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Photography by Ryan Ragan

Ryan Ragan


King’s Valley


The doorframe is coated with what

looks like shed skin.

I guess winter stumbled in

drunk last night. Usually around this time I hear 

how the bones of others are turning clock gears—

and I realize the town is maybe not bored

but preoccupied.

I often wonder if I too should worry

about joints and mice flossing with the insulation

blanketing my house,

or if I make friends by acting

like I don’t care.

Sappho said the king’s valley is

moments away. But how close was she?

I mean, when did she know she’d be there?

Maybe she followed a flake of snow

all the way from the sky to the ground

and managed to keep an eye on it amid

the chaos of others.



Ryan Ragan is a recent graduate of the University of Alaska Fairbanks MFA program. His poetry is forthcoming in ZYZZYVA, Penwood Review, Clapboard House, and has appeared in Cut Bank, Apple Valley Review, Spillway and Booth; also online at 971 MENU. His poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and for inclusion in Best New Poets 2011 and 2012, and Best of the Net 2011.


Cody Kucker



The Light of Anything                           


A plane can look a star in the light

of anything: the light coming to be,

the leaving light that makes far brambles beasts;

that playful light behooving drowse, before


breakfast or after dinner, or before

dinner if it is summer and been hot

enough to destroy appetite till dark.

You know this light, it is the hopeful one


and it is a hen squat on some old egg;

a light cut out to allay those alone

but generous, so even we who share

a bed can creep on out while lovers sleep


or, home from work, linger in the driveway

before going in and let a whim breathe.

Yet, inherent in the light of anything

is its limits: the plane will come toward us,


the far off bush we thought a bear won't move,

and when what stars are and are not becomes

clear, on our porch, or by our car, we will

be met with a choice: to look away as soon


as what we thought was still admits motion

or to keep staring: for if we say plane

or that there was no wild thing in the field

we have to face it: what was is no more.




Cody Kucker has an M.F.A. from the University of Alaska Fairbanks . His work has also appeared in The Oklahoma Review, Willows Wept Review, EDGE, and Splash of Red, among others.

Josh Fish


The Way You Read


The way you read from Finnegan's Wake,

you understand “muzzlenimiissilehims,” laugh

at the quirks and I can't help but to want

to look for more than sounds and rhythm.

I want to get lost

as can only be done

in story.


In history,

we swam in the Great Salt Lake

on the way from the same salt city

losing ourselves

riding the symbolic desert highway and taking no time to understand

the map. Feeling instead

like a light whirl moved by stray current

driven by our want


we wanted everything

to shatter.  Ourselves, to invent 

singing, "how does it feel to be on your own, a complete unknown."

Bob Dylan sounds good

on the highway, under sticky water.

The buoyancy propels me like a dolphin in the air and you are running on the beach 

chasing bugs under sand.

Swarms are put to flight,

unearthed from their homes,

excitedly flying, scattered

from your footprints.


Riding back, in the back seat, reading The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, I am affected

and ask you a question about the book because I want

to know what you think about anything

honestly, to talk to you and understand

you say, "let's get ice cream."

A good reading.


And even with the air rushing at seventy five miles an hour through all four open windows,

past my dangling freckled feet, I can hear the sounds

of your tongue licking ice cream. I lose my thoughts

and am left with only my senses to read

the world, what I wanted

to be, part of a story

I understand.




Josh Fish is an MFA studentof Nonfiction at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks where he is areader of creative nonfiction for the journal Permafrost. Hehas a BA in creative writing from Grand Valley State University andhas published fiction in Whether magazine and poetry andnonfiction in Fishladder. Josh was nominated for the AWP introaward in Nonfiction from GVSU in 2009. He writes personal essays andtravel writing.

Christopher Lee Miles



After Moondog’s The German Years


The long-gone reed scoops sound like a ladle.   

The cheap bamboo flute chirps a scalpel-note.

The brass horns blow their blunder. The bass,


like a dredge, slogs along the bottom-mud.

The pond clears, and the cuckoo and the duck

float like sunken glass. A cyclops fees and faws.


Hooded monks among the waters prays to wilt

and not to wilt. To say how blind-eyes smell

apple-blossoms. The music withdraws, peels


the grass back, wrenches symbols from the land.

Who will speak for them when, like tired giants

in a cliff-sheltered bay, they build a campfire,


huddle around and laugh? Who will not scold

them for unhooking themselves from our flesh

and withdrawing from our biased demands?




Christopher Lee Miles's work appears in Connecticut Review, Cortland Review, Atlanta Review, and is forthcoming in Sugarhouse Review, Salamander, and War, Literature, and the Arts. A veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, he lives in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Zackery Medlin


When Punching a Fish in the Face is All There is to be Done


Where the waters rescind from the Tartan flood plain

Rises an esoteric white form from the saw grass

Lapping at the swollen drainage creek I’ve come to

Today to pull loose a few fish. The arc of his ribs

Grabs me first, no hint of the meat that once kept locked

This symmetry of element and architecture,

Calcium rich and marrow sweet. You could see teeth

Marks marring the thick bones, a carrion scrimshaw


Fine-grained as glass etchings of some forgotten saint,

Delicate as the articulated vertebrae

Tilting toward the bull moose’s expansive skull, refined

Cracks of lightning knitting fast his cranial ridge.

The flat mill of his teeth grinding the silt-thick

Ripples washing across his snout. And just above


A bottle fly weaves in and out of its voided orbitals,

Finds rest on the socket’s dry lip and stares me down

Through those round geodesic mosaics of eyes

Shimmering green as filaments of peacock her l

Or crumpled aquamarine tinsel. It knows me

For what I am, for why I am here. To kill.

Not for food, but to feel blood running dark and hot

From a heart and over my hands, down my arms in streams


That puddle beneath my elbow and pump into my own

Wanting veins and surge. I am here to become death

Because I can, while I still am.  I tie tight my hook,

Cast to the glossy seam of colliding currents. The fish

Crushes the pale morning dun. I pull it in and fold tight

My fist and fast strike, bring it docile to my knife.



Zackary Medlin was born and raised in Greenville, SC. He moved to Alaska in 2007 and is currently enrolled in the MA/MFA program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He smokes Pall Malls when he has the money, rolls Midnight Special we he doesn't. His poetry has appeared in The Ante Review and Carolina Quarterly and is forthcoming in Side B Magazine.



Aaron Bauer


Strings on E 17th and Humboldt


An atmosphere of candlelight

               but no tongues


                              of flame.  Harbored tone

                                             pulling on threads


watching them fall.  Watch her climb


the restaurant's stairs

                              her arpeggiated figure:



a satin cadence wearing an inverted mushroom

then seated in the corner.  An invitation:


a viola accompaniment (a snare buzzes

               from harmonics). Descending


her cloud-dress


               is spent in air.




Aaron Bauer lives in Fairbanks, AK with his partner and his daughters. He received his undergraduate degrees in Music and English Literature from the University of Colorado, and he is currently teaching and taking classes at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. He also is the editor for the literary journal Permafrost, and his work has appeared in Spillway, Superstition Review, Prism Review and other literary journals.

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Summer 2012 Issue