Willawaw Journal Fall 2022 Issue 15
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
COVER ARTIST: David Memmott
NOTES FROM THE EDITOR
Page One: Kenneth Anderson Frank Babcock Jodi Balas Louise Cary Barden Page Two: David Memmott Carol Berg Robert Beveridge Ace Boggess Jeff Burt Natalie Callum Page Three: David Memmott Dale Champlin Margaret Chula Richard Dinges Rachel Fogarty Matthew Friday Page Four: David Memmott D. Dina Friedman David A. Goodrum John Grey Allen Helmstetter James Kangas Page Five: David Memmott David Kirby Tricia Knoll Linda Laderman Kurt Luchs David Memmott Page Six: David Memmott Stacy Boe Miller Kathryn Moll John C. Morrison John Muro Toti O'Brien Page Seven: David Memmott John Palen Darrell Petska Vivienne Popperl Laura Ann Reed Erica Reid Page Eight: David Memmott Lindsay Rockwell Beate Sigriddaughter Jeffrey Thompson Elinor Ann Walker William F. Welch Page Nine: David Memmott Charles Weld Kevin Winchester BACK PAGE with David Memmott
Hello, I Love You
When I want to power up, I use my witchy voice and say,
All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter, and then
I remember what happens: a man doesn’t have big plans,
then he hears that the king of Scotland wants to spend the night
at his house, and the next thing he knows, he’s in deep shit.
Best not to get ahead of oneself. The writer has given up
stories, says Camus, and creates his universe. That’s what
you’re doing. That’s you. And look, you have every tool
in the toolbox at your disposal, though that doesn’t mean
your toolbox is full. Far from it! Why, if we had to have every tool
we needed before we started creating our universe, we’d never
get started. One thing you learn when you look at the works of these
pre-Renaissance Tuscan masters is that if you don’t know something,
you don’t know it. Cimabue, Giotto, Duccio di Buoninsegna:
if they weren’t painting the way Raphael and Botticelli would
later, that’s because they couldn’t. Yet. Don’t you think they would
have filled their masterpieces with perspective and depth of field
and more lifelike facial expressions and clothes that look like clothes
instead of somebody’s living-room curtains if they’d known how
to do it? Yet one thing leads to another: no Duccio, no Botticelli.
I know, let’s forget Macbeth. Think instead of Leonardo da Vinci,
an engineer as well as an artist, though his options went well
beyond these two choices: on the one hand, his paymasters
often asked him to make such simple devices as locks, tongs,
bootjacks, and candlesticks, and, on the other, to stage such spectacles
as a celebration of the wedding of Gian Galeazzo Sforza to Isabella
of Aragon that featured a representation of the mobile heavens
complete with luminous stars. Leonardo is famous for not finishing
things, but he had so many things to finish. And he may have
dragged his feet deliberately: like business people of every era,
the nobility of his day often tried to pay as little and as late as possible
and still get the product they desired. Oscar Wilde says, A writer
is someone who has taught his mind to misbehave. So, yeah, sure,
dump all your tools on your workbench and figure out what you need,
and then do as the Doors did and break on through to the other side.
But no seedy clubs, no heroin. Don’t hurt anybody. Don’t hurt yourself.
David Kirby teaches at Florida State University. His collection The House on Boulevard St.: New and Selected Poems was a finalist for both the National Book Award and Canada’s Griffin Poetry Prize. He is the author of Little Richard: The Birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll, which the Times Literary Supplement of called “a hymn of praise to the emancipatory power of nonsense” and which was named one of Booklist’s Top 10 Black History Non-Fiction Books of 2010. His latest books are a collection, Help Me, Information, and a textbook entitled The Knowledge: Where Poems Come From and How to Write Them.
I figured this morning’s work would be blues writing. My friend’s son died the other
night according to a short email, but none of us know how, why or where.
spring’s goldfinch turns gold
This overcast sky displays as fish mottling, skin of a bottom dweller. Nothing is
blooming although it’s mid-April. My taxes are paid. I should be satisfied, but
I’m not. Yesterday our solar panels barely registered enough KWh to run the
vacuum. If I had felt like cleaning.
in black and white unknown
my mother’s sister
My writing never turned blue. I filled the bird feeder cups with mixes of seed that
promised to draw a crowd. First surprise, a redwing blackbird. First time at this
feeder. Early arrival. Next a yellow-bellied sapsucker muscled away two chickadees.
a red plastic bucket
overturned before snowfall
seen through fir trees
I remember my mother
who died a quarter of a century ago
after a coma sucked up her words.
She lost her pubic hair.
Her fingernails turned blue.
The quiet nurse from Ethiopia
opened the window a slice
despite January’s pelting
downpour, a north wind.
I asked if my mother’s body
smelled. I breathed winter.
She said she had to let
a spirit out or it would get
trapped in the hospice room,
in the death bed.
I thought it must weigh
less than a feather –
what went to meet the rain.
Tricia Knoll is a Vermont poet whose work appears widely in journals, anthologies, and five collections. Most recent is Let’s Hear It for the Horses which received third place in the Poetry Box 2021 Chapbook Contest. She has two books coming in 2023 – One Bent Twig from Future Cycle Press and Wild Apples from Fernwood Press. Website: triciaknoll.com
Today Would Have Been Our 50th Anniversary
A mixed marriage.
Clergy shuns us. The judge shushes us.
I sentence you to life.
Guests laugh. I don’t.
My period comes after the cake.
Giving you a bite, I contemplate peeling
off my pearl studded dress, not white, but ivory,
and getting on a Greyhound.
Instead, I drive with you to Atlanta,
rising, receding, repeating,
we sift stones from sand.
We have a child. A boy.
In a dream, I take him and flee in your fancy black car
with the white racing stripe.
Linda Laderman is a Detroit area writer and poet. She grew up in Toledo, Ohio and earned an undergraduate degree in journalism, and post graduate degrees in law and liberal studies. Her stories and features have appeared in media outlets and magazines. Her poetry has appeared in The Jewish Literary Journal, The Bangalore Review, One Art, Third Wednesday, and The Sad Girls Club Literary Blog, among others. Until recently, she volunteered as a docent at the Zekelman Holocaust Center, where she led adult discussion tours.
This morning for no reason at all
joy wells up inside me,
joy beams from my eyes
and radiates from my fingertips,
everything blesses me
and I bless everything in turn
like a lazy savior signing heavenly invoices
without even reading them.
It’s a kind of madness, friend,
because I have money troubles,
I have family troubles the same as you
and planet Earth has human troubles
as on any day the sun rises.
Joy must come from one of those
hidden dimensions the scientists
are always yammering about,
a compactified place
filled with compressed infinities
that leave no room for ordinary misery.
When an impossibly minute piece of joy
leaks out, it transforms
the nearest being for what seems
an eternal moment.
This morning, for no reason at all,
that being is me
Ode to the Poplar
Such modest ambitions, to grow only up,
not out, reaching for the sky
and sometimes getting to one-hundred-sixty-five feet
with up to an eight-foot trunk
like a giant green-and-brown snake standing on its head.
You are easy on the eyes but provide little shade,
catching Monet’s attention without blocking his light,
useful for making into almost everything
from toothpicks to pallets to snowboards,
and yes, matchsticks, so that after death some of you
can return to destroy so many others
planted too close together like husbands and wives
who hated each other but already bought the burial plots.
Your cousin the cottonwood has leaves that twist and shimmer
in the sun, and so do you, each one a bright green bulb
blinking on and off, transfixing the eye with patterns
that constantly shift without becoming anything in particular,
yet the overall effect is of stillness in the midst of change,
and the louder their rustling, the more one can sense
a quietude at the core of you, a place
that fires and saws and leveling winds cannot touch.
All at once I am ashamed of the toothpick in my hand,
and let it fall to the ground without touching my teeth.
Kurt Luchs (kurtluchs.com) won a 2022 Pushcart Prize, a 2021 James Tate Poetry Prize, the 2021 Eyelands Book Award for Short Fiction, and the 2019 Atlanta Review International Poetry Contest. He is a Senior Editor of Exacting Clam. His humor collection, It’s Funny Until Someone Loses an Eye (Then It’s Really Funny) (2017), and his poetry collection, Falling in the Direction of Up (2021), are published by Sagging Meniscus Press. His latest poetry chapbook is The Sound of One Hand Slapping (2022) from SurVision Books (Dublin, Ireland). He lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
We’ve come too far to turn back now.
The blue camas shimmering like a pluvial lake.
We dig with a stick their roots
Put them into baskets and take them to the river
to be pummeled with river stone and baked
into hand cakes in hot rock ovens.
If everyone knew what we knew
it might spark the engine of creation.
Rewards for learning life skills
are a delicacy in fast food alley.
That flash of lightning unwitnessed among stars
reason enough to worship here
instead of there.
Auntie Em danced white sheets into a ball
as cumulus climbed dark and threatening
over a small farm in Kansas.
We battened down the hatches
locked windows and secured doors
and the witch rode the wind
on a windmill bike.
Where did the storm leave you?
It left me on the dry side of the Cascades
in the Great Round that was once a lake
like Summer Lake with sandhill cranes
wading into the shallows and mountain bluebirds
flittering in the willows.
Our mother never gets enough credit
for seeing us through the hard times. It takes
conscious effort to look back sometimes
to where we started in her arms
near the beat of her heart.
The land cannot stand up to these claims.
I fall backwards into an interior sea
slow dancing with moonlight on a cold plain
shagged with juniper.
“Not heaven on earth,” my mother says,
“heaven is earth.”
David Memmott has been living and writing in the Pacific Northwest most of his life. His work explores views of the American West both rural and progressive. The collection Lost Transmissions includes the long poem, “Where the Yellow Brick Road Turns West,” a finalist for the Spur Award. Recent publications include poems in Weber: The Contemporary West, Gargoyle and basalt. His digital art can be viewed in the Midnight Garden at davidmemmott.com