Information and Inspiration for your poetic journey
The Holiday Gift Issue 2009
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In This Issue
Minding Words
The Write Direction
Catching Voices
Creating Space for Writing
The Cook, The Writer, The Gardener, The Business Woman
Discover New Poetry Markets and Get Published
The Poetics of Community
The Writing Life
Writing the Life Poetic Zine

Publisher & Editor:
Sage Cohen


Brittany Baldwin

Dale Favier

Sara Guest

Jenn Lalime

Christopher Luna


Toni Partington

Shawn Sorensen

Steve Williams

Study with Sage in 2010

Poetry for the People
Level 1 and Level 2

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"Sage was able to respond to each poem (and poet) in a uniquely sensitive way, meeting the material (and its creator) exactly where it is. In other words, her responses show what living as a poet is all about. What a gift this is." -- Amanda H.
For your  bookshelf

WTLP cover with link

Like the Heart cover with link

The Writer Mama

The Writer Mama


The Darkened Temple


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We appreciate you. A lot. To thank you for subscribing to this zine and committing to your creative life, we are offering this special, gift issue to help you celebrate the holidays.

In place of each columnist's regular column, you will find a poem he or she has written. We hope it brightens your day and offers a spark or two to ignite your own writing.
May your cup and your heart be full in 2010!

Sage Cohen
Publisher & Editor
Minding Words
All Over With Green
By Dale Favier

Tanagers in Spring
Onagers in Fall
Winds whistle in the park
Fathers whistle in the dark.

The child is gotten
And rotten is wild
The clover is shotten
All over with green.

Dragons come gently
And nuzzle their hands
Dappling for apples
Warmed by the sand.

Managers mutter in Spring
Dragons mutter in Fall
Wild bad children sing
Whenever the clover calls.

The child is Winter
And splintered and guiled,
But the Summer is quilted
All over with green.

* * * * *

Dale Favier has taught poetry, chopped vegetables, and written software for a living. Currently he works half-time as a massage therapist and half-time running a database for a non-profit in Portland, Oregon. He is a Buddhist, in the Tibetan tradition. He writes about meditation and poetry, and whatever ever else he may be interested in at the moment, at Mole.

He has an M.Phil. in English Literature from Yale, but he never wrote much poetry until he began blogging, a few years ago, and fell in with bad companions. With them he eventually brought out an anthology, Brilliant Coroners. His poems have also appeared in Qarrtsiluni and The Ouroborus Review. His first chapbook, Opening the World, will be coming out next year from Pindrop Press.
The Write Direction
A Reuniting
By Steve Williams

We have a home on the shore built from driftwood.  Captured in walls and roof, the tangle of trunk and twig leans, like the sea, into the moon's pull.  You had to leave:  your body unable to resist the impulse drawing you into the wet sand.  You had to turn your back on the water.  You promised the rough branches to find a less strenuous place for all of us.
This suitcase, on the porch swing, is packed with your kisses.
Mist falls in and out of each plastic chair stuffed
with the parchment in summer's attic;
full throated cry, star mint dry on the tongue of October.
I stayed still with the swaying home, wondered if the mist really was swinging or if the sand was frozen.  I can see my heartbeat in my own eye - the wind is a drum looking
for sticks.
Here is my ticket to the roasted garlic aroma of orange,
the knife edge night of Halloween, red wing blackbird feathers
cling like Monarchs to the river reeds of pressured arteries:
harpooned bullfrogs pissing milkweed into veins of October.
Each year you come with the wings of butterflies to roost like dead leaves.  Our home calls you back and sends you away.  It is the curse of building with what does not belong
to anyone.  We sleep in a plain-clothed bed and listen to the voices of all the rivers buried in our walls.  They are telling us to admire the Chinook who leaps the fall of water, the spring of rapid, to spawn and die. 
Thistle burrs in my ankles scissor up my leg, scrape the chimney
of my spine like ladders of ash. I leap up the siding
to your long-night window.  You now prefer stair-free homes,
butterfly gloves on eucalyptus and finger paints of October.
Tomorrow, it is November and you are cold.  You will go farther south, chase the longer names and shorter nights.  You tell me all the frogs are dying.  I say they are candles inhaling water, exhaling air, and we are that wind.  You lament them, who will never have a home.  I say the wind lives in the drifting clouds. 
There are few weddings now.  Leave them for the banality of shorter
named months.  Once the bride who relished sunsets dying
on each saw-toothed plot of the cul-de-sac, you say this is not the time
for starting but rather hugging fierce, deep in our lungs of October.
I hold my breath and the house ignores the moon.  It is time to spawn.
* * * * *

Steve Williams lives and works in Portland with a lovely woman who writes and edits much better than he but refuses to admit it.

* * * * *

New Jersey Bill and the China Doll play blackjack
By M

It would be obvious to a guy with one eye
that I don't belong here. I lose Nick to the couple
watching a made-for-TV movie and arguing the tenor
of Manson's insanity (he says simple schizophrenia,
she says schizophrenia with paranoid tendencies)
while they turn powder to liquid
in a silver spoon. Talk to Alan, they tell Nick.
Alan deals because he has kids
to send to college like everybody else who lives
in this cardboard complex of stacked boxes.
In the kitchen I find the only guy with a straw
in his Coca Cola. He stares at me long enough
to burn his retinas and says Did anybody ever say
you look like a china doll? Sit down. You play cards?
Not well enough to bet my 401K. He flips cards
like flapjacks and pushes a pile of pretzel sticks
to my side of the table. I throw back two sticks, he throws in four.
New Jersey Bill has eyes that have seen men bounce
like pinballs in the alley behind the R & R,
and hands that held his wife's head out of the gutter water
the only night he wore his seatbelt on Auburn Road.
The night it rained too much Jack Daniel's down his throat;
the wife who took him two bad marriages to find. He asks
What are you supposed to do about that, doll?
and points to the space in his chest where his life
used to be. He smiles like a congressman who spends
his kids' quality time riding trains from Trenton
to Washington. He's not talking about the eight years
vehicular manslaughter gave him to find his conscience
in a living room with a toilet and he doesn't try
to pretend it's the light bulb over his head making his eyes
water. He starts singing Heart and soul, I fell in love
with you, heart and soul, the way a fool would do, madly.
I told Nick no twenty years ago. I predicted everything
we owned would go straight up his pug nose.
We married madly anyway
and diabetes stole it all instead.
You're asking the wrong doll, New Jersey.
Remember when smoke was smoke?
When weed was art, not medicine.
And pretzels had the decency not stare
back at you from the bottom of a porcelain bowl.
This is when that one-eyed jack
who rarely hangs out with the perfect ten
show up together on my side of the table.
Bill is shifting like a small inside an extra large T-shirt,
his head bobbing in rhythm to the dog he had
on the back dash of the car.
Shit, New Jersey, tell me --
what are you going to do about that?

Featured in the Fall 2008 edition of The Dirty Napkin [V:1.4]
* * * * *

M has served as Associate Poetry Editor for Stirring: A Literary Collection for the past one hundred years or so. More than a few editors have found her poems acceptable, and included them in their journals. She received her B.A. in literature so long ago, she's pretty certain her diploma has crumbled to dust. She also serves as an administrator of on online poetry workshop called Wild Poetry Forum. If you cannot find her (she never answers her cell phone), call Powell's Books. The employees there know exactly what room she's in. And most importantly, she is very grateful for the enormous amount of love in her life.
Catching Voices
Wayward / Swamp
By Sara Guest

I go to see my mother's mother's mother as she dies
The truck belches exhaust in the driveway
Wind whipping the trees through firelight
Maybe punctuates the name
In the midst of love when we're sinking faster away
Clams popping closed on themselves
My face harboring a hundred keys until
Sentience slides in next to me
Pulsations in the hammering moon
Timid crafting a boat that leaves shore
Acres of moss / pond-leaves / knots tied in
knots / pond-leaves / acres of moss
Timid crafting a boat that leaves shore
Pulsations in the hammering moon
Sentience slides in next to me
My face harboring a hundred keys
Clams popping closed on themselves
In the midst of love when we're sinking faster away
Maybe punctuates the name
Wind whipping the trees through firelight
The truck belches exhaust in the driveway
When I go to see my mother's mother's mother as she dies

* * * * *

Sara Guest, a native mid-westerner, has been tripping the light wowtastic in Portland, Oregon since 2004. A longtime producer and editor, Sara works as a program coordinator for Write Around Portland and volunteers with Literary Arts and VoiceCatcher (currently as board chair). She writes poetry and fiction and is a voracious reader and lover of Powell's City of Books.

* * * * *

The Same Brother
By Jenn Lalime

Who called today
To pray for me
Before my departure
Wailed on me the day
I told truth--
There is no Santa

As mother pulled
His body--fists
Swinging--off me
I should have known
How much heartbreak
Would follow
Should have recognized
Belief--even then
What would break
Between us--
Between me
And the boy
Who did not speak
To anyone save me
Until turning five
Because only I
Could understand

* * * * *

Jenn LalimeJenn Lalime is a northwest native, a writer and editor, a mother and a wife. She's lucky to work with the following organizations to bring the words of fellow writers out into the world: Portland Women Writers, VoiceCatcher, and Tin House Books. She thanks the universe every day for President Obama whose presence in the White House gives her the peace of mind to stay focused on her first and true love: reading great fiction.
Creating Space for Writing 
Honeycomb Prophecies
By Toni Partington

in the panorama of
your heart
I wish to be a cubicle
made of beeswax
translucent, thick butterscotch
unfiltered balm
bright with buzz
we will construct
a confluence of resin and lace
a suspension bridge across
hedge thorns and conflict
you will wear my thimble and
I will carry the oracle to our future

* * * * *

Toni PartingtonToni Partington lives and works in Vancouver, WA. Her poetry has appeared in the NW Women's Journal, the Anthology of the River Poets' Society, VoiceCatcher 3, the Cascade Journal, and others. Toni's other work includes career/life coaching, editing services for new and emerging writers, and grant writing. This winter she joined the editorial collective for VoiceCatcher 4. She holds a BA in Social Work and an MA focused on Literature and Literary Editing.  Before that, Toni was a high-school drop out, pregnant and then married at age 16 whose life came faster than it should have and toughened her into a self-described survivor. Today, her circle includes family, friends, dogs and poets, not in any particular order.

The Cook, The Writer, The Gardener, The Business Woman
Spider Veins
By Brittany Baldwin

I earn these veins coming to the surface
just behind my locked knees, up through
a curved back, bent over a sink of dishes
in a strangers house, in a strangers kitchen,
with a strangers cat purring against my ankles.
Toward the end of the night, after a long day,
I can feel them squeezing up out of the places
I had them in when I was younger.
Those skinny soccer legs I had in gym class
just before I lost my decency when faced with competition
and hurt another junior high school boy.
Bloody noses and calls for a referee.
Those legs walked me up the mountain every day after school,
ran me through the woods at night, restless.
They were so free once to have now followed
their way into the monotony of profession.
You have to walk into something everyday for the rest of your life,
a kitchen, an office, a grocery store, a construction site.
I have chosen my room to grow old in, the kitchen.
I am Babette
alone plating dishes of flank steak roulade stuffed with
caramelized onions, mushrooms, garlic, rosemary and thyme.
The glasses clink in the other room,
the guests are brought to tears by the toast
for parents that have recently passed away.
Sometimes two guests will join me.
Invisible I stand behind them while they whisper to each other.
Husbands flirting with the wives of other men,
professionals discussing their options for the future
with a trusted friend.
The cats and I keep our eyes down and wash dishes or stir pots.
I pull open the door to the dining room and serve.
Looping between shoulders and smiling,
a new toast is called and the door closes again.
I have to sigh and relax into my hunched back
when I only have the dishes left.
That's when I begin to notice the sting of these small spider veins
as they creep their way out to the surface of my skin.
Most women earn their veins with children
I earn them in heavy platters of cured meats and cheeses
or long hours on cheap shoes.

* * * * *

Brittany BaldwinBrittany Baldwin runs a small catering and personal chef company that maintains its own organic garden. She has written poetry in Portland for eight years while starting her own business and self publishing her own poetry collection, Broken Knuckles Against Knives, Cutting The Food To Feed Me Through This (2005). In 2002 she received a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Colorado. Her poetry has appeared in the poetry collections Ephemeris and Broken Word: Alberta Street Anthology Volume 1 and 2. She has appeared on KBOO's Talking Earth,  won an honorable mention in the Oregon State Poetry Associations fall 06 contest and was featured in the 2006 and 2007 Silverton Poetry Festival.

Discover New Poetry Markets and Get Published
Art In the Walls
By Shawn Sorensen

The night is reaching out to choke me.
I thought I was ringing my hands of all
This burnt fudge, this cavity in my jaw of jaws but
You're missed - how thankful I am to have someone like you to miss.
As I turn the key to my place, the sound echoes off
All the walls, just walls now, not watercolor, creation
Like when you were here, when everything was brightly hued,
And soft, and laughing, and stripped of the wounded edges
And wet pavement, and ripped up coughing to attract the attention
Of no one, of long, busy days coming through the flue and dripping
On my oven, my sizzling sausage links and half-cooked aspirations.
For no reason, or for all the reasons unexplained and waiting
To be shredded open like the mail snowing me under
But not yet over the bright dancing sunlight of my longing for you.

* * * * *
Jenn LalimeShawn Sorensen is a published, award-winning poet whose work can be viewed at, Winter 2008 edition.  His poetry submission goal is to send something in at least every other week and get published/recognized a few times per year.  He's written dozens of complete book reviews, including dozens of poetry titles, on and braves a perilous river crossing to be the Community Relations Manager at Barnes & Noble Vancouver. After getting dry and attending to numerous shark bites, he plans and hosts an every-2nd-Wednesday Poetry Group event that's always at 7 pm, always features the area's best poets, and always has a great open mic.
The Poetics of Community
"The good things in life
are better than any damn movie:"

By Christopher Luna

The search for love
is a pink herring:
a desire to possess
or become a character
in a Hollywood romance
never bothering to see
or get to know
your leading lady.
A game that necessarily renders
both of you meaningless:
formless shadows
flickering on the wall.
The only way to avoid this unhappy ending
is to refuse to play the game at all:
be exactly who you are
open your heart
and eventually your Lil' Queenie
will walk through that door.
* * * * *

The Writer MamaChristopher Luna is a poet, editor, artist, teacher, and graduate of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. Publications include Cadillac Cicatrix, eye-rhyme, Exquisite Corpse, and the @tached document. Chapbooks include tributes and ruminations, On the Beam (with David Madgalene), and Sketches for a Paranoid Picture Book on Memory. GHOST TOWN, USA, which features poems and observations of Vancouver, WA, is available through Cover to Cover Books and Angst Gallery, or from the author.

The Writing Life
I want my eggs
By Sage Cohen

soft and in between
destinies the yolk
undecided the white
a nimbus of coagulated
light haloing its small
yellow sun as I
have lived trained
to the perimeter
of what is most alive
in me, accomplice
to and and bearer of
diminishing light.
* * * * *
Jenn LalimeSage Cohen is the author of Writing the Life Poetic: An Invitation to Read and Write Poetry (Writer's Digest Books, 2009), The Productive Writer: Success Strategies for Writing More and Selling More (Writer's Digest Books, forthcoming in 2010) and the poetry collection Like the Heart, the World. She writes three monthly columns about the craft and business of writing and serves as poetry editor for VoiceCatcher 4. Sage has been awarded first prize in the Ghost Road Press poetry contest and nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She offers a range of classes and services for poets and writers. Learn more at and