chocolate is a verb

colors, flavors, whims and other growing things

Monthly Archives: July 2012

of moths…

sweet things…


SpeakEasy 7Y’all come on down!

Jim Bertolino’s eleventh volume of poetry, titled Every Wound Has A Rhythm, is being published next month by World Enough Writers. His work has appeared in a wide range of literary magazines and anthologies, including Notre Dame Review, Poetry, Ploughshares, New Mexico Quarterly, Raven Chronicles, Clover and New Poets of the American West edited by Lowell Jaeger. His work has received national recognition through a Book-of-the-Month Club Poetry Fellowship, the Discovery Award, a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, two Quarterly Review of Literature book publication awards and having two books reprinted by the Connecticut College Contemporary American Poetry Archive. Jim retired in 2006 from a 32-year career teaching creative writing and literature for colleges and universities from Cornell to Western. 2012 is the fourth year he has served as poetry judge for the American Book Award. He grew up in Wisconsin, and now lives on five Whatcom County acres with his wife, Anita Boyle.

An illustrator and graphic designer, Anita K. Boyle’s book, What the Alder Told Me, was published by MoonPath Press in 2011. She is also the author of Bamboo Equals Loon (Egress Studio Press, 2001). Her poems have appeared in literary magazines, including StringTownThe Raven ChroniclesCrab Creek ReviewCrankyIndiana ReviewSpoon River Poetry Review, Mudlark, MarginMirror Northwest, and in the anthologies Red Sky Morning and Saints of Hysteria. She lives with her poet-friend-husband, James Bertolino—who she has collaborated with on two chapbooks of poetry.

Jennifer Bullis, originally from Reno, did time in various California educational institutions and escaped, finally, to Bellingham, where she taught at Whatcom Community College for fourteen years. Currently, she writes, hikes, and tries to keep up with her six year-old son. Her poems appear in Iron Horse Literary Review, Natural Bridge, Comstock Review, Conversations across Borders, and Floating Bridge Review, and she is assembling manuscripts for chapbooks and a full-length collection of poems. She has kind of a thing for leaves.

Dave Cole lives on a cliff at the eastern edge of the Precambrian core of the Black Hills of South Dakota. He edits books for a handful of publishers, is a sculptor, and serves on the steering committee for the South Dakota Festival of Books. “Some of What I’m About to Tell You Is True,” with voice recording, has been published in Bomb magazine’s online presence, Bomblog.

J.I. Kleinberg works and plays with words. She is co-author of the book Fat Stupid Ugly: One Woman’s Courage to Survive, is a past winner in the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest and blogs most days right here at chocolate is a verb. Among other places, her writing has been accepted or appeared in Arcade; Anatomy & Etymology; Cirque; Drash: Northwest Mosaic; Flyways and Byways; Labyrinth; Phrasings; The Raven Chronicles; The Social Gardener; and Switched-on Gutenberg. She lives in Bellingham and doesn’t own a television.

A great believer in writing from prompts, even the most astonishing of ones, J.E. Yeasting is immensely grateful to be part of the On Assignment group, and to the illustrious Dave Cole for starting us on our word-rich journey. Although it is reported that she likes keeping a low profile, her writing has been published in various literary magazines and anthologies, and she is currently shaping several stacks of poems into new book manuscripts. She teaches writing at Western Washington University, where she has been sighted, several times a year, giving collaborative, multi-media poetry performances. When she’s not playing with words, you can often find her drawing and painting in dance studios or her art studio in Fairhaven.


next to…




LRK Zippo, Pat. 2032695
Yesterday, searching everywhere for a tiny rubber stamp with my name on it, which I did not find, I found my father’s Zippo. Vintage WWII issue, it’s weighty in my hand, dinged and scratched, the stainless finish worn through to brass in places.

It is an object of almost totemic significance, crafted to survive. My father carried it through the war and beyond, and even after he quit smoking, in his early 50s, he kept the Zippo, tucking it in a little drawer in his bureau along with a small leather folder that held photos of his deceased parents. He wouldn’t speak of the war, his memories embodied in the lighter.

I pick it up, grip it, feel its history, my father’s lost stories. Ultimately, it was the smoking that took him, so the lighter also embodies my own grief, bitterness, loss. I set it down, look at it, pick it up, turn it in my hand, set it down. I flick the wheel under my thumb. It won’t ignite, just exhales a puff of dust. Like memory.

trying to write…

my father's work benchAgain I’m drawn back to the pictures of my father’s workshop… It was a place of the senses: always much to see; the tap tap tap of mallet hitting chisel and the background of classical music or radio drama (Fibber McGee and Molly, Suspense); the smell of wood, each cut releasing a sweet fragrance; the taste of licorice, of Juicy Fruit gum; the feel of the wood as he worked it: the scooped grooves of the chisel, the rasped wood’s bristled hide, the slow progress toward smooth as the sandpaper numbers rose, until finally the wood had no texture at all, glossed, warm, silken. It was a place of welcome, of refuge, of tidy safety and messy imagination.

As I look again at this photo, I notice how much work is underway. There are about 15 pieces of sculpture on the workbench, in various sizes and various degrees of completion. The Möbius piece (which I wrote about here) sits on the sandbag that was my father’s preferred sculpture support surface and is probably the piece he was working on at the time the photo was taken. But others sit nearby, where he would contemplate their form, sometimes drawing on the wood with a china marker or a carpenter’s pencil, often switching between them to work first on one, then another.

This morning, the photo shows me something about my father that I recognize in myself: this pleasure in multiple projects. This is the way I work best, advancing in small steps on several fronts, accelerating toward deadlines, juicing the process with visits to other work, other words.

My workbench, my desk, is arrayed with projects in various states of completion, these words sculpting themselves on the sandbag of my laptop. No licorice, no Juicy Fruit, but strong coffee and sugarless peppermint gum. No music or radio, just the busy sparrows and chickadees, gulls and crows outside.

The words burred drafts, unpolished. Snapshot.