Willawaw Journal Winter 2017 Issue 2
The second issue of Willawaw Journal features a hybrid of poetry and image as well as poetry in response to Poet Laureate Lawson Fusao Inada's "Everything."
Cover Art: Rose of Sharon, by Lorelle Otis (artist statement on back page)
First Page: Editor's Notes Carolyn Adams Deborah Bacharach with Keiko Hara Devon Balwit Eleanor Berry Jonah Bornstein Lisa Marie Brodsky Linda Cheryl Bryant with Zsazan Tiffany Buck
Second Page: Corinne Dekkers Darren C. Demaree Steve Dieffenbacher Salvatore Difalco John Van Dreal Judith Edelstein Amelia Diaz Ettinger David Felix Delia Garigan Abigail George
Third Page: Brigitte Goetze Audrey Howitt Lawson Fusao Inada Clarissa Jakobsons Colin James Marc Janssen M. Johnsen Jola Jones Shirley Jones-Luke Michael Lee Johnson
Fourth Page: Matthew A. Jonassaint Tim Kahl J. I. Kleinberg Joy McDowell Catherine McGuire Amy Miller Lorelle Otis Jerri Elliott Otto Sue Parman Diana Pinckney
Fifth Page: Bart Rawlinson Leslie Rzeznik with Lewis Carroll Yumnam Oken Singh Sarah Dickerson Snyder Barbara Spring Andy Stallings R. S. Stewart Doug Stone Patty Wixon Vince Wixon
Sixth Page: Maddie Woda Matthew Woodman Back Page with Lorelle Otis
I appreciate the bounty of submissions we have received for this issue, many of them diving into the melding of art and poetry–from Eleanor Berry‘s anvil-shaped stanzas, so specific in their imagery that we can’t help but walk into the painting by Jim Shull which she almost leaves behind to Debby Bacharach‘s surreal response to Keiko Hara‘s installation, Topophilia. Diana Pinkney conjures the interior landscapes of the figures in the paintings of Edward Hopper. David Felix shares his mastery of visual poetry. Linda Cheryl Bryant collaborates in a broadside with artist Zsanan in an ambitious blend of artistry, imagery, and technology. Please take notice, too, of the delicate painting/poems of Lorelle Otis (cover art and back page) who successfully combines digital art and lettering with her watercolor images. There are several more equally effective “hybrids” in which the word and image combine to create something greater, a third communication, if you will, which is my test for a successful ekphrastic poem–these I leave you to discover as you read.
There is a handful of other poems that stand out for me, personally: Joy McDowell‘s Aristotle’s Lantern (–did you know that is the name of a sea urchin’s mouth?). She is one of a handful of poets in this issue who leans into science as she writes. See also, Amelia Diaz Ettinger and Brigitte Goetze, for intance. Doug Stone‘s At the River’s Edge, M. Johnsen‘s Mother, and Linda Chery Bryant‘s Summer County Hospice share a common theme. Jerri Otto‘s Vixen, Darren Demaree‘s The Best Wounds…Now really, I’m listing every poet. Better you just take your time and scroll through each page at your own pace. I promise you will find treasures.
In addition to many submissions, many strong submissions, we found remarkable geographic diversity in our contributors. We heard from Denmark, South Africa, Australia, Bogota, Sicily, India, Canada, the Pacific Northwest, California, Ohio, Nashville, and Massachusetts, among others. We also received pieces from emerging as well as established artists and writers. Word is out; the williwaw of poetry is gusting through our global community and right onto the page.
Thank you for reading what we have gathered. And in keeping with the holiday spirit, on this, the longest night of the year, please share what you like with your friends.
Going Out to Gather
Sunlight doesn’t reach the ground.
The foliage folds around me,
and I am going out to gather.
There are animals and birds here,
the tiny flowers of bindweed and wild radish.
Cones the size of my fingertip.
I am walking out in all of this,
I am going out alone.
I pull my coat close.
It’s waterless, but the evergreens
Maples are green going gold,
gold going red, red burning to rust.
Moss and lichen revise bark and limb.
A crow cruises and watches as I watch her.
She drops a feather.
My fingers curl over my pocketed key.
I am going out to gather.
I am walking out in all of this.
Small animals crush quietly
the leaves and twigs in dark underbrush.
A breeze hushes the tops of the trees.
Sedge flows with the wind.
In a clearing is a swath of unfamiliar light.
The ground is ash, charcoal splinters.
Tree trunks and launches of skeletal berry vines
are charred ghosts.
Someone has been here before me.
The air is acrid with smoke memory.
I release a breath.
Nothing will be kept but the crow feather,
the cone, the moss.
I am going out to gather.
I am walking out alone.
The Random Notes of Autumn
These are the random notes of autumn.
The lostness of birds left behind
when migration ends.
A late honeybee’s wandering stitches.
Persistent crickets in secret leaves.
The miracle of a single acorn falling,
its small wood
still remembering its tree.
Carolyn Adams‘ poetry and art have been widely published. She has authored four chapbooks, and was nominated for a Pushcart prize, as well as for Best of the Net 2017. She was a finalist for 2013 Houston Poet Laureate. Recently relocated from Houston, TX, she now resides in Beaverton, OR.
We meet in a stairway of moments,
fighting against forces or giving in.
On the landings, we are free
to do as we like, resting
or hitching up a stocking. Though we say
we’re weary of geometry,
none of us climb to the upper stories
clinging to brick;
Stooping between inhales, we peer
between riser and tread,
fishing out lost things: someone’s button
an earring, a quarter for bus fare.
We arrange them and have a poem,
a narrative arc, rising and falling.
(after Doisneau’s La diagonale des marches Paris, 1953)
Devon Balwit teaches in Portland, OR. She is a poetry editor for Minute Magazine and has seven chapbooks and one full-length collection out or forthcoming. Her individual poems can be found in Cordite, taplit mag, Menacing Hedge, The Cincinnati Review, The Carolina Quarterly, The Stillwater Review, The Ekphrastic Review, Rattle, and more.
Ride a Horse on the Blue Wind
We stroke our bosom fur. You don’t have
Deborah Bacharach is the author of After I Stop Lying (Cherry Grove Collections, 2015). A two-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize, her work has appeared in The Antigonish Review, The Blue Mesa Review, Calyx, and Dunes among many others. For more information go to DeborahBacharach.com.
Keiko Hara moved to the USA from Japan to pursue her career as an artist and earned an MFA at Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1976. In 1983 she was granted United States permanent resident status as an artist. Her work is exhibited world-wide. Hara lives and works in Walla Walla, Washington, where she is Professor of Art Emeritus at Whitman College.
Artist Statement (excerpt): Topophilia is the term I use for grasping the beauty and sadness of life’s passing moments. I use Topophilia as a title because it conveys a sense of that place within each of us where an exceptional inner power exists….As an artist, I strive to transform this topophilia into art. It has been an ongoing theme in my work..
Word and Thing
–Wind II, oil on masonite, by Jim Shull
The painting, a coastal landscape, is titled
“Wind,” but the word I think, gazing
up at it on the living-room wall,
is anvil—definite shape
of the dune that thrusts
clear across the view.
I’ve never seen an anvil, save
in a living museum, with staff
in period dress—how is it then
that any instance of its distinctive shape
calls up its name, as if a blacksmith
hammered iron across the street?
The thing long gone
from daily life, the word
has stayed and spread,
attaching to whatever shares
the shape of a flattened tusk,
from thunderclouds to a tiny bone
in the middle ear. But worrying the word,
I get mere silhouette, this black text
on a white page. I’ve left behind
the painted scene—
the scrubby shore pine,
roots exposed, trunk
warped horizontal by the seawind,
bending its full length down across
the wind-carved body of the dune.
I’ve lost the ocean mist that has coated
all the bristling needles of the pine,
the shadow clinging underneath
the near dune’s jut,
the lion’s-pelt yellow
of sand without shade,
failed to tell how the paint creates
at once a flat design—still dance
of hue and tone—and a world
of dune and pine, palpably round.
Eleanor Berry lives in rural western Oregon. She has two full-length poetry collections, Green November (Traprock Books, 2007) and No Constant Hues (Turnstone Books of Oregon, 2015). A former college teacher of English, she is a past president of the Oregon Poetry Association and of the National Federation of State Poetry Societies.
The Dead and the Living
–for Jim Harrison and my mother
Someone found his friend lying on the floor collapsed in the pond
of his body he had no chance of denying death or saying so long
His friend had a hard life even though he laughed a lot
and made use of his time figuring out how guns work
and how to skin animals and live off a bottle in the sun
like an old timer although he knew Sanskrit and sang
mightier than almost anyone even when they stare
maybe with a kind of dread at someone whose face was so alive
with lines they felt afraid of their own absence from living
A friend of mine knew this guy and depression but mostly the bright
alleys his pen made for others to rest in or maybe to wallow in the beauty
of wriggling words going straight at what mattered most
And it felt natural for me to think of my mother who has been told
she’s depressed and maybe she is or isn’t and the dead man really wasn’t either
No I don’t think so even though she says, “It’s chemical you know?”
Only I think it’s because well how else can she tell us the real reason
which I’ve finally figured out when she cries out all times of day “oh” and “oh god”
and even “shit,” it’s only because she knows there is so much inside
that will never get out more than is meant for a single lifetime
how many one can’t tell she is so full her mind bursting
with grief over the fact of her tethered blooming
Jonah Bornstein taught writing in NYC and Oregon, and directed the Ashland Writers Conference. Publications include poems in Prairie Schooner, West Wind Review, One Fare, Jefferson Monthly, and many anthologies, including September 11, 2001: American Writers Respond. Books include The Art of Waking and Treatise on Emptiness. Bornstein lives in Oregon.
Let’s say there’s been a robbery.
My windows are open; I can smell my neighbor’s meat loaf.
People crowd around a table and it’s not mine.
I sit alone among shredded paper, an empty television stand,
books scattered like pigeon feathers.
Let’s say there’s been a violation, a line crossed over.
My cat roams the living room howling for her brother.
And I don’t know who did it
I can imagine
him breaking open the window – that first vomit of glass –
I can almost smell his leather gloves with the worn-out tips.
But what good does this imagining do me?
Let’s say there’s been a violation. That I was a child who thought
that being tall made you smarter, safer.
That my hands were forced somewhere out of greed and sickness.
Let’s say an event occurred where I didn’t know
the culprit and if I did know him, I would soon forget.
Do I sit
among the ruins for another twenty years
or do I actually begin to put things in order?
Buy a new potted plant? A new bed? Walk into
that house as though yes, I owned it.
I would put it back together again.
Lisa Marie Brodsky is the author of poetry collections “We Nod Our Dark Heads” and “Motherlung” which was awarded an Outstanding Achievement in Poetry from the Wisconsin Library Association. Brodsky is on faculty of AllWriters’ Workplace & Workshop, teaching creative writing as a vehicle for emotional healing.
Linda Cheryl Bryant, a journalist since the 1980s, had been published widely in newspapers and magazines. During the Great Recession, she pursued an MFA in poetry, realizing a long-held dream. Bryant lives in Nashville among honky-tonks, recording studios, and down the street from the world’s largest vinyl record plant. She has published in small journals and received two national fellowships for her writing.
Zsanan (JaneAnne Narrin) is a North Carolina-based artist who works in acrylics, watercolors, and digital processes. As a teacher, she shares her techniques to release expectations and nudge the muse in mixed media artwork. She combines digital painting with her photos to create graphics for a variety of applications. Her work is displayed in private collections.
Diamonds and Serpents
I used to think I was blessed,
But I know now that I am cursed.
People would call me crazy
Especially those wretched souls who live along the swamp
And cry out in the middle of the night
For rice, fried fat, okra, anything–
You can have all your heart desires with diamonds dropping from your mouth.
Foolishly I thought so too.
I made the mistake of speaking to a gentleman on a horse.
He watched diamonds fall on the ground
Didn’t matter that I wasn’t particularly fair.
Beneath that scorching sun, he got off his horse and proposed.
On account of my skin, I knew I wouldn’t get a better offer.
He put his hand under my chin as I said, “yes.”
A rare pink diamond landed softly in his hands.
The wedding was small and coldly private.
Truth is he wanted to keep our marriage a secret.
With my diamonds, he built the largest plantation on the island.
To keep me still, he brings me gifts from all over the world.
My “thank you’s,” just cushion his pocket.
I spend my days hidden in a gilded cage,
My thoughts written down on white muslin.
At night, I listen to my husband and his women–
I pray for my sister’s gift, even for a day.
Tiffany Buck is a former librarian. She lives in the foothills of Appalachia. Her poems have appeared in Rabble Lit, the San Pedro River Review, and Poetry Breakfast.