Sound, Rhythm and Meaning: A Pacific Northwest Chapbook Curated by David Wagoner

By | 22 March 2012

Marie Hartung was born in Arlington Heights, Illinois, and grew up in northern California. She has worked in organizational development for Starbucks, Eddie Bauer and Microsoft and is now a realtor in Monroe, Washington.

The Dream about White Salmon

What’s in White Salmon? she asks from the dream.
I thought she meant a fish, not slivered in pink
but an albino aborigine, blank eyes communal
and naked. The dreamfish camouflaged, moored
in the stream’s float and swaddle. Water carves
boulders into that color. I see the salmon staking fame.

But faith in landscape is meant to deceive.
What you meant when you asked was about place.
There and here is where land meets the rain,
the super-hero swims slow in veins tied to mornings
and the birthing of crane-fly hatches ever so soft.
You might be remembering Rocky Lake when you dreamt.
All that rising, popcorn in the water bursting.
The fish we couldn’t kill, larger than our solitude.

Rain and land make somber peace under an arrested sky,
eventually casting light toward river’s untouchable shadows.
The salmon then gives back the boulders’ graves,
the decomposing house of leaves, upstream darting
among twisted leader and hooks, pulling, in water’s current
the pulse that wakes and rocks us.
We must awaken from the dream, I tell you,
because we must keep getting wet, our scales as skin,
having forgotten how to rise in the fogginess of white.

Robert Hoffman was born in Kittery, Maine, and now lives in Lakewood, California. He’s been a retail and restaurant manager and a casino croupier and is the only one of the group not technically a north-westerner. But he’s a graduate student in the Whidbey Island Writer’s Workshop and is having this region and its poetry drilled into him, so I’m posting him here.


The crows on my walk build nets
from roof top to tree top in threads
of communication, each juncture a rook–
Kaww Kaww–of the arrival and departure
of my comings and goings.

They know my hair top, my face, my walk,
that I am sympathetic,
that I wouldn’t ridicule or mock
my knowledge that crows lose altitude
and are forced to glide–mid-stride–to speak,

“Here! Here!–Why don’t you know?”
and the echo call from another rook
rocking on top of a pine, “I know! I know!
Watch the jay that nests below”–a corvus cousin–

once sibling in size, now Napoleon stature,
guarding her eggs by avian jousting
with beaks, tools with which to fend, fight, and feint,
the common crow–too big to scare.

Come! Come! to the corvus court–
a study in social proximics–
where Alala stands in the middle
of a concentric circle in judgment:
the pecked of the pecking order.

Balding and scared–for what crow crime?
six surround–jump in–jump back–Kaww Kaww–
did she take a mate meant for another?

A dozen, further back–Kaww Kaww–have opinions too.
In hunger, did she eat her own eggs?
The net stretches out to twenty and more.

Was it Alala’s time to die? To be consumed
is the proper order of things. If she cannot conform,
she cannot persist with the masses in a corvus nest.

I, like Alala, refuse to conform to a social order
that eats what it doesn’t understand.

Leone Mikele was born and still lives in Seattle. She has been a professional dancer and a paralegal and now tutors homeless youths in a Seattle youth center.


          So take, for joy’s sake, this wild gift of mine.
          This uninviting desiccated necklet
          Made of dead bees that once turned honey into sunlight.

                                                       –Osip Mandelstam

Touches were newspapers
tucked and benched in Riverside.

Would I borrow from homeless men
their worn coats–bare threads

or gouge from darkened pigeons’ roosts
their salty hearts and by osmosis glide

or hold quartz second-hands?
It was obscure to me then.

Caresses were fries and battered oysters
dropped in Fulton Marketplace.

Would I pray for rags and bones
cemented in grave pools by river tides?

Brooklyn Bridge is damp and dry
but at the ends its cables are opaque.

So let me give you, for the sake of time,
these mites or lice or bedbugs

pinched from hairless hide. Take them–
white knuckles, bug scrawls,

death-defying lapses, synaptic leaps,
this dry mulch kiss–felt necklace strung with ink.

And I’ll give myself the curator’s privilege of the last word with a short poem of my own.

A Round for the Muses

To draw, you must close your eyes, Picasso said,
and sing, and our composers must open them
and hear new colors, and our dancing playwrights
must see and taste the music of storytellers
and gather shapes and shadows to be turned
to living statues in a festival
while poets open and hear their other eyes
weaving among them, drawing them all together.

This entry was posted in CHAPBOOKS and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Related work: