by Categories: poetrywatchIssue:

Boris Schleinkofer, poetrywatch editor

“When power leads man toward arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the area of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses.” — John F. Kennedy

Artwork by Hilary Cole

Artwork by Hilary Cole

Poetry has a voice in our community, and the Whatcom Watch is adding to its chorus. You all love poetry, right? Well, here you go!

Subject matter is unlimited, but poetry featuring or specific to Whatcom County and issues addressed by Whatcom Watch (government, the environment and media) will likely get first preference.

Please keep it to around 25 lines; otherwise, we might have to edit your work to fit. Don’t make yourself unprintable.

Send poems and your short, two- or three-sentence bios as a word document attachment to poetry@whatcomwatch.org.

The deadline is the first day of the month.

Please understand that acceptance and final appearance of pieces are subject to space constraints and editorial requirements. By submitting, authors give Whatcom Watch express permission for first-time publication rights in paper and electronic editions of current or future volumes of Whatcom Watch.

The Turning 2016

by Nancy Grayum

Closing her eyes at her demise
the year weeps in distress
exhausted by fears
for the hungry and wounded
the desperate, demented
the dying

Bowing her head at the dark of the moon
she crouches in misery
blistered by malice
of twisted tweets and secret wars
poisoned water, quiet bombings
the hatred

Curling in pain at the turning
she gags at the gut punch
terrified by treachery
grand wizardry and corporate kings
broken treaties, private armies
the evil

Inhaling sharply before her last
she calls to kindness
ragged from reaching
for warm embrace, the final waltz
a posture of prayer, humble silence
the listening

Trembling softly at the end of time
she pauses one second longer
scatters the seeds
of tender hopes and common cares
creative and meaningful change
the living

Opening her heart at the passage
she slips away with benevolence
prays for grace
for compassion and charity
integrity, resilience
Our Voices

Nancy Grayum is a retired educator and recovering technical writer. She savors the rain-blessed forests and salty shores of Whatcom County, usually seeking the right path, or some divergence. She can be reached at nggrayum@gmail.com.


(with a nod to Stephen Crane)

by Timothy Pilgrim

The universe said to a man,
Sir, I exist all around you.

Great, the man replied, great,
but are you gluten-free?

No More Robbery

by Timothy Pilgrim

Mount Baker above, you collect rocks —
basalt, granite, shale, — hand them
to me. I place one on another,
construct a cairn, each stone

jutting jagged. Some skipping rocks
support others the size of ptarmigans.
I need this column to be strong,
survive until the threatening storm

is impeached. A historian once noted
growth for the sake of growth
is the philosophy of the cancer cell.
Not always, not here. My pillar

joins others, a thousand of them
staggering into fierce wind, resisting
Earth’s great robbery. Together,
the cairns are holding up the sky.

Timothy Pilgrim, emeritus associate professor of journalism at Western Washington University, has published over 300 poems. He is author of “Mapping Water” (Flying Trout Press, 2016). His work can be found at timothypilgrim.org.