“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

Boris Schleinkofer, poetrywatch editor

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.

Let’s try to 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-to-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.

Nooksack Salutation

by Leslie Wharton

Down by the river,
sun rises lifting fog.
I watch, and wait,
for clarity.
I came to fish,
but first bend over
to touch
flowing water.
I gather words.
Raise my arms,
shake my hands,
remember rain.
Turn toward the bank.
Dry my hands
on soft moss,
warm them on
smooth stones,
left bare in drought,
laid down by the river.

An off-grid home built by Leslie Wharton and her husband Mark in Colorado was destroyed in a wildfire. She currently lives in Bellingham, writes and speaks on her experience of wildfire, climate change and human resilience. Her first book is “Phoenix Rising: Stories of Remarkable Women Walking Through Fire,” a collection of women’s writings on wildfire.


The Spelling Bee

by Marlene Chasson

I walk down the hall to her room.
She is in her chair, eyes closed, hands folded,
her afghan across her knees.
But she is not really there.
She is back in her sixth grade classroom
standing in front of the blackboard
waiting for her teacher to pronounce the next word.
She spells c-a-t-e-g-o-r-i-c-a-l-l-y correctly
and is almost back to her seat
when I say, “Hello there, how are you today?”
She slowly opens her eyes, remembers where she is
And tries not to show her disappointment
when she sees me standing there
with a vase of flowers in my hand.

This poem is a composite of the many visits Marlene Chasson has made to nursing homes during the eleven years she has worked as an advocate for people in long term care. Her first poem was published while she was in junior high school many, many years ago.


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