Willawaw Journal Summer 2017 Issue 1
This issue features writers and artists under the age of twenty and over seventy, as well as a number of other contributors. The poet laureate prompt is provided by Peter Sears, Oregon Poet Laureate, 2014-2016.
Cover Art by Kesler Woodward--Young Ones, 30" x 40" acrylic on canvas, Copyright 2016 by Kesler Woodward
Page One: Editors Notes Louise Barden Peter Burke Howard Street School 6th Graders Amy, Alexis, Mina, and Harvey Judith Edelstein Brigitte Goetze Quinton Hallett HSSchool 8th Graders Allister and Payton Bette Husted
Page Two: Joan Maiers Lynn Martin Alice Martin Cassidy O'Brien Sandra Rokoff-Lizut Bronwen Algate Peter Sears Doug Stone Amy Meissner Cristina Luisa White
Page Three: Nancy Christopherson Lee Darling Alice Martin Steve Dieffenbacher Merridawn Duckler Karen Jones HSSchool 7th Graders Harper and Jolie Laura LeHew Tammy Robacker Pepper Trail
Back Page: Kesler Woodward
Assembling the first issue of Willawaw Journal presented me with several technical challenges and a steep learning curve, but my efforts were deeply rewarded as I read and reread each of the poems; I did not tire of them nor of the rich imagery of the artwork.
I am pleased to report that this issue of Willawaw is representing work from Oregon, Alaska, and Australia. I look forward to expanding our reach as our calls for submissions spread nationally and globally. I appreciate the professionals in my poetry community who help to spread the word. This includes you, too, dear reader. If you like what you read within these pages, please tell your friends!
The responses to Peter Sears’ prompt were many and varied, but it seems most of us could reach back in time to our child selves and discover something new. Barden, in Over the Horizon, climbs the tallest tree to imagine the world awaiting. Stone leads us into his grandmother’s early memories of life in the Midwest in The Power of Place. White brings us starkly into the eye of a hurricane in her portrait of her mother, Louise. Edelstein takes us to the Kansas prairie where the speaker leads urban students into the bluestem, Field Trip to Konza Prairie.
Others responded to the Over Seventy part of U20O70 theme with thoughts on loss, death, and aging. Goetze writes about Missing My Sister: “It’s like pulling up your winter pants,/so loose-fitting they almost slide off your hips;/last year you lost—not knowing how—pound after pound.” Burke greets the limitations of aging, exchanging the Grand Canyon for cracks in the sidewalk, in his Daily Pleasures. Darling experiences her drift into her senior years as an Uninvited lover who “presses cross-stitch on my cheek,/weaves silver through my hair,/ tucks pads around my waist,/ reshapes me as I sleep.” And finally, Rokoff-Lizut personifies Death as a hooligan, a reckless driver who exchanges his Dodge Ram for a Porsche, in Suppose Death, driving a Black Dodge Ram. Read their poems to discover their wonder, humor, and humility.
The Under Twenty call brought to us very little poetry that felt fully-formed. We have included one young emerging poet, Cassidy, who voice begins to peak through her short poem, Solo Time. On the other hand, in the artwork, we found some extraordinary work from the students at Howard Street School—pastels, watercolors, and mixed-media. (If you click on each piece, you can read the caption and go to a larger image.) The subjects ranged from political, to pastoral, to literary and surreal.
As for our established artists, Woodward wows us with his close-ups of saplings (cover art) and budburst. Be sure to read his comments about his work which are on the last page. Martin celebrates her return to porcelain with a sgraffito platter and two teapots. Her notes, which you will find below her teapots, are also a good read. Meissner tantalizes with her enigmatic “Reliquary #5: Theft,” a quilted piece that will knock your socks off. One other artist, new to me, Algate (in the over seventy category), is also returning to a medium she hadn’t used for a long time—her painting, Just Getting Started, says it all.
As Chuck Wendig just reminded me in his post on Terrible Minds, don’t dismiss what you do, whether it is making stuff or writing—or reading—just do it. This is how we evolve, one mind at a time. We make room for what matters.
I invite you to take yourself on a treasure hunt through these pages. Additional contributors await your discovery.
Yours in poetry,
The whole day before Palm sunday we watched
snow blow sideways against the windows
of our Massachusetts farmhouse,
needles so sharp they pierced
your cheeks if you went out
bundled to the ears and wool-capped.
Then dawn, dazzling under clear sky.
Eight feet of cold powder
covered the quarter-mile to the street
where Dad had parked our car before the storm.
Church stood another seven miles away.
Sitting now in a counselor’s office,
childhood and religion left behind for thirty years,
I keep remembering the way we four girls
left our flowered Easter dresses in the closet,
pulled on wool pants under skirts,
laced up boots, zipped heavy jackets
and floundered out to make a path into the drifts.
Shovels failed. One last freeze before sunrise
had hardened a crust too thick to dig,
too thin to walk on. In the apple orchard
ice-painted branches glistened black.
Which one of us discovered how
to get from house to car I can’t recall.
The secret was to use the principle of physics
that makes things float, the first lesson in swimming
when we learned to put our faces down, reach out arms and legs.
That Palm Sunday when we sank chest deep in cold,
we floundered up again to spread ourselves
across the unmarked frozen surface.
We almost swam our way to church
with clumsy, careful breast strokes we had taught ourselves.
Over the Horizon
Nine. And-a-half. I stand
under the white pine behind our house.
Check around. No one
watching. Grab the bottom branch
sticky with pitch, pull up.
Anchor one sneekered foot on top of the limb
against the scarred trunk,
draw the other up to stand firm,
to keep going. Who can tell how far?
Still time. Mama’s inside
cooking supper. Still time
before I have to stand
with my sisiter at the soapy sink of dishes
washing and drying
while we fight. I’m up
branch after branch. Past
full of leaves and the bottom edge
of black shingles. Up into sap-
scented air, needles’ soft prickle
in my palms. Up.
Past the highest point I’ve ever been,
moving even after
my sister suddenly yells, “Stop!”
far below. Tattletale sister, I
barely slow when the tapered trunk
taking my slight frame
with it. Too late for anyone
to make me quit now. I climb
until at last I can see over the shingled ridge
the front yard marigolds, the line
of my friends’ rooftops
along our narrow street
all the way to an unbroken
dome of cottony sky.
Sister still yells and I stand on a branch
so thin it bends
under my feet. I ride
the wind. I hang on
long enough to get a good look–
new treetops, chimneys, the shiny
tops of cars on the big road outside our neighborhood.
Long enough to glimpse
the whole world, all
the places I haven’t been yet
until Mama’s clear voice
pierces the haze of green I’ve come through,
until her threat brings me down.
Louise Barden is the author of the chapbook Tea Leaves. Her poetry has appeared in Chattahoochie Review, Greensboro Review, Timberline and others. After 40 years in North Carolina, she is now making Corvallis, Oregon, her home.
Today I can’t get around so well.
I must take my pills and walk.
It’s gray and rainy and cold and damp.
I ache and fret and mutter and groan.
Daily pleasures stare at me.
I am blind to them, the ones
that Yogi Berra knew about,
see-able by “just looking.”
So look, stay close to home.
Cracks in sidewalks, not Grand Canyon,
moss on trees, not Old Growth.
wonder at my own hands,
my own breathing, my ability
to tangle and untangle words.
Peter Burke is a retired HP and OSU engineer and a Corvallis resident since 1983. Long-time technical writer, he is new to poetry.
Field Trip to Konza Prairie
Today’s lesson is grasshoppers.
Collect them with nets and put them in jars laced with dimethyl ketone.
The eight graders stumble out of the yellow bus.
They wear tank tops and short shorts.
Collect them and put them in “kill jars,”
the docent demonstrates the correct method.
The children in their tank tops and short shorts
never stood in the midst of the prairie before.
The docent demonstrates the correct method.
She sweeps a net in figure eights through tall grasses.
The children never stood in the midst of the prairie before.
They jitter and whine about itches and spiders.
The girls sweep nets at the edge of the grasses.
“I’m not going in there,” Tyesha grabs Lashonda.
They jump together and squeal about spiders and snakes.
The docent says follow and walks into bluestem.
“I’m not going in there,” but Tyesha comes along
Lashonda runs ahead, shouting “Kill, kill!”
The docent follows, bending the bluestem
to collect enough grasshoppers, put them in the jar.
The girls run through the bluestem, shouting and laughing.
They stop, look across open prairie.
There are enough grasshoppers in kill jars.
They smell the wind on the grasses.
They stop, look across open prairie.
Eighth graders far from the yellow bus,
they smell the wind on the grasses.
Today’s lesson is grasshoppers.
It seemed like some sort of destiny when Judith Edelstein moved to Manhattan, Kansas. She lived there from 1987 to 2006, longer than in any other place. After retiring from the public library in 2001, she volunteered as a docent with the Konza Prairie Environmental Education Program and set about studying poetry. She now lives in Corvallis, Oregon.