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The Case Against Having Children
Is summed up by Huey P. Long’s
Son Russell being owned by the oil companies
His father had fought for so long.
Brenda Perrott Williamson lives with her husband, Civil War author David Williamson, and their cats, including Wilde Oscar (a Katrina-rescue cat who is working on his memoirs.) Brenda’s blog is http://Brendaperrottwilliamson.wordpress.com. You can also follow Brenda and Wilde Oscar on Twitter @BrendaPerrott and @WildeOscarCat.

Favorite poets: “My favorite poets include Thomas Gray (of Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard fame), Thomas Hardy (Christmas 1914 & so much more), Robert Louis Stevenson, and Robert Burns. (Everyone needs the Complete Works of Robert Burns.)Calvin Trillin is my favorite modern poet.”

Jayne Mansfield, by Amber Tamblyn


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Order Amber Tamblyn’s new book of poetry: Dark Sparkler.

Amber Tamblyn is a contributing writer for the Poetry Foundation and the author of two previous works of poetry, Free Stallion and Band Ditto. As an actress, she has been nominated for an Emmy, a Golden Globe, and an Independent Spirit Award. Her writing has appeared in Bust, Interview, Cosmopolitan, the San Francisco Chronicle, Poets & Writers, Pank, and elsewhere.

Wilderness, by Rose Woods


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the light will cut through this terrain of darkness soon.
the moon, suddenly out of itself, disappeared behind some trees. or perhaps a
mountain. or an owl’s cry.
I have navigated the thickness of night’s forest in each minute.
each one.
(not always with delicacy. which was perhaps what was needed)
nevertheless, there will be light soon. it will open its
unreadable pages. without knowing.
and the day will dawn (as they say) too bright for seeing
(though the ever-wound in my heart might actually hear if my hands
can quiet themselves of their keening secrets)
in the meantime I will unravel. carefully.
touching with eyes stretched. body pulled from the debris of another
collapsible night.
and continue. (undone by the smallest bird pushing his thin knife
of song between my ribs)
seeking that place from whence breath arrives.
only the trees know how thin the skin is behind the ears.



Rose Woods is the Founding Artistic Director of Island Shakespeare Festival. She has been the Artistic Director of three theatre companies in the San Francisco Bay Area and has worked across the country with both professional and youth theatre companies, most recently with Seven Stages Shakespeare Company in New Hampshire. She is a professional screenwriter and playwright as well as a published poet. She was awarded a commendation from Senator Barbara Boxer for her work with youth theatre and is the recipient of a number of awards for both her writing and directing, including the Elizabeth George Foundation Grant, Humanitarian Teacher of the Year Award, the Bay Area Critics Award and a variety of national and international awards for her screenwriting.


Favorite poets:

William Shakespeare
e.e. cummings
Mary Oliver
Anne Carson
Maya Angelou
Edna St. Vincent Millay
Elizabeth Bishop
Kevin Dyer
Alice Anderson
Wislawa Szymborska
so many poets… so little time…”

Shape, by Jaimie Gusman


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Read the full text of the poem here.

This poem was originally published by Moss Trill.

Jaimie Gusman lives in Kaaawa, HI where she is a freelance writer, blogger and founder of Mixing Innovative Arts. She has three chapbooks: Gertrude’s Attic (Vagabond Press, 2014), The Anyjar (Highway 101 Press, 2011), and One Petal Row (Tinfish Press, 2011).

Favorite poets: “Gertrude Stein, Alice Notley, Adeena Karasick & Catherine Wagner have been major influences on my work!”


Trigger-hand Trevor: the Bug-Spraying Man, by Suzanne Kelman


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I was having so much trouble with my roses
you couldn’t see the poor leaves for black spot,
so I called up the gardening centre,
They said they’d send the best man that they’d got.

With pomp, he arrived on that Monday
His chariot – a weathered landscapers van.
Written across the sides in bold letters,
“Trigger-hand Trevor The Bug Spraying Man.”

Behind my net curtains, I eyed him
As in spurs, he clanked to my door
a swaggering weed-wrangling cowboy
in my chest something started to soar.

He towered over me on my doorstep:
a mass of smoldering good looks and brown skin.
Clad in cowboy boots and jeans of tight denim
He must have jumped off the truck to get in

He wore a frayed, 10-gallon hat of raw leather.
His belt was crammed with every tool, an array.
Stretched across his great barrel chest a tight T-shirt
With the words “Come on, bugs. Make my day!”

My whole body started a’ quivering
at this beautiful masculine sight.
He uttered, as if gargling gravel
“I’m here to put an end to your blight.”

Still shaking, I led him out back then
to the place where black beetle still reigned.
He slipped on his gloves like a master
His hawk eyes my garden surveyed.

Pulling out two spray bottles from his belt loop,
armed and deadly, he pulled down his hat.
As his fingers twitched on the triggers
he warned, “Ma’am, you’d better stand back.”

As a master, he started a’ firing
first to the left then the right with such speed,
little bodies dropped all around him,
when he’d finished, there wasn’t even a weed.

“It safe to come out ma’am,” he called to me.
“You won’t be having no more trouble with your pest.”
As he blew smoke from the tips of his bottles, added
“That’s why they call me the best trigger in the West.”

As he left, I just couldn’t stand it
Running up my path I clung to his leg.
“Trevor I can’t live without you.
Please take me with you,” I cried, and I begged.

He flashed me a smile that did melt me
Pulling me close, rasped, “hop on my van.”
My days are now spent filling his bottles –
My Trevor, the Bug Spraying Man.



Suzanne Kelman is the author of “The Rejected Writers Book Club” and her writing voice has been described as a perfect blend of Janet Evanovich and Debbie Macomber. She is also a multi-award winning screenwriter whose accolades include Best Comedy Feature Screenplay – L.A. International Film Festival (2011) Gold Award – California Film Awards (2012) and Winner – Van Gogh Award – The Amsterdam Film Festival (2012). Born in the UK she now resides in Washington State.

Favorite poets: “Pam Ayres–great comedy poems.”


Lower the Flags, by Bonnie Stinson


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Lower the flags;
she approaches

clasping a cloak
red with clay and

blood from battle
deep in the valley.

A broken shield
wants to glint

in the sun,
downtrodden by hooves

mindlessly collapsing
carefully shaped steel.

Armistice of ash and oleander
for the villain slain

hovering still over
bodies living and dead

with no reprieve offered
for the victorious hero

who also requires a pyre
adorned with white and brambles.

Leather groans at the sight
of hands drifting toward

release of ties that bind
the maker to her tools.

Hoist the flag;
the hero will not die today.


Bonnie Stinson writes about feminism, travel, identity, and trust. When she is not writing, Bonnie is either baking, watching films, or designing installations.

Favorite poets: Walt Whitman, Warsan Shire

Starling, by Brianna Pike


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For Roger and Beth Young
This morning I shot a starling straight from the sky.
The shiny, black bastard drove the sparrows and wrens
from your carefully kept feeders, then strutted
about the branches of our old apple tree.

You do not approve, Beth. Your gentle soul gives grace
to all creatures, even your sisters who just arrived.
You are pouring tea as I walk around the front of our house,
shotgun resting over my right shoulder.

Three sisters swoop down on your small
frame, pulling at your arms, pressing against your back.
Their cackling disrupts our quiet home, dark
eyes move over our stone floors,

pine paneled walls, and the small, cast iron stove
smoking away in the corner. You look away,
your eyes light, but your mouth a thin, rigid
line slicing your face in two.

As the youngest you bear their burden, the blame
for lost children and broken husbands. With each passing
summer they move farther from you,
carrying their judgment in packed bags,

buried beneath silk stockings and picture frames.
Their misery will grow like your carefully tended
lilies, and you, my love, will suffer.
But for now, you will serve sweet tea and yellow

cake. You will forgive, slip me a quick smile as
all four of you come round back, talking peonies,
and oriental poppies, just in time to watch me
string the starling up high, a warning

to his flock. As I descend from our tree,
three sets of eyes meet mine, uncertain
in the harsh summer sun. They move to bird’s
broken black body, swaying.
My warning is also clear.



This poem was originally published by The New Plains Review in their Fall 2013 issue.

Brianna Pike is an Associate Professor of English at Ivy Tech Community College. She received her MA from the University of North Texas and her MFA from Murray State University. Her poems have appeared in Bread & Beauty, Glassworks, Gravel, Heron Tree, and Mojave River Review among others. She lives in Indianapolis with her husband. She blogs at https://briannajaepike.wordpress.com.


Favorite poets: Elizabeth Bishop, Marie Howe, Katrina Vandenberg, Seamus Heaney, Mark Doty, Frank O’Hara & Walt Whitman.

Cloud Pharmacy, by Susan Rich


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Read the full text of the poem here.

This poem was originally published in Cloud Pharmacy published by White Pine Press and with the e-book by Two Sylvias Press.

Susan Rich is the author of four collections of poetry, Cloud Pharmacy, a current finalist for the IndiFab Award, The Alchemist’s Kitchen, named a finalist for the Foreword Prize and the Washington State Book Award, Cures Include Travel, and The Cartographer’s Tongue winner of the PEN USA Award for Poetry. Her poems have appeared in journals that include: the Antioch Review, The Gettysburg Review and New England Review. Susan is the co-editor of The Strangest of Theatres: Poets Crossing Borders, a selection of essays on poets who travel published by McSweeney’s and the Poetry Foundation.


Favorite poets:

Diving Into the Wreck (again) by Adrienne Rich
The Complete Poems by Elizabeth Bishop
Misery Islands by January Gill O’Neil


In Which My Daughter Chooses a Piece of Fruit, by Christine Johnson-Duell


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Read the full text of the poem here.

This poem first appeared in CALYX.

Christine Johnson-Duell is a poet who will write for a paycheck; specifically, she writes grants in support of Seattle Opera. Her chapbook, “Italian Lessons” was released in late 2014 by Finishing Line Press. Her poems have appeared in local Seattle and national journals, including “Poet Lore” and “Calyx” and she has written op-eds for “The Seattle Times” and “The Boston Globe” (for “The Globe” in the olden days, pre-Internet). Her essay, “On Being Not Jewish,” appeared in the journal “Drash.” Christine is an alumna of Hedgebrook and she holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington. She is married and has a teenage daughter.

Favorite poets: “My favorite poet of all time is Seamus Heaney. And I love the work of his countrywoman Eavan Boland. Linda Pastan’s work fed mine in graduate school. I sometimes translate Eugenio Montale’s work and also read my UW classmates’ work: Erin Malone, Carol Light, and Kevin Craft. Nick Flynn is a genius. Elizabeth Austen’s work is luminous. Beyond these, I read widely and, especially, anything that John Marshall or Christine Deavel of Open Books in Seattle, put in my hands.”

Doubt, by Robin A. Sams


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What do you mean when
you say you love me
right now?
I’m not used to this not
knowing where I stand
dancing all along a precipice.

Feeling needy want to hear you
touch you taste you have you.
Feel you open and
close to me.
The certain uncertainty
of what we are
moving daily.

I hold back fear of seeming
being obsessive
hold back mouth
would you turn

Wondering if in my heart of hearts
I am merely Mistress
fit for sex alone
in heart of hearts
I am the Princess,
royally wed, waiting
for my queendom.
Alas, Huzzah, I am spiralling in-between
heart of hearts of hearts.
Take my hand maybe
we’ll pull through,
and we’ll know where we

This poem was originally published by Crow’s Eye Press in Ms. Sams’ book Sore: fantasies and inhibitions.

Robin A. Sams is a writer living on Vancouver Island, B.C. in Canada. She has a B.A. in English with a concentration in creative writing and in Classical Philology from Hollins University. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications, including text lit mag, Island Writer magazine and the anthology Words of Fire and Ice. In 2014, she published her first full-length poetry book Sore: fantasies and inhibitions. To read more of her work, visit her blog at http://robinasams.wordpress.com.

Favorite poets: “My favourite poets are Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Frank O’Hara, and Leigh Phillips. Leigh Phillips is a young woman with whom I went to university and who inspired my poetry chapbook Bea and other poems.”



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