John L. Wright

THE LOVELINESS OF THIS WORLD, John L. WrightFinishing Line Press, PO Box 1626, Georgetown KY 40324, 2020, 36 pages, $13.00 paper,

It is always a pleasure to recommend a local poet. Wright lives in Edmonds and until 1988 was a physician at Swedish Medical Center. I’m so glad he made his way in retirement to poetry, or that poetry made its way to him.

Among many poems taking a fond look at people and dogs he has known  (and many, lost), The Loveliness of this World also catalogs Wright’s walks through a northwest landscape. After I walked at Japanese Gulch in Mukilteo this afternoon, I sat in my car and read this prose poem:

Walking in the Woods without an iPhone

–the red crest of pileated woodpeckers their drumming the whinnying flight of the flicker its white rump the call of the owl the eagle and the quail the basket bark of cedar the insipid taste of salmonberries the wild huckleberry’s tartness licorice fern rooted in the bark of big-leaf maple the purplish blush of alder its hanging catkins the Indian plum its white blossoms the leathery leaves of salal the yellow flowers of Oregon grape the fragrance of evergreen after rain.

Yes, I thought, exactly so

Let me add that this poem is not representative of the collection–many beautiful, more conventional poems I could have chosen–but I love the joyful and playful compression of this.


Francine E. Walls

WAITING FOR SOMEONE TO FIND ME, Francine E. Walls. Finishing Line Press, PO Box 1626, Georgetown, Kentucky 40324, 2020, 35 pages, $14.99 paper, 

I loved spending time amid these poems. It was a wild ride from northwest gardens and beaches, to southwest deserts, to Africa and Wales–full of heartache and hope and, as one poem concludes, “a quiet tinkering of fire.”

The Pleiades

Pearl, oyster, agate–desert hues–fade.
Camped in the creased arroyo,
I lie on the hood of the truck.
Stars emerge horizon to horizon,

the Pleiades a glow of light above Orion’s belt,
a meteor flashing out in death,
a satellite tumbling from its orbit, winking out a life.
When you can’t go on with someone, what then? 

He left his cooler, tent, butane stove in the camp,
left this place gouged out by floods
where cacti jump toward movement,
granite traps quartz crystals.

Only the crackle of the fire
until the shriek of a hunting hawk.

By the apricot moon,
tiny desert trumpets bloom
where saber-tooth tigers once pounced on prey,
moths flutter straight into the fire.

Sandra Noel


THE GYPSY IN MY KITCHEN, Sandra Noel. Finishing Line Press, PO Box 1626, Georgetown, KY 40324, 2015, 29 pages, $12.95 paper,

I met Sandra Noel in 2017 at SoulFood Coffeehouse when we read our poems  together. Noel writes about Indonesia, where she  has worked with the Alliance for Tompotika (ALTO), a non-profit conservation organization, and she writes about walking and running in the woods. This poem especially inspired me and seemed to have been written especially for me to read today. (I looked up Horus, who is, appropriately–given the red-tailed hawks circling above the poem–a god in the form of a falcon.


The day after…
stillness comes
it’s the same trail
I ran yesterday
the same moss covers
the dead tree branches.
Today a small rain creates concentric magic.
A pair of red tails circle overhead
patrolling the parameter
with serial grace.
I offer up my heart to them
broken as it is
a sacrifice to Horus.
I will go forth singing
in the ancient way
with the old joy
and sweet grace
of the body.
This is what I trust
This is all I know
about anything.
I came here closed
and broken.
I leave filled with light.

Sue Sutherland-Hanson

Because it is National Poetry Month and I have a goal of writing a poem a day, I’m also reading a lot of poetry.

This morning I read Stars and Strangers, poems by Sue Sutherland-Hanson. (Finishing Line Press, Georgetown, Kentucky, 2016, 27 pages, $14.99 paper,

Sutherland-Hanson was a northwest native and taught at Edmonds Community College. Her poems play familiar chords: Pentecostal churches and clamming shovels, Napa Auto Parts and camping fires. But they range into a global territory, too, encompassing struggles that might be drawn from the headlines, or from the stories of her international students.

If you took seriously my prompt yesterday to write a bird poem, Sutherland-Hanson could inspire you with “Of a Feather,” where each stanza describes a different bird, and each reminds us that humans are not our only kin on this planet:

A great blue heron tilts his head,
slow-motion fishes my pond.
I have never done anything
with that much

Sue Sutherland-Hanson was my age, and she died, too young, in 2018, the same year I lost my mother. Little wonder that this sonnet especially resonates with me:

Keeping Vigil

She sits silent, back bent against her season of dying,
unrelenting, leans against her hardest winter yet,
weakens in the wear of each day, shuffles expectant
’round time’s bend, surprised not to find death yet.

It’s hard to see her wait — hard this letting go, more
letting go. But, were she stronger and we found her
gone, wouldn’t we wail, it’s too soon for dying; she was
so alive? 
This way we pace life’s fence-line with her,

wonder about our own deaths. Will we weaken
while loved ones worry, perish in smashing cars
or gulp freezing seas replacing air? Will we drop
mid-sentence or crawl wheezing into the beyond?

Even though we watch her stare into the clear expanse,
we’ll gasp, shocked she found the opening and left.