Friday, May 27, 2011


Lynn Otto

Sterkte says my mother when I go,
one of the many Dutch words she knows,
one of the few I’ve learned.

Her mother said the same to her
when she left Los Angeles for Tacoma,
two babies in diapers, no dryer.
It rained all but one day of November.

The tenth day of wet gray,
it took strength to smile even briefly.
On the twentieth, she whispered
it a hundred times. Sterkte.

My great-grandmother wished it
when her daughter, new baby in arms,
boarded the boat. Wished it for her daughter
and herself. Just to walk home.

In each letter we’ve sent: Sterkte.
Four generations, in different hands,
the one word we still write
in the mother tongue.



Lynn Otto teaches writing classes for homeschoolers and is an adjunct writing instructor at George Fox University in Oregon. She'll begin work on an MFA in poetry at Portland State University in September 2011. Her work is in Triggerfish Critical Review, Yamhill County Arts Alliance’s Paper Gardens chapbooks, and forthcoming in Plain Spoke.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Ed Bennett

(For my Cherokee great great grandmother)

Some days I can feel your breath
in the rustle of brown paged documents
where I seek a hidden trace or revelation
from so many generations removed.

I heard your name in childhood
from hushed voices in other rooms
sharing drinks and laughter
over great grandma’s legend.

You were my dream that night,
drawn from purloined snippets
of grown up conversation hidden
like coins beneath my pillow.

You have been erased from us,
turned from flesh to whisper,
invisible as the wind
yet part of me, contained in every vein.

Mother of wind, my blood, my breath
sit with me as I glean these records
where the pieces of your life lie open
for me to take and place on your bones.

My old life falls from me like leaves
in an autumn gust of anxious change,
to take this legacy of fire and drum
from someone gone to someone resurrected

You are part of me, a shaman’s cry,
the breath of change roiling my soul
like the angel’s finger in Siloam’s pool
embraced with the chant of eagle voices.

Bless the whispers of my childhood,
Mother of the Spirit Wind,
that restored my blood
with the songs of my lost people.


Ed Bennett is a Telecommunications Engineer living in Las Vegas and is a Staff
Editor of Quill and Parchment. Originally from New York City, his work appeared
in The Patterson Literary Review, The Externalist, Quill and Parchment, and
Touch: The Journal of Healing. In March of this year The Lives You Touch Press
published his chapbook, “A Transit of Venus”.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Captain

The Captain
Bradley McIlwain

The Captain, again,
has come and gone.

He has been here twice
in the last month,

each time his purpose
unknown –

and we have left empty

burning with the same
unanswered question,

each time, taking only
what you have to give.

I heard from your mouth
he was the lover no one

knew you had, not even
your daughter who was

baffled by your seventy
year silence,

left to wonder about her
legal birth.

We wondered if he died
in the war,

but you wouldn’t tell us;
only that he was coming

to take you away,
from that steel bed

and whitewashed walls;
when you were afraid to

fade out with the rest of
the furniture.

To this day I wonder
If he made it to your

deathbed, standing
there in uniform

with your luggage
and your boarding

waiting to take you

to the harbor.
No photograph

of him remained,
whose name you buried

with the dead;
and all his secrets

on your skin
were carried by the tide.


Bradley McIlwain is a Canadian-based writer and poet, who lives and works in rural Ontario. His works have appeared in Wanderings Magazine, New Verse News, Rope and Wire, Frostwriting, The Copperfield Review, and others. He holds a Bachelor of Arts, Honours in English Literature from Trent University. His first collection of poetry, Fracture, was published in 2010, and is available at Blurb.