Browne's AdditionAfter the storm – Teri Maurice
After the storm
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
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Thankfully, no fires from the aging outdated electric system (must’ve been from when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.
Building H, The Ridge Condominiums
CeleBrating the oldest Neighborhood
HeaRing the roaring river below.
Walking cObblestone streets named Elm and Hemlock
Wandering through a Wondrous past.
Living the history of Cutter’s aNd Carpenter’s mansions.
Remembering CampbEll, Clark, and Roberts.
Playing in the Sun at our crown jewel – Spokane’s First Park.
Where the gAzebo is the center stage
With art, music anD culture
The rounDabout hosts our feasts
And there are thIngs to do for all.
Like sTories of spirits in the fall
And musIc on summer nights.
Children’s laughter in Our Park.
Making it aNeighborhood that we love.
The residents of Building H at The Ridge Condominiums make up a small group of supportive neighbors who enjoy an occasional happy hour in the courtyard or under the carport. In times of need, they provide mutual aid and support as good neighbors do. Thanks to MaryLou Sproul for submitting on behalf of the community.
Ode to Browne's Addition Front Porch People
Miss Marple was her real name, my neighbor across the street.
No hobbies, the kids didn’t visit, boredom was her problem.
She sat on her front porch all day long, watched life go by.
Reported on the gossip,
Reported on the neighbors,
Reported on the kids and car prowlers –I think she missed her calling.
If not for fate, she could’ve been a confidential informant or a spy.
Dark in the early morning, a cold fog persists.
On a secluded front porch alcove, a man usually sits.
Coffee, a cigarette. I smelled it in the air.
Maybe a “Hello.”
Maybe a “Good morning.”
Maybe just a stare.
Afternoon heat, looking for shade, rocking chairs on the porch,
Not waiting for dates, two woke women debate.
Wondering why that idea/plan/recipe might fail.
Talking about nothing.
Talking about strife.
Talking about the Rosauer’s next big 24 hour sale.
Mentally scroll through the options: Bijou, Browne’s, the Elk
Maybe the back patio of Pacific Pizza where local hipsters hang out.
No, tonight I’ll chill on my own front porch.
Come over, I’ve got extra seating – vintage green and white.
Exchange waveswith the parade of unwed mothers pushing 2nd hand strollers – nary a man in sight.
Exchange real estate prices with Darren.
Exchange eye rolls with Danette.
(She’s a Trumper and anti-masker, but I don’t worry, she’s leaving the neighborhood soon.)
Hello neighbor! If your front porch is vacant, lonely or foreboding,
Don’t let the silence overwhelm.
Come outside! Join us, in this mosaic we’ve become.
Julie Olsen is a historic home renovator, dog walker, hiker, litter picker-upper, ArtFest attending, Elkfest grieving, Browne’s Addiction t-shirt wearing 20+ year resident of Browne’s Addition.
Lyfe in Spokane
Spokane, Spoken – eyes wide open
to infinite possibilities constantly fueling my dreams with the endless amounts of scenes
Whether climbing up the trees or running around downtown in a jungle of concrete
Hikes at Bowl and Pitcher to embrace the bigger picture
When looking into the Spokane river the experience is as metaphorical
as when I look at myself in the mirror
Sometimes I feel as though I’m a fish swimming against the current
fighting oppression, discrimination, and preconceived judgements
Being told that Spokane is not a good place to start a poetry movement
But for me Spokane has become a solution
See I choose to tap in into the potential of Spokane
many think Spo-can’t but I know Spo-can
There is opportunity in this community and we all have the chance to be major influences
Yes, we will be met with opposition which will not stop our progression I am here to instill culture, diversity and inclusion Power 2 The Poetry it is more than a movement
It is a way to prove that Spokane is different that in Spokane you can still be
respected even if you have a difference of opinion
In Spokane you won’t be discriminated against because of the color of your skin
that in Spokane it is ok to be openly lesbian
People don’t worry about pedigree and instead focus on equality
That in Spokane I can unapologetically be me in Spokane WE can all be who we want be
But you see this Spokane is not yet a real thing
This Spokane is still a dream just like our Zags winning the whole thing and finally bringing
a NCAA basketball championship to the city because – GO EAGS
But I do believe dreams come true so if you truly support what I say
then you too must realize YOU are the key to Spokane’s breakthrough
We all deserve to live our best lives and freely live out our truths
Come on Spokane it’s time for change we don’t have much to lose but so much more to prove
The change starts with you so please Spokane
BE THE BREAKTHROUGH
Bethany ‘B.Lyte’ Montgomery is the founder and President of Power 2 The Poetry. A performing arts LLC specializing in spoken word poetry. Promoting freedom of expression, and providing a platform for underrepresented demographics in our community. Raising awareness to social, cultural, political, and personal issues. Addressing topics which cultivate crucial and courageous conversations. “Warriors of Light” on a mission to express, expose, and ignite! Power 2 The Poetry is an extension of heart and soul. Her life’s purpose is to eliminate all the darkness in the world by spreading lyte and love through the power of the tongue.
The dog park on Pacific, once a graveyard,
is included in the Browne’s Addition haunted tour,
even though the bones of its occupants—
immigrant laborers on whose backs
the railroad was built—
were exhumed and relocated
in the 1980s.
Yet I know people
who still won’t walk here
out of respect for the dead.
As my dog
goes back to the same spot to dig,
I wonder if their backs
are bearing my weight,
worry that maybe six feet
hasn’t always been
the standard depth.
Chief Garry ParkThe long river I follow – Mark Stone
The long river I follow
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.
RiversideMadison & 2nd, February – Pancake Jones
Madison & 2nd, February
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.
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
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.
I step onto the sidewalk seven floors below my sky nest.
A skateboard beats a fading rhythm.
Another car alarm nobody cares about is bleating.
A whiff of cigarette smoke.
I stop to watch the fluorescent lime and orange attired crew
digging up the intersection. Again.
Through the center of it all
trains slither, squeal and rumble practically non-stop.
A double-parked armored car waits patiently to be fed.
A bus floats by with a whoosh and for just a second I smell diesel.
Sirens bounce off buildings.
A low-flying airliner on final approach to GEG shows me its belly
until my eyes shift to the ornate architecture
that rises up all around me.
A shred truck bucks and whines outside a high-rise. Nothing to see here, Folks.
An alarm bell rings. It’s okay.
Somebody’s SUV is just too tall for the Parkade.
Fresh coffee wafts from an old brick building on Howard.
To the park where river, clock tower, and pavilion offer reassurance.
Carousel and garbage goat amuse.
You can hear the falls before you see them today.
Gondolas in the mist. (Sorry, Dian).
Such an incredible sight in the middle of a city.
I head home past gliding skaters and Govedare’s beautiful, rusted runners
to look up at the art deco city hall my father helped transform from a Montgomery Wards
a lifetime ago.
Two years ago I chucked it all: McMansion. Three-car garage. HOA.
All for a cozy sky nest in the center of the city.
And I’ve never been happier.
Tony Nielsen lives in Downtown Spokane.
syringa vulgaris run in may, dress up w/downtown trees, play in 4 parts
Constance R. Bacchus
cool off w/hoses
full streets, smiling feet
conspiracies & memories, rampant on 7 mile sundays
the pavilion the place for FFA grading potatoes
the gold-ringed carrousel
there will be cheers & ice pops, pines flanking
cans & bottles on the side exchanged for cash
driving w/mom & grandma & grandpa & cousins
playing OK95 loud on I-90 looking up
Constance Bacchus lives with her daughter near Grand Coulee. She spent a large part of her childhood in Moses Lake and Pullman. She remembers driving to Spokane was an experience when she was younger. She was in Bloomsday with her daughter in 2019, attended virtually last year and are training again this year.
Green Tan Sand Brown Scoopa
Jon R. Klapp
No Color Remains
In Dark of Night
But The Green Tan Sand Brown Scoopa
No Clamor Rings
In Persistent Echoes
But The Green Tan Sand Brown Scoopa
No Sweet Taste
In Frosted Banquets
But the Green Tan Sand Brown Scoopa
Reflected in White
Currents and Broken Falls
And the Green Tan Sand Brown Scoopa
John R. Klapp is a human male, moderate. The word ‘scoopa’ is intended as a whimsical abstraction with not specific meaning in this poem.
A Transient Student's Neighborhood School Adventure
Patricia A. McLaughlin
Part I of a triad: Browne’s Addition-Front Street-Gonzaga: Summer 1967
Too many girls rented that Browne’s Addition red brick with swimming pool oasis.
For me, it was summer session and Hail Gonzaga: no bus, no bike, but biped.
Early bird class: Pay attention to the nose-wrenching Front Street. You can’t miss sour booze, vomit, urine-painted walls, and bodily transformations.
Meet the faculty: the sleepers, the weepers, the moaners, the panhandlers at their edge of life posts—garbed in natty, ratty suits, ironed to the sidewalks and doorways.
Weeks later, familiar faces, a wink or shy smile greet me on the 7-mile round trek.
Enter the orchestra of grinding metal rail car squeals, ceaselessly clanging.
The river. The bridge over to the next class.
Morning’s first brew.
Patricia A. McLaughlin was born in Kalispell, MT, and raised there. She was chooled for 16 years at Catholic schools as nearly a perfect child – nearly. Patricia transferred to Gonzaga University in 1967 leading to forever transformative years from 1967-70 graduation. She substituted and taught in fascinating Montana venues for over 30 years. She writes daily. Patricia married Glenn Violette in 1977. They are birders and live to travel…at least until the Antarctica Friday the 13th 2020 trip faded.
Before my boys saw a kitchen,
they were running a tab in the dining car,
telling the conductor
their mom was born on a train,
even though he knew Fredrick
husband of their grandmother’s housekeeper,
who kept an eye on me,
as I traveled towards the Soo,
to the whole of my extended families,
Remember extended families?
from whatever base where the parents were stationed,
through Fredrick’s son,
back then a porter
and the boys already train people
as I’d toss a couple of paper dresses
Remember paper dresses?
into their diaper bag,
board a bullet train to tour Asia,
later on, we toured Europe as guests
before guests were tourist,
and cities were walkable,
not just NYC and London,
where they learned about train time,
train silence broken only by the soundtrack of page turning,
clink of silverware,
murmured conversations of Expats, military, immigrants, subcultures,
who found retreating into the past
let them see further into the future,
we staying on track,
saving humanity’s place in line.
Clark can live in Spokane and everywhere else because of trains.
East CentralEast 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
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
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
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’s streets are a patchwork from Hell:
Their repair I would like to impel.
All my journeys by wheels
Are quite painful ordeals;
Oh the stories my Mazda could tell.
Pava Young endeavors to live a kind life, mindful of her fellow man; finding great peace and joy by being outdoors and tending to her home and garden in Spokane’s suburbia.
Walking in the Perry District
I walk this journey again, memorizing
each house, the man upstairs, like God himself
in his home office working, staring at his computer.
I wonder what work he does – engineering,
health care, there is a “We Support Dr. Lutz”
sign in his yard, is it law he studies, or does he teach?
I wonder when I walk about the man upstairs.
I wonder if he observes my steady gaze
on him at his desk from the sidewalk
across 16th Street. I would love to see him
suddenly burst through the front door as I pass by.
I would say hi.
Further down, the gray pony-tailed, skeletal woman
on 16th decorates her front porch with 1950’s
large, plastic Christmas ornaments,
like those my family Christmas tree
wore when I was growing up.
The sixty-something woman on the corner
rakes her front lawn for the third time
which is again covered with oak leaves.
Finally I reach the dead end sign, signaling
my halfway point, feeling content
with my ruminations as I cover distance
physically and philosophically,
both of which are strenuous for me.
Most days a circular logic informs
my thoughts, but sometimes
I get a sense that my efforts are not
as mundane as they seem as I approach
the dead end in the neighborhood of my life.
Teresa Vanairsdale was born and raised in Newport, Washington and has been a grateful citizen of the Pacific Northwest and all its outdoor activities for most of her life. She finished EWU’s MFA in poetry in June of 2020.
The Doughnut Man
My Daddy, he be a doughnut man.
He works late at the flour mill
and when he comes home, he carries
a big sack full of doughnuts.
They don’t have icing on them,
they’re plain but taste like cake
and look like little wheels.
My Momma she said good!
We have dessert to-o-night!
And I laugh because we’re having a party!
My Daddy has so many doughnuts
he gives them to all our friends
and I eat all day and more
are still sitting on the kitchen table.
They’re free because the mill gives them away,
all the ones not sold at the end of the day.
Brenda Jaeger went to college in Spokane, married a Spokanite, and lived on North Division, in Spokane for over eight years. She writes and paints, and lives in a vintage house with her husband, poet Jim Hanlen, and her 101 year-old father.
It took seven hours to travel
to Spokane from Bellevue
across a mountain range and the
Columbia River with a mandatory stop
at Ginko Petrified Forest Museum
on to my uncle’s on Waikiki with no plumeria
or sandy beaches in sight but walking
distance to Whitworth College
spending a day at Wandermere Lake long enough for my sister to fall in love with
Hugh, the lifeguard and that night
dancing with old men who smelled of Camel cigarettes and Schlitz at a grange hall, scratched floor boards groaning under enthusiastic polkas
Twenty years later I would move here driving
back over the same Cascades and rolling river stopping at Spike’s in Ritzville for a drip-down-your-arm burger finally landing in the Valley within the whistle-stop of trains that both woke me and lulled me to sleep
each whoo-whoo in the silent night welcoming me to my new home
228 rail miles from my old
Marcia Green moved to Spokane in 1976; spent years raising daughters, working, socializing, golfing, bowling, reading, loving, writing.
RockwoodSpring 2020, Garfield Street – Sara Roth
Spring 2020, Garfield Street
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,
I didn’t realize how fast they grow,
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
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.
In Spokane, my stripper name is Muffin Syringa
My first pet, plus the name of my street, the street I live on
Now but where I am still, four years later, waking up
This brick house on south syringa, tucked into pine trees on cardio hill, where
women with strollers and blue tights and coats and dogs brave the snow and
boldly roll up the street.
And we wave from the window
in the silence
of the distance we take to stay alive.
In the spring and summer it was easier
To connect with the women and their strollers
We were outside tending the garden then,
the cilantro and the parsley, the tomatoes, the zucchini and peppers, the chocolate mint.
Hellos were easier. Please have some zucchini. Small talk
was easier, I wanted to ask
how long have you been here, what are your children up to, I have no children, let’s sit on the
porch, have a glass of wine, six feet away, what does your husband do, I have no husband but
my wife is in the garden
joyfully feeding the red breasted nuthatches.
What is your stripper name? My stripper name is Muffin Syringa.
And I feel stripped of my dignity
The temple nearby has been defaced and defamed
A swastika, not the first placed here on a building meant for love
I walk through Rockwood, stripped of my sense of wonder,
And I wonder how all this beauty will survive
The long winter.
Wendy Levy is a filmmaker, producer, arts curator, and the Executive Director of The Alliance for Media Arts + Culture.
Sun River Moon
I sought out the River and she welcomed me with Sister Sun,
fiery orange as she melted into the horizon.
River sat me down on her banks and nourished me
with sand, boulder and her water song,
opening a space for gentle friendship
with our words and silences.
We offered her our thanks with stories of water,
testaments to her healing power.
When light had faded into dusk we parted
and I made my way upward, cresting the bluff to find
Sister Moon, full and beautiful, stealing my breath away.I
followed her home through tree-lined streets
and she tucked me into bed,
lulling me into dreams flowing with water and light.
Krista Reeder is a Child Life Specialist at Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital and is devoted to music, art, poetry and dance to nourish her spirit. She has lived in Spokane for 21 years and is inspired by the beauty that surrounds us in the Inland Northwest.
Our 1910 House's 100th Birthday Party
The house insists on a house party inviting of all former ownersfrom 1910 to 2010!
1910, the land a pine forest surrounded by Manito Park
encouraging housing developments around the park.
Guest list researched in libraries, Court House, City Hall.
The former owners, 100 years’ accumulation of footsteps,
voices, tears, laughter, heartbreak, joy and so many stories,
wallpaper designs, clothing styles, inventions, 18 presidents
from William Howard Taft to Barack Obama.
Each former resident entering the double door entry way,
turning familiar antique embellished doorknobs, over the years
our finger prints meeting the previous owners’ hands on them.
We gather under the same beamed-ceilings that no one
painted pink or purple in the nineteen sixties,
by the large fireplace with green tile, admire the built-in-hutch
with lights and leaded glass doors, the plate rail.
Look out the same windows with old imperfect wavy glass
now rare, note the starburst window panes.
First owners amazed houses now fill each block,
Observe pine trees have grown extremely tall.
Recall the pride for our 1920 Hutton Elementary School,
the only Spanish style school in the city,
and getting confused by numbered streets renamed
where the houses are bigger.
We express gratitude to the house for being our home,
and all agree that tree lined streets and
Manito Park’s beauty form the soul of its neighborhood.
Elaine Stevens is a 51 year resident of her neighborhood, whoe mother learned to speak English memorizing poems at school. Her love of poetry is Elaine’s, too. Elaine grew up in Northern California and moved to Spokane in 1959. She retired 24 years ago from Spokane School District # 81 and taught at a number of Spokane schools, including Hutton School in her own neighborhood.
West CentralNatatorium 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.
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
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
Her vision holds a frame.
A redband dances in the breeze
to only bless the sky
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
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.
For my first year, I refused to step off the sidewalk.
All I could do was simply gawk.
I had never had a home,
This entire world was an unknown.
For my second year, I thought I had seen the worst of it.
I was entirely immersed, my roots rotted and this place was now the most traversed.
I knew it better than my decrepit woods,
This much, I understood.
For my third year, I had become like the cracks in the asphalt.
As I continued to flourish, I knew many of my neighbors had grown ‘das alte‘.
I had learned that in a lesson at a local public school.
Seeing as that’s all I retained, I feel a bit uncool.
For my fourth year, I graduated and continued to study.
My family never had much money,
But despite this, I was the first and only one of us to continue.
This was long past due.
For my fifth year, I was nearly done with my first degree.
But this time, I can guarantee.
That the ‘ me ‘ from my second year, and the ‘ me ‘ now would disagree.
I thought I knew this city.
For my sixth year, I paid close attention to those around me.
I was entranced of how the world seemingly changed around me, a devotee to the community.
How children I passed on my path, were now adults carving their way.
This had left me with little to say.
For my seventh year, I packed away my belongings.
And in my chest felt this deep longing.
I missed the sounds of my youth,
The sounds of children laughing, my parents talking.
I then felt the stalling truth.
In my eighth year, I had missed what I never paid heed to.
The beauty and grace in my surroundings, things I hid from view.
Through the good and bad, West Central was home to pioneers.
I, and my peers who had been here over the years are living souvenirs.
Gifts, and treasures of this unconquered and oldest frontier.
A graduate from SFCC’s acclaimed art program (Associates in Art), Van Parsons challenges modern ideas with their work. Hailing from the Pacific Northwest, Van often takes ideas from the culture of the city. Emphasizing people’s needs over anything else, their work also highlights the little things we all miss every passing day.
Lisa S Daley
If God is good and all-powerful, why does He allow pain?
Inside the heart of God,
In the dark recesses of midnight,
Is a son sent to die on a cross, for any.
Therein lies the pain God feels
That triumphs the many.
Lisa S Daley has lived in West Central all of her life of 61 years, raising her 3 boys here, and living in the home her husband, Steve, was born in. You could say she and her family are WC Natives!
Crossing Bridge Street
I cross Bridge Street with ease, pass through
the invisible one-way turnstile like it is a birthright,
and it is – don’t you know all those townhomes
are full of baby boomers from the south hill, where I was born?
I cross Bridge Street like a wizard getting on platform nine
and three quarters. I cross Bridge Street and disappear
behind the one-way glass into the land of beautiful people
playing volleyball on the lush lawn, a live commercial
advertising leisure that no one in West Central can afford.
I cross Bridge street almost daily. I like the views from the trail.
Kendall Yards is like my fat pants. I wish it weren’t so comfortable, but it is.
I cross Bridge street back the other way, like taking a deep breath
before jumping into the deep end. When we moved in,
the house behind us had a broken front window
and a blanket to cover the hole with that famous Japanese print
of the little boat and the enormous wave curling over it.
Every time I turned the corner to come home
I’d lock eyes with the wave and wonder
if this neighborhood would swamp us with sorrow,
or if we are the tsunami of gentrification.
I eat dinner on Wednesday nights at the church across the street from my house.
The volunteers ask for prayers. Mine are lofty and generalized,
drawn from the headlines, wispy and meaningless as clouds on a nice day.
Everyone else’s are dire and specific, flash floods of need and grief.
And I wonder what hope there is
for that street to be the bridge we call it.
Katy Shedlock is a pastor and poet in West Central, where she has lived for the last three years. She is also deeply involved in community organizing efforts for affordable housing in her neighborhood, and that’s partially where this poem comes from.
Squad Car 222
Six months pregnant
I sat in your backseat
cradling a teenage girl
who sobbed as she realized
the nice man
who was going to save her
from her daddy
was just a pimp
looking to break her
Nobody was coming
to save her
The way that child shuddered
as hope left her body
Nothing will ever get better
I stroked her hair
whispered in her ear
Elizabeth Marlin is a mother, performance poet, and community advocate living in West Central Spokane. She comes from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula where her heart remains frozen to a rock somewhere on the shore of Lake Superior.
Mandy Chapman Orozco
there is a moment
to question the road
like a leap
a new path opens
on pine needle carpet
trees make a way
to the water the life
Mandy Chapman Orozco is passionate about the power of spoken and written word. She is a grant writer and consultant, addressing big inequities here in Spokane and across the nation.
The prophet Isaiah says those seeking justice will be called
“the restorer of streets to live in” (58:12).
This begs the question, what kind of streets are habitable?
My West Central street is a busy one.
Cars speed by on a road so traveled that it’s a challenge to get to know folks across the street.
On Broadway, where Maple and Ash dead end,
the sea of concrete can be hard to navigate by wheelchairs, or in my case, strollers.
But if you keep going down Broadway,
close to the abandoned grocery
(that they’re fixing up, for sure, someday soon),
you hit a magnificent apple tree.
The fruit is crisp, juicy, and sweet,
hanging right over the sidewalk for the picking.
Up around the corner, as you round Summit,
a plum tree hit me in the head last summer,
its branches dangling ruby red flesh before my eyes.
We stopped and picked with our children, hands sticky from the juices
tiny gems in chubby fingers.
Turning down one of the side streets an apricot tree beckons,
its fleshy inside almost tropical.
And if you look carefully,
you might catch a beehive hanging from a tree
flocks of turkeys racing for the hillside
a stag deer perched, watching, waiting
marmots turning concrete into homes
neighbors dancing, waving, shouting greetings through the din.
So perhaps these streets,
while bruised and broken,
are already being restored
if only we can have the mouths to taste
and eyes to see
Katie Salisbury is a mother of two and preschool teacher getting to know West Central again after 24 years away.
Boris Borzum knows best.
Boris Borzum lives in ‘West-Central”
Directions from downtown?
It’s not really that west,
Not all that central.
Opposite of East Central?
Kids here go to North Central, what the hell?
Didn’t they notice the damn river?
You can’t walk 5 blocks without running into it,
The whole neighborhood owns the best views,and
Nobody ever thought to call it “Riverview.”
Now, they call it “Over-by-Kendall-Yards.”
Whatever the hell that is.
No yards at all.
No drinking fountain in the park.
Broken plastic furnishings
Little dogs, little trees, little donuts
Little white fences to keep little boomers in.
Dog crap in little bags.
‘Kendall Yards?” They still didn’t notice the damn river.
Boris Borzum knows better,
He lives in Riverview land.
He shouts,“Look at the damn river!”
He stands there every day watching the sun drop,
Past ariver of fire and gold,
Behind ponderous trees atop cliffs of stone.
He holds both arms high,
Stealth fighter hand ready for action
“Look at the damn river people!”
If you live here. Be proud. You have the Riverview.
Spencer Grainger was born and raised in Spokane.
Hold Up Ya Head (West Central)
a place where yards bear “NO TRESPASSING” signs while neighbors share propane BBQs as quickly as they do hoses & water, where you pick up an extra load of food at the drive-through bank every Tuesday for the elderly man next door who trades you beeswax candles and a few homemade brews;
a place where the river strives to be louder than Ash street and a cop may give you a ride home in the middle of the night when Life washes you up on the curbside after your day job’s defeat and following vice retreat,
a place when you pass someone on the sidewalk with a “What’s up” or “Hello”, you actually get eye contact and something back; a smile perhaps, a head nod, an “until next time, Friend!”, or a new face you’re interested in knowin’;
a place where your sapling might get stolen right out of the ground the night after sowin’, but your neighbor steps in with a new one, a helping hand, an extra eye on the rest of your urban homestead;
a place where each house has a story (or two or three or ten) and the family still renting you grew up with are there with Grandma and the cousins, the new grandkids, their new friends; an evolving painting of generations right down to the corner store clerk with your daily neighborhood news segment; the good, the bad, the “it is what it is, man”;
a place where yeah you walk with a strut at the least and some heat at the most, steer clear of some crossroads when the sun sets, but alleyway free pile treasure lies abandoned between LFP donations and Little Free Library scores of Howard Zinn, strewn with gems like new galoshes for your youngest;
a place where folks craft societal loopholes through backyard cyphers and front porch jams, sharing stories of recovery and dreams for something better comin’, where any aesthetic judgment rears its gnarly head from a place of survival—not to make someone feel less or put yourself up on some ladder;
a place where you are, were, are welcome to be still; sweet, sour, a whole lotta spicy—the kind that makes you question just how much growth it took to get that way—the secret ingredient, the state of its roots—so unique, so much Life, emotion, commotion.
a place where character and vitality will always speak louder than words that try and slide us under the table or fit us in a box or slap any certain label or news headline or harrowing statistic on; name drop;
a place where you belong no matter where you’re at in your journey; a place where you can be okay or not; a place for Lovers and for Fighters; a river to heal the soul and a whole lot of hands to hold; a place where there’s space for you, so hold your head up. Chin up. You’re in West Central.
Born & raised in Spokane, Clover Derecho has spent the majority of their adult life thus far in West Central. The river is Clover’s solace, the birds their amusement, the walks their presence, the work their passion, the land their grounding, the homes a reminder that we’re all sharing the same experience just trying to figure out how to live.
West HillsIndian Canyon (North Pole) – Emily Westman
Indian Canyon (North Pole)
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
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
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.
Mine is a line of people who talk to animals. Who believe
animals can understand them. Your kinfolk might think
likewise. My kin rally yelps, squawks and croons from elk
and coyotes, turkeys and owls. I do a decent turkey gobble
myself. Flow on, animal talkers, bird whisperers. Flow on.
You already speak to pets and no one asks if they can hear
you. We mammals grow bones in heads to transmit sound.
The hammer, anvil, stirrup. Speaking to other species
makes healthy sense in the head. Gobble on, you talkers
and squawkers. Ride your words downwind, downstream.
In the spirit of the river, I urge you to babble to wildlife.
Not only can they hear you; they will talk back if you learn
their speech. Whistle to marmots in rocks beside the stream.
They might first fear you’re a fiend out to eat them; they might
dive for their lairs. No matter. Let the air bear you, carry you.
Don’t stop there. Open yourself like some St. Francis to
inanimate beings. Address the trees, the stones, the water.
Loft your language to the wind. Even if people on cliffs
above the river take you for a madman, a madwoman.
Even if you come away drenched from the sheets of spray.
Use words to channel water. Divide the silver like a seam.
Paul Lindholdt is an English professor at EWU. He is the winner of a 2012 Washington State Book Award, and author or editor of nine books, Making Landfall: Poems and The Spokane River being the two most recent.
My Father and Walt Whitman
Walt started a poem with lilacs
and my dad planted a lilac tree
outside our front door
that grew thick and blue. My dad,
Gene, liked to walk just like Walt.
Walt walked all over New Jersey.
My dad walked into Spokane
four miles each day from work.
Walt and Gene both worked as nurses
in the war. Walter helped men
who left their bodies behind
on the ground in the Civil War.
My dad helped a soldier
whose suppurating foot
wouldn’t come out of his boot.
By the end of his life Walt revised
out, enlarging his life work
at least nine times. Gene folded
photos of nieces and grandchildren
into quarters, he no longer recognized.
Jim Hanlen was born 1945 at Fort Wright Hospital, went to elementary and high school in Spokane. He graduated B.A. from Gonzaga 1970, and M.ED. from EWU 1974, then started teaching in Burbank and Kelso, Washington.
Manito/Cannon Hillhoneysuckle – 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
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
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.
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
It is November,
the birds fly
A holiday tune
rings me up
I won’t tell
if you won’t—
My dread ebbs briefly.
in a place
w/ a small but
It is hard
to put back
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
“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.
What is the Rock
What is the rock
that’s a giant craggy dome
in some yards
and cut smooth and stacked in others?
Distinguished as park buildings,
a blockade to tree roots, sidewalks
and proper water drainage away from my basement?
Beautiful basalt, you’re
a pretty good background for
photos of my kids before a recital.
Kristina Mattson is a Spokane attorney and a transplant to the city. Spokane’s basalt rock and other near nature things, but also River Park Square mall, called her to move and stay and thrive here thirteen years ago.
On Cannon Hill Pond
Our greeting when we moved in was a pair of swans, gliding regally across the water.
Every day was like living in a National Geographic special! We watched turtles plod single file down the hill one night, moving from Manito to “our” pond to lay their eggs on the shore. Sometimes a Blue Heron would camouflage itself in the bulrushes or in a tree, waiting to dive for its lunch.
When the autumn colors took over the flora, the honking of Canadian geese would snap our heads to the sky to watch their perfect “V.” Squirrels would scurry to and fro, digging holes for their cache.
Quacking ducks and chirping birds of every color were part of the daily soundtrack. A small raft of ducks would stay the winter, floating and foraging while we skated around them on the frozen pond. The Christmas Eve caroling around the bonfire was an annual neighborhood tradition that lifted our spirits.
Hot summer nights were sleepless as the loud mating croaks of the bullfrogs created a racket. Then at 5:00 most mornings, a huge congress of crows in our big tree would wake us with their clamorous meetings.
The nearby church bells would ring joyful reminders every day. The trees waved as we “trip-trapped” across the stone bridges where the old trolls lived. We became rich with nature’s sights and sounds and the memories of living there will stay with us forever.
Nancy (MacDonald) Lindberg is a Spokane native, raised near Whitworth. She loved living on Cannon Hill Park for 17 years and says it was pure magic. A Business graduate of SFCC, she had a long career working mostly in special events, community relations and marketing for arts non-profits and businesses. Back on the north side, Nancy walks her dog Sweet Pea near her childhood neighborhoods daily.
Five Mile Prairie5-Mile in 14 Lines – Sonja Jensen
5-Mile in 14 Lines
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
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
were in short supply: houses scattered here and there
surrounded by fields, some cold and fallow, some flushed green with
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.
else has changed: the prairie’s become a neighborhood
crammed with dozens of neighbors but not much more: a sad, cul de
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.
North HillTraces – 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,
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
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
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
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
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.
Some hearts are lined and cracked,
Some hearts have chunks gone,
But still remain whole.
Some hearts are big,
Some are small.
But hearts one and all,
Carry Love and Kindness.
Some hearts seem wonky,
Some hearts seem perfect.
Some hearts are colorful,
Some hearts are dull.
But hearts one and all,
Carry Love and Kindness.
Some hearts reflect,
Some hearts receive.
Some hearts are full,
Some hearts have needs.
But hearts one and all
Reflect all our deeds.
Whatever your heart,
Carry Love and Kindness
As your creed.
This is the first real poem Pamela Webb has ever written. It is inspired by her daughter.
Audubon/DownriverSifting the Years – Nancy Karlsten Eldridge
Sifting the Years
Nancy Karlsten Eldridge
A motley crew fills the sidewalk
With an assortment of transportation.
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.
Mrs. Santos' 3rd Grade Class
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
Reading is awesome
Playing with friends is so fun
Weekends are the best
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
Slides are big and small
I see a lot of water
The water is cold
I do BM
XI like doing BMX
BMX is fun
Go to Joe Albi
Bike riders race all around
Kids play on the toys
I like to go sled
We get to see fireworks
Fishing is the best
I like to play games
I like to play at recess
Four square is the best
When I jump on the
Trampoline I jump so high
It’s like I’m flying
The fireworks are bright
Fireworks are so colorful
Fireworks are bright, YEAH!
Roller blades fly by
I ride down the hill and laugh
There is a big hill
I like the skate park
People jumping and spinning
Laughing and yelling
Race cars are so fun
Racing is super fun to see
Race cars are so cool
I go super fast
I like sledding a lot now
Sledding is the best
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.
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
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.
Going to Grandma's House
she lives beyond grace
my step-dad yelled at the map
—but don’t all grandmas?
Curt Linderman is a Pacific Northwest poet influenced by nature, nonsense, and occasionally the news. He can often be found staying up all night listening to music while reading “just a few more pages.”
L'hôtel des chats
Calven S. Eldred
At 2704 Northwest Boulevard you will find the Cat Hotel,
quite near the snow heavy trees of Audubon Park.
The Cat Hotel is an unassuming little building;
a pile of scrap wood and chicken wire are stacked behind it.
Inside you will no doubt find some kennel cages, litter boxes,
scattered toys, a bored attendant, The place smells comfortably like pee.
But come inside and look around, I think you’ll find this place a sumptuous affair.
What we don’t know is that this is not only a Hotel for cats; it is run by cats.
As you approach the Front Desk of polished mahogany and brass
(with a few claw marks on the sides admittedly, sometimes you just have to dig at wood)
you’ll be approached by the cheery bellhop in his cap with his bowtie. His tail is almost always
rampant with enthusiasm while he’s chatty with you as you check in.
His enthusiasm and chin rubs on you are infectious; even if you don’t want to, you’ll like him.
His secret pain that droops his tail when he’s alone is that he’s in love with the sleek Siamese
from Housekeeping. You’ll see why when you see her. She is exquisite, a haughty goddess that
pads the carpeted hallways up to an hour late every day if she feels like it. A pout is all she needs
to obtain forgiveness for her trespasses, still hung over and smelling of catnip. She forever falls
in love with the broken eared tattooed toms down by the dumpster behind the Satellite Diner.
At the center of all is the Hotelier. Cats can all stare with judging disdain, but he is a Master of
the Art. He says “Miaou” rather than “meow.” Despite his demeanor, everything happens with
ease. He nods to underlings or flicks an ear and things manifest for the guests. You sometimes
find him on the roof smoking Gauloises watching the traffic of NW Blvd go by through his
monocle. This season has been ghastly due to Covid, The Banquet Hall stands ready yet empty.
The lace tablecloth on the long table rests under the place settings with porcelain wet food bowls,
dry food bowls, and crystal water and wine bowls. Truthfully, the Banquet Room was always
seldom used because no one is allowed on the table. Still, the Siamese dusts in here occasionally.
Oh, and the Litterbox Attendant. Please tip him well. He’s been here forever, and the Bellhop
claims that the Attendant told him once that he is seventeen years old. This couldn’t have been
his dream. But he never tells what those dreams were. He does tell stories about the old days if
you ask politely and no one else is around, as he rakes the sand imported from Bermuda.
Calven S. Eldred recently returned to Earth from the Orbital Colonies and promptly failed a Voight-Kampff test. He is presumed to be a Nexus-series replicant, and armed and dangerous. Do not approach.
NorthwestShadle 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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
My Narnia Neighborhood
Majestic trees, moss-covered basalt outcrops, woodpeckers pecking, crows cawing, melodic warblers, fleeting mountain ground squirrels, A canopy of blue skies dappled with cumulus clouds complimenting a sanctuary of gentle deer, bucks flaunting a prey, a gushing fast flowing river. All are the marvels of this wonderful neighborhood where man and animal are equal in this peaceful, tranquil world.
In autumn patches of brilliant golds, reds, oranges and browns dot the trails and river bends. Huge basalt outcrops take stance unexpectedly in their magnitude, mountain trails that lead to surprise adventures extend for miles as if in a Narnia experience. A sudden black panther sleuthily ascends from the abyss below, its fur sleeker than velvet. A patter of exuberant heartbeats sends ecstasy and fear through the captive onlooker.
Spring brings volumes of tumulus waters cascading in channels carrying rock and debris to the fast-flowing river that waits patiently. Unexpected adventure lurks. Deer grace the path, a buck or an old bull elk has found respite in mossy grasses laden with pine boughs and needles. Once osprey had nests hovering high in the mountain trees. If one is fortunate, an eagle is seen soaring to magnificent heights.
In summer long ago as night fell, one could hear the eerie call of a pack of coyotes, or see a family and its cubs as if out for an afternoon stroll, or observe the peaceful serenity of a beaver swimming towards its den enjoying summer’s heat. A doe in the secure thicket of lodge pole pines feeling secure from her predators. Various wild flowers with hues of purples, yellows and wild balsam root with its magnificent electric color gracing the forest’s floor.
Winter snows bring cross-country adventures with hundreds of trails to escape to. People now bundle up warm for cold winter blasts. Deer are now seen hovering in packs to keep warm. It is indeed a beautiful piece of heaven that nears my home. Great foresight was taken to set such a wondrous part of nature aside for all to enjoy.
Riverside State Park – This is Everyone’s Neighborhood.
From the front steps it’s all trees – a few maples
and one larch, and ponderosa pines the vestige
of the region’s native forest which whispers tribes
when the wind rises. Among them we have carved
a habitat – split-levels of an age that keeps roofers in business.
On these streets, Cale once rode his bike with playing cards
clacking in the spokes, and now drives up to visit
from San Francisco. Katherine calls from Missoula
to have us mail a book from her bedroom shelf.
About every third house has young kids who prattle past,
holding daddy’s hand. The yards, all once an ocean
of juniper, have islands of tomatoes and zucchini.
Everywhere run roots of the trees, rising here and there
like memories. Underground they wind, much like
the paths we neighbors take – Mary to Christy’s
with homegrown sage and thyme, me to Pete’s to talk
snow as he rakes leaves, Molly from across the way
to see our new fence. Barb’s dog crisscrosses
the street, wagging her tail at everyone.
The paths are well-worn, and mapped within us.
They feed us in our neighborly communions as
the roots feed the trees, which breathe among us.
We sit on our steps and listen in the breeze
as they invite us into centuries.
Chris “Cop” Coppen is a clinical social worker. He often reads at Three Minute Mic and writes about fatherhood, changes, and the environment. He lives in northwest Spokane with his wife and son.
It’s all so subjective
Leaving filthy handprints
On my self impression
And self expression
Is just a good intention
A solemn confession
Of otherworldly possession
Because what psychology calls
Is only truly
Well meaning condescension
I try to tell them
My body is just a camp of detention
While high in my consciousness
I get slivers of heaven
So I’m not bipolar
And I’m not woke
I’m a soul with a body
Got a lump in my throat
And about every other Thursday
I seem to be vapor and smoke
With unrelenting human needs
And a mind like a balloon
That pops when it floats
Grace June has been a practicing artist since 2013 primarily using the medium of photography. More recently she has begun to branch out into literary arts and enjoy both means of expressive creation equally.
Spokane River from Fairmount Memorial Park
The best view of the river is in the ugliest part of the cemetery—
Sneak back behind the salmon-pink maintenance building
Where the too-tall grass is mangy and full of weeds
And park yourself between a few abandoned headstones
Watch the sun set behind shiny orange clouds with gold edges
And let the warm light imprint melty circles on your retinas
Until it slips from the sky like a burst egg yolk
Feel the cool wind gust out from under the pine trees on the opposite ridge
And let the breeze blow friendly shadows up from under the trees
Until they land in your hair, dark-winged, and nest like birds
Listen to the water rolling from the Bowl and Pitcher and down through the rapids
And let the river whisper secrets from the aquifer against your ears
Until they rush into your mouth and fill it with a burble
Walk slowly home through the gray twilight into the quiet neighborhood
Where the stars and porch lamps are all lighting up one by one
And feel the river running over your bones into the night
Growing up in northwest Spokane near Joe Albi Stadium, Carey Jackson spent many evenings watching sunsets from Fairmount Memorial Park and its adjacent property overlooking Riverside State Park. Since the pandemic started, she has been back in the neighborhood and enjoying these views again. This poem is a meditation on that experience.
BemissCity 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
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.
Lincoln HeightsFound – Mery N. Smith
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
thrift stores and milk co-ops
sprout at the ready
here 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
trust the waters current
energy efficient mistakenly
understood for nothing
more than liquid
yes this is the finding place
our inland eastern sun
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.
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.
Into the spring of the grass of the green
Did I go running
Into the day
Did I go running
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
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.
Turn the corner. Down the hill. Look both ways. Bark, bark.
Funny sign. Coolest yard. Texas flag. Look both ways.
Big grass and wind chimes. Kids play here. Bark, bark.
Wave hello. The garden that strikes envy in me.
Look for turkey feathers. Find new graffiti.
Fallen limbs trimmed. Will that friendly cat join me?
Watch your step. Dog poop on the path.
Decisions, decisions. Short loop or long loop? Long loop today.
Walk over the bridge. Look at the traffic below. Smells of skunk.
Fewer people. The energy shifts. The cliffs seem taller.
Is it always this quiet on this stretch?
Made it to the stairs. Up I go. Switchbacks.
Burnt out car. Living out of a car.
We try our best to be invisible.
Garbage and graffiti. New builds.
Still scaling the stairs. Huff n puff.
Do not trespass. A final veil of trees.
On the main road. Meandering route.
A tiny library. A secret smoker. Bark, bark.
Look both ways. Love the renovations. Curb appeal.
Next block over. Tree lined road. Light dancing in and out of shadows.
Manicured to perfection. No signs of life.
Look both ways. Final stretch up the hill.
Opposing signs pointed at neighbors. Adults being unneighborly.
Sweat beads roll. Deep breaths. Condensation.
Storm damage still present. Kids being neighborly.
Look both ways. Home.
Heather Ellis: Artist. Consumer. Human. Mother. Observer. Participant. Professional.
An oblong mile-long roundabout
flanked by deciduous soldiers
Mossy blankets revel in the curves of
sturdy stone walls.
Basalt castles and grand,
or occasionally grandiose,
or occasionally grim estates
sit back, silent
spectators to the passage of time.
First horses, then trollies;
Then city buses, now automobiles.
Feet are the only constant.
Natalie Giesa was born and raised in Spokane. She has B.A. in History from the University of Arkansas. She lived in Fayetteville, Arkansas, for 12 years before returning to the mountains, plateaus, and lakes of the North West.
A century removed from your streetcar heyday
you flop above the city like a threadbare Guilded-Age rug,
having never reached the lofty heights of a Cliff, or a Cannon.
On autumn walks warm windows wink
through your drooping, hardwood walls.
How odd you must have looked without the maples.
What, without the shade and the piles of rotten leaves
that crowd the gutters until the city comes and scrapes them up
just in time for them to drop again in a golden flash
right before Halloween.
How odd you must have looked without the maples.
Without their mighty roots buckling and heaving the sidewalks ever upward,
to be spray-painted fluorescent blue by well-meaning and liability-conscious taxpayers.
We’re told from a young age that the city may own the sidewalk,
but it’s the homeowner that’s responsible for its upkeep.
That’s why it’s perfectly fine to rake the leaves right in the damn street
because unlike the sidewalk, the city’s responsible for the street.
Tell that to the haunted former nunnery and the cursed former brothel.
No soliciting, says the nunnery.
Make America Great Again®, too.
Great like when mustachioed immigrant laborers dug the foundations of these gloomy estates
and stacked the basalt debris into driveway columns and stone walls
and blew their daily wages down the block
at the house where the red lights shined
through the lace curtains on the second floor.
Great like when the city was young and rich and violent and naked of trees.
If some dog-walking fool tripped on your sidewalk, to hell with him.
Pity the man who dug a hole on this rocky hill.
Did he live down below, where he surely would now?
Gawain Fadeley is a fifth-generation Spokanite who was raised and resides near Altamont Boulevard. He graduated from Gonzaga University with a degree in history.
iʔ čitxʷ laʔkín̓
kʷ ʔitx uł kʷ ʔiłn̓ l̓ an̓čítxʷ
iʔ l̓ asn̓ilíʔtn̓ uł ixíʔ laʔkín̓
iʔ sqilxʷ kʷ x̌min̓ks
uł lut kʷ t̓ k̓asts.
iʔ čitxʷ laʔkín̓
uł iʔ sn̓ilíʔtn̓ laʔkín̓ kʷ kʷułnwíxʷ
uł kn̓xitxʷ asláx̌t.
the house is where
you eat and eat your food
your neighborhood is where
people love you
and don’t hate you.
a house is where
and a neighborhood is where you share
and help your neighbors or friends.
Zeeq Michel is a 7th grade student at Salish School of Spokane, an indigenous language immersion school. He recently discovered poetry. This is his first submission.
As a tawny mountain lion rips the meat off a freshly killed fawn, so the trees are stripped from the skin of the Earth. Once, a farmer tilled and toiled, the sweat and saliva sprouting the soil to feed family and visitors from afar. A dream of pastureland or a homestead cut short by an addiction to pharmaceuticals.
Coyotes seize their prey the same as developers snatch swaths of prime land. Grandfather Serpent felt the earthquake of excavators miles before their arrival. Marmot’s deep burrow cannot escape the claws of Death. Quail refuses to fly from the home they’ve always known.
Like a tattoo etched in flesh, the terrain is forever altered. Disrupted mycelium colonies have adapted to the human modifications… permeating all. Few recognize it. Like constellations, the network of the forest—the medicine of nature—is within each of us.
Born and raised in Spokane, Mokeph Wildflower considers herself a universal Being of Love and Light. Pronounced “moe-KEY-fuh,” the name means Borne of Fire and reflects her passion for Nature and the death/rebirth cycles. She is a year-round gardener and friend to all creatures of the Earth.
I live in a place
Where our gardens grow tall
The grass is soft
And the chickens are small
Over the summer
We walk along the street
Our hands entangled
Warm like social treats
Fractions of a city
I live on a border
There’s a street that splits
And sometimes I’ll find a quarter
Not so long ago
I lived somewhere very different
My home as a child
With starry skies –so innocent
My favorite part
Of this quiet city
Is how the river flows
The stones stay cold
We watch the fish
Their colors – so bold
In the city of Spokane
My teenage years will live
Continue walking down the street
We have all we need to give
Taran McGinn loves spring time and poetry and aspires to be an author one day.
Outside the window is a forest parked in a neighborhood on a hill
perfect for exploring the contained wildness and sherbet sunsets.
Canopies of pine trees and tracksby mud encrusted boots treading
on deep sewn roots. Ones who’ve bonded with the earth below
for generations and grew up reaching to the sky above. The wind
whispers of hand holding by the pond with the dark sparkled stars
providing illumination. During the day, climbers stare at the precipice
preparing themselves for what’s to come.The moss covered stones
remain resilient in the heavy snow,with a lush verdancy in the trees
and flora growing to spite the cold.
As the sun passes through the sky the days warm, the mornings
become a display of golden highlights caressing trees as they lean,
bent from listening to the wind. The warmth brings more vibrancy
to the brilliance of the colors blooming from the ground. People walk
their dogs following different pathways, searching to breathe deep
the calm air and rest their mind from the plastic and metallic
that usually surrounds them. There are pockets of silent reverie
allowing the soul to rest easy inside the chest, allowing for the harsh
beating inside to slow down and find a new rhythm. As the earth
heals itself, the energy it provides heals its curious, meandering guests.
Here there is a place for recovery and hope, when the snow frosts
the earth or when the new growth reaches out to the sun. The laughter
from the children running around the playground below echoes out
like leaves on branches happily rustling in a soothing breeze.
No matter how often the area is explored, new life and voices join
in the symphony of sound in the surroundings. The rhythm
leaves a soft humming in the body that clears cobwebs of dust covering
the trails within, each clearing reveals to visitors that the crisp air
that encompasses all is needed to survive.
Sarah Rooney works as an information specialist at a library while going to school for her Masters in Information and Library Science. She lives with her spouse, cats, and tortoise in a well lit space. She aspires to be a librarian while continuing with her other passions of writing, singing, and reading.
Emerson/GarfieldThe Loudest Thing – Gabriel Meek
The Loudest Thing
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.
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.
The Speed of Life
Gray and limp, it lies
lifeless in our front yard.
Just this morning it batted its tail,
dashed up trees, buried nuts.
I see it happen, the run
and chase, the catch,
life clinging to itself.
Last breath comes faster
than I can dial my mother.
A bite, a snap. Ragdoll
in my dog’s mouth.
She prances across the street
tail up, prize hangs from clenched jaws.
How quickly life leaves us.
One last breath, a heart attack
in London’s Heathrow, shells on ground,
a bomb blast in Jerusalem markets,
an earthquake in Haiti.
How long it takes the living
Diane Sherman is a visual artist, poet and dancer. She’s committed to the creative process and loves playing with the cross-pollination of art forms. Diane teaches yoga and art journaling online.
To the Bitterroots of Drumheller Spring
You, sacred craw of the rock, flower formed in the crevice.
Your flagrant pink petals emerge defiantly
rising from land we name wounded
a balm upon every outcrop.
How enviable, the swaying ponderosa
always poised above to watch your revival.
If I follow the fissures will I find you?
Beneath a blanket of moss and lichen, in your slumber,
are your dreams all saccharine and sweetness
leaving only bitter reservoir?
How much of what matters is hibernating underground?
Your hidden heart is harvested
then transplanted back in the soil.
Does it beat again when reunited with the earth?
Does the dust thrum back its welcome?
In the early light I am drawn to the spring
searching for the hidden in the strata,
behind our walls, in a digital screen
the nourishing parts of us all.
When we are finally reunited
will our hearts revive to our old rhythm?
Time squeaks by so quickly,
one might miss the flowers move.
What is the passage of time to you, when I am merely a moment?
There is comfort in knowing
you bloom without me.
whether or not
Susan Goertz is a Spokane native who can be found slinging books and ideas as a public services associate for the Spokane County Library District. She is an avid hiker who can often be found getting lost among the wildflowers.
Friday morning a snow falls a quiet calm blanket
over the neighborhood. 4 am sleepily wakes us…birds become children
unaware of death virus…dancing invisible….disarm us with cheerful chirping. Meanwhile like
jazz musicians our local police officers respond to daily offenses, misdemeanors as well as
felons taking away our possible nightmares or creating them?
We are besieged by a series of traumatic events…we are minor prisoners while we wait for life
to be safe again. Beauty touches us as an eagle flying for the first time over the tall fir trees.
Airplanes stop and we can breathe. Snowflakes save us painting over the grey dystopian quiet
splattered with red spray paint graffiti on our necks dripping Black Lives Matter.
We woke up.
We were asleep to our neighbor, our neighborhood. During summer two young tattooists sit on
a stoop of a green parlor in which they work. With audacity they drink beer and barbecue.
Neighbors notice and our wrap around porches and front yards become gathering places, we
can see and hear each other creating heart oxygen masks for our souls. Laughter helps, too.
Bats become a favorite pastime as we all wait til sunset to watch them fly overhead wild and
free they do not turn into dracula.
We remember what children playing in the front yard sounds like and grandparents telling
stories of days gone by become church bells opening up our imagination. Life is slow, our cats
remind us of that. Dogs need to be walked many a variety becomes best in show. One dog
groomer goes under and another takes its place with even more fancy mopped hair puppies
Ice Cream unlike snow comes in 31 flavors a local childrens watering hole…we soon realize it
is a distraction created by the great spirit or maybe by buddha or gods grace topped with
humour as we notice that no rain, nor fire, or virus will keep living people away from here. Some
leave without ever being able to say goodby. It helps keep the threads of our neighborhood
together, joyful as family, friends possibly even those secret lovers.
My husband, waking, quietly puts his finger on the nape of my neck. Was I breathing?
Garbage trucks rumble down the alley, waking me, a sigh of relief. Though it has just snowed, a
bee sleeps awaiting to awaken a flower.
Jamie Absalonson is a street photographer, writer, producer, artist, activist, and sometime character actor.
I am Spokane
I was born in a Holy Family.
A grandson to a pastor with the same named Temple.
I am an uncommon occurrence;
A majority of the minority are imports.
I was an export, of the city named after my favorite sport.
It’s a town in the USA, that every now and then will get a little play.
A little zig, a little Zag,
A little recognition.
A place you can be @…and get mentions.
The Lilac City.
Full of Legends.
My hope is that the known and unknown will receive reverence.
And that it won’t matter the color of the surface…
Or how red the turf is…
but that we all fly like an Eagle.
I Am Spokane.
I’m small, with a big heart.
Got love for the Spoken Art.
I’m not the outdoorsy type,
But being creative by nature, has me on the trails of a spark…
Of an idea, that I’m able to bring to life
I Am Spokane
Michael Bethely is passionate about serving and creating opportunities to inspire, encourage, and motivate people to BE. Along with running his company, Bethely Entertainment, he is also the Co-Chair of the Inland Northwest Juneteenth Coalition; Board Member of Operation Healthy Family and SkyTree Recording Studios; Owner of the Lilac City Legends; and a producer for Community-Minded TV. He’s a Public Speaker, Lyricist, Poet, Entrepreneur, Businessman, Youth Mentor, Catalyst, Community Builder and Community Advocate.
The Unfamiliar Gardener
I don’t know what blooms await us—
newcomers to this specific spot of soil,
still learning how to work the earth.
I trickle out the front door and
wander through the yard
if the dirt under my fingernails will
whisper of the fruit our trees will bear
before they bear it,
wondering if I am a worthy enough steward
to cultivate this eden,
to reap the apples from this tree that has
survived generations of tempests.
I’ve not yet gleaned any answers from the garden,
but I’ve discovered the alien-red tendrils of peonies
poking through the loam
and the lilacs are sprouting their heart leaves,
making quiet promises.
Kristina Poffenroth was born and raised in Spokane, WA, though she left briefly for a collegiate excursion in Bellingham, WA. She is a former participant in Spokane Poetry Slam and has shared her poetry in Terrain, West Central’s Porch Fest, and anywhere else where they allow poets a microphone. She currently works as a victim advocate and recently moved to the Emerson-Garfield neighborhood, where she lives with her husband and cat.
North Indian TrailDeep 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.
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
rest tied to our feet, so
the gas goes
without second thought
Frozen and potent
in our tanks at war
Impulse drives how cruel
the road narrows ahead
The yellow lights
for a breath
If only we’d slow down
enough to hear
our own wheels
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.
Running Around Indian Trail
Daniel James Absalonson
For a casual day that won’t make you burn and huff,
There are endless quiet neighborhoods lined with pristine sidewalks.
If you’ve saved your jog for the later hours fear not,
The lights of all burn bright to illumine your sneakered steps.
If you’re up for a war on your calves to reach the zenith,
Barnes road will go on and on deriding you to stop and walk.
The easy breezy way back down will be worth the sweaty mess you become,
And you’ll soon find yourself dragging your feet back up to catch that view again.
If you can find the treasure at the end of the pristine paved lands,
There are trails to be found looping around under lines humming with power.
On rainy days they make a tickling fizz from the raindrops dying above,
And if you’re lucky you just might spot a deer bouncing across your path.
Dan loves to write fiction and read.
Latah/HangmanAs seen from my porch. – Marykay Hall
As seen from my porch.
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.
As the sun is just peeking over the horizon
I’m fascinated by these trees
They growSeemingly on top of rock
Some of them are tiny
Little baby trees
The ones with a little more ground beneath them
They don’t need much to grow
And then the sun hits my body for the first time today
Brianne Boren has lived in Spokane for 3 years. She loves fiber arts, plants, and poetry. And she loves this Neighborhood Poetry Project.
From my window ... Distractions
Kay Gillies Dixon
Flimsy clouds separate.
The blue shows through.
Outside my window, the sky is clearing.
Morning sky was gray, gray, gray.
Now the conifer trees shine
lush green against the tawny hillsides,
their tall spikes casting black shadows.
Colors of a snowless winter.
A flash of white soars by,
a second white trails behind.
Floating and cascading
in figure eights across the wide channel
created by the creek below.
Ah, it is two majestic bald eagles
promenading with the winter breezes.
But look above the trees,
another pair of raptors ascend the coulee.
From my view,
I see only their white bellies.
Are they, too, appreciating
the ballet of the eagles?
Do they follow?
Welcome distractions in the time of the COVID pandemic.
While her freedom to travel and roam may be curtailed, Kay Gillies Dixon’s window view presents refreshing vistas within her neighborhood and its wild life population unfettered by the COVID pandemic.
She previously published two memoirs, Wanderlust Satisfied and Tales of Family Travel: Bathrooms of the World, under the Peace Corps Writers imprint. The Peace Corps Writers named Tales of Family Travel as its 2017 Best Travel Book.
It is August, and the Inland Northwest has turned inward, collapsed upon itself, shuttered its doors,
trying to expel the grit from lungs and eyes. We will learn to wear the masks, to wash the ash from our skin,
to believe the particles we breathe won’t make us sick. We watch the skies and wonder when the winds
will change, when the dry heat will break, clouds tense with rain and static. We know what thunder means,
the response to the call, that new flames will flicker into life in a rush of sound like an opened dam.
Now, when we make the summer drive between Seattle and Spokane, we watch for signs of sparks, a lit cigarette,
plumes of white billowing from a hood, the sure signs that mean the brush will catch,
send a swirl of flame along the scrub, and char huge swaths of land before county fire can even get the call.
We see the blackened ground, the tell-tale signs where fire jumped and burned the median and channels of basalt.
More than once, we imagined the Wild Horses in flames, their steel manes engulfed, haunches bucking against the heat.
Only on the clearest days, we can see Rainier at Ryegrass. It is an elusive view, like spotting elk or coyotes who roam these hills.
The windshield and grill are mostly clear, as smoke makes fewer splotches of guts, wings, thoraces, and legs
bent like geometric hazards. But the same blood stains on the road, the same gigantic wingspan of black circling above,
just waiting, floating on the hazy currents for those ripping moments of carrion. We much prefer the flutter of magpie,
its black and white shimmer, as it glides along the beige and wheaty stalks that line each section of road.
It used to be that fire season started in the fall, as leaves crisped from green to yellow and students sat sweating
with every window open in the schools. We remember the urgency of the sirens as Latah Creek, just beyond the city limits,
was burning, raining ash that made my mother remember the eruption. I have no memory of that day,
the way the morning darkened like the world might be at end. I only remember the late summer fires,
the afternoon heat and cold nights, Smokey’s finger always pointed to red: Extreme.
Jenne Knight writes poetry and creative nonfiction. Her work appears in The Rumpus, The Common, wildness, and other journals. Her poem, “Elegy for My Father,” was nominated for Best of the Net 2016. Find out more at www.jenneknight.com.
SouthgatePlight of Solitude – Max Sadler
Plight of Solitude
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.
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.
Summer Ice Cream
We bike along the rocky
pavement. We chase the cold
ice cream truck. It runs
around every corner zipping
this way and that. We bike
this way and that way. The
handlebars of my bike are
sticky from the sweat
dripping from the palms
of my hands. I’m hot and thirsty.
We take a break. By we I mean me,
my brother and our two
friends Ash and May. We are
just about to give up
no ice cream but what’s that?
It’s a jolly jingle! We bike like we’ve
never biked before.
We chase our ice cream
and put our money together
like savage animals. We set
our ice creams in my basket.
At the park we eat our sweet treats.
This is what I like about my
neighborhood. I get
to hunt for ice cream trucks
and spend time with my friends.
Louise Hannah Mills is a 3rd grader in Mrs. Patton’s class at Franklin Elementary. She lives with her parents, brother Henry, and dog Dale near Hamblen Park.
Climbing Down the Cliff
I used to climb down the cliff
Among the jack pines
Past blue bachelor button flowers
Toward Qualchan Creek
Where the golf course is now.
One day in high school
I finally climbed all the way down
Through the woods
Past the railroad tracks
Where an engineer waved to me from her train.
I touched the water of the creek
My first great adventure
I would grow up
Travel to Italy and Ireland
See the castles and the Colosseum
Yet I never felt so proud
As climbing down that cliff.
Jill Charles grew up Spokane, Washington and majored in Creative Writing at Seattle University. Her writing includes poems and stories published in Poetry Motel, Heliotrope and The Inlander. In 2007 Jill moved to Chicago, where she lives in the Albany Park neighborhood. Read her jazz age novel, Marlene’s Piano, available from Booklocker.com.
South Hill, Spokane
When we first came, the cows still grazed in the field on Regal.
Just across the road, we considered an apartment facing north onto a scraggly field
which the next year gulped “gone” into eateries and a parking lot.
Time passed. Traffic, once paced with intermittent pauses, crescendoed
steadily into a constant tremor of rumbling newcomers.
Still, at night, Orion passes through, sprinkling star dreams to filter down through the dark.
Each spring, the bullfrogs one block over rouse us to waken from winter;
robins in the courtyard wield territory-defining tunes.
Sea-green lighthouse of ponderosa pine,
South Hill stands sure and true.
Michèle Pointel is thankful that she gets to look at South Hill (the mountain) every day.
Meandering Hamblen Haunts, Winter to Spring
Ramble before the buttercups pop
bright, before grass widows weep
deep purples. Drift through forests,
pine, birch, fir.
When balsam root twist yellow whorls
to sky, as phlox scatter strands
pale pink, cling, cross those
rocky basalt outcrops!
Now rain showers. Moss plumps.
A mother quail scolds her brood
to mosey. Stoop! Robins’ eggs burst,
In vernal ponds bull frogs garumph
in gangs. Ravens stake their space.
Red tails ride wind clines:
screech, kite, hover.
Winters past, a bull moose stood
stock-still at our street corner.
Where across south hills
does he wander?
Carol Ellis is a lifelong resident of Spokane’s South Hill, 3 decades near Hamblen Park. She holds an EWU MFA in poetry. A summer in Glacier Park made Carol a hiker!
Shiloh HillsWhere Monroe Meets N Wall St – Micah Orozco
Where Monroe Meets N Wall St
I see a tree,
its branches, arms,
clawing at the fluttering
green butterflies clinging to its tips,
rising like a writhing hydra
out of the graveyard,
each ripple in the bark proclaiming:
this is me.
Micah Orozco is a student at Sacajawea and an older brother of 3 (if you count the dog). He enjoys spending time writing, drawing and writing music.
HillyardComing to Hillyard – Cordell Cole
Coming to Hillyard
Still moons and cold nights in my neighborhood become the lukewarm bites I take from Hillyard’s ample cake
As I let the taste sink in, I wonder what they used to bake
Was it the lovely sectionalism you don’t even have to really look to see?
Was it the sound of cars passing as people make their trip to decency?
Was it the fact that travel was necessary to change the people in this space?
The only ones that want to leave wear the city like a face
This slow town where I unpacked my case
Is as sweet as coming first in a race
Grape soda crush
All of my close friends
And a silly sugar rush
My schoolteachers and their commanding shush
All the pretty people passing by with just a brush
Cordell moved to Spokane from Texas. He loves his writings and hopes you do too.
Salma Silva Mejia
I never understood what I meant to you even when I was a fetus, I could tell this story wasn’t meant for you. When we cry in this blue house when you sob pleaded to me “is there a way out” when you see me do you see yourself
If you could see the love for you and me, what kind of love do you need from me why do you want to argue in this blue house it’s 3 in the morning, I’ll leave this house it’s a warring without me you’re a phony a motherless beast
I don’t want to eat with you in this blue house and I lost my appetite after I saw you two what’s mama going to think She’s going to look herself in the mirror say “I’m not beauty” why can’t you stay faithful all you do is make my world so hateful? Why are you getting mad? Why are you breaking glass? Fine leave I don’t need you
but come back to this blue house the neighbors might get worried this blue house doesn’t mean anything if you’re not here to eat with me I’m the fatherless phony you’re the only one who brings me peace
Salma Silva Mejia just did this for fun.
Hill's Yard Rise
On Earth-21, a bookstore occupies
a bright yellow laundromat on East Olympic
in a never-ending time loop
in the memory space
of Hillyard Laundry and Dry Cleaning, once
Hillyard Hand Laundry, where
forged life and settled home.
Every iteration of you is loved.
Here it is always 1906, 1917, 1950 and 2009.
Cultures co-create, everything survives,
rests, resists, and rises in long Hill’s Yard
thunderous metal-on-metal soundscapes of
Great Northern Railway repair,
rail yard, machine shops, blacksmiths and saloons.
Here, booktender Mr. Tom “von Pilot” serves up
galactic shelves of recursive universes out-of-print
and vintage bicycle long-distance test rides
that heat distorts in the floppy, mystical
Market Street summer time warp
in the cosmic library
of everything that is.
Thuy-Dzuong Nguyen is a writer and Spokane resident, Flying Spider, Truth Lender, and grower of things. She is a graduate of Shadle Park High School and Gonzaga University.
South of St. Pat's
Under the backyard
bird feeder, shells of
flung with quick joy—
form a complete dark circle.
A jealous squirrel
on a nearby wire
observes the feasting birds.
Below the squirrel—
half hidden by a bush—
a black cat twitches
her tail to the birds’ chirps.
The animals are the stars of this show
that Nana watches from the kitchen window
as she scrubs a pot soaked in baking soda water.
Outside or in-, they’re all neighbors
lit by the same sun whose angle says
kids are about to walk home from school and
pepper the sidewalk with laughter.
Elissa Ball is a poet, comic, and non-fiction writer originally from Yakima, Washington.
Peaceful ValleyPeaceful Valley – Susan Coe-Lundstrom
Sun filters through deciduous trees,
leaving ground speckles like frogs
who hide by Spokane River.
Memories and dank moisture float around my birthplace.
City noises muted by whirling river eddies,
where brothers skipped rocks,
or swung like shoeless Tarzans from cement pillars,
while leaving shoes to be devoured by dark river mud.
The neighborhood Japanese grocery store is gone.
My mother often placed me on countertop,
as owners affectionately showered me
with trinkets, and Bontan rice candy.
Mariano’s brick home still stands on the corner
where I recall succulent tastes of Adobo,
learned traditional Filipino dance,
played chase with friends,
and hid behind large pink peonies.
Down the street from us the old German couple
served us apple streusel, and
dark black coffee to my parents.
My father said it reminded him of
the cowboy coffee that he once knew.
Gone is our home on Wilson Street.
Only crumbled stairs remain,
with some of my mother’s mint plant,
still growing under thick unkept foliage.
Mother made sure that sprigs of this
mint followed her to her new home,
then found its way to mine only a jaunt away from where my life began,
where it continues to take powerful root.
Susan Coe-Lundstrom was born in Peaceful Valley and although she has moved to different parts of the city, she has called Spokane her home for her 70 years of life! She is a retired Spokane School District teacher who continues to have many joyful experiences.
Home Court Advantage
The street-smart chime of a chainmail net rings
From down at the Peaceful Valley court where
Tod and Henry clang away on iron rims
That don’t forgive much, beneath the concrete stairs
That lead to Browne’s Addition where the doctors
Ordered houses built by men who live hereabouts.
Henry’s short’s are sagging, his teen-aged pockets
Knee-high as he rags his papa’s horrible
Defense down low, where the son scoops another
Underhanded layup that surprises
His dad every time. In my day, a father
Misplayed his kid’s bunt with obvious wild
Throws that led to an infield home run—
The lies we tell ourselves are half the game.
Dennis Held lived for many years in Peaceful Valley, and often played basketball under the Maple Street Bridge. This poem is from his second book, Ourself, published by Spokane’s Gribble Press.
Megan R. Charles
Too many late summer
sidling on the Sandifur Bridge
you’re surrounded by
ghosts of not-too-distant trees
haunting local pines
in clouds to collect tears
from aching eyes.
Comfort is the Spokane River
a mirror offering
the still beautiful pink swells of sunset
singing across bedrock
amidst our growing
Megan R. Charles is a 2015 MFA graduate in Poetry from Eastern Washington University’s Creative Writing Program.
The Monroe Street Bridge
As I walk through the enclosures
of the Monroe Street Bridge, each feels like
the private middle of a children’s food
cocoa pebbles, string cheese half bitten packets,
milk cartons spilled, beef sticks, Lunchables
crushed and strewn, donut crumble, Cup O’ Noodles tucked in a
Why is this? I don’t know. It means
There are wild deer below, meandering at
the river’s bank. Look, a man points them out to me
and he is so happy.
are a metaphor or they’re not – near nature
and children of the sun.
New spray paint above the falls spray –
She loves you don’t –
There it is – jump.
At the end, there is a labyrinth about Coyote and
loneliness and anger. At the center of it,
stand and say
the final words – in anger. It echoes back right through your
heart like a surprise and like an animal and like a
I turn and walk home into the lilac
setting sun with my
Erin Schmidt is a lover of Peaceful Valley. She walks the loop every day.
In Peaceful Valley
It was quiet that day in Peaceful Valley, home
to the Ziggle Schmidt family, in what we
call The Beatrice.
We were thinking about guests.
We were doing yoga.
We were writing poems.
Writing poems we did daily,
but not yoga too much.
I was calm.
Leona Ziegler is 7 years old and loves to write stories, play with friends and family, and be outside. Leona’s favorite part about her neighborhood is the Spokane River.
Modern Love & Modesty
Forbidden staircase take me down
to converging waters
where disciplined bodies glide
alongside crawling yellow butterflies
and up Clarke.
These are holy places
kissed by the sun.
Do they still endure
when the salmon
KHQ has moved in
your landlord’s landlord
is building above your
Modern love tastes
and is patchworked.
Modesty feels hidden
underneath fitted sheets
made of human parts
Forbidden staircase take me down
to where unquiet stars
across this old birth of wonder.
This “bohemian enclave.”
I send my troubles away.
You can find Kyle Bailey wandering aimlessly around Peaceful Valley or Browne’s Addition, usually admiring rosé from a distance. A lifelong Eastern Washington resident, some of the joys in Kyle’s life revolve around poetry, prose, pizza, and drinking culture.
Cliff-CannonPolly 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.
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.
Perched atop a railway bluff, the
Gothic Revival, Victorian home poses
dilapidated and ornate. The house
a skipping record, the tenants
debris caught in the vinyl grooves.
It spews out the same monotonous loop
of men with a predilection for gas station
whiskey, women in sweat-drenched
nightgowns, the too-frequent cries of tear-
streaked children and an ever-revolving door
of “I didn’t mean it” and “get the hell out” and
“I love you too.”
Once sleeping wealthy railroad tycoons, mining barons,
and society wives –
the neighborhood is now a magnetic
amalgamation – families on food stamps,
retired arborists, doctors and drug dealers.
My husband and I amble down the narrow sidewalk
from our neatly-kept bungalow, slowing as we pass
the old mansion, spellbound
by the inevitable clash.
Stained glass, dramatic arches,
and intricate carvings aged into a modern,
candid backdrop –
rap music from a Bluetooth speaker,
the socially distant “chit chat” of neighbors,
and the train below,
dripped in hot pink graffiti,
reverberating the timeless sound
Natalie Cross is an English graduate of Whitworth University currently residing in her hometown of Spokane, Washington. She lives in the historic Cliff Cannon neighborhood with her husband, and enjoys local history, old homes, good wine, and her cat Greg. Her poem “Rose of Jericho” was published in the Fall 2017/Spring 2018 issue of Twisted Vine Literary and Fine Arts Journal.
On the Edge of Town
“I want… to float a little above this difficult world.”
I live three blocks from the South Hill Bluff,
acres of Ponderosa pine forest and bunch grass meadows
below High Drive, a steep vertical drop to Hangman Creek.
A wide view to the west, where long trains curl
slowly around the bottom of the hill on their way to town.
Beyond the creek, Vinegar Flats with greenhouses and garden plots.
I’m in awe of the age of this place, the granite boulders and basalt bedrock
dating 16 million years ago. I enjoy the sight of century old
Ponderosa pines with dark red bark, looking like jigsaw puzzle pieces.
Walking the Bluff all seasons, I am rarely alone.
I spot coyotes, bald eagles, blue herons and chickadees.
I meet runners, hikers, dog walkers and careless trudgers,
fast mountain bikers maneuvering around people and rocks on uneven paths.
I imagine we share a love of trails
carving through the hillside
misty mysterious mornings in late fall
thick frosty pine needles in early
winter days and the fresh snow to follow.
Faded sun at around two in winter afternoons,
delightful for the muted warmth it gives for just fifteen minutes!
I imagine we share a love of
the profuse yellow of the arrow leaf balsam root in spring,
an explosion of hope for the summer to come.
Juneberries and elderberries ripening in June and July
not known by many now,
but enjoyed and harvested by generations of native peoples.
Those warm late summer sunsets,
inviting lazy strolls and an inclination not to go home.
The Bluff offers a refuge from COVID life, when
I want to float a little above this difficult world.
Underneath the ragged asphalt are bricks:
whole streets of them (revealed by pothole glimpses)
leading to a park that was once the brickyard
where those bricks were made.
Now they are tearing apart the whole road,
gutting its deepest patchwork layers
brick by brick.
The new road is flawless, sleek from its
bottom layer up
Some would say to keep moving
we have to excise the past;
looking down from a bridge
over a ghost pond, I think:
There are holes we leave behind
we cannot fill
Michael Connelly lives in the Cliff-Cannon neighborhood with his wife and children and enjoys exploring Spokane’s many trails and parks with them.
I walk the jagged rocks at the top of Cliff Drive like a balance beam, a tightrope. Impending doom is not death or broken bones but the city below.
Spokane, Spokane, how you haunt me and hold me.
I walk the rocks one step at a time. Don’t look down. I always look down.
Heel toe Heel toe Heel toe
Sometimes it reeks of weed up here. Sometimes cigarette smoke streaming from cars loitering at the top of the hill. Other times, wet dirt. Fresh rain. The chalky smell of upturned gravel from a car peeling out of the place.
Back down the hill is home, for now, and I dodge turkeys and tree roots blistering through the sidewalk as I return. There’s a little-free-library on my route back that I stop at, even though I already know its contents. Already have it categorized, memorized. Short little mystery book, beat-up bestseller, kid’s book, kid’s book, ratty cookbook.
I tell myself I walk to make me love this place and it almost always works. I won’t be here forever. On Earth. In Spokane.
But for now, this neighborhood is mine and I am the king of it and I love my people. The men who walk their dog-show-quality border collies and the pastel-haired cashier at the grocery store and the man watching me twirl at the top of Cliff Park post-run and the picnic-goers and the ultimate-frisbee enthusiasts and you and you and you
& I’m trying to burn this place into my memory so I never forget it & I’m trying to hold it and make it sacred while I can & I’m trying to leave a mark or a sign or a signal that I was here, that I lived here, that I ruled here, that I was this place and this place was me so when I return here, some 5, 10, 15 years in the future my neighborhood will open its arms and embrace me and kiss my head and say remember that time when, do you recall, let’s go for a walk, and welcome back,
we missed you.
Kailee Haong is a queer fiction writer. She holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Eastern Washington University. Her work has been published in Split Lip, The Inlander, The Brown Orient, Spokane Writes, Lilac City Fairy Tales, among others. She is the literature columnist for Spokane Coeur d’Alene Living Magazine. She writes & resides in the Inland NW.
Moving to Cliff-Cannon, 2014
Before you arrive they won’t tell you
about this city’s banquets of popcorn,
the old P.I. whose tavern air will settle
like horror movie fog in the bottom of your lungs.
If you’re lucky, you’ll receive a feast half so rich
in all your lifetime. Piecemeal these city blocks
will adorn you, or rather, it’s you now who are
the adornment, the next scrap of thread in the nest
the magpie spirit of these promontories is weaving,
woven together with those riots of tree frogs, those
rafters of street turkeys who already know
what you will discover: this corner of town
is one of the centers of the earth. Who knows
what makes this so? Even the summer blood moon
looks for answers hanging low over the cathedral,
the sky itself folding down onto the cliff to find out.
Try, if you can, to interpret what the Deaconess
ambulances cry out at night, ferrying their charges
through your dreams as you sleep. Do they call out
a warning? If so, they say, ‘Hold on.’ And you are
a cliffdweller now, so you should, cliffdwellers
who might expect to live precarious lives, though
that word ‘precarious’ breaks down to mean
‘full of prayer,’ and here, it is, the sunsets you will take
a thousand pictures of, the voices of children
in the rooms all around you, the steam rising
from a bowl of soup made for you by the little old man
who lives a few doors down. “Don’t worry,”
he says, “Not everything here is so cold.”
Andrew Koch is a writer and educator currently living in Texas. He lived in the Culmstock Arms Apartments where W. 8th curls into S. Washington from August 5, 2014 to June 30, 2016 and thinks about Spokane every day. More about his work can be found at andrewkochpoetry.com.
Cannon Hill Addition
Evolution is another name for revolution,
not painted luxuriously in blood.
Cities become grand through the impact
of architectural designs, culture, style, and grace
based in one significant device, money.
Money drives change, money separates the haves from
the with-outs. Nothing reflects this more than neighborhoods
and the civic attitudes they represent.
The garbage pick-ups, snow removal, arterials and road improvements granted.
At the turn of the nineteenth century Cannon Hill Addition
represented gentility, upper income, and some of the finest
architectural homes built in Spokane.
From 1900-1925 the homes constructed there showcased
American Foursquare, Tudor Revival, Neoclassical and Craftsman styles.
Take a walk or drive from fourth to fourteenth,
from Lincoln on the east to the Bluff on the west.
You will see single family homes that are unique
with their wraparound wooden porches, columns, box beams.
Each one has other intricate features
such as single stall bathrooms. Most have walk-in closets.
Some still show iron coal shoots on the rear of the house
as reminders of when coal was king.
The single most important feature the Cannon Hill Addition displays
is that one can talk to one’s neighbor
from their own porch railing on a Saturday afternoon.
This neighborhood takes you back in time
when classical ruled and beauty could not be fooled.
LoganMae's Place – Jim Hanlen
In this poem the want-to-be writers
are back. Mae is back and I see
it as clearly as these words.
Dutch Inn is no more. Mae changed
the name to her place. This day
she offers a slice of meat loaf
and apple pie for $2.65. We pass
because we can barely afford
the coffee. Today our copies
of the Cantos minus the Pisan Cantos
have come in. Barry reads the famous
usury passage. Sam, a Marxist law
student says Amen. We’re hunched
over our copies looking for words
to explain why Pound lived
at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital. Is there
room in poetry for treason?
What was he thinking my dad will say
when I get home?
Jim Hanlen was born and raised in Spokane and lived there until he was 26.
Balboa/South Indian TrailHome Haiku – Christopher Savage
Surrounded by trees,
Solitude easy to find,
Christopher Savage is a lifelong resident of the Balboa/S.Indian Trail Neighborhood. He grew up attending Indian Trail Elementary, Salk Middle School and North Central High School.
Trish Hanlen Cleveland
Neighbor kids gathered around
On warm summer nights
To play games under the bright streetlight
On Rosewood Avenue.
Tag, you’re it!
Hide and seek!
Kick the can!
Sometimes we danced under the streetlight
Pretending we were performing on a stage
Waltzing, singing, twirling, laughing
Bowing when we stopped
Breathless and happy.
Eventually there was a call to come in
Parents stood under their porch lights
A roll call of names was shouted out
Beckoning to us it was bedtime
We all cried out for one more game, one more dance.
Reluctantly we went back home
Shouting our goodbyes to each other
Promising to gather again tomorrow
To play under the streetlight
On Rosewood Avenue.
Trish Hanlen Cleveland was born and raised in Spokane in a family of 7 children. At one time in her neighborhood, amongst five homes, there were a total of 28 children. There was always someone to play with. Trish graduated from EWU in 1979 and moved to Western Washington. She misses the warm summer nights in Spokane.
Life Among the Suncrested Pines
A treehouse was my childhood wish.
With only a cherry tree in the backyard, it was not meant to be.
My neighbor’s and my determination for a house in the woods
led us to drag our brooms to the church lot across the street.
In between the trunks of the pine trees, rooms came to life with
each sweep of the broom. The sun would beam through the branches
to the newly swept floors in approval.
Surrounded by Ponderosa Pines, our current home feels like a tree house.
From our perch, looking out in the winter, you can see eagles atop the tree
looking for prey. In spring, raccoons can be found sleeping all day in the
boughs of the trees. In summer, you will find owls perched on a branch,
waiting to swoop down on unsuspecting squirrels playing chase. In fall, you
can watch the turkeys fly up to roost in the trees overnight.
Many households are sheltered by these Suncrested Pines.
Born the youngest of seven children, Susan Collison enjoyed many fond memories of the adventures that could be found on and around Rosewood Street on the north side. She now resides in Veradale, WA.
ComstockLong Walk – Fig DePaolo
tell a story about what
I’ve seen plenty of trees
I see mine and they say to me
you know, you can love something
and hate something at the same time.
and i say
oh i know
not me though
I’ll always love it
and love it
and love it.
nobody sees it like I do
I tire streets out on my tired
god its hellish
plastic signs bent backwards
in perfect green lawns
I see no one
and they know me
the buildings if not the
people who live in them.
the streets are quiet so I scream loud
I can hear the breathing from people
in their living rooms
I cannot see them.
here’s the thing:
I am a train and you are tracks
well, I am at least
Fig DePaolo is a 15 year old writer who talks about trees, humanity, and love in all its forms. He has lived in Spokane all his life.
Low on luck and down at heel
I dealt with the Devil one time.
He said, “Souls and shoes
I don’t buy used,”
And wouldn’t pay me a dime.
Devon Kelley is an artist living and working in the Pacific Northwest. Her work deals with themes of folklore, fairytales, and nature, and includes writing, sewing, photography, painting, drawing, podcasting, and more.
MinnehahaSummer Morning at Boulder Beach – Nicole Manus
Summer Morning at Boulder Beach
images in haiku
silver haired scullers
display feminine power
with synchronized strokes
makes cameo appearance
ducks indulge in rest
river waters encircling
sun warmed boulder beds
glitters underwater shelf
like Pollock’s splatter
a dog called Oscar
teeth bared beneath snarling lips
growls at my presence
leads me daydreaming eastbound
to tend my garden
anchored by top ropes
belayed climbers ascend
Nicole Manus serves as the Community Health Director for the YMCA of the Inland Northwest. She has always had a creative spirit, is a rabid crafter and life-long dabbler in both visual and performing arts. As a child, creative writing was her first expressive love and in 2015 she re-discovered that joy using Haiku and Tanka poetry sequences to journal her hiking adventures and document important memories and life milestones. She sometimes also writes poems as gifts to others but has never before offered them beyond her ‘circle.’
Nevada Heightsmy neighbors – Evan Gomez
An old woman
Nancy loves plants
Thumbs greener than grass
But hair faker than plastic
Helps out where she can
Has a happily horny dog
Owns an old goldie
A sweet neighbor
I don’t know his name
But the police hate him
Drugs that destroyed him
Hands them to others
Getting high on weed-wondering when
He’ll pick his life up
A bar across the street
Barroom brawls in the night
Sirens wail down the road
Karaoke rings in my ears
Dangerous drinking and driving
Not a safe place to be
An old woman
Evan is an 8th grader at Garry middle school
Life Goes On
In my neighborhood, I see the constant flashing lights from the fire trucks, police cars, and ambulances.
The tweakers down the street needing medical assistance.
I see the aftermath of a car wreck because the driver was being chased by the cops and hit another car going more than 60mph.
I see people not driving a speed limit safe for the road conditions.
I see the people carrying out their habits and time going by.
I see how time has affected us all, the houses, the kids, the roads.
How things have changed.
In my neighborhood, I see all the and things and just go on with my life as if they don’t exist.
LeAnne Higley has lived in Spokane for all her life in the same house.
In My Neighborhood
Azzaraya M. Erickson
I am from Spokane Washington where the downtown Bus Plaza is filled with hungry homeless people. From the downtown gondola to the new Riverfront Park and Skate Park. I am from the squirming and shoving of children as they try to go down the slippery slide. I am from the scorching hot summer days and walks around the block. I am from the busy Division street, where I and my friends cautiously cross on every walk.
I am from my grandparents’ house, from the jungle gym on the couches to the camping creek spot, from the slithering snakes my grandmother would catch to the gorgeous Seattle space needle. From staying in fancy hotels to swimming in bright blue pools in Boulder Beach.
I am from the smell of fruity Bath and Body Works candles burning to the smell of burning cigarettes when stepping outside. I am from my grandpa’s gross cinnamon frebreeze he loved so much.
I am from my grandmother and grandpa who raised me when my mom was working. From Sarah and Rylie who have always been there as if they’re the back of my hand. From the people who told me to not turn out like them to the people who told me this life will hit you hard, and when it does, you’re going to have to get back up.
I am from the weekly walks to the Duck Park until the streetlights turn on. I am from the walks back to the dinner table to eat. I am from hour-long trips to the post office and the gas station for goodies.
I am from “I love you like a fat kid loves cake” to “stop crying before you’re given a reason to cry.” I am from sarcastically threatening your siblings with “I’ll get the switch!”
I am from the back-alley dirt bike races and the nostalgic nighttime motorcycle rides. I am from the family fun nights of playing board games and puzzles. I am from the loud laughter to follow someone losing or raging in their defeat.
I am from the Christmas Dinner banana pudding I wait for like a pleading dog. I am from the freshly picked huckleberries we scavenge for up north. I am from the store-bought watermelon that we eat in the scorching hot summer.
I am from my mother’s high school stories she told around the blazing campfire. I am from the Christmas carols we played all day long to the sad and sometimes uplifting country music my family likes. I am from my mother’s CD’s that played old Chris brown songs and others.
I am from the perfect pictures of me and my grandfather when I was younger stuck to my mirror. I am from the family books and baby books with every picture ever. I am from the family framed photos all along the speakers in my living room. From the professional pictures to the casual ones. These photos remind me that no matter what I go through, there is people there watching and helping me through it.
Azzaraya is a 14-year-old girl attending Garry Middle School. She has lived in Spokane her whole life and lived in the same house practically all her life.
Beyond the City LimitsSouth of the City Limits – Kendra Egly
South of the City Limits
South Hill living on the backs of sixties suburbanite dreams
And the seasons pass
A split-level home fulfilled
A split-level dream of
A two-car garage of
A fenced-in backyard of
A garden and sod
And the seasons pass
South of the city limitsY
ou never knew you left
The street is wide and children hide from Nerf-war assassins
The street is wide and little boys ride by, scooters buzz by
And a baby is born
And the seasons pass
And a neighbor is mourned
And the kids run free with ice cream eyes
And the seasons pass
And years on this block cloud you with comfort and knock you into routine and shroud your sincerity with safety and you wonder why you wrote yourself out of bounds
And the forsythia bush burns
And the lilacs lull you to life
And magnolia euphoria sets your heart on high
And azaleas unveil a life worth living
Welcome to Spokane.
Kendra is a high school English teacher, dreamer, learner, and mom from Spokane. She has been living south of the city limits for 11 years.
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 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
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
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
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 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)
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.
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
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
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.
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
Mountains, Lakes, Valleys, surround me.
Orchards that once flourished are built upon.
Vivacious landscape that readily faces transformation,
Everyday this area transitions into new robust beginnings.
Overlooking with a sadness instilled by amazement over a 40 year watch.
Natural wildlife today still shows boldly, wandering freely on the peaceful ridge.
Twinkling evening lights broaden the sight of expansion as far as the eye can see.
History upholds as the little girl has matured to now scrutinize as an adult.
Roaring trains are followed by quiet whispers.
Occasional winter plowing is embraced to open a fresh path.
Under dark storms of robust winds lie debris of branches and trunks.
Generators hum in the evening air as crews work to repair.
Heightened ambitions stir as spring soon arrives.
Carrying forward a strong vibe to preserve the untouched.
Heavenly sunsets spread expression,
Accents of pinks, oranges, in the vibrant blue.
Nature thrives up above this small growing community.
Grandchildren grow to appreciate its offerings.
Educator is fulfilled with decades of fond memories, still mesmerized.
Angie Bordwell is a middle school educator.
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.
Rolling in the Valley
There are many places to roller skate
But Spokane Valley takes the cake
Roller Valley with the lights and fun
Centennial and Appleway trails in the sun
You can skate where you want
But Spokane Valley is my haunt
Jennifer Deline is a roller-skating, book-reading animal lover who calls Spokane Valley home.
I Live in the Clouds
I live in the clouds,
enveloped in the snow dust
of the giant’s feet passing.
The train of a robe,
cloak of a storm god,
sky foam in a Celestial’s cup.
I’m awakened to life
each morn shrouded in mist,
at dusk, a blanketed eclipse.
I stand in the clouds
with unclothed vulnerability,
winter’s breath…my baptism.
Eric Blauer lives on Browne Mountain. He is a father of four, husband of one, grandfather of three, shepherd to a 100…poet to clouds, trees, animals and those with open hearts and minds.
Alexandra N. Neumiller
From winter’s frosted trees life is breathed into spring breeze
Fading sweet summer dusk into fall’s crisp musk
On hilltops crowned as of keys calling to valleys laden with river eddies
Buildings raised as husk protecting from weather’s swift tusk
Streets turning to corridors built on pillars of trunks
Sky becoming rustling leaves sprouting from earthen extremities
Castles and commissaries wrought of nature and human, joined as bunks
Peaceful resting place reaves the wills of calamities
Tarrying from ridges circling high to valleys diving as canyons
Journeying through grandiose pines to brusque river fords
Mountains striving towards sky, remaining rivers reminiscing of a fjord
Beholding Spokane’s beauty is no easy task
Majesty striking at every bough, scenery at every corner of its cask
Alexandra N. Neumiller grew up in the Cliff-Cannon area of Spokane and has since moved to and from West Central into the Valley. She is a poet and photographer in the area.
I thought maybe I could glide through the heavens
Maybe, I could sail on through with ease
But, the journey I endured wasn’t what I dreamed it to be
I found myself chained to the ground
Struggling to break free
Flat on my back watching the angels flying above me
Though I felt enslaved, So abandoned, So empty
One dark night, I felt the rush of a cold breeze
Suddenly, my spirit lifted and I rose above me
And for the first time in my life
I was at peace
I dreamed the most beautiful thing in life I’d ever see
Was the kingdom of heaven
And now it’s my eternity
This is poem about a nightmare that turned into peace. Jon Diemert sometimes suffer from melancholy and he wrote this to help him look forward. He feels that the poem makes sense out of madness.
The Governor’s nuts
are a popular item
at the town diner
Scattering the crows
I slow, passing the carcass
hit just yesterday
In a fallow field
wild turkey tracks following
no clear direction
Up in the pear tree
the porcupine’s glowing eyes
just before I fire
In the soft moonlight
harvesting our first apples
a giant bull moose
I wake to the owls
and lay in bed listening
still an old white man
Morning: first snowfall
The doe paws the ground
looking for yesterday
Kevin Brown is a local songwriter and musician with four solo albums of original songs to his credit, as well as two with the long-running rhythm & bluegrass quartet Big Red Barn. For the last two decades Kevin has hosted the Spokane Public Radio show “Front Porch Bluegrass” and served as the music director for the Blue Waters Bluegrass Festival in Medical Lake. Kevin makes his home in Chattaroy, WA with his wife and 3 goats.
Kevin is working on a new book of haiku poetry.
The Healing at Hilby Station
Kristen J Browning
They noticed a shadow on my mammogram that fall
six weeks after we moved to the old farm at the south edge of town
where the Palouse rolls away from the Moran Prairie
and winter clouds snag on Tower Mountain
The route of the electric Spokane and Inland Empire Railway Company
once ran like a thread straight through this property
trains pausing briefly at Hilby Station
As the chemo settled in my body, I made my way across the meadows
acre after acre, following the flat top of the embankment
gnarled fruit trees scattered along the edges of the path where passengers
had tossed apple cores and plum pits out of windows
on their way to somewhere else one hundred years ago
I stopped at the point where a long trestle bridge used to span the woods and the stream
Our landlord had told us how her grandfather hauled
the heavy trestles back to the farm when the trains stopped running
they didn’t waste anything in those days
the ticket building became a chicken coop and the waiting room a workshop
small white structures our kids would explore
finding birds nests and old whiskey bottles and a lucky horseshoe
Sometimes that winter we caught glimpses of a trundling porcupine,
a moose, a fox, and a feral black cat that lived in the fallen barn
the coyotes laughed and shrieked in the ravine on dark nights
and the deer came quietly to graze every evening during the magic hour
when the sun poured amber light through a crack on the edge of the horizon
The finches turned from brown to gold while I recovered from surgery
the red-winged blackbirds began to call from the marsh where the pond used to be
the bluebirds raised a family in the box house we fastened to an old fence post
And the scorched patch of earth – where the brush fire had raged last summer –
came back to life
tender green shoots rising from the blackened soil of the railroad bed
Kristen J. Browning lives with her family in the Moran Prairie neighborhood, within walking distance of the property they once rented, described in this poem. She is an instructor at Spokane Community College.
White Bluff Prairie
West of Spokane crystalline drifts
on White Bluff Prairie glitter
with wind-driven snow.
Blue Spring Camas
and ochre balsamroot
dazzle, then rapidly fade;
flows of broken basalt radiate
dry August heat.
Scattered black scars of
charred pine speak
to the illusion of forever.
Forty years ago Mary Benham’s family built a country home a mile back from the bluff overlooking Riverside State Park. Old U.S.G.S. topo maps label the area, “White Bluff Prairie.” Mary has lived in Berkeley, Guadalajara, Mexico, San Francisco, and South Hill; never among Ponderosa pine, open sky, and basalt. The Prairie’s constantly changing, always teaching, ever beautiful.
Zoey R. Zeller
Trees shroud our houses, twined with deer and shade. If you came on a weekday afternoon in August, you might see kids riding their bikes to the pool with bags slung over their shoulders and teenagers crowding the bridge down the trail. You might find a tree filled with black capped chickadees or robins. Once I found a whole robin’s egg on the ground, so I rushed home and put it under a lamp, just like how it told me to online. It didn’t make it, though. In Linda Hogan’s “One Mind,” she writes, “Mallow blooms around me as I stand on the hill trying to remove the invasive burr thistle.” This is like our neighborhood cleanup days, where everyone goes down to the trail to pick up trash and plant trees and block side trails—which cause erosion—with big logs. We no longer do this because of COVID-19. History lives down the street, and my friends live in the other direction. I read in Spokane[:] Our Early History that lots near Manito Park were once sold for $250-$450. Our house near the Bozarth cost $260,000 in the 2010s. When it rains, the smell seems to bounce off the air, and it was shortly after such a rain one summer when a moose wandered our yard, plucked leaves off our cherry trees. In the winter you might see community snow forts at the park, and in our backyard you might see tips of the dogwood beneath a layer of snow.
Zoey R. Zeller, age 11, is an avid reader, dragon enthusiast, dog owner, fosterer of cats, big sister, and blogger—about the realities of attending school during the Covid-19 pandemic, among other things. Zoey reads a lot of novels. She does not have any social media accounts.
Trees in Spokane
Life is like the trees,
you grow you get cut then you die.
But tree after tree after tree
they all grow
and still not the same.
Canyon Zeller, age 8, is a Dog Man fan, who also loves Pokémon, ducks, humor/jokes, eating sugar, cuddling, skipping rocks, basketball, soccer, Legos, and Star Wars. He wears pajamas as often as possible.
Red Truck in the Snow
Red truck in the snow
Two houses down—
I am here; rocking slow,
Sleeping baby held.
Happy in the world.
While not a poet in any official way, Christie Funchess has been writing and rhyming since she was a girl. Poems help her process and express thoughts and experiences in the world around her. Christie’s family moved to Spokane in the Pine River Park area four years ago, and loves where they live.