ghost City Review, and Northwest Boulevard. You can find her at Kim Stafford directs the Northwest Writing Institute at Lewis & Clark College, and is the author of a dozen books, including The Muses Among Us and Wild Honey, Tough Salt. His book Singer Come from Afar is forthcoming in 2021 from Red Hen Press. He has taught writing in Scotland, Italy, Mexico, and Bhutan. In May 2018 he was named Oregon’s 9th Poet Laureate by Governor Kate Brown for a two-year term. Bob Stark lives in Happy Valley, Alaska with his lovely wife, Savanna, and their three month old daughter, Primrose. They own and operate a small farm called Secret Garden Alaska, where they enjoy the peace and quiet of off grid life. Cynthia Steele likes to pluck a bit of humor or beauty or evoke memory through nonfiction writing. She's also slowly growing her petite poetic oeuvre. In photo classes with Mike Conte, she keeps finding new Ways of Seeing. She serves as Assistant Editor and Publicist for Cirque and as a dog whisperer for Rover. MA English, BA Journalism. She's read plays for the Valdez Theatre Conference for a decade and been in a few plays, too. Most often, she reads for Poetry Parley. In addition to poetry, Leah Stenson has published essays, editorials, feature articles and a textbook. Finishing Line Press published her poetry chapbooks, Heavenly Body in 2011 and The Turquoise Bee and Other Love Poems in 2014. Turning Point Press published her first full-length poetry book, Everywhere I Find Myself, in 2017. Her hybrid memoir. Life Revised, was published by Cirque Press in 2020. She served as a regional editor of Alive at the Center: Contemporary Poems from the Pacific Northwest (Ooligan Press, 2013) and co-edited Reverberations from Fukushima: 50 Japanese Poets Speak Out (Inkwater Press, 2014) with Asao Sarukawa Aroldi. Richard Stokes is a Juneau resident of 49 years. He writes both prose and poetry. His work usually reflects his love of nature, his aging and his boyhood in the sharply defined black-white world of rural Georgia in the 1940-50’s. He graduated from Emory in Atlanta in 1961. Sheary Clough Suiter grew up in Eugene, Oregon, then lived in Alaska for 35 years before her relocation to Colorado. Her encaustic fine art is represented in Anchorage, Alaska by Stephan Fine Art, in Camas, Washington by the Attic Gallery, in Santa Fe, New Mexico by the Encaustic Art Institute, in Green Mountain Falls, Colorado by Stones, Bones, & Wood Gallery, and in Old Colorado City, Colorado by 45 Degree Gallery. When she's not on the back-roads of America traveling and painting with her artist partner Nard Claar, Suiter teaches at Bemis School of Art, Colorado Springs Fine Art Center at Colorado College, and works from her studio in Colorado Springs. Online at Mercury-Marvin Sunderland is a 2013, 2014, and 2015 winner of ACT Theater’s Young Playwright’s Program, a 2015 and 2016 selected playwright for ACT Theater’s 14:48 HS, a 2016 winner of the Jack Straw Young Writer’s Program, a 2016 selected participant for the Seattle Talent Show hosted by Rainier Beach High School, and was hired as a paid representative of Youth Speaks Seattle in 2016. In 2017, he was selected for and won the 2017 Youth Speaks Seattle Grand Slam, and went off as one of the top five youth slam poets representing Seattle at Brave New Voices 2017, an international slam poetry tournament

204 treated as America’s national tournament, and was selected to perform slam poetry alongside former Seattle mayor candidate Nikkita Oliver at the University of Washington. In 2018 his illustrations were selected for While Supplies Last, an art show hosted by Anthony White, a Cornish College of the Arts graduate. In 2019 he was selected as an Editor's Pick for the Brain Mill Press Poetry Month Contest, and his artwork was featured by the UglyDolls company on their verified Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. In 2020 he was a Zoom guest at the University of California Santa Barbara, for the release party of Spectrum Literary Journal in June. Kathleen Tarr is a regular Cirque contributor and the author of We Are All Poets Here (VP&D House, 2018). She lives and writes in Anchorage. Carey Taylor is the author of The Lure of Impermanence (Cirque Press, 2018). Her poetry has appeared in regional, national, and international publications and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Born in Bandon, Oregon, she has lived her entire life at the western edges of Oregon and Washington. Taylor has a Master of Arts degree in School Counseling and currently resides in Portland, Oregon. Jim Thiele worked as a photographer for a biological text book company for several years before moving to Alaska in 1974. He has worked for The Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the University of Alaska as a biologist. He is a recently retired financial advisor. His photographs have been seen in several publications, including Alaska Magazine, Alaska Geographic, and Cirque. He lives in Anchorage with his wife Susan. Taking photos forces him to stop and really see the world. Elizabeth Thompson is a commercial fishing tenderwoman and lives in Petersburg, AK. Her writing has been published in Alaskan Southeaster magazine and The Sun (Readers Write). Lucy Tyrrell sums her interests as nature, adventure (mushing and canoeing), and creativity (writing, sketching, photography, quilting). After 16 years in Alaska, she traded a big mountain (Denali) for a big lake (Superior) when she moved to Bayfield, Wisconsin. She loves to travel and loves to return home to the Northwoods. She co-edits Ariel Anthology and is Bayfield Poet Laureate for 2020-2021. Danielle Vermette is a writer and an actress. She has been an Imago Theatre company member since 1999. She lives in Portland, Oregon. William Waight has been an amateur photographer for over 50 years. He lives in Bellingham, WA. Cheryl Waitkevich: I am a person deeply interested in the health of our planet. Thank you for reading my poems. I’ve been published in the Honolulu Advertiser, Spindrift and Dragonfly Review. I am 62 years old and have been writing since I learned to spell. Margo Waring: I first moved to Southeast Alaska in 1969, fresh from Wisconsin where Aldo Leopold's work was fresh and taken up by the university community. I transferred that care and attention to my new home. In the decades I have lived here, I have watched the changes brought by commercial activity and climate disruption. I grieve the losses. O. Alan Weltzien, newly retired, has published lots of academic articles, two chapbooks, and ten books. These include a memoir, A Father

CIRQUE and an Island (2008), and three poetry collections, most recently Rembrandt in the Stairwell (2016). Weltzien lives in southwest Montana with his wife, Lynn. Ursula Whitcher is a mathematician, poet, and editor who grew up outside Portland, went to graduate school in Seattle, and now lives in a city more North than West. Wendi White is a poet and educator now musing among the geckoes and ginger scented ridges of O’ahu after a recent relocation. She earned her MFA from Old Dominion University's Creative writing program and was awarded the graduate Academy of American Poets Prize at Old Dominion. In her day job she works for the well-being of women, children and families. At home she cares for one spouse, two sons, a gracious mango tree and a naughty puppy named Rafiki. Wendy Wilson’s work has appeared in Portland Review, Portlander, Talus and Scree, Windfall, Poeming Pigeon, and Cathexis. Two of my poems will appear in an upcoming issue of Visions International, another in Triggerfish. In addition, my work has received several awards. Among the early awards I received was an Academy of American Poets Award, and this summer, I received an award in the Kay Snow Writing Contest sponsored by Willamette Writers. Matt Witt is a writer and photographer in Talent, Oregon. His photography and blog may be seen at He has been Artist in Residence at Crater Lake National Park, Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Foundation, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, Mesa Refuge, and PLAYA at Summer Lake, Oregon. Tonja Woelber is a member of Ten Poets and loves the mountains in all weathers. Nancy Woods is a writer and visual artist. Born and raised in Fairbanks, Alaska, she now lives in Portland, Oregon. Robin Woolman is an actor and teacher of physical theater and trapeze at Echo Theater in Portland, Oregon. She is out hiking and kayaking as much as possible, but pandemic and wildfires have kept her inside more, the upside of which is WRITING. "Worship" was written last year as part of Vertigo Theatre's participation in Climate Change Theatre Action 2019 in Portland, OR where Robin Woolman is an actor and teacher of physical theater. Although it was presented in a free readers theater format, it has not been published. Besides writing, Robin hikes and kayaks and enjoys the outdoors while she still can. Jonathan Worlde is the nom de plume of Paul Grussendorf, an attorney specializing in asylum and refugee protection. Grussendorf’s legal memoir is My Trials: Inside America’s Deportation Factories. Writing as Jonathan Worlde, his prize-winning mystery novel is Latex Monkey with Banana. Recent fiction appears in The Raven Review, January 2021. He is also a traditional blues performer. His blues stage name is Paul the Resonator. His CD is called Soul of a Man.

V o l . 11 N o . 2


My White Rose Jack Broom



HOW TO SUBMIT TO CIRQUE Cirque, published in Anchorage, Alaska, is a regional journal created to share the best writing in the region with the rest of the world. Cirque submissions are not restricted to a “regional” theme or setting. Cirque invites emerging and established writers living in the North Pacific Rim—Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Hawaii, Yukon Territory, Alberta, British Columbia and Chukotka—to submit short stories, poems, creative nonfiction, translations, plays, reviews of first books, interviews, photographs, and artwork for Cirque’s next issue. Issue #23—Submission Deadline: March 21, 2021 Issue #24—Submission Deadline: September 21, 2021

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES Eligibility: you were born in, or are currently residing in, or have previously lived for a period of not less than 5 years in the aforementioned North Pacific Rim region. -- Poems: 5 poems MAX -- Fiction, Nonfiction, Plays: 12 pages MAX (double spaced). -- Artwork and Photography: 10 images MAX accepted in JPEG or TIFF format, sent as email attachments. Please send images in the highest resolution possible; images will likely be between 2 and 10mb each. If you do not submit full-size photo files at time of submission, we will respond with an email reminder. No undersize images or thumbnails will be eligible for publication. -- Bio: 100 words MAX. -- Contact Info: Make sure to keep your contact email current and be sure that it is one that you check regularly. If your contact information changes, make sure to inform us at Cirque. To ensure that replies from Cirque bypass your spam filter and go to your inbox, add Cirque to your address book. -- Submit to -- Replies average two to three months after deadlines, and we don’t mind you checking with us about your submissions. -- Cirque requires no payment or submission fees. However, Cirque is published by an independent press staffed by volunteers. Your donations keep Cirque Press going. You will find donation buttons on Submittable and you can also support us via PayPal to Thanks for your poetry, prose, images and financial support.

Colored Fragments Emilie Burnham

A Literary Journal for the North Pacific Rim VO LUM E 11, N O. 2



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