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
Page Two: Brigitte Goetze Quinton Hallett HSSchool 8th Graders Allister and Payton Bette Husted Joan Maiers Lynn Martin Alice Martin
Page Three: Cassidy O'Brien Sandra Rokoff-Lizut Bronwen Algate Peter Sears Doug Stone
Page Four: Amy Meissner Cristina Luisa White Nancy Christopherson Lee Darling Alice Martin Steve Dieffenbacher
Page Five: Merridawn Duckler Karen Jones HSSchool 7th Graders Harper and Jolie Laura LeHew Tammy Robacker Pepper Trail
Back Page: Kesler Woodward
The chilly fresh air,
the clouds rolling in and out,
and Spring is where?
The bird song echoes,
the trees leaves whispering loud–
this is Oregon, my home
Cold but weirdly warm,
birds flying above in swarms–
this is the perfect life
Cassidy O’Brien is a fifth grade student at Chapman Hill Elementary in West Salem. She enjoys reading and laughing with friends.
Suppose Death, driving a black Dodge Ram
with custom chrome-aluminum wheels,
causes a multi-car pile-up outside of Tacoma
scoring two fatalities, then one more,
by forcing a target-bound woman off the road at Exit 234.
Suppose he barrels off at a rest stop
somewhere in Oregon. A toothpick hanging
out of the left side of his mouth
he lolls in the noon-day sun
against one of the wooden poles
supporting a plastic encased state map.
Death holds a cold cup of free coffee,
and scans his surroundings. Suppose
a thirty-something guy
with blond dreadlocks and empty eyes
crouches outside the restroom entry
next to a scrappy backpack,
a corrugated cardboard sign
and his angelic four year old son
scratching the dirt with a sharp stick.
Suppose the Grim Reaper, with a sly smile,
strolls over and slips the child a five.
The child puts the finishing touch
on his stick-figure super-hero,
lifts his head and gazes up.
Pushing silky curls from his brow
he meets the Reaper’s grimace
with a wide-open sun-bright smile.
Suppose Death, suddenly startled,
has a change of heart.
He abandons the Dodge,
pinches a red Porsche convertible,
jumps over its driver’s-side door,
settles into a white leather bucket seat,
and peels back out on I-5–
pedal floored, face windward, beach hair blown toward eternity.
Sandra Rokoff-Lizut came to poetry at the age of seventy-one and finds that it feeds her well. She has had quite a few poems published in fine journals. She is honored to be surrounded by a wealth of great teacher-mentors within a supportive poetry community.
Just a Third Grader
During the war, I wanted to be a fighter pilot,
but I would probably have crashed and be captured
and tortured. All I could do was pull my wagon
around from house to house, collecting newspapers
for the newspaper drive, and in a basement room
at school, Janitor Wesley weighed my papers, gave me
a slip of paper with my name, date, and weight—
then tied my papers into bundles and neatly stacked
them against the wall. I kept his notes at home.
Paper-clipped, in a box in my chest under my bed.
I liked to take them out and thumb through them.
Each day the pile of papers at school climbed higher
up the wall. Then one day a delivery door
opened and light poured in. The truck backed up
to the door and a guy got out and threw
the bundles of papers in the truck,
closed the door and drove off. The room
was so empty it felt like a torture room.
Peter Sears, poet laureate emeritus, offered this poem as a prompt for the issue. For more information about him, click on Poet Laureate Prompts in the menu.
The Power of Place
–in memory of my grandmother
Here on Oregon Coast, rain squalls have been
shouldering off the ocean all afternoon.
Between squalls, the January sun troubles down
the left margin of the sky like a misspelled word,
neither warm nor bright, just wrong.
The ocean looks like a vast sheet of crumpled steel.
My grandmother never liked the ocean. It couldn’t
be trusted. It moved like a surly, shifty thug.
She came from the Midwest where the land
was firm and honest all the way to the horizon.
Another squall blows over me and I remember how
she never cared for our long, gray season of rain.
If I really wanted to see her glow, I’d ask her about
Iowa winters. “Thick, deep snow,” she’d say,
“so white it burned your eyes, the glass-sharp sky
so blue you could hear it crack.” She’d close
her eyes and still hear the laughter of long dead
loved ones ringing in the frozen air.
My grandmother lived here almost seventy years
and died at ninety-two, her memory wracked with dementia
so bad she often didn’t know where she was.
But sometimes, she’d close her eyes and through
the murky gray of her dementia she would see
that young school teacher she was before
she came west and she would recite the names
of Iowa’s ninety-nine counties in alphabetical order.
All Things Quiver with the Past
—your eyes, the spark that shakes the wire,
makes all things quiver with the past–Boris Pasternak
It is spring and months since I last saw you but I was detained
in the gray shadows of these government buildings,
disappearing from my past until the officials were satisfied.
In these shadows, the dirty snow still grieves on the sidewalk.
The sky above these buildings drools in a heavy sleep,
uninterested in finding the sun last seen here years ago
being beaten and dragged off behind the clouds.
I would guess you sit in our little cafe already drinking
your second cup of coffee and lighting your third cigarette.
Are your dangerous poems still scattered across the table
as if those spies with unblinking eyes of stone are blind?
Are you still flirting with that silly student who thinks
he loves you, who stares into the future with eyes
dulled by too many books and not enough dreams?
Sometimes I want to walk out of these shadows
and hear you speak the dead language of my name.
But you are part of the past I must remember to forget.
My papers are all in order now and I must be
more ordinary with each careful step I take,
the safe color of the frost-bitten earth,
a sad rumor of someone you used to know.
Doug Stone is an award-winning poet living in Western Oregon. His poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. His chapbook, The Season of Distress and Clarity, came out earlier this year.