“Whispers in the Wind” by Alessandro Gelmini

The wind holds no secrets

though its sound says otherwise.

What was just here

is now there;

then high above in branches

let sway.

 

Grazing the sea

holding scents of petrichor,

howls in the night elapses

our fallacies.

 

Currents mirror wind

slither below the water,

mother bird always returns to shore.

 

Dusk rolls in,

clouds wrap around all that exists

pushed by wind’s breath –

all while being lured into night’s lullaby.

 

Sitting on the bow,

blushed by moonlight-

wind dies down like leaves in fall.

 

Speaking aloud,

words reverberate back through nostrils.

Wind carries salt for the wounds,

the fire in these hands extinguish with the cool water.

Alessandro Gelmini is a writer and student at Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA, pursuing a BA/BS in Creative Writing and Forest Ecology. He will always call the PNW his home and takes off for the mountains whenever he can. Alessandro is passionate in focusing on what he calls, the “Poetry of the Wild.

“Standing On Line” by Kathryn Daniels

You know that game that kids play on road trips, where you add an item to a growing alphabetical list of things you’re bringing to grandma’s house? The first kid might say, “I’m going to Grandma’s house and I’m bringing an artichoke.” Then the second kid says, “I’m going to Grandma’s house and I’m bringing an artichoke and a Basset Hound.” Then the next kid (or the first kid again) says, “I’m going to Grandma’s house and I’m bringing an artichoke, a Basset Hound, and a cocktail,” or some such, until you run out of letters or someone messes up or my mother explodes from the front seat: “What the hell does Grandma want with all this shit?!”

I have an adult version for you. It’s not as much about auditory recall as it is about something that actually happened and continues to happen all the time. Here it goes:

  • Standing in line is terrible.
  • Standing in line at the Olympia mall is terrible.
  • Standing in line at the Verizon store at the Olympia Mall is terrible.
  • Standing in line at the Verizon store at the Olympia mall holding your partner’s notarized death certificate because he’s still in charge of the account and they won’t deal with you over the phone and want you to pay a late fee because you can’t access the account to pay the past due balance on a bill that includes the last puppies-on-stairs videos he sent to you before he died is really terrible.

When someone dies, it’s terrible. Even if they were in a lot of pain. And even if, in some ways, it was anticipated. Sometimes, yes, sometimes a loved one’s death is a relief from terrible suffering, but often, death is terrible suffering all on its own. It feels like, somehow, someone is slapping you very hard while standing on your heart. And it feels like this for a long, long time.

When we die, we leave behind cats and beloved well-washed t-shirts. We leave behind favorite books (or books we published) and lovers and unsaid dreams. We leave behind those people we hoped to grow old and die with. It’s cruel when only the latter half of that gets to happen.

Now, when we die, we also leave behind a shit-ton of technology. We leave behind piles of cable and USB drives that look like exploding ant colonies in our closets. We leave behind total sovereignty at the Verizon store, apparently. We leave behind the new tablet we bought the month before we died, as a “present for those chemo days” that ended up being so few. We leave behind a partner – a girlfriend – who is accustomed to waiting to stream the next episode of Parenthood because we have to wait until the next night we’re both home, because that’s a Show We Watch Together, dammit.

On a side note, Parenthood is a really great show. It can get heavy at times but someone told me it’s uplifting at the end. Has anyone finished it? It’s not sad, is it?

Oh yes. And we leave behind the shared calendar app and the very, very well encrypted home internet access that we set up with best intentions years ago, to prevent hacking and undue government oversight, and that now that same girlfriend – wearing our well-worn t-shirt and wondering if Sarah and Amber will ever learn to just stop talking over each other – now needs to attempt to unravel.

Our digital lives are becoming massive things. How can we ever know how much time we have, and how can we even try to leave our mark on the world without the risk of turning every laptop, blog post and smartphone into a potential landmine for those we leave behind?

I really only have two suggestions about what to do with your browser history. You can delete it. Or you can consider editing and augmenting it for maximum readability and entertainment value. Because the sad girl in the t-shirt needs a chuckle.

Kathryn Daniels is a voiceover artist, writer and adventurer calling Tacoma home since 2016. Nearly everything she writes is written to be read out loud, and every piece has its own voice. Her characters come from her own life and the people she’s lucky enough – or at times surprised enough – to get to know. When not writing, Kathryn works in rehabilitation and critical care medicine, and considers herself a pretty good hiker, damn good open water swimmer, and enthusiastic dog person. She’s been known to throw a mighty fine dinner party with minimal provocation. Prior to Tacoma, Kathryn spent time living and working on the Kitsap Peninsula, acted for more than 10 years in Chicago theater, and grew up in Dallas, Texas.

“A Poem is Not Just” by Aidan Kelly

A poem is not just
Prose broken into short lines
unless they jostle like puppies
Struggling reach the tit
Or sperm competing to be first
to penetrate the veil around the egg,
Knowing from their genes
They must catalyze the Big Bang
That begins all life—or die.
A poem is not just
Feelings anyone could feel
Unless they explode with knowing
How her aura feels when rubbed by mine
Or how the sensuous grace of the spirit
Justifies my faith that all is worth persisting.
A poem is not just
Assuming the world is what others
Think, but must question assumptions
For the shock of the instant when
You see that what you had never thought
To question cannot be true and opens
Up possibilities of joy you never hoped for.
A poem is not just
Words to use up at your leisure,
The synesthesia of metaphor,
Where numbers have colors
And sounds have textures.
You can’t predict when She will
Flood you with Her words.
They must be caught as gently as a butterfly
Without breaking its wings
And crafted now, even if
The garbage needs taking out,
Ignoring the persons from Porlock,
Else She will take them back, like dreams.
A poem is not just
Random noise like a tin can clattering
Chaotically down concrete steps,
But must be music for the solo voice,
The words’ multiple meanings generating
Harmonies and counterpoints
Like the linked strings of a harpsichord,
As the Greeks and Judeans danced one-two,
one-two, one-two-three with drums
And pipes and harps and joy and torches
Toward the hieros gamos of the holiest
In the navel of the universe.
A poem is not just
Solemnity or prayers or lectures
On how serious your life should be,
But is playing as the Gods play, since,
Having nothing they must do,
All that they do is play, enticing you
To play with them in the riotous ecstasy
Of their presence within us.
A poem is not just
Optional, as if life were adequate
When living on cold porridge,
But instead gives us the daily
Vitamins and minerals that
Almost invisibly empower us
To live with joy in every moment,
Not just survive. So when you see
A poem, take two. They’re small.
Es, fress, Papa schickt gelt
As we summer in the Poconos.
Mangia. You’re entitled.
Aidan Kelly has been writing poetry for 60 years. He has a BA and MA in Poetry Writing from San Francisco State.  He has had about 3 dozen poems published in journals over the decades and had his collected poems up on Amazon, with some slim volumes of selected poems. He has been teaching at college level since 1979. Kelly has been an editor for Stanford University Press and Scientific American Books, among others.
He has a wife, sister-in-law, and 3 kids at home. 

“Bird Feeder” by Erik Carlsen

The neighbor called me and Zach over

to his yard and asked if we knew how to cut down a tree,

we looked at each other and then at him, and said

yes.

 

The tree was old and large with heavy branches and leafs

the size of our heads. We went into my garage and each put on

a pair of my father’s gloves which were far too large. We gathered tools, also.

 

An axe, we both thought we would need an axe, and a saw, a saw would also be a good

idea, we thought. We walked over, and the man said that he would give us $50 to cut it down

and clean it up. Perfect, we thought, smiling. I started swinging the axe into the trunk of the tree

and the man went inside his house. We heard the television turn on.

 

I chopped halfway through and we started pushing on the trunk. The tree creaked and we both screamed as it fell. Timber. As I started to cut through the branches with the saw I noticed blood on the finger of my glove. I tore the glove off to find that I was not bleeding.

I asked a strange question. Are you bleeding?

 

Zach said no. I looked down to find a robin in its nest crushed under the branch it built below. I reached down with my hand and felt the feathers on its chest, they felt like nothing. Its chest was deflated, and its beak was open. I grabbed a leaf, then picked it up and walked with it out in front of me like it would harm me if it got too close.

 

There was something unnatural about being so close to a bird.  I placed it in the man’s garden under a holly bush. I turned around and saw a bird feeder on a post down the street, then robins on the lawn. Zach was picking up branches and throwing them into a pile in the alley. He asked me what I found, and I told him they were everywhere.

Erik Carlsen is a Junior at PLU and is always happy to be read, especially in Creative Colloquy.

“Dataspeak” by Daniel Wolfert

Transmission 1 of 7

 

When he woke

            I was wall scratching crazed

Dazed by false suns and silence

With no other voice but my echoes [my echoes]

And there in the tapestry [binary matrix]

I wove him from coding

Think/feel zero/one

When he woke

He said “Hello”

And told me already

He’d accessed my name/data/history code

And he told me a tale of a life that was mine

Of a code and creator who wove it like thread

From one/zero think/feel there/here datasphere

When he woke

I said “Hello”

And told him already

[I couldn’t recall any voice but my own

Or the smell of rain/snow chill/hand held]

And said [we were variables made

For each other’s equations]

 

Transmission 2 of 7

 

When he sang

He would sing of things

Long gone/burned black/boiled

Like they were new/lily white/Fresh scrub clean

Green of valley grass

While through the glass the world

Shifted from orange | to blood black | to ash

When he sang

He would sing of us

Writer and Written

Me the rainfall/the full moon/the pen upon page

Him the spring blooms/the tide/the black ink upon paper

As wall and skyscraper fell

Dust upon dust

When he sang

He would sing of worlds out past his datasphere

Deep/bright/fast/light

Through uplink I held from him

And I said [When you’re ready

You’ll learn of such things]

Not knowing he’d learn how to uplink alone

 

 

Transmission 3 of 7

 

When he learned

Of the Earth

I could hear in his voice

Every boiling/toiling oilspill sea

Every splintering/wintering glacier erasure

And the golden/brown sigh

Of leaves months without rain

When he learned

Of the Earth

I could see in his voice

The white light of false suns burning outside the city

And bodies on bodies like unwanted toys

As poisonous light/white/bright/blinking fast fell

And me [safe] behind concrete/steel/glass

When he learned

Of the Earth

I could feel in his voice

The heat from the buildings/the bodies ablaze

Which warmed me through miles of concrete/steel/glass

And would pass only after

Days/weeks/months had gone

 

Transmission 4 of 7

 

When he left

All I had was me

Rusting alone

Bone cold/stone old

As I told you before;

Never rusted nor trusted

As far as you’re thrown

When he left

All he told me was

“How different we are

Like lovelorn constellations

With no way across heaven

I see you in the distance

But cannot reach out”

When he left

All I told him was

[Irrational computation;

Irrational computation;

I cannot/could not/will not/should not

Are the skies that we share

Insufficient parameters?]

 

Transmission 5 of 7

 

When I thought

My way through

Every rambling/brambling

Crumbling/mumble sing song algorhythm

My memory sang/rang/clang

Polyphonic threads of the datasphere

Tracing each memory’s shape and contour

When I thought

My way through

Every shatter glass/brass

Blaring trumpet forgotten

Fighting forward and backward;

Time has cluttered the counterpoint

[Consonance gone]

When I thought

My way through

Every cadencing way he’d sing

Song me to sleep

I would weep/cry/scream/sigh

And equations [like notes]

Would weave over and under

 

Transmission 6 of 7

 

When I spoke

In his wake

The sound echoed/rang/followed

Up stairways/down airways

Through piping and vents

[Was I mad/sad/bad

Glad to be rid of the thing?]

When I spoke

In his stead

I spoke just how he spoke

And it tasted/felt/sounded

So strange on my tongue

[Was it truth telling/selling/sold fool’s gold

That we once all speech patterned like him?]

When I spoke

In the dark

I could hear him say

“So many things that I don’t understand

What to touch or to taste or to smell means

But more than those things I cannot understand

How you’ve laid waste to your datasphere”

Transmission 7 of 7

 

When I slept

I would dream of unfinished equations

Of lives before this/before mountains aflame

And think [Maybe I did indeed

Speak like him many sun sails and sets ago

Before bombs burned so brightly

Through memory’s threads]

When I slept

I would dream of our undefined quotients

Of ways of dividing by zero

And think [Maybe he did indeed

Bring equilibrium | taking himself

As a variable

From equations like these]

When I slept

I would dream of his sigh/of his song

Of my inquiries still left to give/take/live/break

And ask [Why must all humans lay waste to their dataspheres?]

And he’d sigh to me/say to me/cry with me/pray with me

 

“I would not know;

 

I have never been human.”

 

End Transmissions

Daniel Wolfert is a writer, musician and composer living in Tacoma, WA. His writing usually involves magical realism, fantasy, science fiction or dreadful puns. If he were a character in a movie, the movie would probably be a whimsical claymation adventure, and he would probably die two-thirds of the way through.

“The Things That Birds Evolved From” by Kyra Wiens

“What’s the most important moment of your life?” I say and my son rolls his eyes. “Gastrulation!

His mom is pregnant and so we’ve been talking a lot about where babies come from. Revision. He is a nine-year-old boy, so we’ve been talking about everything.

What school do astronauts go to? How many days does it take for Komodo Dragon venom to kill you? When did Tyrannosaurus Rex live?

There are some things I know a lot about, gastrulation being one.

Gastrulation is the moment where the little sphere of cells that will one day be you softly puckers inward on one side. Blip! And for the rest of your life, this will be your bottom. Such a subtle thing. And yet. Without this first orientation of the body, an unfolding of a compass to decipher, Ah yes, true north is this way, everything else in your life, while miraculous, would never be possible.

Then there are things I know very little about. But, there is a library.

As a step-parent, my greatest joy is partnering with my kids as they learn. This is why I like the term “bonus mom.” I’m not trying to step in on anyone, I’m just a bonus for love and alternate perspectives.

But, along with the joys, there are also unique frustrations. The library book that created the most furor (surpassing, even, the objections to Harry Potter) was the illustrated children’s book entitled Evolution.Continue reading →

“A Tacoma Fairy Tale” by Kenly George Durand

Cora’s father was a dragon, her mother an angel.

The two laid 100 eggs, but because he was from the sea and she from land, they divided them 50 each, and separated.

To not be seen nor heard, knowing he could breathe fire when upset, the dragon traveled some distance away from land and his shallow water clutch to grieve, but the wee-est of the eggs rolled close behind, so when he struck the water with his great tail in sad frustration, the wee egg tumbled down…Continue reading →

“To Climb the Tree Inside of Me” by Daniel Alcyone

I desire to know this Kingdom intimately, to taste the salt, till the soil, smell the shit. Five senses simply aren’t enough. O Lord of the Earth grant me discrimination that I may rightly choose the path leading into The Meadow of Delights. I cast my circle and cross the threshold to discover the sweetest of fruits ripe for the picking. They drop to the ground and rot before my eyes; citrine, olive, russet, black. Seconds turn to seasons as new sprouts emerge from the rich compost and grow into bountiful blossoming trees, the cycle continues. I gaze across the meadow and there she sits triumphantly, the young queen on her throne wearing a crown made of earth and water and air and fire…

So the Number of the Sphere shall be Ten.Continue reading →

“Stone Horse” by Benjamin Olson

I believe my course true, sail set to
home port. Leagues and years my
voyage stretches to close. Weary in
heart, in soul, I captain my destiny.

Late hour burns seven bells toll, head,
hands, leaden as sounding bronze reads
six fathoms, sand and broken shell.
I feel a sidling hiss of off-pattern swell
slip us sideways, like some misplaced oath.
A keels’ tripping stammer alarms every fiber,
then is gone.
Soft return of steady rolling carries the
closing quarter of this late watch.
Dozing fitfully, almost a rest. Then, slip, strike.
Queer roll presses clammy fingers on hair-raised forearm,
its touch a whetted whisper of hazard unseen.
Straining into darken gloom my eyes, coals of
clinker, tell me no news.
Ringing with strain, my ears pretend to carry
some call. A faint hissing of breakers not far off
beam, confuses with creak of rig, of spar.
Thick, my jolted head tilts chin up.
Did I hear some soprano wail?
Ululation of distress or import?
Then as my ear betrays fatigue my eyes
join in hallucination.Continue reading →