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
It Was the Summer of Hard Tomatoes
sucking into themselves like I shied
inward when asked, How
is your father? like my father’s shoulders
collapsed toward his ribs.
I rubbed them softly
while mom magneted
Do Not Resuscitate
to the fridge. I learned
to sleep everywhere—plastic
chairs, a bench at the end
of his hospital bed,
even with the fourth of July
outside, helicopters daily
landing on the roof. I pulled
food into myself with a new
desperation—dark pudding with skin
on top, papery rice noodles,
fresh cherries until
I was sick. In the last days
his mind went back
to work. He worried about the concrete
truck waiting, asked my mom to feed
his crew, fell asleep exhausted from
cleaning out the shop. I watched
his hands move in his sleep, his lips
fretting measurements. It’s OK, my mother said,
just let your father work.
Stacy Boe Miller is poet laureate in Moscow, Idaho. You can find a short bio here. This poem was first published in the Bellingham Review, June 2022.
I comb my sieve for pebbles. Set beans to soak.
Ready cast-iron—in Cambridge, as in California.
Listing winter days, the tap of my knife is a mantra;
an onion’s Saturn rings cleaved into a thousand
milk teeth. I send them all, spitting
into the pot’s shimmering fish-eye. Holy, almost
the groan of each crude batch, grown upon parings
and dregs and slow as a gold-miner’s sourdough
sponge. The aromatics of place, of time, absorbed
with always room for a whim. I watch
my improvisations wither into thick, black
butter. And so it goes—my ego settles
whenever I sing a fresh pot. Mind flat as the igneous sheet
that guides a redwood stream around the canyon’s bend.
Now, as then, I long to be lightened, gently rolled
into place, splayed open to the thrill of currents.
I comb my sieve for pebbles. To hand, I have only the residue
of pantry jars, the sour rind of a muzzy winter orange.
The pot is left wanting a shaggy bouquet of laurel,
leaves stripped from the crook in our path. Hung up
over a stove thick with eucalypt
scent. Flush with fog.
Kathryn Moll is an architect and California native. Her text-based drawings—collaborative
works created under the name modem—have been shown at the Yerba Buena Center for the
Arts in San Francisco, and the Cooper Union in New York City. She lives with her family in
Every year we wait for the summer’s first tomato.
We lived in little sunshine with a thirst for tomato.
Not always red, often orange, black, even chartreuse,
swollen, almost ripe, then rain and a burst tomato.
No plant, however sturdy, can pour enough energy
into more than a few gorgeous, terse tomatoes.
Bred down from horse nettle and nightshade, their lineage
all poison, the sharp fruit bites back, a cursed tomato.
Halloween we’d squeal, toss sulfuric eggs, water-
balloons and a full rotten hearse-load of tomatoes.
I harvest to the very last. My tortured plants,
skeletal, hang by root in dark cellar. Worst tomatoes.
My Walks Were Often Barefoot
We were the only philosophers
the farm town could find.
The course, upper division and by
invitation, was in, we joked,
Applied Existentialism. Fidgety,
we shifted then slumped around
a seminar table in the tallest tower
above a black creek of sweet
shadow. The class project was to
save Professor Tiedeman’s life
or at least stall his suicide until
we met again. Three decades later,
true to his taunt, on credit he bought
a shotgun and returned to his hotel room,
and our incomplete became failure.
Outside, on the path between oak trees, in
the shade along the creek, the goal
of my amateur Socratic Dialectic
was sex, in whatever way she or he
or they might find me. I was in love
with Camus and Lorca and where
they kissed I was born their one child
by sunlight. My brief but lacey
etude with the beauty Melody
was clipped when she cleaved
to a better thinker given to birds
and Spinoza, her logic
like a lilting syllogism. Our study circle
was sure we knew nothing
because of dreams and then
we drank. Often in dreams.
A Golden Age. We were all alive.
Our Arts & Crafts always involved
swizzle sticks. We had no one to mind us.
Tiedeman recited the Scholastics,
chided the Stoics, and in
an Ad Nauseum churn,
an Eternal Return, we refuted
Heraclitus every Thursday
at four as we waded into the same
current, tepid as dirty
dishwater. A boy, I grew bored. Out
the high yet narrow windows,
too narrow to leap, but where I
could imagine walking out onto
the air, I watched, what? Light
dissolve into her grainy elements?
Light disrobe and lay her cold gown
upon the grey Sierra? I would never
remember how night ended, who
invited me over or in, or left the bed
John C. Morrison lives in Portland, Oregon. His first book, Heaven of the Moment, was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award in Poetry. His second book, Monkey Island, was recently published by Redbat Books. He teaches at the Attic Institute and is also an associate editor for the fabulist journal of literature, Phantom Drift.
A morning gone resplendent in autumn lavish,
when a strange still-scape appears in the parted
grass: the long, oil-slick of snake, carnation-
pink mouth agape, clasping the bloated,
brown body of a toad who’s made no effort
to escape having lost or given up on itself,
the only motion an amber, amphibian eye
wanting to look past this grim anguish and
close in silence as if it could dream away this
hideous communion in which the predator’s
unable to swallow the prey and the hapless prey’s
unable to flee, and, seeing how neither asked
for mercy nor forgiveness, the morning, now in
ascendant blue, wore on, and the world offered none.
Twice nominated for the 2021 Pushcart Prize and, more recently, for Best of the Net in 2022, John Muro is a resident of Connecticut and a lover of all things chocolate. In the Lilac Hour, his first volume of poems, was published in 2020 by Antrim House,. Since that time, John’s poems have been published or are forthcoming in numerous literary journals and anthologies, including Acumen, Barnstorm, Grey Sparrow, River Heron, Sky Island and Willawaw. Pastoral Suite, his second volume of poems, was published by Antrim House in June of 2022. Instagram: @johntmuro.
I look up, in the black and white picture—my
hair still cropped short, my mug floating atop a
checkered apron as I sit in Grandfather’s lap.
He looks far and away.
Though I can’t see his face (we are turned in the
same direction), my smile mirrors his and my body
posture exudes comfort and joy. There’s fatigue
mixed with a shy happiness in his gaze.
In the back, a not quite readable date. If I am
four, he’s sixty. And a note: he drove a long way
for the first time. About sixty, he’s teaching
himself how to drive.
Says the note, we’re on a cousin’s terrace in a
small sea resort. Was I on the passenger seat, as
we tumbled uphill on the winding road? Now
we have safely arrived.
My dark eyes, like night birds, drink in the horizon.
His are pale, full of oceans. A slim railing draws the
ethereal border of the beyond that he, that we
braved. The rest dissolves in white.
Toti O’Brien is the Italian Accordionist with the Irish Last Name. Born in Rome, living in Los Angeles, she is an artist, musician and dancer. She is the author of Other Maidens (BlazeVOX, 2020), An Alphabet of Birds (Moonrise Press, 2020), In Her Terms (Cholla Needles Press, 2021), Pages of a Broken Diary (Psky’s Porch, 2022) and Alter Alter (Elyssar Press, 2022).