We All Lived Here

1234850_10152400299392626_3596649959867691275_nAt EWU we are proud of the accomplishments of our alumni, and want to share and promote their work as much as we can. We are also interested in giving prospective students a sense of what living in Spokane while pursuing their MFA might be like. So we are launching this new project called We All Lived Here. On this page we will be publishing work from our alumni that speaks to the idea of home while living in Spokane, or relates to the city in some way. We will be collecting these pieces for an anthology that will potentially be published by our very own Willow Springs Books. We hope that you enjoy these pieces as much as we do, and that you will check out the archive for more. *If you are an EWU alum who wishes to submit work for this project, please click here for details, and make sure to use this link to sign up for our alumni mailing list!


October’s WALH post comes to us from Ruth Williams. Ruth Williams is the author of two poetry collections, Flatlands (Black Lawrence Press, 2018) and Conveyance (Dancing Girl Press, 2012). Her poetry has appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, jubilat, Cimarron Review, Pleiades, Third Coast, Fourteen Hills and Faultline among others. She has also published creative nonfiction in South Loop Review and DIAGRAM and her scholarly work on women’s literature has appeared in Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature, The Journal of Popular Culture and Michigan Feminist Studies. In 2011-2012, she was a Fulbright scholar in Seoul, South Korea where she researched U.S.-Korea relations and interviewed Korean women poets Kim Hyesoon, Jeongrye Choi, and Kim Seung-hee. In 2013, she graduated with a PhD in English and Creative Writing from the University of Cincinnati; currently, she is an Assistant Professor of English at William Jewell College. You can find links to her writing and interviews at www.ruthcwilliams.com.

Enjoy two poems by Ruth Williams below.


Spokane, Washington


Spokane is the kind of place you go to after you’ve killed your whole family and want to give yourself quietly over to a new life. A small city that acts like a big one: where you can walk the busy streets and still be hiding, your old life going gray and diffuse with each step. An air of anonymity lingers like beige over faces, buildings, and homes—a casual brown that distracts no one’s eyes.  Sometimes, when I’m walking on the quiet streets after dark, I feel as if I am wearing headphones, light-headed and distracted, a fuzzy image of myself. With nothing but the music and the air, it feels as if my life is simply playing out in front of me. I imagine that this peaceful, hollowed feeling is exactly the way the reel man in those old theaters must have felt. Watching the movies from his small room, peering at the screen through a small window, he already knows how it will end. You change the reels, it starts over. The murderer walks the streets a free man, the theater sits in a stilled hush. He lets the film play through.




11th Avenue: In The Exact Middle


1. September Storm


Like Doppler radar,

kids scatter in bright patterns

across the lawn.


Their sides heave,

umbrellas flapping,

open and closed,

open and closed.


Screams erupt—delight, desire,

or the tension of this hangnail weather.


In the sky, the edged energy

of protruded irritation,

a red crust rising

on the periphery of a tired eye.


2. December Dusk


The wintering necks of trees

slash against the sky.

On the top floor, I shiver.


Tapping windowsills

for cold air, my finger gnarls

to a witch’s cane.


Down the hall, a couple fights.

Their yells angle under

my doorway.  I drowse the seeps.


The microwave ticks and ticks

while the woman weeps.


December’s a cold bitch.

In this bleak light,

even milk won’t get warm.


When the man slams the door,

I slit my blinds.  Many shuttered lips.

Down the stairs, his feet punch,

one by one.


The woman’s muffled cries sound

like the sky’s low sob of snow.


Outside, kids recede.

Pull up from sidewalks, front yards,

slip indoors. Snails sucked

into shells.


All down the street, silence gorges,

feasting on the chill.


3. August Cooling


Purple-rimmed clouds

retain heat until after nine,

a sky of velvet-lined gloves.


Kids stay up late, bodies

vaulted in quicksilver.


They swagger and swear.

Try on an older menace.


Across the lawn, yells pop:

Fire or die!


The glassy marbles

of their shouts clatter

to the end of sound’s register.


I cool to my chair, wait

drift out,


a stain smudged gently

into night.