Who Sleeps in the Wet Spot

By Isla McKetta

My mother never told me          how the dripping rush
Would knot clot my pubic hair,
If I should lie pronely prim          missionary’s wife
Soak a tidy towel before shower sprinting,
Smear smudge myself dry           a teenaged tissue habit,
Or fetally curl right here           knees up          hoarding the treasure.

My mother never told me          someday I’d welcome
The after dollop          half the equation of life
The front line attack
Oozing its retreat          twelve hours post vital battle
And how I’d pray (pray pray) they left a man behind.
Isla McKetta is the author of Polska, 1994 (Éditions Checkpointed), co-author of Clear Out the Static in Your Attic: A Writer’s Guide to Turning Artifacts into Art (Write Bloody Publishing), and is currently working on a collection of poems about pregnancy. She earned an MFA in creative writing from Goddard College in Port Townsend, Washington and makes her home in Seattle with her artist husband, their son, and a dog.


By Marianne K. Hansen
Translated from Danish by Michael Goldman

children hurt
they dig tunnels
under your skin
and undermine
your smooth face
your firm decisions
they wrinkle your tie
your discussions
and build secret caves in your
neat house
mess up drawers boxes and cans
rip up floorboards and
they are going
to find it
all of it
that you have hidden from yourself
for so long
they are going to find
the pain
the yearning
and the laughter

By Marianne Koluda Hansen ©1980 “Børn”
Marianne Koluda Hansen (1951 – 2014), born on the island of Bornholm, lived most of her life in Copenhagen, Denmark, where she wrote four books of poetry and two novels. She received her teaching degree in 1979 and taught English and Danish at a school for adults for 30 years. Also, she was an artist who held several exhibitions.

Michael Goldman is the founder of Hammer and Horn Productions which has produced three audiobooks of Danish poetry in English translation. Over 80 of his translations have appeared in 30 journals including Rattle, The International Poetry Review, and World Literature Today. He lives in Florence, Massachusetts, USA. www.hammerandhorn.net.


By Karen Harryman

Let the house go dark
except for the light
over the stove
where dinner cools.
Tub-side, sit, read, count tile–
chew the morning’s cold bacon
stiff as a plate and sip
left-over coffee. See, she
wears a hat of bubbles, rolls
like an otter in sluices
of sudsy water. Cinching
her mouth, she bats
wet lashes, pours
cupsful over the side
soaks the mat. She pats
the water beside her
and pats again. Undress,
get in. Give her the shore
of your body, rest your
cheek against her neck.
Forget which of you is mother.
Karen Harryman’s poems are forthcoming in Forklift and have appeared in Alaska Quarterly, Los Angeles Review, Verse Daily, The Cortland Review and The Raleigh Review as well as other print and online journals. Auto Mechanic’s Daughter, her first book of poetry, was selected by Chris Abani for the Black Goat Poetry Series Imprint with Akashic Books, 2007.  Before moving to California she lived and worked in Kentucky for most of her life. She and her husband currently live in Los Angeles with their two young daughters and one old dog.

Bug Out Bag

By LeAnne Ries

Her teenaged son
wanted her to pack a bug out bag
in case shit hit the fan
the world as they knew it ended

she did and it included
a pocket knife, duct tape
powdered coffee, band-aids
a water filtration system

she knew it wouldn’t save her
from the isolation of days
from the way she felt when they
were all at school
and she was alone
the way she sat on their beds
the panic she felt with hours
spread out before her
and thirty years or more to go
with no plans, no career

if only she could grab the bug out bag
if only it had secret directions
written in invisible ink
that could save her life now, for real

LeAnne Ries is a poet and artist from Yakima. She holds a degree in English from UC Berkeley. LeAnne is a wife and a mother of two boys: Ethan, 19, who recently moved out to start his career as a welder, and Elliot, 16, who will be a senior in high school and plays football. LeAnne is also a mother to the family dog, a shitzu-terrior boy named Sparky.

State Line

By Laura Read

On the way out to Hauser Lake,
we drive past two cops holding a shirtless boy

face down in the weeds,
past Curley’s, fifty motorcycles and a girl

in shorts and cowboy boots, her legs
wrapped around a boy’s waist. Past the state line

where we used to go to drink at Kelly’s
because it was legal in Idaho.

We ordered Derailers, pink drinks thick
with alcohol, the way this lake is laced

with fish. We can see them when we swim,
their thin skin and skeletons.

My son pulls them from the water, collects
them in the bucket where the fish don’t know

my son will throw them back. He is tall now,
his shadow long on the dock. We are as distant

and as close as the night he was born
and I lay in my hospital room without him

and heard a baby screaming and knew it was him.
The floors in that bar were wood

and sawdust and I danced on them
in my tight jeans and boots like I was someone else.

We stared at boys we didn’t know until they took us
out to the parking lot to smoke. We wanted

something to happen. I am watching my son
from the house. It is getting dark.

The osprey keep lifting off the lake
with fish in their mouths, and the lightning

is pushing up behind the clouds
so all we can see is the pressure of light,

not the sharp bolt,
the way a person tries to speak but can’t.
Current Spokane Poet Laureate, Laura Read, is known for her Floating Bridge Prize winning chapbook, The Chewbacca on Hollywood Boulevard Reminds Me of You. Read’s book, Instructions for My Mother’s Funeral, was the winner of the 2011 Donald Hall Prize in Poetry. Laura teaches at Spokane Falls Community College. “State Line” previously published by New Madrid Poetry Journal.

A Stone Has Many Uses

By CJ Muchhala

If you are the mother, find a smooth
flat beach stone.  Demonstrate grip and toss.
Together with your child, count the skips.

The heavy sun turns soil to stone and stone to dust.

If you are the mother, choose pebbles small enough.
Swallow a few.  Bring the rest to your children.
Hunger remains, but their bellies are filled.

In centuries past, stones were a measure of weight.
Now they are the weight.

The child looks for stones of lustrous color,
character. Mother puts them on her dresser in a jam jar
filled with water. They glisten in moonlight.

A woman lies on a cot in the AIDS ward
in Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe.
If she could choose, she would choose
to be stoned.  A large stone, aimed with precision,
will damp her baby’s cry.

If you are the woman lying under a cot in the
overflowing AIDS ward in Lesotho,
Botswana, Namibia, South Africa,
you are like a wraith glimpsed in water.
Your children are watchful, still.

An aide gives each woman a stone to hold
before she dies.  This will be the children’s
inheritance: Mother’s stone enshrined
in Grandmother’s hut.

If you are the child, hear the gull cries.  Watch
your stone arc and fall.  Try to count the ripples.


CJ Muchhala‘s poetry and fiction have appeared in anthologies, art exhibits, print and on-line journals, on CD-ROM and audio CD. Her work has been nominated for the Best of Net award and twice for the Pushcart Prize, has been collected in the chapbook Traveling Without a Map, and was part of the art/poetry collaboration Threaded Metaphors IV: Text & Textiles which was on display at the 2013 Southeast Wisconsin Book Festival. Look for new poems in the anthologies Echolocations (Cowfeather Press), Soundings (Caravaggio Press), and Wisconsin Poets Calendar 2016. She lives in Shorewood, Wisconsin.

Another Brightness

By KC Trommer

She could always imagine the child
and now it hovers inside, betrays its surprise.
Since June, her body has shown outside
what she wanted to contain. Her body is a window
closed first by fear, then boredom, now suddenly opening—
It has her, all right. She marshals toward the day.

Better to be a different sort of woman, she thinks. One day
she might get there, embrace it all, resist nothing, hold the child.
But for now, it’s too sudden. They see it as an opening:
now the fix is in, now she will stop with the surprises.
They cannot wait to tamp her down, even as she opens the windows
that could ghost her away. She knows there is an outside

they want her to forget. The apartment collapses outside
in, the plates and cups leaning away from the light of day.
Give that girl something to hold on to as she leans out the window
to see the tops of trees, all the while feeling the child
coming. Her husband says nothing’s a surprise;
this was what they wanted. For him, it’s an opening,

but for her, it’s a door she can never shut. She marvels at the opening,
what it lets out. She wants what she thinks is outside
her, to trust herself and welcome the surprise—
Her head drags through the day,
and she cannot lift it, though she wants to say, “Here, child.”
to reassure it, herself. The blinds come down over the windows.

Alone, the city alights over the trees, windows
framing the solitude where once for her opening
seemed the only way. Now she folds her arms, thinks of the child
that will fill them, tries to remember when outside
was fuller than what she found every day.
She bequeaths this love to the boy—a boy!—the surprise

of it. What does she know about boys? Surprise!
She dares him to wonder at how each window
frames another brightness, how each day
contains boxes within boxes, each opening
to reveal a new delight. She stands outside
him, now a protector and not a child,
the surprises ever opening
windows to the world outside
into which every day, you must go, child.

KC Trommer is the author of the chapbook The Hasp Tongue (dancing girl press, 2014). A graduate of the MFA program at The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, KC has been the recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize. Her poem “Fear Not, Mary” won the 2015 Fugue Poetry Prize and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She has been awarded fellowships from the Table 4 Writers Foundation, the Center for Book Arts, the Vermont Studio Center, the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, and the Prague Summer Program. Her poems have appeared in Agni, The Antioch Review, Day One, Octopus, The Sycamore Review, Prairie Schooner, Poetry East, and a number of other journals. She lives in Jackson Heights, Queens with her son.

future crazy Japanese mother questions her bento-making

By Mika Yamamoto

before light, I wake up
to fill the boxes

I carve hotdogs into octopii
and apples into bears

I cut watermelon into hearts
and cheddar cheese to stars

I shape carrots into flowers
and white rice into pandas

all this into bento boxes
for my two young sons

does it compensate?
does it?

Japanese mother, Japanese mother
I whisper to myself

I feel the thread of craziness
that binds me to my mother

the past exhumed, I see her here
a paring knife in hand

her dull skin absorbing small morning
light—disheveled hair unsmoothed.

are dinosaur jellos and hand peeled grapes
apologies in advance?

I don’t think so.
No, I don’t think so.

Mika Yamamoto lives in Michigan with her husband and four children. They have no pets or plants. However, there is rumor of illicit mouse tenants.

Loving the Body

By Bethany Reid

The baby wakes to her hands
as if they are not hers—such wonder

to reach to touch what she touches with—
O, body, mysteriously made,
how it sheds itself at every turning
leaving me behind, mourning infant, toddler,

first grader, while yet possessing
this latest incarnation, incantation, my girl

who comes to me, nubbins of breasts

under her nightgown, asking, “What is happening
to me?” And her mermaid look,
that glimmer of the teenager who will try
everything, the woman she will become.
“Breasts,” I tell her, trying to keep my voice light

and the stakes low. Losing.


Bethany Reid is the author of Sparrow, winner of the 2012 Gell Poetry Prize, selected by Dorianne Laux.  Her poetry has appeared in numerous literary journals, including Prairie Schooner, Calyx, Pontoon, and Hayden’s Ferry. She blogs at http://awritersalchemy.wordpress.com/ and lives in Edmonds, Washington, with her husband and three daughters.

Nine Months

By Mary Volmer

I don’t know it yet
but I am no longer
the me I was without you.

Who knew the color of joy and dread was blue?

The truth is
you are making me sick.

A nurse is pointing
to a penis on the screen.
There is a he in me.

It is May. Dear God, inside I feel
the miraculous dash of swallows.

My hungers are yet
the fulcrum around
which each day coils.

Be patient with old women
compelled to touch
a pregnant belly.
They are not touching you
but their own gravid memories.

Like your face
my feet
a mystery

It’s false to say I knew you from the first;
I did not know myself before you came.


Mary Volmer is the author of two novels: Crown of Dust and Reliance, Illinois.  She earned an MFA at Saint Mary’s College (CA) and a masters’ degree from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, where she was a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar.  She has been awarded residencies at the Vermont Studio Center and Hedgebrook. Her short fiction and essays have appeared in magazines and journals such as the Farallon Review, Mutha Magazine and Women’s Basketball Magazine and featured on Stories on Stage (Sacramento).  She teaches at Saint Mary’s College and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and son. www.maryvolmer.com