spokane poetry: neighborhood one
Browne's Addition
After the storm – Teri Maurice
After the storm
Teri Maurice

Standing on the ridge’s edge
Below me the turbulent stream
Rushing to join the river
Behind me the mish-mash of dwellings
Old houses, new condos – all crowdedly coexisting
Beyond them the park
The oldest now mourning its fallen brethren

 

 

Teri Maurice and her partner have lived in Spokane for five years, after many years in Sandpoint and other assorted places. This is their last stop as they are getting old and really love the area.

The Most Stability I've had in Years – Alexander A. Manzoni
The Most Stability I've had in Years
Alexander A. Manzoni

This morning, I woke up. And it finally set in.
The time is drawing closer.
Soon, we will be moving.

 

The old house— the one looming

over the historic neighborhood of Browne’s Addition, Spokane.

‘Tis not ours. T’was not ours. It will ne’erbe ours.

And that is a problem.

We need to possess that which is our own.

So that we may spread our wings and fly wherever we are so destined.

 

We are mere millenials, older than some, younger than the rest.
We have test’d ourselves, up here. In the mid-winter chill, in the mid-summer smoke.
We have brav’d the gauntlet— the thousand swung scimitars as they came for our throats.

Thankfully, they miss’d.
Thankfully, many lessons were learned within the confines of this old building.
Thankfully, no fires from the aging outdated electric system (must’ve been from when

Edison was still alive, kicking, and stealing other people’s inventions to repurpose as his own).

If you didn’t know, then you do, now— they say at the local Broken Mic poetry

readings: “Thomas Edison is A WITCH!”

 

We must not run from our collective destinies.

     I wish we could stay and make it ours.

   But we can’t. Instead, we are moving ahead, on a new venture.

 New opportunities. New problems.

New adventures. New us.

 

I will miss you, 428 South Hemlock, Unit F.
You have been good to me, to us, to my spirits,
my writing, my everything.

 

 

Alexander Antonio Manzoni has been writing poetry for over twenty years. In September 2014, he moved to Spokane, Washington, from Newfield, New Jersey. He has lived in Browne’s Addition which inspired his poem above, but currently resides in Audubon/Downriver. His poetry and short stories been published in several online magazines & websites, and in print: “Washington State’s Best Emerging Poets 2019” and “Spokane Writes: A Poetry & Prose Anthology.” He is the host of the “Manzoni in the Morning” poetry podcast.

spokane poetry: swingset neighborhood
Chief Garry Park
The long river I follow – Mark Stone
The long river I follow
Mark Stone

The long river I follow
I have never been to the end of
But the the path I have followed
Full of trees and life
With the water rushing in the spring
And frozen in the winter
Dams so large they make a sailor jealous

 

The long river we follow
In the summer the trees so green it makes a forest blush
Such beauty along such a narrow path
In the fall the green, red, and yellow
Falling in unison
Signaling it’s time to go

 

 

Mark Stone is an 18-year-old poet who is new to Spokane and Washington state. He moved here from the East Coast in Maryland. While he misses the cherry trees of our Capitol, he is happy with the evergreen state.

spokane poetry: bicycle neighborhood
Riverside
Madison & 2nd, February – Pancake Jones
Madison & 2nd, February
Pancake Jones

Frozen flowers sidewalk
cardboard box memorial
NATE – GONE NOT 4-GOT-10
under the cacophony of locomotives,
mourners waiting for the city to come
sweep this place away – again.

 

 

Pancake Jones says hi.

Colossus 3.0 – Grace Leaf
Colossus 3.0
Grace Leaf

Not like the patinaed lady of New World fame
A canopy’s sheltering shade in lieu of lifted hand;
Here at the rushing river’s maw shall stand
A homeless girl’s hidden torch, whose flame
Was the extinguished childhood, with new name
Daughter, an exile. Above her, Pavilion grand
Glows Expo’s welcome; beseeching eyes demand
A basalt safe harbor that twin plateaus frame.
“Gone! Sacred home, land barons’ pomp,” cries Chief
Hologram tears. New droves of tired and poor
Loggers with leathered hands, laboring for relief,
Railway ghosts by the Tower haunt no more
Built up by the fervent faithfuls’ belief
A new colossus to be envied ever more.

 

 

Grace Leaf was seven when Expo ‘74 took place, and it was her first memory of Spokane. She remembers standing frozen, watching a statue of Chief Joe, with a projected image of him crying as he talked about his people and their losses. Since then Riverfront Park has become a setting for more pleasant memories.

This poem’s structure mirrors Emma Lazarus’ poem, “The New Colossus,” about Lady Liberty being the symbol of hope and welcome to immigrants entering America on the East Coast. Grace views the Pavilion in much the same way, paying tribute to the land on which it stands, as well as reflecting on her journey from a traumatized Korean adoptee to a champion of Spokane and the park as a gateway to fun, a centering place worthy of reverence and celebration.

Kiss Me in Front of the Garbage Goat – Matthew Weaver
Kiss Me in Front of the Garbage Goat
Matthew Weaver

Fill your pockets with scraps of paper
Old notes and grocery receipts used as bookmarks
and meet me in front of the garbage goat
and let’s have our first kiss

 

Everyone’s first kiss should be in front of the garbage goat
As we approach, anxious and excited
Hoping against hope the vacuum is sucking today
Because some days it’s not, and if you are going to
have your first kiss in front of the garbage goat
it needs to be sucking

 

They say to write what you know and what I know is yearning for you
I have gotten my hopes up too many times for people who I hoped were you
Only they turned out to be somebody else
Please meet me in front of the garbage goat
And end the mystery

 

Everyone should have their first kiss in front of the garbage goat
Sister Paula Mary Turnbull didn’t know that was its purpose when she forged it, but now you do
So, quick! Meet me at the garbage goat
Kiss me in front of the garbage goat
I am so tired, tired, tired of being alone
Sorry. I’ll be fine.
It’s just a moment. It will pass.
OK. There. It passed.
I can do it. I can wait a little bit longer.
But please.Meet me there soon.
And please, please, please.
Let the goat be sucking that day.

 

 

Matthew Weaver is a Spokane playwright, screenwriter and poet.

spokane poetry: neighborhood one
East Central
East Central – Ginger Grey
East Central
Ginger Grey

If you saw my kid reading to the backyard pig on Madelia,
you’d get it. The coffee at The Shop is legendarily
slow, but it’s our coffee, and Perry is our street.
The Hico Mart isn’t going to have that ingredient
you need, but they have candy and wine,
which will do in a pinch. Yesterday:
a single, giant snowball appeared triumphantly
in the middle of Grant Park.

 

This isn’t Kendall Yards,
but that’s kind of the point.

 

Take the scar on my left leg,
where a dog ripped into me on Twelfth.
He’d strained against his tree-anchored chain
each time I passed by, which I did, all the time,
because I was afraid and didn’t want to be.

 

But above that scar I have quadriceps built
from circling this neighborhood.
And so I see you, woman with the little white Bichon,
committed to your route by the community garden.
I see you, mothers at the top of the sledding hill,
panicked as your kids speed toward Ninth.
I see you Justin, Deb, Susan. Ben-Burr-
runners, temple-goers, craft-beer drinkers.

 

We’re not South Hillers, not really. Here,
sometimes the dog is off the leash, and waiting,
and mean. But an East Centraler knows fear is a lousy leader,
and stubbornness can be a kind of courage,
and courage can be a way of life.

 

And the coffee you wait for—
it just tastes better.

 

 

Ginger Grey is a counselor in Spokane, WA, and also a writer of things.

This Time Around – Melissa Rhoades
This Time Around
Melissa Rhoades

The storm spared
Our car-lined, patched and faded asphalt avenues
Rows of unassuming Craftsmen bungalows
Modest Cape Cods, Mid-Century ranchers, plywood-clad squares…

 

Overhead, century-old pines, chestnuts, maples, ash, spruce
Shade sidewalks buckling from powerful, knuckled roots

 

This time around, beforethe wind waned
Evergreen needles and snapped twigs rained
Down on dormant lawns and winter’s brown weeds
Pelting driveways, chicken coops, Little Free Libraries…

 

But 2015 crashed an electric pole on to a neighbor’s
Yard–no power for five days in November

 

2019 slammed our roof with maple boughs, laden with leaves
A ponderosa pine smashed a neighbor’s eave

 

This time though, our pre-dawn lamps
Our TV’s glow, flickered, went black

 

Then flickered back on
The furnace again murmured, the fridge again hummed
And seven days after our nation’s Capitol was stormed
The news reassures us that all is calm

 

 

Since receiving her MFA in Creative Writing from EWU in 2003, Melissa Rhoades has worked as a community college adjunct, a creative writing instructor, a copywriter, an editor, and a library public services specialist. Ms. Rhoades has lived in Spokane since 2001, where she loves the natural beauty and vibrancy of the local arts scene.

Perry Street Rag – Lisa Conger
Perry Street Rag
Lisa Conger

The slowed traffic
the crossing pedestrians
the crowded parking spaces
the milling people
the pizza oven’s perfume
the singer’s warble and strum
the jewel-like eggplant and onion
the aroma and hiss of espresso
the colorful aprons
the children’s glee
the rhubarb’s tang
the sticky fingers and wide smiles
the sense of friendly neighbors
here, Thursdays,
at the Perry Street Farmers’ Market.
There’s more here,
than what’s for sale.

 

 

Lisa Conger has lived in Spokane County since 1989, and in Spokane’s Perry District since 2009. She has recently retired after twenty years of teaching writing and poetry classes through Spokane Falls Community College’s ACT 2 program for senior citizens. She believes in the power of poetry for growth and healing.

spokane poetry: bicycle neighborhood
Rockwood
Spring 2020, Garfield Street – Sara Roth
Spring 2020, Garfield Street
Sara Roth

It’s morning in April

 

a year after we moved
into our clinker brick bungalow

 

when I meet my neighbor for the first time.

 

I’m 90, he tells me, sitting on a stool
beside the part of our connecting yards
where there’s no fence

 

the air, a heavy mist
heady with new growth

 

my young children toddle and shriek
fresh grass licks their legs

 

you’re lucky to have this time with them,
he says

 

I didn’t realize how fast they grow,
he says

 

he says

 

this is the first time in my life
I’ve slowed down.

 

 

Sara Roth is a journalist originally from Maine. She lives in Spokane with her husband and two children.

North Rockwood Four-Wheel Drive – Michael H. Ebinger
North Rockwood Four-Wheel Drive
Michael H. Ebinger

From Merced, CA, to Spokane and now in North Rockwood, but I like my new home.

They walk me a couple of times a day.
And I don’t make it easy for them:
I pull hard on that leash, and even pulled the man over on the ice once.

My favorite walk is past the castles on Pinecrest.

My people have a good house, but those castles are special.
Except at the end of October when the spooky things sit out front and make noise. Those noises scare me.

We have some woods, at least between houses,

And a big grass lawn that fills with people on Sundays.
And the turkeys—I chase them in my yard.
Squirrels—I don’t let them stay on my deck. But they are fun to run after.

There is the brown UPS truck that stops sometimes, the driver

Is really friendly and always wants to pet me, but I’m too rambunctious.
FedEx makes a lot of noise and usually brings the big boxes, but I don’t get to say hello.

North Rockwood has more types like me than

I remember at the puppy mill.
One of my favorites is the Border Collie next door—I get to visit in his yard
But he can’t come see me because of Mr. Invisible Fence.

One of my people calls me Four-Wheel Drive. I don’t know why that is,

Probably because I don’t slip or fall and can go anywhere.
The man had trouble the other night going over the snow bank,
But I just grabbed with all four and pulled through.

I wish I could shed my leash and just run through the ‘hood,

But then I wouldn’t get to show off my four-wheel drive as much.
My humans are just jealous.
They may have more elevation than my 8 inches of clearance,
But I get the benefit of four-wheels pulling me around North Rockwood.

 

 

Ebinger retired from WSU Health Sciences Campus in 2020 and is enjoying walks with his dog, Salsa, and other activities that were not compatible with an 8-5 job. Spokane is a second home that he will probably not leave, or at least leave any time soon.

spokane poetry: swingset neighborhood
West Central
Natatorium Park – Catherine Grainger
Natatorium Park
Catherine Grainger

It was the last stop on the street car line,
this place where dreams came true.
Flowered bowers, cotton candy kisses and the carousel’s golden ring
were all up for grabs.
Sam grabbed them all one night, that glorious night he met Thelma.
She jumped off the street car and into his smile.
They danced to the beat of the big band,
rode the rackety packety Jack Rabbit,
shot a loop on the Shoot de Chute
and took the plunge near The Plunge.
She wore Evening in Paris,
but no night in France could match the romance of that night
in Natatorium Park.
It was a giddy whirl and its centrifuge
held Thelma in his arms for fifty years.
The park is gone now, burned to the ground,
and Thelma lies in the ground across the river.
Sam lives in San Souci, his single wide perched among the trees.
From there, he still traces the pathways he strolled with Thelma by the river.
He can still hear the sound of laughter caught in an evening breeze,
A reminder of that Evening in Paris
that happened in Spokane.

 

 

Catherine Grainger is a poet and artist who loves her historic West Central neighborhood. She can be found walking along the Centennial Trail or in the garden of her craftsman bungalow.

West Central – Jake Miller
West Central
Jake Miller

In 1905 old William Nettleton
Fell to his death from the Great Northern high bridge,
Leaving behind the West Central neighborhood,
Thathe and other pioneers had platted.

 

William left behind a neighborhood in its Golden Age
Of gracious homes from pattern plans on smallish lots,
A neighborhood of grand brick churches and schools,
And solid short commercial buildings and retail stores and the latest in hospitals.
An exquisite new courthouse and a college.
A streetcar suburb connected to downtown.
A self–contained neighborhood where immigrants and settlers lived and shopped
And went to parks and listened to music and each other.
A neighborhood of opportunity.

 

A neighborhood where every view was gracious,
Wrapped by the river, where natives were still to be seen.
With a railroad yard that connected Spokaneto the rest of the nation,
A neighborhood in abustling and rising city.

 

The Golden Age left soon after William Nettleton
And the neighborhood began to shown signs of wear.
Of the kind that always comes to works of man.
But if youlisten you can hear the heart beating
And if you look you can see the bones showing
And if you pause you can sense the people yearning
For the old neighborhood that William Nettleton left behind in 1905.

 

Thepeople and the neighborhood are still there waiting
For another Golden Age.

 

 

Jake Miller is retired.

West Central Sirens – Annabel Hellekson
West Central Sirens
Annabel Hellekson

A figure appears in the water

 

The wisdom of hips slip without ecstasy
Limits of eternity on an empty beach
What sirens sing on a sealess river
Through this reflection, cried in blue
Faceless, she looks through me
Eyes wander
Her vision holds a frame.

 

A redband dances in the breeze
to only bless the sky
a moment

 

This river has sirens
They catch and release.

 

 

Annabel Hellekson used to live in West Central, but now resides in Medical Lake. She is a lover of nature and human interaction.

In West Central – John M. Browning
In West Central
John M. Browning

They say people creep all night on Broadway
They say Bongs is buzzing all night on Boone
But then you wander down the street
Without a dollar all tired and beat
Long hours, low pay is the treat (in West Central).

 

They say she couldn’t last that long on Broadway
They say the neighborhood is far too cruel
She may be humble but she’s got pride
Charges to work with a confident stride
Make sure her babies have a guide (in West Central).

 

The playing children scorch their soles on Maxwell
The pavement’s so hot it will melt their soul
They are racing down to the pool
The hood is hot but the pool is cool
Hanging out, they’re no fools (in West Central).

 

A teenager rolls down the road on Gardner
Twenty miles an hours on wheels of steel
He hits a crack and he goes down
His skateboard spins round and round
He gets back riding, an ache in his crown (in West Central).

 

They say there is gold on Summit Boulevard
Where castles sleep beside the sky
A hooded man mines through the trash
Looking for treasure, something to sell for cash,
Something to add to his stash (in West Central).

 

They say they play chicken trapped on Gardner
Narrow houses on a narrower street
A man halted in his Escalade
By a rusty cobalt unafraid
screaming she honks her horn and he just stays (in West Central ).

 

The buck is hiking down the road on Broadway
Four points bowed he eats the flowers in the yard
Don’t worry he won’t bite
Won’t even put up a fight
Just munch on your garden all the night (in West Central).

 

 

John M. Browning is a teacher and writer who has lived in Spokane for the last 36 years. He and his wife moved into their little house in West Central 15 years ago. They live there with two cats. John writes poetry, makes doodles, and jokes around with friends as much as he can.

spokane poetry: neighborhood one
West Hills
Indian Canyon (North Pole) – Emily Westman
Indian Canyon (North Pole)
Emily Westman

My North Pole
(Masquerading as green for ball and hole in heat)
Crystalline hills white with silence

 

(its truest self)

 

We can see for centuries (miles)
Unfinished snowmen bases littering slopes, scoops of mashed potatoes abandoned like
Christmas dinner for video games

 

Hovering ponderosas dumping a shock of ice on our shoulders
Vibrant as summer greens, even louder in their glacial quiet somehow

 

Moose, turkey, deer
Ne’er steer clear here
They woo us, foreseeing

peace

 

From the base of the waterfall (speckled with empties)
To the parked train catching its breath in this wood       (creak . . .   sizzle . . .   crack)

 

We walk on water (froze to crunch)
Boot waffles and hooves leaving track
Connect the dots

Maps

Wander (wonder)

 

 

Emily Westman is a local musician and artist. She migrated to Spokane a few years ago after 12 years in the Seattle arts scene. She is enjoying exploring her new city with her dog, Hank, and discovering all the secret pockets of the town of which Spokane seems to have no shortage.

spokane poetry: swingset neighborhood
Manito/Cannon Hill
honeysuckle – Abigail Baker
honeysuckle
Abigail Baker

to lick the nectar of a stem,
contentment in the soft

 

to the lush pink of the petals,
thrill from vibrancy

sweet flavor meets flowering phrases

crisp air,
a gentle handsel

feet enveloped into dirt,
exposing the proverbs inside

 

each roly-poly is fable
same as ants are songs,
echoing motion to nearby caves

close your eyes,
deceive your senses

 

this miracle has befallen you like a temperate spring after harsh winter

blessed are the serene
for they shall be children of the sun.

 

 

Abigail Baker is born and raised in various neighborhoods across Spokane. She currently attends Lewis and Clark High School. In her free time, she likes to read, eat animal cookies, and make plans to become President.

Return to My Old Neighborhood – Yvonne Higgins Leach
Return to My Old Neighborhood
Yvonne Higgins Leach

As I pass the willow-lined pond,
the wheels on my bike click over new cement cracks
from the toll of winter’s thaw.
How is it that not much has changed?
The arms of the same cedars droop over the same sidewalks.
Patches of drenched lawn sprout through snow,
and the two-story houses still sit clotted in time.
The early spring sun braids through the pine-dotted park.
I turn the familiar corner toward
my elementary school; the now-faint rain paints
a black scrawl across the playground. The old oak
we climbed, stark gray trunk blotched and bare like a ghost,
welcomes me to come sit again among her branches.
Whenever I return, I ask:
Is it a dying or a new breath?
A robin lands in a nearby vacant lot,
twitches its tail twice
and drops a seed.

 

 

Yvonne Higgins Leach is the author of Another Autumn (WordTech Editions, 2014). Her poems have appeared in many journals and anthologies including The South Carolina Review, South Dakota Review, Spoon River Review and POEM. Her latest manuscript was a finalist in the Wandering Aengus Press 2019 Book Award. A native of Washington state, she earned a Master of Fine Arts from Eastern Washington University. She spent decades balancing a career in communications and public relations, raising a family, and pursuing her love of writing poetry. Her latest passion is working with shelter dogs. She splits her time living on Vashon Island and in Spokane, Washington. For more information, visit www.yvonnehigginsleach.com.

Manito – Jonathan Potter
Manito
Jonathan Potter

There is a tree in the park
That stands on its own like a
Salvaged reminder of pain,
A souvenir of the time
We all went through something dark
And survived to take the sun.
I visit that tree often
And take in its damaged form
Now grown into beautiful
Breath breathing upwards to sky,
Like looking in a mirror
At my own soul arising.

 

 

Jonathan Potter is the author of House of Words (Korrektiv Press, 2010).

Twenty Medium Crickets – Ellen Welcker
Twenty Medium Crickets
Ellen Welcker

It is November,
still early.

 

On 29th
the birds fly

 

oppositely.
A holiday tune

 

bears down
in Petco.

 

The cashier
rings me up

 

for twelve.
I won’t tell

 

if you won’t—
My dread ebbs briefly.

 

I live
in a place

 

w/ a small but
thriving leopard

 

gecko community.
Amusement re-

 

turns me
to myself.

 

It is hard
to put back

 

my skeleton
in the closet.

 

 

Ellen Welcker’s books are Ram Hands (Scablands Books, 2016), The Botanical Garden (Astrophil Press, 2010), and several chapbooks, including “The Pink Tablet” (Fact-Simile Editions, 2018). She lives in Spokane, WA.

Manito at Night – Anjaela Mertens
Manito at Night
Anjaela Mertens

“Nothing can bring back the hour…”

 

When I was 17, I spent dark nights in Duncan Gardens.
The summer was hot.
Two girls, lying on the steep hill, cool in the darkness.
Remembering grass stains on a lace Easter dress; what child could resist that tumbling?
Unseen steps on gravel paths made strange, find the fountain.
So bare and exposed our nighttime wander; false safety in our invisibility.
A circle of pine trees against midnight’s sky; a dark island in a small city, a big town.
Roll down the windows, rewind the tape please, I want to hear that song again.
We got the concert tickets… let’s go to coffee and sit outside with the smokers.
Nights of boundless time, days that glowed gold,
pollen haze at sunset.
How real grief was to us, and was to be,
but also delight. Our own mortality distant, an endlessness of now.
The intention to leave; wanting more.
But who can resist the familiar, a garden.
Manito, Manito, Manito.

 

 

Anjaela Mertens is from Spokane, she has always worked in libraries. She loves to travel to see a concert. She married a man that loves the same music. They live in an old house, work in their garden and walk around the Garland district. She is politically liberal, has a cat, and likes to dance and do yoga.

spokane poetry: bicycle neighborhood
Five Mile Prairie
5-Mile in 14 Lines – Sonja Jensen
5-Mile in 14 Lines
Sonja Jensen

When he first broached the subject, I told him no way.

“Five Mile is too boring, let’s not move there, OK?”

“But it’s safe there, good schools, and this house is my dream”

I did acquiesce, but I wanted to scream.

I had lived very urban, and I’d lived on a farm,

But suburbia? Vanilla. Where was the charm?

But as we settled in, I noticed the subtle

Calm, smooth texture on my walks, pleasant flavors that muddle.

Smooth trails for my stroller through Sky Prairie Park,

A parade of trick-or-treaters long before it gets dark.

A little old school house, a little old grange,

And just a little strange how an attitude can change.

I at first was resistant, but what can I say?

I can deal with vanilla when it’s in crème brulee.

 

 

Though Sonja Jensen traveled widely, she always knew that she would one day return to her birthplace in the beautiful Inland Northwest. Sonja has a master’s degree in Communication Disorders from Eastern Washington University. She loves a vigorous hike, singing, and the sweet scent of lilacs.

Five Mile Prairie – Dirk Stratton
Five Mile Prairie
Dirk Stratton

When I was a boy, visiting my grandparents at the family

 

homestead on the south edge of the prairie, Five Mile
did not qualify

 

as a neighborhood: the city had not
annexed half of the prairie,

 

yet, and the city limits
were somewhere below, out of sight. Besides

 

actual neighbors
were in short supply: houses scattered here and there

 

surrounded by fields, some cold and fallow, some flushed green with
winter wheat.

 

My grandmother once drove me north up Five Mile Road
to buy fresh milk,—straight

 

from the cow, into the bottle, a thick
plug of cream floating on top—

 

from a “neighbor” who lived two
miles away in a house that’s still standing.

 

But everything
else has changed: the prairie’s become a neighborhood

 

crammed with dozens of neighbors but not much more: a sad, cul de
sac’ed park,

 

a bursting-at-the-seams elementary school,
a water tower,

 

couple of churches, but no stores, no bars,
no coffee shops, just houses

 

and more houses, jammed tightly
together, filled with families who will

 

have to look elsewhere

 

if they desire some neighborhood amenities,

 

because their bottle’s mostly empty. And there never was any cream.

 

 

Spokane, and Five Mile Prairie in particularly, have been part of Dirk Stratton’s biography since the beginning. He’s not sure the Prairie qualifies as a neighborhood (even now), but it is the only part of the city with which he’s really at all familiar.

spokane poetry: swingset neighborhood
North Hill
Traces – Eric Woodard
Traces
Eric Woodard

On hot nights, we would slip through the side door
(just propped, for air)
to see For the Love of Benji again.
The good ones never came to the Garland
until Paul Quam took the mic before every dollar movie.
Then we got the good ones, but months,
years late.
One night we found
the door closed.
We never saw it ajar again.

 

My dad rarely went to the Brown Derby,
but Greg’s dad did.
We could see him through the window sometimes
playing the jukebox, pull tabs, pool.
His face was happy and his eyes were sad.

 

The AC was loose at Quam Jewelers.
We almost became jewel thieves
briefly,
until we got stuck in the duct.
We walked home, bleeding.

 

Years later, masked in the ashfall,
we walkie-talkied in the 7-11, me by the Asteroids,
Greg by the beer.
“Can you read me? Over.”
On a cold, dark planet, its strange, scared creatures ignored us.

 

On the way home, we coveted through the window
the Darth Vader mask at the Novelty Nook.
We thought that mask would make us
so powerful
that nobody could pretend not to notice us again.

 

 

Eric Woodard has taught English and psychology at Lewis and Clark High School since 1992. He lived in the Garland neighborhood in the late seventies and early eighties.

The Wildlife from Spokane – David R. Clark
The Wildlife from Spokane
David R. Clark

Live in Spokane for a time
if you walk, run, or climb,
a creature will jump out, fly by,
or just freeze where they lie.

 

Could be turkeys,
crossing the road and moving all jerky.
Many heads bobbing all around,
in your way and slowing you down.

 

Or a deer in your neighbor’s yard,
eating the garden including the chard.
They might jump or spook,
but mostly they just stand and look.

 

Or maybe a raccoon.
Usually awake with the moon.
Up a tree or on a log.
Doing its best to harass your dog.

 

Or the one with an attitude of scorn,
and raucous calls of warning.
Never pretending to sing,
while always searching for something.

 

The most common of all.
A flying free-for-all.
An “unkindness” of crows and ravens.
Always Spokane’s most brazen.

 

 

David R. Clark is retired, and after years of writing for magazines he is now trying his hand at poetry. He loves the freedom of this form of writing.

Visit Garland District – Andrew Christison
Visit Garland District
Andrew Christison

Visit Garland District
The perfect Spokane logistic
The rightful center of attention
Historic Garland Theater extension

Visit the North Hill Ridge
For more than a smidge
Of the stunningcity view,
Right on Glass Avenue

Visit Garland District
Gorgeous murals, so artistic
For classic Milk Bottle treats
And tasty Ferguson eats

Visit the North Hill Ridge
A Monroe to Division Bridge
Monster, beast, woman or man,
All agree—The best of Spokane.

 

When not writing poetry about his neighborhood, you can catch Andrew hanging with his wife and two children, hiking Bowl & Pitcher, scootering Glass Ave and Riverfront Park, perusing down Garland, and tending to a small yet loved garden.

spokane poetry: bicycle neighborhood
Audubon/Downriver
Sifting the Years – Nancy Karlsten Eldridge
Sifting the Years
Nancy Karlsten Eldridge

A motley crew fills the sidewalk
With an assortment of transportation.
Scooters, skates
A fire engine with pedals (matching ladders on either side)
Tin can stilts.

 

The sidewalk narrow we navigate single file
(so as not to step on the neighbor’s grass)
Down to the telephone pole that splits the block in half.
Turning around we head back to the starting point
Two houses away.
The telephone pole, symbol of an imaginary flag
Held always in the stop position,
Stands in front of Donnie’s yard.

 

Age five, emancipation
To trudge the hill
Past the house with the woodpecker doorbell
(temptation… to push and run)
On the way to kindergarten at Finch school.

 

The world looking different then.

 

My five year old self rides along
As I drive slowly through the neighborhood
Cataract excised eyes taking in the changes.
The houses have settled, trees stand mighty.
I pass the porches
Where we called to each other
“Can you come out and play?”
Recalling the innocence of those by-gone years
Wondering, “How has life been for you?”

 

 

Nancy Karlsten Eldridge was born and raised in Spokane. After graduating from Gonzaga University she taught in the Bellevue School District. Transitioning out of teaching, Nancy experienced wonderful career opportunities including design and writing for a newspaper. Retired, she and her husband reside in the Newport, WA, area.

Westview Haikus – Mrs. Santos' 3rd Grade Class
Westview Haikus
Mrs. Santos' 3rd Grade Class

Sully

I do BMX
I hope you love to do it
It is very fun

 

I love to go sled
I love to go very fast
Kids love to go fast

 

Jarek

Reading is awesome
Playing with friends is so fun
Weekends are the best

 

Ashton

A ball is flying by
We go to the big river
I slide down the slide

 

I slide down the slide
Or go down the bumpy road
You can climb tall trees

 

Cooper

Slides are big and small
I see a lot of water
The water is cold

 

Kasen

I do BM
XI like doing BMX
BMX is fun

 

David

Go to Joe Albi
Bike riders race all around
Kids play on the toys

 

Rylan

I like to go sled
We get to see fireworks
Fishing is the best

 

Max

I like to play games
I like to play at recess
Four square is the best

 

Jayden

When I jump on the
Trampoline I jump so high
It’s like I’m flying

 

Ada

The fireworks are bright
Fireworks are so colorful
Fireworks are bright, YEAH!

 

Ben

Roller blades fly by
I ride down the hill and laugh
There is a big hill

 

Deegan

I like the skate park
People jumping and spinning
Laughing and yelling

 

Caleb

Race cars are so fun
Racing is super fun to see
Race cars are so cool

 

Isaiah

I go super fast
I like sledding a lot now
Sledding is the best

 

Kaylie

Sliding down the slide
I like playing baseball
It is fun to play

 

 

This is a collection of haikus about the Audubon/Downriver neighborhood written by Mrs. Santos’ 3rd-grade class at Westview Elementary.

First Snow – Jim Thielman
First Snow
Jim Thielman

Barely a dusting this morning
and gone an hour later, but it lights
memories of childhood in Spokane,

 

sometimes Wisconsin-cold in winter.
I learned to navigate snow in streets
snow in alleys, sometimes snow blown

 

roof high beside driveways
or plowed into the middle of boulevards
because where else can you put

 

so much plenty. Snow lasting so long
the dirt and grit of winter turns
the surface speckled black

 

and then a dull gray to match
the gray sky, until a new snow
paints things crystal white again.

 

Sometimes, you grab a handful
of fresh and pure because
you have to have a taste of the sky.

 

 

Jim Thielman grew up in Spokane and began writing poetry at Gonzaga University. He attended the Iowa Writers Workshop and now lives in Richland, Washington. He has two books of poetry and continues writing and studying poetry as a retired communications specialist.

The Best Place – Bridget Kauffman
The Best Place
Bridget Kauffman

I love Spokane so very much,
To me it will always be home,
But that which is my favorite place
Is where the river roams.

I had nearly forgotten it,
The place where I could always sit
And watch the river going by.
It rumbles, tumbles, roars,
Throws waves upon its shores;
I love the blue – green water
That is so near my home.

I could sit upon the boulders,
The great majestic boulders,
And watch the river splash,
Quick as a flash,
Against those other boulders,
Those boulders far below.

Though things of awe may surround this place,
The Clock Tower, oh so very tall,
Or the Great Wagon, like oak leaves in the fall,
I think the river, so sacred to me
Is the best place.

 

 

Bridget Kauffman is almost 12 years old and enjoys writing poetry and baking.

 

spokane poetry: neighborhood one
Northwest
Shadle Park's Park – Joseph Edwin Haeger
Shadle Park's Park
Joseph Edwin Haeger

I remember the green and yellow water tower hovering below the sky.
When I was a kid with a bare memory,
I thought it looked fun opposed to functional.

 

And now, I understand the functionality. I wonder what my kids think of it
as they run back and forth inside its shadow.

 

Across the street I see the same bearded man I see each day I come to the park.
He sits on the same rock
near the same parking lot entrance.

 

One mid-July day I bought a case of water at the grocery store and walked up
to the bearded man, arm extended.

 

He smiled and shook his head.
“I’m all good. But thank you.”
The man next to him look at me, then to him, and finally back to me.

 

“Do you want a couple,” I asked this other man.
“A couple? Hell yeah, I do!” He scooped a few bottles into his arms.

 

I look at the bearded man and think about what his unknown life.
I watch him watching the cars entering
and exiting the parking lot.

 

My kids’ laughter wafts from the water tower, but I hardly register it.
I silently ask the bearded man if he is sure.

 

He looked back at me, letting me know he was sure
without bothering to utter a single word.

 

 

Joseph Edwin Haeger is the author of Learn to Swim (University of Hell Press, 2015). He has had work published in Vol. 1 Brooklyn, The Inlander, Drunk Monkeys, Hippocampus Magazine, and others. He lives in Spokane, WA, with his wife and sons.

Felinity – Kyle J. Caprye
Felinity
Kyle J. Caprye

Outside in the cold,
Footsteps can be heard.
Not a set, or two, but dozens
Of feet pattering to and fro.
From one house to the next
They glide in short steps
Like quadrupedal insects
Going about their day.
If one looks close enough
They may see the step’s
Humble source: Cats!
moving from one nap to the next.

 

 

Kyle J. Caprye is 19, currently attending Spokane Falls Community College. He has lived in Spokane his whole life, most often on the north side.

The Grey and the Tan – Maggie Sullivan
The Grey and the Tan
Maggie Sullivan

The grey house and the tan house

are aging side by side, mirror twins half a century ago,
now as distinct as the families within them.

Children of the grey house skate carefree

up and down the sidewalk. Their parents tend endlessly
to jobs, errands and meetings. Rambunctious dogs gambol
in the back yard.

A young man next door pursues his life goals.

His father clings to fragile health and watches concerts on TV.
Their cats monitor the world from perches at the big window.

Great walnut trees grace the entrance of this home,

darkening at end of day the plain expanse of lawn next door.

Life unifies the grey and the tan as they share

the same sun and rain and starry skies
squirrels and crows and wandering cats
distant sirens and buzzing lawnmowers
the same people passing by
the same world.

 

 

Maggie Sullivan is a Spokane native, retired, but involved in art/music community.

The North Side of the Lilac City – Mary Ellen Talley
The North Side of the Lilac City
Mary Ellen Talley

I am from the pink rose bush
inside the fence on Walton Street,
swim lessons at the Shadle Park pool,
Kick the Can in the vacant lot
on Walnut Street, sledding down Cedar Hill,
and riding bikes before helmets.

 

I am from the chicken coop
near rows of corn at Grandpa’s farm
off Francis and merry-go round rides
on the corner of Wellesley & Division
where my brother worked weekends.
I’m from root beer floats at the A&W
and correcting spelling papers
for my fifth grade teacher mom.
I’m from lilacs on May altars,
Popeye and The Mickey Mouse Club
on a black & white TV,
Pollyanna at the Garland Theater,
ice skating backwards
at the Spokane Coliseum,
and my fourteenth birthday
at Pattison’s rollercade.

 

I am from caddying for dad at Wandermere,
Friday night football at Joe Albi Stadium,
and catching the Monroe Street bus
to North Central High for All-City Orchestra.
I am from playing paper dolls in the back end
of a tan station wagon before seat belts.

 

 

Mary Ellen (Moran) Talley was born and raised on Spokane’s North Side and now enjoys visiting Spokane relatives from her home in Seattle. Her poems have been published widely in journals and anthologies with a new poetry chapbook, “Postcards from the Lilac City” published by Finishing Line Press in October, 2020.

Young Ones on the Block – Arona Vashon
Young Ones on the Block
Arona Vashon

We were the Young Ones on the Block.
The new family.
The one with two small children.
The house with toys in the backyard.

 

Everyone else had lived there
way before Dad bought the house
for his new bride.
Way before my brother and I were born.

 

Nice elderly couples,
they all were.

 

Since then,
some have died.
Others put in assisted living
by their own grown children.
Few still remain,
with the young ones on the block.

 

 

Arona Vashon is a junior at North Central High School and is currently in her first year of Running Start at SFCC. She’s published poems and photography for NC’s VOICES magazine and loves creative writing. For hobbies, she enjoys reading fiction and murder mysteries, photography, crafts, and spending time with her family. Arona has been to Bulgaria where her mother’s side of the family is, including flying over Paris, and plans to travel more.

spokane poetry: swingset neighborhood
Bemiss
City Life – Blaine Holland
City Life
Blaine Holland

Living life underneath an old street light
Counting the cars on a cool summer night
Yeah, the city life it suits me fine
Looking out on a broken skyline
I drive up to the southside
So, I can look down on these city lights
But you know I can’t hang with the downtown crowd
That’s why you’ll find me on the northside of town
Underneath the clear blue sky
Everybody gets by just fine
We got them mid-size city blues
and nobody knows just what to do
I was born between the river and the railroad track
They both taught me to never look back
I go and see them still today
When I get lost, they show me the way
It’s a mystic thing what these streets can do
All my secrets lie between the avenue
One day when they put me in the grave
They will find a city boy who lost his way
Underneath the clear blue sky
Everybody gets by just fine
We got them mid-size city blues
And nobody knows just what to do

 

 

Blaine Holland is a singer-songwriter, born and raised in Spokane, who grew up on the Northeast side of town.

Ode to the Bodega off Bridgeport – Kurt Olson
Ode to the Bodega off Bridgeport
Kurt Olson

Oh those grocery boys
and girls turn barcode UPCs
beneath red-reader lights:
corner store fountain soda

 

cinnamon whiskey by the fifth
or half-gallon, six-piece fried
chicken, past-date holiday themed
snickers. Children abandon ball games

 

and discard handlebars on dead
lawns and dodge derelict
cars parked along wrinkled sheets
of sidewalk to heat microwave

 

rice dinners on thrift-store tables.
Maps can’t find you here,
not north enough or poor enough
to be the shadow of this town.

 

Oh you grocery gals and your rough wood floors
with boot-worn laminate, let that card machine
read “approved” for just one more day.
We promise next week we get paid.

 

 

Kurt Olson sells books in downtown Spokane and ferments chili peppers and cabbage sometimes. He lives with his wife, Allie, and their absurd number of cats.

spokane poetry: neighborhood one
Lincoln Heights
Found – Mery N. Smith
Found
Mery N. Smith

stand in the right spot
on high drive at sunset and
the whole world seems right

 

this is the finding place
native yarrow mossy patches
of hair thrift stores and milk co-ops
sprout at the ready

 

our currency is connection
to pine and people
there are plenty

 

along the banks of the Spokane river
unspoken truths run clear
rainbow trout and cutthroat
keepers to everyone

 

baptizing nudists between
People’s Park and Glover Field
these little deaths
subject to tribal fees
float away

 

trust the waters current
energy efficient mistakenly
understood for nothing
more than liquid

 

yes this is the finding place
our inland eastern sun
a savior

 

 

Mery N. Smith is a grateful Spokane resident for the last 10 years. Spokane is where she grew a family and a host of community0minded friends. To summarize: eating, laughing and reading, together.

It's 6 a.m. – Tim Greenup
It's 6 a.m.
Tim Greenup

It’s 6 am

 

and my neighbor’s truck has been idling
in his driveway for almost an hour. The whole ice-crusted block
smells like diesel fuel and burnt gas station coffee.
From inside the truck you can hear the muffled sound of 94.1
The Bear blasting ​the rock you know​ through blown out
factory speakers. When they say ​the rock you know
they mean AC/DC and Van Halen for a noisy eternity,
which is unideal, though could also be worse.
I remember hearing “Runnin’ with the Devil” for the first time
in Sean Oakes’ living room. It may have been on cassette,
I don’t remember. But the bass line meant everything to me.
Then I learned to play it — an open, rhythmic E, over and over.
A pulsing eternity. Downright sexual.
Elsewhere, a block over a woman is no doubt pulling her Buick aside and
pushing a pile of empty airplane bottles off her passenger seat
and into the street. Most of them are for Fireball Whisky,
though one chic blue bottle once housed a dose of SKYY Vodka.
Lord, that had been a day. She chuckles to herself
and fluffs her white hair in the mirror. Then throws back
the last of her current bottle before chucking that
too into the street. She drives nondescriptly away, no doubt
Van Halen’s “Runnin’ with the Devil” thumping in her heart,
even if she can’t hear it. I’ll find the bottles later
when I’m living my own rock and roll dream walking
with my son and daughter toward the trees.
I’ll nudge them gently closer to the curb for safety.

 

 

Tim Greenup is a poet and musician. His first collection, Without Warning, was published in 2016 by Scablands Books and his poems have been featured in LEVELER, Pontoon Poetry, Sixth Finch, and elsewhere. He lives with his family on the South Hill in Spokane and teaches at Spokane Falls Community College.

Lincoln Park – John Whalen
Lincoln Park
John Whalen

Into the spring of the grass of the green
Did I go running
Into the day
Did I go running
Everything sunny
Newly green more green did I go running
Into the spring of the grass of the green
Did I go running
Everything sunny and green
Did I go running
Into the spring of the grass of the green
I went running

 

 

John Whalen moved to Spokane in 1992

Property in the Neighborhood – Margaret Albaugh
Property in the Neighborhood
Margaret Albaugh

A lawn service edges a section of grass.
A roofer places a shingle.
Across the street, a neighbor waves kindly.
A friend says, What a lovely neighborhood.
But a Different neighbor and I
steal awkward glances.
Children ride bicycles as a mother
plants some daffodils.
My Different neighbor and I share stories
while a Lexus drives past, on its way
to an Open House.
My Different neighbor looks at my
brown skin; says You get it.
I look at his black skin, I do.
We know our neighbors will watch
out for our property values.
But not for our Different bodies.

 

 

Margaret Albaugh is a photographer getting into poetry. She looks for the convergence between the two in her photography, but mostly she photographs families.

spokane poetry: bicycle neighborhood
Emerson/Garfield
The Loudest Thing – Gabriel Meek
The Loudest Thing
Gabriel Meek

Not the kids across the street practicing piano with the door open,
not the bells from the neighborhood school,
and not the occasional gunshot,

 

but the loudest, brightest, yellowest thing on my block in this city
is the house on the corner.
Yellower than Arrowleaf Balsamroot on the bluff in June,
more brilliant than traffic lights or neon.

 

His yard is a menagerie—
wooden animals painted verdant green, stop-sign red, bumblebee yellow,
monkeys swing in the huge maple, a lion roars by the shed,
hummingbirds buzz by the hummingbirds in the garden.
It’s a zoo.
A magical zoo: he has wrangled a unicorn,
raised a pterodactyl and a saber-toothed cat from the dead too.

 

And Max the waddling beagle is King.

 

Everyone has a goofy neighbour,
the one who drives a funny car or grows the wackiest garden.
If you don’t, you might be that neighbour.
But not everyone has one who produces smiles,
and when he snowblows every sidewalk in a block-wide radius,
carts King Max by in his paladin, or introduces a new species to the zoo,
that’s what he gets: a smile.

 

It’s the loudest thing.

 

 

Gabriel Meek is a 2020 grad of Whitworth University and is currently pursuing an MFA in poetry at Eastern Washington University. Originally from Missoula, he has lived in Spokane for nine years and is an alum of North Central High School. His favorite run takes him onto the river-trails near SFCC.

The Elliptic – Jackie M Treiber
The Elliptic
Jackie M Treiber

Now in our 21,910th hour as keepers of this oval, we walk our dog
over and over and over again
In the yellow and blue and green light of seasons,
wondering about another year here
and whether we are home, or not.

 

Oh, we’ve been glad for Doug and Dario
Gee and Jess and Kathy and Earl
and T&D because otherwise we’d feel like the oval we were on
was simply an island
a tree lined cell rather than a canopy of life,
of elm, fungus, maple, spruce.

 

Everyday we sit with it
The park and its parallel lines
The art of its tree branch elbows, buckled roots
and ghosts of betters
betting on ostriches, asses and game
running the track with crabgrass grabbed in
their talons, hooves and paw pads

 

What an ancient and turning place we are keeping.
What will it be when we are no longer here?
Perhaps only the children and trees know.

 

 

Jackie Treiber is a recovering poet, sometime-writer, and collagist residing on unceded Spokane land.

spokane poetry: swingset neighborhood
North Indian Trail
Deep Within Springtime – Siri L. Throm Saxe
Deep Within Springtime
Siri L. Throm Saxe

Deep within springtime,
Sun-warmed bulbs begin to swell.
Breaking free, rich soil.

 

Pausing at noon-time
To breathe freshness of April—
Bursting ripe stamen.

 

Air-licked fragrance drifts;
Pastel petals bloom life and
Gentle earth succumbs.

 

Softened breezes dance
Silken kin on emerald skin.
Nature’s gala ball.

 

 

Siri L. Throm Saxe is a 1992 Western Washington graduate employed at Indian Trail Animal Hospital as Director of Customer Service Relations. Siri is married with two adult children, two dogs and a cat.

 

Rush Hour – Kimiko Hirota
Rush Hour
Kimiko Hirota

On Indian Trail,
I race the mini vans
Brace for shrinking lanes
and fading streetlight

 

We share the same tragedy
The same panic
in our voice
from morning till dark

 

Grandfather clocks
rest tied to our feet, so
the gas goes
without second thought
Frozen and potent
in our tanks at war
against ourselves

 

Impulse drives how cruel
the road narrows ahead
The yellow lights
are warnings,
soft suggestions
for a breath
of forgiveness

 

If only we’d slow down
enough to hear
our own wheels
spin.

 

 

Kimiko Hirota grew up in Spokane’s poetry community. Her work has been published in Voicemail Poems, Railtown Almanac, and other anthologies. She is an alum of Woodridge Elementary, Salk Middle School, Shadle Park High School, and Stanford University.

spokane poetry: neighborhood one
Latah/Hangman
As seen from my porch. – Marykay Hall
As seen from my porch.
Marykay Hall

The sliver of my moon is all I see.
A glimmer of hope that all will be.
The August winds bring melancholy
For the end of summer and its folly.
The quiet night and the cool morn
Signals transition into a new season born
Love in the air that soothes the soul
A glimpse of a stag and his doe.
Wild turkeys shriek their delight
Flowers blooming give up the fight
Daylight fading into dark
The smell of wood and wet bark.
Smoke fills the air as fires scorch
The wonder of life as seen on my porch.

 

 

Marykay Hall is a seasoned single mental health therapist in private practice committed to serving our community. She often writes to express feelings not shared, more as a way of process than anything else.

spokane poetry: bicycle neighborhood
Southgate
Plight of Solitude – Max Sadler
Plight of Solitude
Max Sadler

The sky isn’t always clear
The sun doesn’t always shine
But this place built my love
Even in dark times

 

And it’s a love too deep to comprehend

 

Though I try, all my days
To understand why I’m drawn back
How a person can travel so far
Still longing for the unwavering salvation

 

And it’s a thought too grave to let pass

 

In the summer,the smoke sets in
Those who live curse the wretched days
But the veil always lifts
The people always persist

 

And it’s a newfound day for the masses

 

The winter is just as cold
As the lonely people drive too fast
The rest grip their steering wheels
Looking no further than the hood of their car

 

And it’s a future just out of reach

 

Years have gone now, since I’ve been alone
I miss the everyday silence, the fleeting glow
I see the shortcomings, and I see the foibles
It’s the home that burns within me

 

And it’s a home too sweet to leave alone

 

 

Max Sadler is a Spokane-born, Nashville-based songwriter and poet studying at Belmont University.

Hamblen Park – Sharma Shields
Hamblen Park
Sharma Shields
Years later, making a choice that felt like giving up, I returned to Spokane, because, well, I missed my mom. Long ago I lived with her in a green farmhouse, a home lifted up and ferried away by enchanted swans. On March 1st I’ll be eight years sober. In April my daughter will turn nine. To marvel at being loved when you know intimately your own failures is how the swan prince might also feel, the one whose arm remains a wing even as all of his brothers regain their full human form. There are events from which we never fully heal, no matter our longing. Now I walk from our house almost daily to nearby Hamblen Park, where soon the arrowleaf balsamroot will gather in their crowded families, ray florets beaming and leaves shaped like blades. I’m always forgetting, or I’m always relearning what I thought I knew, the way the yellow streams forward, then fades. Over the silver sea, suspended from swan beaks by thin gossamer threads, the green farmhouse sails, as if this isn’t a fairytale, as if it hasn’t been swallowed whole by what we call growth—thousands of beige apartments, plentiful parking, the teeming, legion shelves of Target. The city discusses a water tower at Hamblen, a necessity that will crush the lupine, the serviceberry, crowd out the sharp-scented pines. How like a water tower my regrets are, looming, shadowing, taking over what is wild, gathering a clarity that I keep drinking down. On the pathway, even now, my mind trips over itself, tumbling me into girlhood and back again, the floret and the blade, the farmhouse and the thread, the forest and the water tower. It’s the memory stitched into what is, what will be, like when the fairytale brother lifts what he hopes is his arm and instead unfurls the immutable wing.

 

 

Sharma Shields is a bookseller at Wishing Tree Books here in Spokane and the author of Favorite Monster: Stories and two novels, The Sasquatch Hunter’s Almanac and The Cassandra.

spokane poetry: bicycle neighborhood
Cliff-Cannon
Polly Judd Park – Claire Rudolf Murphy
Polly Judd Park
Claire Rudolf Murphy

The park below our home
with its grassy field and playground perched on the bluff,
used to be a deep ravine ringed by Ponderosa pines
then later filled with rebar from road construction nearby.

 

Neighbors pushed back
when the city council
amended zoning codes to allow multi dwellings around town.
Their ravine was on the list, even though a dead-end dirt road, the only exit.

 

We need a park instead, they said.
They raised money, and petitioned
for federal and state funds.
Dedicated in 1992, and named after Polly Judd,
an advocate for Spokane parks and gardens,
she’d lived in the neighborhood for thirty years.

 

Today we stand on the shoulders of those
who did the work of democracy, for weeks and years,
so that dogs can play, and kids can swing,
people sing in the shelter, and joggers circle the loop.

 

Sledding in winter,
garden planting in spring
sunbathing in summer
football and tai chi in fall.

 

Year round, runners, hikers, bikers
traverse the bluff trail, heading north and south,
weaving high above Latah Creek and Vinegar Flats.

 

Thank you, neighbor activists, for creating this green space
in nature that soothes students on break and babies in strollers,
inspires cairn builders, labyrinth walkers, and floral creators.
Thank you for this corner of community,
this place of peace.

 

 

Claire has lived on the north side of the park for twelve years. She cherishes her hikes and every day views of people and dogs who visit this special place. Claire writes books for kids and teens and teaches in the Hamline University low residency MFAC program.

(Emergency) Friends – Sarah O'Hare
(Emergency) Friends
Sarah O'Hare

A Bermuda Triangle of fire.
Faulty wiring in an attic,
The conspicuous mixtures of an addict,
And an inconclusive mystery all added,
Smoke and flame and panic
As we gathered like a choir.

 

 

Sarah O’Hare (MA, MLIS) is a Spokane-born librarian, a hiker, an enthusiast of theatre and travel, and a proud graduate of North Central High School.

spokane poetry: neighborhood one
Beyond the City Limits
Vercler Castle – Eric Profit
Vercler Castle
Eric Profit

In the suburban sprawl
Of the biggest small town in the State
Spokane Valley Washington
A keep stands proud and tall
Built of brick and mortar
Iron and wood
Adorned with crystals and iron spires
A gentle overgrowth of greenery
And climbing ivy
Remind us of the true lords of this castle
The hidden folk
We find ourselves simultaneously in this world and the next
It is a magical place
Otherworldly
Neither Elvish nor Dwarven
It stands as a testament to the power
Of human imagination
Earthen tones dominate the landscape
Green, black and steel grey
rusted red, and brown

 

This castle seems to fit more with its surroundings
Than the homes which surround its borders
Perhaps we are the exception
Instead of the other way around
Upon further exploration
We find a home hidden within
Someone lives here!?
There is a mailbox
And a driveway
Upon an old world door
An address claimed in black iron
Reads 924 Vercler Lane
Is this a witch’s abode
Does a family live within
Is this the handiwork of a master craftsman?
The answers would be easy enough to find
But I prefer to invent my own

 

We have come searching
With hearts full of adventure
And we bid farewell
With imaginations running wild
And for that we are are grateful

 

 

Eric Profit is a 39-year-old husband and father of three boys, Henrik, Atticus, and Dane. He has been active in the Spokane poetry scene in the past, and considers himself an avid poet. He enjoys writing about fantasy, history and yes, love. He is enjoying the opportunity to write about his family’s little corner of the world – West Valley, Spokane, WA.

Going in Circles – Stephen C. Wieber
Going in Circles
Stephen C. Wieber

My apologies in advance if I tend to go round and round about this silly prose.
Was I ever delighted to discover in rather a roundabout fashion, that indeed we had acquired one!
Now you may be asking at this juncture, “Acquired what”? Well let me explain.
Never had I imagined the swiftness required to accomplish such a feat. It was in early summer that this old intersection residing at the interstate and historically bisected by a road named Barker would soon become the road not taken. I’d grown accustomed to the lights and backup traffic onto the freeway, and oh the waiting, waiting, waiting! For this was my primary route to work and back home for decades. As you may have surmised, without one word or surprise, that a roundabout had become its newest incarnation.
So without further ado I must insert a STOP sign just here or I’m bound to go round about again!

 

 

Born and raised in the Palouse country south of Spokane, Stephen C. Wieber was brought up in the German Catholic tradition. A Forestry Tech student who worked in the wholesale floral industry for 21 years, he married and became a Protestant. He has two adult children and has sung in chorales here in the region. He has worked at Trader Joe’s for 9 years since its inception here in Spokane.

The Beginning of Home – Phoebe Milatz
The Beginning of Home
Phoebe Milatz

The first night I lived here
I walked in the dusk
Towards the river with my mother
And my sisters.
I was afraid of every passing car
I knew only the gravel before me
And the crunch of my steps above it
I saw the sky and thought
I don’t know where I am.

 

Now my feet carry me down familiar paths,
Up the hill to the forest
Where I can afford to look at the trees as I walk
I have passed the stage of tripping on every rock.
I think of the owl I saw once
I think of the moose
In the distance, children laughing
Sunlight through the pines looking like brightest heaven

 

I follow the river again
I stand beneath the gardens of those who wake
On the banks every single day
And I wonder
What would it be like to live here
Amongst the geese and the tallest of trees
I see the line where the neighborhood begins
I remind myself
Sunset setting
You do live here.

 

 

Phoebe Milatz is constantly in awe of the beauty of nature and the solace that can be found in the woods. She is a college student who is hoping to pursue her love of writing, though she is currently studying environmental science.

Walking in Colbert – J. S. Brummet
Walking in Colbert
J. S. Brummet

Walking down a country road.
That’s my neighborhood.
Pine boughs stretch overhead.
Needles scatter across the ground.
Dogs warn loudly of my presence
Just like yesterday…
And I breathe in the air,
Measure the tint of the sky
Following the song of birds
As I trudge my merry way.

 

 

Jen S. Brummet was a member of the Spokane Symphony for 12 years. Now she works in the health care industry.

Trentwood (ca. 1965) – Gregory Davis
Trentwood (ca. 1965)
Gregory Davis

Big K grocery –             Shasta soda eight cents a can.

Where you could watch a red-nosed man.
Turn in 400 empty beer bottles, penny apiece.
Enough to buy twenty-four full ones.

 

Thrift Store –                A miles’ frozen walk, dad and I

fetching home ten Presto logs.
So we could survive
another zero degree night.

 

Kaiser Aluminum –     Ravening hulk.

Squatting south of Trent Ave.
Swallowed dad for forty years.
Cut him loose with an arthritic knee.

 

Blessings Tavern –       Long, low dive.

Steelworkers separated from their paychecks.
An ocean of three percent lager
the social lube.

 

Breese’s Barber Shop – Old men with bad coughs

spittin and chewin.
Cursing new words into my adolescent ears.
While I got my boot camp style crew cut.

 

Trentwood (ca. 1965) – Kids played on the mean streets.

Grownups prayed for ends to meet.
Some called the place the a slum.
It was, for some.

 

 

Gregory Davis is sixty-seven years old. He is retired from a major aluminum company in Spokane Valley, WA, where he spent forty-three years as a grunt on the factory floor. He has been writing for four years. His work has been published in the Scarlet Leaf Review and the Ginosko Literary Journal.

SPO-VID 509 – Amelio Torres
SPO-VID 509
Amelio Torres

Looking in the rearview mirror of 2020.
Quick like a flash of lightning,
The world was struck with a pandemic.
Normality in life shifted gears.
Inside and outside of my neighborhood,
Everything felt grey.
My neighborhood is changing,
And that is okay.
We panicked and we worried.
We looked forward to a new day.
We leaned on each other as a community.
Busy living transitioned into more mindful living.
Facing a worldwide pandemic,
We will do what we have to do.
Hope is what we have turned to.

 

 

Amelio Torres is  a 28-year-old Puerto-Rican transman, hailing from good ol’ North Carolina. Calling Spokane home for the past 6 years has been a blessing. Amelio’s love for the arts and freedom is what brought him here. He’s looking forward to everything this adventurous city has to offer and poetry is one of those adventures!

The Other Central Park – Joan M Kop
The Other Central Park
Joan M Kop

For thirty minutes each day, I encounter
Dog walkers, squirrels, and friendly condo
Residents, walking around my well-landscaped
Neighborhood in Central Park,
Not New York—the one in Spokane Valley.

 

Juniper bushes surround the large, sturdy elm
Outside my door. Tall pines, evergreens, and
Colorful varieties of deciduous trees dot the land
Throughout the development.

 

Mostly quiet—except for the year-round sound of
A faint train whistle in the distance, and on
Cold, winter mornings, maintenance crews scrape
Snow and ice off the sidewalks.

 

In the Spring, Summer, and Fall, the hum of a
Riding lawn mower can be heard,
Grooming the grass, so property values
Won’t plummet.

 

My condo neighbors include an artist, a retired
Flight attendant, as well as a man whose second
Home is in Coeur d’ Alene. Some California
Residents are absent owners.

 

Formerly a Lower South Hill resident, I chose
This location because there were no steep hills to climb,
Making exercising for thirty minutes each day
So much easier.

 

 

Joan M. Kop grew up in Cottonwood, Idaho. After attending school to become a legal secretary, she was recruited by the Central Intelligence Agency. She later graduated from Gonzaga University and is the author of Spies, Lies & Psychosis and The Freedom Chaser.

 

Approachment – Mary G. Seubert
Approachment
Mary G. Seubert

An eclectic community robustly thrives where the dam recedes the Little Spokane River’s flow.

 

With the backdrop of buzzing flight at Felts Field (there’s joy in the antics of antique biplanes but monotony in the helicopter’s whirling roar) the small plane airfield is proud home to Mamer’s & Walker’s historic flight.

 

Train’s iron wheels rumble on while their mighty horns noisily announce their presence as they angrily bestow

 

A warning to heed their length when they block the tracks (rumbling by both day and night).

 

Churches line Park Road along with a pre-school and elementary which are supported with a day care close by.

 

From Fancher to Vista this section of Spokane Valley City supports HUD houses up to multi-million-dollar mansions hanging on the river’s cliffs.

 

A field that abuts the airfield becomes a suitable option where you can walk your leashed dogs and have a chance to say a friendly “hi”.

 

Vehicle traffic is thankfully decreased for lack of a bridge that would make the north-south areas easily swift.

 

Several yards contain varied animal residents (ducks, geese, chickens, and the occasional Yorkie Pig) other than the standard squirrels, dogs, and cats.

 

Riding by them at dusk on a one-speed bicycle I hear their quacks and clucks from the quiet streets and breathe in the scent of a flower’s bloom.

 

Pleasure from its display prompts memories that in turn frame the distant sound of baseball from the park and the happy acclaim of well-played bats.

 

Near Nature, Near Perfect, you approach the tree-lined streets that house my home and nests of birds as they their feathers plume.

 

 

Mary G. Seubert is a retired female resident of Greater Spokane since 1969. She is a graduate of Fort Wright College with B.A. in Liberal Arts (Music (piano)/major, English Lit/minor).

Intrigued by Surroundings – Angie Bordwell
Intrigued by Surroundings
Angie Bordwell

M​ountains, Lakes, Valleys, surround me.
​Orchards that once flourished are built upon.
V​ivacious landscape that readily faces transformation,
E​veryday this area transitions into new robust beginnings.

 

O​verlooking with a sadness instilled by amazement over a 40 year watch.
N​atural wildlife today still shows boldly, wandering freely on the peaceful ridge.

 

T​winkling evening lights broaden the sight of expansion as far as the eye can see.
H​istory upholds as the little girl has matured to now scrutinize as an adult.
R​oaring trains are followed by quiet whispers.
O​ccasional winter plowing is embraced to open a fresh path.
U​nder dark storms of robust winds lie debris of branches and trunks.
G​enerators hum in the evening air as crews work to repair.
H​eightened ambitions stir as spring soon arrives.

 

C​arrying forward a strong vibe to preserve the untouched.
H​eavenly sunsets spread expression,
A​ccents of pinks, oranges, in the vibrant blue.
N​ature thrives up above this small growing community.
G​randchildren grow to appreciate its offerings.
E​ducator is fulfilled with decades of fond memories, still mesmerized.

 

 

Angie Bordwell is a middle school educator.

Greenacres – Haley Baggins
Greenacres
Haley Baggins

I hadn’t lived in a house since I was a child
Apartments to Dorms to Apartments
Never a house.
No more light walking to not disturb the neighbors
No rules about doing laundry or dishes before 8 pm
No hearing the police come to the neighbor’s apartment
This house is ours
This lawn, this driveway, this roof
This is ours
The roof needs to be replaced
The window seals were broken years ago
The rust that sags beneath the window sings of those seals
But it looks lovely with Christmas lights
The house keeps us warm and safe
The cherry tree in the backyard thrives
The dogs dance and sing in the backyard
The neighbors smile and wave
For now, we are a pair in a house too large for 2
In a neighborhood built for families
We are a family too though.

 

 

Haley Baggins is mostly a photographer.

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