Wednesday, September 13, 2017

洞月亮 Cave Moon Press September 2017

FEATURED POET: Mike Hiler is a ceramic artist and writer who lives in Washington State. He is a former public school teacher, fire lookout, Wilderness Ranger, and managed National Forest Wilderness in the Washington Cascades for a number of years.  His featured book, Listos is the second book he has published with Cave Moon Press and we are excited.  Check out Buckskin Larch and Bedrock (2010) at

Elegy for Spruce Creek 

Spruce Creek, where the tangle of ridge
           and rock are context for
The Raven, high elevation sage,
           and a tuft of deer fluff.

You won’t smell smoke
           from the sheepherder’s camp fire
or be welcomed by his dogs
           across a blanket of Pine grass.

It’s just as well.

The bears here are timid,
          the larch snags reach
to the blue sky backdrop
          from this bastion ridge

Holding up larger mountains.


You have been given a choice
that clearly defines
and sustains the moment.

You will choose
and your choice will be correct,
the only alternative
among opposites,

Which will someday be wrong
when time
changes the question.

That was the choice
           you were given
           when you first sought
           to understand.

That was the choice

          you overlooked.

"Spruce Creek, where the tangle of ridge
           and rock are context for
The Raven, high elevation sage,
           and a tuft of deer fluff."

Location, location, location the realtors tell us is the grand value of a piece of property.
The odd thing about poetry is that location can turn into metaphor or just be a statement of witness.  Witness to the inner life, or witness to an event, or exterior marker.  Rural poets thrive off of Whitman's dictums about grass.  Urban poets find a different landscape.  Still other poets reject landscape and use poetic structures and forms.

What are you using in your current poem?  Location?  Metaphor for an inner life? Witness of another time and place?  Write your poem on a fallen leaf and watch it flow down the river.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

洞月亮 Cave Moon Press June 2017

FEATURED POET: Carol Alexander’s poetry appears in anthologies including Broken Circles (Cave Moon Press), Through a Distant Lens (Write Wing Publishing) and Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors, Vol. 1.  She has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her work can be found in numerous print and online journals such as Bluestem, Caesura, Chiron Review, The Common, The New Verse News, Southern Humanities Review, and Soundings East. She is the author of the chapbook BRIDAL VEIL FALLS (Flutter Press). HABITAT LOST is Alexander’s first full-length collection of poems.


By the bus stop, dayshift workers gray-skinned in the April chill, stand lean marbles, granites, samples carved with exemplary names.

She’ll have eaten dinner, girded with a bib, in the last fastidious shafts of 
light. Our talk was of the flowering crabapple tree,
its quivering, avenging burst of bloom.

Rain blurs into bluestone snow the heft of ancient dolerite. And the fire-tipped shadows of dusk curtaining the windows of the hall have frightened her.

The bus, its exhalations choked with grime, is bearing down. Even now, I can’t describe for her the weight of this unwieldy, this inhuman thing.


You write, this is not fun. Two rockets arc above Tel Aviv
and in the streets, sirens and rubble. I forget you for weeks at a time
until you write about a trip to Mount Hebron, bellflowers, mignonette,
the grandchild’s bit of tooth, a logy rock agama in the sun.

I hope you’re getting a balanced view. There are bodies in red rags,
pensive cups of coffee after dawn, the drawing heat of the day.
Ordinary death proceeds with its modest civilities, prayers in shul.
In Khan Younis, a family shatters like a crystal cup; no prayer
will bind flesh to soul, no cool wind tame the burning of the coast.

Tell how it is for you, a garden with tall weeds, a son in the hills.
On your land, figs are slowly ripening despite the spider mites,
despite the lack of rain, the sirens louder than a mullah’s call.
Heat underlies the very ground where traders shook out silk.

You hope the dusty rocks and rags will be reported truthfully.

You hope, worried by tomato rot, to grow old

Does your poem setting act as a metaphor?  Does your poem use the setting to act as a witness?  Consider what literary device you are using for the place you are writing about in your poem.  Write your poem in the sandbox of a playground and watch the children erase it.  

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

洞月亮 Cave Moon Press April 2017

FEATURED POET: Joan Swift was born Joan Angevine and grew up in Rochester, New York, but has lived most of her life in the Seattle area of Washington State. She holds a B.A. from Duke and an M.A. in English-Creative Writing from the University of Washington. The last two of her four full-length books of poetry, The Dark Path of Our Names and The Tiger Iris, both won the Washington State Governors’ Award. Among her prizes and other awards are three National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowships, an Ingram Merrill Foundation Grant, awards from The Washington State Arts Commission, The Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, and a Pushcart Prize.

You can find her works also featured this month in the Seattle Review of Books

Sand, Rose Petals, Bones

I stand with my feet in the sand
beside the river, knowing the drought
has brought the two shores closer
looking between my toes for withered
rose petals, for the white talcum
of your ashes so heavy I saw them drift and sink

like a scarf pulled down in a strong wind.
It was your wish,
this very river, this kind of strewing.

The fracture line between air and water
is only a furrow, always changing,
the plow of separation pulled by a single animal.

Leaving Rio in the Rain

We stand on our separate decks as the lights
of Rio blossom in a misty rain.
I’m sipping vodka near the aqua of the pool.
This is how our lives will be from now on.
You are somewhere totally beyond my saving
while a thousand glowing flights of illumination
climb every hill around the harbor.
I want to go with you. They reflect in the water
where the ship leaves a scallop of wake as it leaves.
And again, lights in the air where each
shimmering drop is a kind of longing
to make descent beautiful, to wrap

whatever kills in tenderness.


With Joan dying not even days ago, I am a loss for words as to what coaching tip to leave.
Her words always offered a haunting, austere elegance in life and now they are imbued with a special glow.  They are offered in reverence.  More than ever, it is time to write your poem.

Poems are first about witness, and second about excellence, or form or line.  You are the only witness to your life.  Write the poems.  Thanks Joan.

Monday, March 6, 2017

洞月亮 Cave Moon Press March 2017

FEATURED POET: CRYSTA CASEY  (1952-2008) was born in Pasadena, California. She graduated from The State University of New York, Stony Brook, in 1976, where she was one of the founding members of The Women Writers Workshop. After college, she became the first woman hired by the City of Irvine, California, in Parks and Maintenance. In 1978, she enlisted in the all-new voluntary military, serving in the U.S. Marine Corps as a journalist, then as a self-declared “Resident Poet” until her honorable discharge under medical conditions in 1980. She moved to Seattle, Washington in the early 1980s, where she studied with the poet Nelson Bentley and collaborated with Esther Altshul Helfgott on the It’s About Time Writers Reading Series. Her first collection of poetry, Heart Clinic, was published in 1993 (Bellowing Ark Press). In 2004 she received a Hugo House Award from Richard Hugo House, and, in 2006, she was a finalist for Seattle Poet Populist. In 2010, Floating Bridge Press brought out a chapbook of her work, Green Cammie. Rules for Walking Out was the last manuscript Crysta completed and approved before her death at the Seattle VA in the spring of 2008. Crysta’s papers are housed in the University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections. 

Check out Rules for Walking Out

The V.A.
Saw Tom Lent in the Recreation Room.
He said, “When you paint me again
it’ll be easier. They just took off
my other leg.”

Jim is a Vietnam Vet. He watches television
and sleeps all day. He eats sporadically.
He doesn’t get out much, but one day decided to go
downtown to the V.A. Regional Office
and make sure he was going to get an American flag
on his coffin. The clerk took down his name
and service #. He came back and said,
“I’m sorry sir, but according to our records
you’re already dead.”

Distillation may make you think of whiskey or vodka.  In any case it speaks of stripping away everything but the essence.  Distillation, however, does more than strip away.  It changes the corn or potato.  Heat is involved.  One the other side, there has been a transformation.

Strong poems go that way.  You have applied heat.  Made a decision.  Gone through a process.  Yes, you have the essence when you are done, but more than that, you have transformed the reader with words on a page.  Crysta transferred this heat from life to the page.  Write your poem. Dance your dance. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

洞月亮 Cave Moon Press, February 2017

FEATURED WRITER: CHRISTINE FRY is an award-winning screenwriter/producer, and has produced, written, and directed numerous film and TV productions domestically as well as internationally. She holds a Master’s Degree in Education and a Bachelor’s degree in Theatre Arts and English.  She is an expert at calling for take-out and has often been voted "Mother of the Year" by two of her three children.  Christine is also a judge for the PAGE International Screenwriting Awards and is a member of the Screen Actors Guild, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and the Producers Guild of America. She currently lives in Southern California

Connect to Christine at  QOA Entertainment

Sometimes Prince Charming is a prince. Sometimes he’s actually a frog. And once in a while, good ‘ole Prince Charming turns out to be a real bastard.
Cameron was a real bastard.
We worked together for about a year at Boltz Hardware and Garden in Martinsburg, West Virginia. I was in lumber. He was in lighting and fixtures. We often exchanged a flirtatious glance or a playful smirk across the aisles, and for a good portion of that time nothing progressed between us because he was dating Karen, one of our coworkers. As luck would have it, she transferred to a management position at a Home Fix-it near Reno, Nevada. I guess long-distance relationships weren’t Cameron’s thing because, within five minutes of her departure, he found me.  He hopped onto the forklift I was operating, and said, “We should start seeing each other.”
Now, if I were thinking clearly, I would’ve run him over with the forklift, and/or have said, “No thank you.” Instead, I stared into his beautiful brown eyes and got lost for a moment and said, “I agree.”
It’s not that I was lonely or desperate, but I had been day-dreaming about Cameron for a while now.  I often fantasized about running my fingers through his wavy chestnut hair or how his warm, firm chest would feel against me or how he would look wearing a suit of armor, galloping his horse across a wide field of green grass in order to save me from a pack of wild animals or a band of ruffians.
I should probably clarify…
Before I took the job at Boltz Hardware, I was a best-selling author. Not bragging- just stating a fact. I’d like to think my books were bestsellers because of the great writing and wonderful character arcs but I’m pretty sure it was because of the sex. People like to read about sex and I’m super gifted at writing those kinds of scenes

What strikes you as funny?  Do you tell stories at parties?  For your warming up exercise in writing tomorrow write down an event during your day.  Maybe it is picking up your coffee.  Maybe it is a medical procedure.  Write down the facts.  Now revise it as if you need a punchline.  What do you have change?  Write, live, laugh. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

洞月亮 Cave Moon Press December 2016

FEATURED POET:  Kristine Iredale is currently a student at Eastern Washington University. In 2008, she deployed with the Washington State Army National Guard’s 81st Brigade Heavy Combat Team in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Her poems have appeared in O-Dark- Thirty, RiverLit, The Railtown Almanac, and Northwest Boulevard.


This field doesn’t have any grass. How she
misses the smell of fresh cut grass.
There is no cheering crowd.
Just a bunch of soldiers
playing softball. Before the cotton candy sky
is swallowed up. She waits her turn at bat.
When Sergeant Chaplain walks up to her.
Be at the BDOC Conference room.
Tomorrow. 0430. She starts to speak.
When he says, “I can’t tell you anymore.”
She goes to the plate. Swings and
not quite gets the meat of the bat on the ball.
So her eye blooms black and blue.
The seam engraved on her cheek bone
as a Lieutenant yells for someone to get some ice.

At 0430, she is told to guard a door
while other soldiers bring in the local interpreters.
This reminds her when she once saw some Indians
netting fish. She is reaching out to her childhood.
Trying to grab onto what is left. --There is a few seconds
where the ball is suspended in the air. When all is quiet
like a mortar right before it hits the ground.
I can tell you. There is no cheering crowd.


A young girl
gets a shot of me.
Old men stand
taking off their hats
placing them
over their hearts.
They bellow,
“thank you for your service”
as women sob silently.

I march in cadence to hallow claps
holding the sign of a fallen comrade
Specialist Nicholas Newby
from Coeur d’Alene Idaho.

We march in four columns
each one representing a death.
War has seen to their blood being pressed out.
Their loved ones tears being pressed out.
Because the removal of moisture
preserves them for a long time to come.

Although the colors, I mean life
will fade slightly during the drying process.
Their lives were cut short
like picked flowers.
Preserved in full bloom-without the chance
to live out their season.

When will we learn?
Pressed flowers are trite
a needless thing.
Then a woman hands me fresh daffodils.

Break Through
Why do you write on a daily basis?  What's your habits around writing? The habit makes you understand more and more subtle changes.  You grow.  It is with that habit that you suddenly break through and have a new line. 

Write your poem!

Monday, November 7, 2016

洞月亮 Cave Moon Press November 2016

FEATURED POET: Jeannine Hall Gailey served as the second Poet Laureate of Redmond, Washington. She is the author of five books of poetry: Becoming the Villainess, She Returns to the Floating World, Unexplained Fevers, The Robot Scientist's Daughter, and Field Guide to the End of the World, winner of the Moon City Press Book Prize. Her work has been featured on NPR's The Writers Almanac, Verse Daily, and The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror. Her web site is


We were taught in grade school different lessons of survival:
In case of nuclear attack, hide under your desk.
In case of chemical attack, buy duct tape.
Buy a rape whistle. Carry knives. Learn a martial art.

I read old fairy tales, wolves lurking behind trees

and parents ready to kill children. Magic mirrors,
dragons, spells that charm and protect.
Burn this herb to banish ghosts.

Sometimes I imagine the afterlife, puffs of pink

clouds and unicorns, or gold harps, or glass cities
with streets made of emerald. The whole earth
spinning like a child’s marble below, pitiful.

We are told to vaccinate, to educate, to warn.

Traffic tickets, parking signs: bureaucratic safety nets.
Our governments promise safety in exchange for ….
I will light a candle, listen to the solar-charged radio for a sign.


We all carry our own map to disaster, the faint voice recordings
that veer from mundane to hysterical in that last moment.
There’s no turnkey solution to us; one person’s milk
is another’s poison; my mother swears green tea gives her hives.

My husband looks up from the field with scratchy throat and red eyes

while I frolic in the goldenrod; at night I toss and wheeze
in the dust of my pillow while he snores dreamlessly.

Our lives have stood, like loaded guns—for one, heart attack

by sauce Alfredo, for another, 101 years of béarnaise and tobacco
troubled by nothing more than mild glaucoma. Some of us
can disregard the warnings; others must cling tightly to directions.

When you slide into the grave, remember your body is a document,

a reminder, a memorial to distant waters, the siren call of cells
to sleep. Turn off. Shut down. Mayday, May Day.

Zazen on Ching-t’ing Mountain
The birds have vanished down the sky.
Now the last cloud drains away.
We sit together, the mountain and me,
until only the mountain remains
Li Bai wrote this poem in the 8th century and it was a zazen .  A Buddhist reminder of our impermanence.  Jeannine reminds us of that in the 21st century with the metaphors of our technology.  What is your intersection with impermanence?  Capture it as honestly as Jeannine.  Write your poem!  Type it in a text to your niece.