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 www.webbish6.com


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.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

洞月亮 October 2016

FEATURED POET: Jacqueline Berger’s first book, The Mythologies of Danger, won the 1998 Bluestem Award and  Bay Area Book Reviewers Association Award. Her second book, Things That Burn, selected by Mark Strand, was the 2004 winner of the Agha Shahid Ali Prize and was published through the University of Utah Press. The Gift That Arrives Broken was the 2010 winner of the Autumn House Poetry Prize. Broadstone Press will publish her fourth book in 2018. Her poetry has been regularly featured on Garrison Keillor’s Writers Almanac.  She directs the graduate program in English at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, California, and lives in San Francisco with her husband.

You can contact her at jacquelineberger.com


Because the cassettes jostling in the wooden box
as I carry them to the dumpster
sound like horses returning to the stable—
what else can I do with them,
they can’t be recycled and who even
has anything to play them on,
each recorded by my father off an album
before those too were hauled to the garbage—
because replacement is the truest thing we know;
because I can’t bring myself to toss the tapes
so leave them beside the can, hoping someone
will want them; because the next day
they’re gone, and I wonder if right now
that person is listening to them on the last
remaining player in America,
or if, and just as likely, a neighbor
while dumping her own trash dumped the box of tapes,
tidying the alley, each freeing itself as it fell, Hebrew Melodies
banging against How to Belly Dance
before landing on the festering heap,
Noam Chomsky’s 1986 lecture languishing there.
Because the tapes are gone but not the carousels of slides—
how many pictures of flowers and mountains?
Because my father is still a mystery,
though what he left behind was briefly mine,
because I did not want to know my father
or my father did not want to be known,
because the clues solve nothing, so what
can I do but scatter the remains? 

Jacqueline Berger 

Maybe it’s more a sense than a feeling,
or even a scent, unidentified 
weed that smells like curry 
and grew in the Hollywood Hills
where I went to camp and grows 
on San Bruno where we take the dog, 
the smell taking me back.
Nostalgia’s a bad shorthand but it’s something.
Or maybe it’s like lowering into a hot bath, 
the almost sorrow that rises with the steam,
though tenderness is even worse than nostalgia.
I’m off to a bad start, but let’s go with curry
in dry September, what I’m getting at
is how these days and for some time
I feel a pulling away even in the midst.
Driving to work, I’m already done 
with the calendar of busyness, 
people needing things from me, 
have already moved into the spacious years, 
the luxury and loneliness of Monday
and nowhere to be. Even as I’m pulling
into the parking lot, finding a spot,
hanging the employee placard from the rearview,
I’m long into the drifting of its after,
the wet sand of its soft mornings, my old
identity, ambition, unhooked.

And early evening on our walks up the mountain,
past the shell mound, past Owl Canyon,
on to Acres and through the top of town
before looping back to the car, 
the dog is gone and I miss him
who is, at this moment, burrowing in the brush 
or scratching his back against its rough.
I feel death’s empty room,
fluorescent hum in place of the low chant
all life if you listen carefully emits.
Will we get another dog, weighing
our modes of escape against the pinning down
of daily walks, burrs pulled from the tail.
And you too are gone, even in the middle 
of our lives, even as you drive us home,
the dog in the back seat sleeping like the child
we never had. Why do you die first?
How else to keep telling the story?
I’m alone and not young, then old,
the scent of burning leaves or rubbish,
acrid and sweet, spit thickening
in the corners of my mouth.
Is this a feeling that should be treated,
or is it a tapping into?
I won’t call it anxiety, depression,
will call it the open window,
the train’s thin whistle bending into the curve,
is it lament or the physics of sound?
Will call it here and also gone,
it will answer to both
like a dog with a previous owner
who learned himself by one name and then another.
Will call and call but there is no answer,
and that will be the answer, 
the doesn’t matter of its either way.

Jacqueline Berger 



Because the cassettes jostling in the wooden box
as I carry them to the dumpster
sound like horses returning to the stable—

because the clues solve nothing, so what
can I do but scatter the remains?

What is the scale of your simile?  At what point do you introduce another metaphor?

The beauty of what Jacqueline has given us is the quiet noise of cassette tapes rattling compared to a thundering herd of horses.  Just let the juxtaposition of those noises wash over you.  She then threads the thundering horses through the intimate and fragile questions.  

Then the final line puts us at a funeral.  No sound.   Simply ashes.   Look through your poem.  What is the scale of your word comparisons?  A music box against a calliope?  Look at your efforts.  Look at Jacqueline's.  Write your poem.  Cut apart a cereal box and write it on the inside in Sharpie marker and nail it to a telephone pole

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

洞月亮 Cave Moon Press September 2016

FEATURED POET: Jerome Gold PhD—is the author of fifteen books, including The Moral Life of Soldiers and the memoir, Paranoia & Heartbreak: Fifteen Years in a Juvenile Facility. Russell Banks said about this book: “I’ve finished reading Jerome Gold’s terrific book cover to cover without a break… It’s a powerful and very tenderhearted book without a soupçon of sentimentality. Unforgettable!” Mr. Gold’s novels include Sergeant Dickinson, about which the New York Times Book Review said: “[It] belongs on the high, narrow shelf of first-rate fiction about battlefield experience.” He has published stories, essays, reviews and poems in Chiron Review, Moon City Review, Fiction Review, Boston Review, Hawaii Review, and other journals.

He is the founder and editor of Black Heron Press.


We mowed down the forest with bulldozers,
cleared the red soil of everything that grew.
All that soft wood, all those porous stalks,
those ropey vines and spiked leaves—
In two months, we burned everything that fell
and that was everything.

One day in the middle of this a man
running from fire of a different kind came
out of the shade of the remaining trees.
He wore the classic black pajamas
and an expression of bewilderment.
He ran back into the forest, and out again.
The place where he could hide was gone.
The place to which he had adapted his life, focused
his memories—gone. What must he have thought?
Had his wife given birth here (there had been a village)?
Had he met here with others to plan an ambush?
Did he call out the names of his parents, his brothers?
You might say his death was a result of his
failure to adapt to a changed environment.

In those days we had all gone feral.

—Jerome Gold

                                   for Roy McCready

From the ground I might have seemed
an angel falling out of orbit
or a tiny meteor aflame
spinning on it lopsided axis
arc-ing downward to a terrible rendezvous.

Inside, beginning to burn, I sat,
unable to reach an ejection handle,
anticipating the melt and crackle of my eyeballs.
My brain, working at light’s speed,
fastened finally on the solution to my problem:

I would ride the plane into the sea,
the sea would douse the fire,
I would climb out and be saved.
I held to this desperate idiocy for an
electric moment’s fraction before my plane exploded,

loosing me into hot sunlight
where my parachute snapped, rippled,
opened and set me down in brine
that doused my burns. The helicopter
arrived before the enemy and I was saved,

though somewhere in the tangle of shouting and harness,
drumming rotor blades and lathering water,
and the fearful hammering of cannon
I lost my Navy-issue .38-caliber

as I healed in hospital in San Diego,
the FBI, in a confrontation classic in irony,
dispassion, and the agency’s determination
to extinguish evil in all its guises,

accused me of stealing with the motive of
profit, or nostalgia, or
providing aid to the enemy.


accused me of stealing with the motive of
profit, or nostalgia, or
providing aid to the enemy.

Gold provides us with an ironic punchline too outlandish to make-up even for a fantasy prose writer. It is also given to us, not in a heavy handed fashion, like too much syrup on some pancakes.  It comes from a bare knuckled, witness style of poetry.

We saw much of the same thing with Crysta Casey's poems.  Although our passion and emotion can enter into the writing of a poem, there is something to be said for the dispassionate observation of the event that adds power and meaning.  Hemingway did it for prose about war and in places T.S. Eliot did the same, although there was still a sense of style and flair with Eliot's work.    

Write two versions of your next poem.  Write one full of gushing emotive adjectives.  Write another as if you were a dispassionate robot observing the event.  What shifts do you have to make?  Scribble your poem on a napkin at breakfast in the coffee shop.  Stuff it in your pocket for later.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

洞月亮 August 2016

FEATURED POET: CRYSTA E. 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. It was published by Cave Moon Press in June 2016. Crysta’s papers are housed in the University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections.

Check out her latest book @ Cave Moon Press


In a loosely-tied robe, the man with stump legs,
in a wheelchair, his gray hair pulled back
in a ponytail, swaps tales with another vet,
peanut butter in C-rats and M-16s
that clogged in the mud. One old man says,
“I don’t know nothin ‘bout Vietnam.”
He’s from WWII, lost on a long shot,
still betting the Kentucky Derby
that afternoon on TV. The nurse
on the night shift tells me about neighbors
who make too much noise getting drunk,
letting their kid jump on the floor.
“Shoulda never bought that place
near the airport. When planes take off
going north, the house rattles
and I wear earplugs.”
The vets in the smoke shack
stare at the sky with lost eyes
when a plane flies over. A man says,
“They’re going to remove half my face.
It was always my bad side.” Another says
he has a cowboy hat like that other vet
from Idaho, but he doesn’t wear it.
“I think I’m being punished,” says the old
man who asks for a light.

—Crysta E. Casey


Last night I performed
a miracle. I poured
the bottle I had left
down the drain. I turned wine
into water.

—Crysta E. Casey


I turned wine
into water.

The subject slaps us in the face more than the arrangement of the words.  We are hammered not by a certain meter or form.  We are hammered by a glimpse into the pain of a veteran.  So, since she set us up with that premise, the use of an ironic allegory at the end functions beautifully in this piece.

So, as you write your poem, what are you relying on to drawn in the reader?  If you lean on the accoutrements, then you have a challenge.  The reader has to be along for the ride, much like a fashionista needs to understand what is happening on the runway in Paris.  

In any case, write your poem.  Push the subject.  Accoutrements end up a dash of salt, in powerful poems.  If you are going to push the form, push it to the edge.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

May, 2016

FEATURED POET: TOD MARSHALL grew up in Kansas. His book Bugle (Canarium Press, 2014) won the Washington State Book Award in 2015. His other books of poetry include The Tangled Line (Canarium Press, 2009), and Dare Say (University of Georgia Press, 2002). He has also published a collection of his interviews with contemporary poets, Range of the Possible (Eastern Washington University Press, 2002) and an attendant anthology of work by the interviewed poets, Range of Voices (EWU Press, 2005). He lives in Spokane, Washington, and teaches at Gonzaga University.  He is serving as the poet laureate for the state of Washington from 2016-2018.




I don’t know what that sheriff thought of me
(shirtless, eight, holding the sheet metal screen
door, bracket and chain to keep it from swinging
busted in the last storm), as I lied to him

again when he asked if my folks were home,
except that his face showed he knew how things
would end up for me. “Come on, I know they’re home.”
The a/c labored in a window, evening

cicadas made racket.  Behind me, the TV
that was on when I answered the door, clicked off.
“Who turned it off?”  I looked him straight on. 
“My little brother,” I said, just as he

toddled in diapers from the back of the trailer,
and we stood side by side, guarding that door.

(First published in Crab Creek Review)


Most of us know only smoke:  dirty gauze, grey
weight on each cough of an hour.  Red eye
of the sun lingering, that slow arson
plotting with lightning, both hiding in clouds,
and worse:  most of us have occasionally cursed
the haze, rubbed watery eyes, mumbling my day,
my breath, my unburnt minutes.  We’re like that.  Try,
instead, to feel real heat, to hold hands open

and near hot embers, blue propane of a grill;
to see meat slowly sear, grease sizzle
into cinder. It’s okay if you fail. 
Just try.  And try, too, beneath blue skies when wind
clears smoke away, try to recall the blackened land,
and maybe try becomes a small act to heal the abundant ash, the pain.

(First appeared in Elizabeth Austen's blog)


Shakespeare had stage blocking to get the attention of the audience with contrast. Sometimes it is the subject matter that shocks, like with farmworkers in Steinbeck's novels.  What does the poet have?  Not that much. It has to count.  

Note that Tod's first poem the screen door and diapers on his brother rivet the reader. Those tiny details are counterweights to whatever the sheriff is bringing to the front door.

What does your screen door do in your poem?  Notice there is no waxing eloquent in Tod's poem.  The moment is left with the eight-year old.  Economy of image and word.  

What can you cut out?  How can you focus your image?  Catch up to Tod around the state.  Write your poem.