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Winter 2022/2023

2 poems by Michael Lauchlan, 4 poems by Sara Backer, 2 poems by Barbara Parchim, a poem by Lorrie Ness,  a poem by Pepper Trail, a poem by Mark DeCarteret, and 2 poems by Michael Spring



2 poems by Michael Lauchlan

On a Marsh

                  the last of them/seen by any human alit on a Texas marsh in 1964--Robert Hass


Our old phrases fade away--

extinctions of a kind, like

the American Chestnut (a wind

riffling its vast mane)


the arctic curlew, long

division, old jazz bars,

and songs of innocence.


We go on without them,

until we find ourselves

gaping toward something

we can’t manage to say.


Voices slip from the world--

my mother quoting Gershwin

to her unsuspecting kids, a light

in her eyes. If I say we heard


the McKinneys play hot jazz

on a cold night, you’ll scoff,

maybe. But they kept us

alive–two brothers, Ray

on bass and Harold ringing


the piano–the last chords

hanging in that bright bubble

even as we shook their hands

and stepped into the frosted dark.





A Lathe


finds a bowl

within the block


From a day’s dust,

a thing rises     takes

flight--a thought

newly borne in air




At Miner’s Falls

water crashes on stone


and laughs    Men broke

rock here once--

died poor and young


Old and stiff

I crane from a railing

toward a million bright

hammers shaping granite


and not breaking stride

washing out to Superior

and the rocky continuities


When miners organized

thugs brought death

by arson and shotgun


One hundred years      one

hundred years             a day


a moment’s bright cataract

a waiting         echoing stone


Even today      wherever it’s dug

copper exacts a toll




We lean into the realm

of hawk and loon

longing for the spray


for what rolls

toward the deep cold


as though we’d forsake

our element and race down


with droplets and rivulets

toward unrelenting undulation


Michael Lauchlan has contributed to many publications, including New England Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, The North American Review, Sugar House Review, Louisville Review, Poet Lore, Bellingham Review, and Lake Effect. His most recent collection is Trumbull Ave., from WSU Press (2015).




4 poems by Sara Backer



How Do You Remember Amoeba?


One eye at the microscope,

the other trying to draw. Still moving,

a swirl of pinpricks, a galaxy.


A clear, loud waterfall

we had to shout over

wind blowing away our words.


A single cell.

A prison cell.

A start.






thick with muck

and water lily stink

of duck and reeds. Rich

food for herons and turtles,

geese and frogs, eating

each other over and over.






On the trail with dirty ice, wind

ruffles a cluster of speckled feathers

frozen in blood, as if they will

pull themselves up

and flutter back to life.






Like the wormhole in Deep Space Nine

the culvert’s mouth opens under the road

and things appear.


A rosy mushroom with white spots.

Fly agaric, the lethal standard

of fairy tale illustration.


A package of  Zig-Zag wraps

and a misspelled cookie fortune:

Patience is your alley.


A tiny scarlet maple leaf.

The blade of a hoe without a handle.

A torn shopping list.


A coyote pup barks like a squeaky toy.

I step back slowly, hoping he will

find his way back to Alpha quadrant.




Sara Backer’s first book of poetry, Such Luck, follows two poetry chapbooks: Scavenger Hunt and Bicycle Lotus, which won a Turtle Island poetry award. Her honors include a prize in the Plough Poetry Competition, nine Pushcart nominations, and way too many honorable mentions. She holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and reads for The Maine Review. Recent publications include Lake Effect, Slant, CutBank, Kenyon Review, Bamboo Ridge, and Poetry Northwest.




2 poems by Barbara Parchim

from the sea   (on seeing the Peter Iredale)


she rests on the shore - huge -

jutting out of the sand

like a fantastical sculpture


or a dark-boned carcass

nothing left but iron hull

and remnants of the masts pocked with rust


almost buried, these masts are

uncanny now at eye level -

odd patterns surround them in the sand


symmetrical encryptions of another language,

as though something

still lives and breathes below


I touch the iron latticework of the hull

forged by other hands over 100 years ago

framing the surf once home to this barque


the skeletal hull beckons -

I hesitate to enter the looming sanctum -

as though at any moment


the ship will rouse and shudder,

like some long-slumbering beast,

to return home on the next retreating wave




we spoke as strangers do

when they meet as travelers -

inconsequential and wary


we were there for the long cave tour -

darkened passageways,

hushed and slightly claustrophobic,

the guide speaking of

grizzly and jaguar bones

long at rest in the dark,

vaulted marble rock,

bats asleep in their ancestral home


returning to daylight,

snow a few inches deep on the ground,

the stranger opened the back of his car


there, another type of cave -

a bed covered in furs,

feathers and beads tied with rawhide

hanging from the sides


antlers and other bones at one corner,

a sheathed knife and small pieces of wood,

stones neatly cached in another,

the smell of cedar and sage


an arrangement – deliberate -

this diorama awash with ambient light


feral -

yet as compelling as the collections

of the bower bird

when attracting a mate


I was drawn as if to nest

but it was autumn verging on early winter -

better to den up for a long sleep

in this safe hibernaculum


daylight waned

as we stood in light snowfall,

hesitating, a question hung in the air,

before we stepped back,

each to return to our own lair



Barbara Parchim lives on a small farm in southwest Oregon.   She enjoys gardening and wilderness hiking and volunteered for several years at a wildlife rehabilitation facility caring for raptors and wolves.  Her poems have appeared in Jefferson Journal, Isacoustic, Cirque, Windfall, Allegro Poetry, Otoliths, Trouvaille Review, Front Porch Review, Pedestal Magazine, Turtle Island Quarterly, Canary and others.   Her first book of poetry titled What Remains was published by Flowstone Press in October, 2021.






poem by Lorrie Ness






The appaloosa pistons    on hind legs,


front hooves    pummeling chill air.  




Its sclera,               branded by pupils,           


are crescent moons     locked


in orbit.                      



A nebula of dust laps


its ankles. Slammed    to the ground  


you straddle                a saddle of weeds,


mistake            the hoofbeats  


reverberating in your chest                            


for a pulse.




                    A horse that is broken


shows you how to break.        Your jaw


is a bone          bridle. Your tongue


has been bitten                       


but was never a bit. Bloody                teeth taste


like the metal              threading


                        the appaloosa’s mouth.                      





The moment you drop            the reins,


your fists                     are orphans. I lead


the horse to a tree        & crouch to wipe


your cheeks.                Under my thumbstrokes                                


your lips draw sideways


                        & your head steers


left then right.            




The appaloosa lowers


its muzzle to graze,     leather leads comet-tailing


                        through the tall grass.




When Lorrie Ness isn't writing, she can be found stomping through the woods, watching birds and playing in the dirt. Her work can be found in numerous journals, including Turtle Island Quarterly, THRUSH, Palette Poetry and Sky Island Journal. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2021 and her chapbook, “Anatomy of a Wound” was published by Flowstone Press in July of 2021.






poem by Pepper Trail


En Route, Oregon to California





Up the steep grade, trucks shoulder aside the spring rain

Spray falling on soft maple leaves, plump swaying flowers




The volcano, inside the clouds

Could be doing anything




Rows of almond trees

Make the flat land





Truck and truck and truck

At the Glenn County line

A field of weeds, a field of goats




Cluster of porta-potties leans together

Gray, yellow, blue, and tan

What stories they could tell!




The vulture has the sky to itself

Its shadow strikes our windshield




The Bay a metal mirror, scratched by ferry boats

The heart of the city

Cold in this twilight



Pepper Trail's poems have appeared in Rattle, Atlanta Review, Catamaran, Turtle Island Quarterly, Ascent and other publications, and have been nominated for Pushcart and Best of the Net Awards.  His collection, Cascade-Siskiyou: Poems, was a finalist for the 2016 Oregon Book Award in Poetry.  He writes and explores the world from his home in Ashland, Oregon.





poem by Mark DeCarteret



The Year I Went Without Reading Up on My Town


Look at how the stone had not shown how it’d cooled to the sun or is now known. How it had cloned all those shadows we’d worked into words. Lorded over our worlds, new and old. Sure, we could draw them closer to size. Sit down with them. And fill them in on our secrets. The role of those ancient walls. The need for all those laws. If not, take the word of that clown with the white ankle socks. Work him into the narrative. And when no one is looking. Select one little stone for the start of civilization. For who is left to tell on us? Those gods we half thought up and half sought after? Our doubts that grew, over time, into an altar? The ants that had carried it all off. Towards where the sun will eventually cool to it? I mean, even the light has had it with worshipping. And grown tired of us trying to professionally shop for it. Finding more stones for it to put up with.



Poems from Mark DeCarteret’s manuscript The Year I/We Went Without have been taken by The American Poetry Review, Asheville Poetry Review, BlazeVOX, Guesthouse, Hole in the Head Review, Map Literary, On the Seawall, Plume, South Florida Poetry Journal and Unbroken




2 poems by Michael Spring



Mambo Azul

      for Elizabeth Buchter


she waded through cattails

and stood waist deep

in the pond


her skin absorbed

the blue of dusk


when she opened her hand

to release a ghost


swamp trees encroached

with hunger


a black moon burned

inside her


from death and decay

to light

she sang


that is when the shadows

dissolved in the water

and the water began to stir


then as she pulled the pond

like a robe

over her shoulders


lily pads and koi


the contours of her body




I didn’t write the poem last night


when I found myself at the crossroads

I stepped on the gas

dust billowed like smoke from my car


I blasted straight through

passing Papa Legba’s Rum Shack

even as Papa stepped out of his fencepost door

waving for me to pull over 

even as his eyes glowed like stop lights


it’s twilight and I’m still on a road that snakes

toward this year's first blood moon

between dusky hills swallowing dusky hills


I know somewhere in the distance

there’ll be another crossroads


shall I then take a right or left turn

is there still enough time

or should I turn around


I couldn’t remember the directions



Michael Spring is the author of five poetry books and one children's book. He has recently won the 2022 James Tate Prize for his chapbook Kahlo’s Window (SurVision Books, Ireland, 2023). His most recent book is dentro do som/ inside the sound  (Companhio Das Ilhas, Portugal, 2021). Other accolades include the 2013 Turtle Island Poetry Award, a 2016 Luso-American Fellowship from DISQUIET International, and an honorable mention for the 2012 Eric Hoffer Book Award. His poems have recently appeared in Gavea-Brown, New York Quarterly, and Paris/Atlantic. He currently lives in O’Brien, OR. He is a poetry editor for The Pedestal Magazine and editor-in-chief for Flowstone Press.


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