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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.


by Steve Hood

To pay debts to huge banks,
deforest a jungle, set fire to
green trees, bulldoze stumps.

Smoke of hundreds of oil
wells ablaze after tank battles,
kill natives for profit.

Cities glitter, glass towers
full of cables and wires,
and brokers high on cocaine,

ravenous always for more,
strip alive hillsides for coin,
as intelligent as termites.

Create a desert where nothing
can live, sands blow, rocks
remain in their stillness.

Steve Hood is an attorney, poet, and political activist who has lived in Bellingham since about 2003.


The Lushootseed Word for Salmon

by Rick Hermann

At twilight, eagle talons
hook a bony snag across the river’s reach.
In the shallows, too played out to notice
or care, swimming slowly,
not thinking ahead, I inch my way upstream

in this salmon skin, heavy with life and death,
crooked for a moment against the current.
I pause in a small eddy
hidden by the shadow of a stone.
The ones who long ago fished with nets

along this river know how the story goes:
Eagle’s wings unfurl, punch air downward,
his body a rising motion.
Locked in Eagle’s sight, I begin to sing
the song of my birth in this same river, times past.

Eagle — my brother, my father,
my teacher — dives straight at my heart,
enters into me, into the dream-life,
scavenging nourishment. Soars
high above, travels far, spreading my seed
across the green world.

Rick Hermann is the author of two previous books: “The Bright World of Dandelion Court” and “Parkinson’s Dreams about Me: My Dance with the Shaking Palsy.” He was born in St. Maries, Idaho, and moved to Whatcom County in 1987 with his wife Lee Willis, where they raised their son, Eli Hermann, in the city of subdued excitement.