Willawaw Journal Fall 2023 Issue 17
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
COVER ART: "Misty Chief" by Sam Siegel
NOTES FROM THE EDITOR
Page One: Rick Adang Ken Anderson Frank Babcock Lawrence Bridges Page Two: Sam Siegel Jeff Burt David Capps Dale Champlin Kris Demien Amelia Díaz Ettinger Page Three: Sam Siegel John S. Eustis Ann Farley Suzy Harris Wendell Hawken Gary Lark Page Four: Sam Siegel Stefanie Lee Marilyn McCabe Frank C. Modica Cecil Morris John Muro Page Five: Sam Siegel LeeAnn Olivier Darrell Petska Vivienne Popperl Lindsay Regan Erica Reid Page Six: Sam Siegel Sher A. Schwartz Roberta Senechal de la Roche Annette Sisson Derek R. Smith Connie Soper Page Seven: Sam Siegel Jude Townsend Pepper Trail Arianne True Lana Valdez BACK PAGE with Sam Siegel
Tap once on a light switch
And the earthquake will wait –
Kiss a piece of wood, five times, and you won’t go crazy
Tell him you love him three times and he won’t leave you
Pray each time you think of cancer and he’ll beat it
But you are crazy, there is an earthquake, and he does die and leave you
And yet into the night I go
Tapping, kissing, confessing, avoiding, praying
Years ago a doctor asked me my biggest fear
And I said going crazy
He laughed and laughed and said, how do you not see, you’re already crazy
Which is true in the night as I tap, kiss, confess, avoid, and pray
Which is true in a Walmart when I touch each piece of laminate furniture
And at the bar where I have to mentally note each stool
Kissing planks until I have splinters
On the highway, remembering license plates
(Thank god that one’s gone)
I do try to laugh.
Tapping is funny. Kissing, funnier still.
How many times have I hidden a bottle cap
Walked through a doorway six times
Unplugged every cord in the rental house
Thrown out all the clocks
Hidden the knives
I don’t remember what it was like before
And sometimes I wonder if there ever was a before
Or was my life always this,
Tapping and kissing and confessing and avoiding and praying.
These days the moments that feel the most surreal aren’t the panic attacks, nor the tunnel vision, and
weirdly not the things I forgot to touch,
They’re a day I spent in the Schiphol airport, the nights in Sweden or Jakarta or even
Providence, Rhode Island. The job I had in Midtown. The bar I danced in on the lake.
The nights I didn’t unplug the toaster
And kiss the fear away
Jude Townsend is a writer, illustrator, and crossword constructor in the mountains.
Group Chat/Aurora Borealis
The moon rose, gibbous, gravid
and the pale aurora borealis gathered up
her faded skirts and slipped away.
That is what my brother, northern star-gazer, told us
(though the words are mine – he sent a video).
My southern sister answered immediately,
as she so often does, with the “cool” emoji –
that yellow round disembodied head in sunglasses,
sunny and cheerful, in nature like her.
Our other sister, the oldest, did not respond,
having died before the time of group chats and emojis,
but I am certain her answer would have been appreciative
but brief, unless she was moved to contribute
a technical comment – on solar activity, perhaps,
or the weather.
And I, as usual, am taking too long, lost in memory,
returned to that night on our childhood hilltop,
all of us standing together in the snow, the bitter cold,
our pale faces upturned, speechless beneath the miracle,
the sinuous swaying curtain of light, purple, green, and red,
the universe having come to tell us that the play was about to begin.
Pepper Trail’s poems have appeared in Willawaw, Rattle, Atlanta Review, Catamaran, Ascent and other publications, and have been nominated for Pushcart and Best of the Net Awards. His collection, Cascade-Siskiyou: Poems, was a finalist for the 2016 Oregon Book Award in Poetry. He writes and explores the world from his home in Ashland, Oregon.
Seattle Sonata (legato, every note legato)
I – razbliuto
It’s hard to be in love with
someone who can change so much.
My city left me behind chasing
a seat at the table when
our table was already set,
overflowing with possibility
and art and people who can’t afford
to live here anymore. I live an hour
away now and don’t know how to feel when
I see her. Something like longing. Something
like disappointment. Something I worry is
like a word I learned once at her side,
the Russian word that names the feeling
you have for someone you once loved
but no longer do. I worry that’s true.
II – in Russian
There’s no such word in Russian. You can say,
“I once loved you but no longer,” but there’s
no shorthand for it. No sum up. Despite being
in the books of so many experts, so many linguists —
no such feeling in its source language. Best guess:
a typo in a 60s tv show. Replicated somehow to now.
A not-Russian word that only exists in English.
III – object permanence
I feel home, though, in some of the same places.
Pioneer Square and the Seattle Center, bookends
of a past continually overwritten and a future imagined once,
two half-truths preserved in architecture. These buildings at least
feel real to me, like they’ll still be there when I turn around.
It’s hard to feel steady when you’re surrounded by disappearances,
a constantly changing view. How much was ever really there?
I trust the old bricks and concrete most in this city.
[Still not more than the trees that grow up the ravines.]
IV – no what
it’s hard to tell someone you left
everything they would’ve needed to change
for you to keep wanting them.
you shouldn’t try. living things change,
it is just hard to love living things
(harder not to) the city is a living thing,
you know. like I am a living thing to
the microscopic creatures that populate
my body who make it somewhere
I can live too. no me without them.
no city without who? hard to say
for a city bleeding out. what are you losing?
when will you notice? and what
will you do then?
V – somehow it’s not happening here but
Sometimes I have to speak so plainly that my voice gets lost in the words.
It’s to be understood when you’re swimming against misconceptions.
It still only works when someone will listen. Is willing to hear.
VI – why here
My writing exists because this is home. Me born to another city
is another artist, who knows her medium? Something about this
place keeps breathing me words. Maybe it’s the dense undergrowth,
so many places for a whisper to catch and hide, to wait for you.
So easy to move slow here, easy to spend an hour on the bus
or twenty minutes walking. Cars dull my senses, speed me up
to where I can’t catch the details anymore. I write more when
I am slow in the world, and this home made that so easy
for so long. It’s harder to get here now, but when I can
the whispers are still waiting, falling with the pine needles
or pushing up with irises, caught in the air of a bumblebee’s
fuzz as they sleep in a rosebud. Other places have flowers,
but these ones know my name.
VII – whole-body ear
I wear thinner shoes now
and can feel the streetcar
fifty feet away, every move
and stop spreads sensation
across the soles of my feet.
This place always teaching
me new ways to listen.
VIII – what about the other colors
Thick pigeons flock and split
like a grey kaleidoscope no one is turning
in the one hour we have of snow.
So many land together three stories up,
a whole crenellation of plump birds.
The rest must’ve gone west somewhere,
maybe past the clock tower,
I can’t see them now.
IX – cadence
I think what I want is for hometown to mean something.
Something tangible, more than longing or nostalgia,
to mean something with a body. Some kind of right
to live in your home. Some new knowing (not new
to me) that these streets were parents for some of us.
Some of us were raised by buildings and bus routes
and empty auditorium stages, by old old trees,
by blackberries and sticky rhododendron blooms and
the salmon that come home every year to become
the stream again. Some of us were raised by
pavement and school fields and drainage ditches.
By strangers and being a stranger show after show.
By the water that runs over all of them. (us.) None
of these are just images. This is not a poem, it’s
a map. This is not a poem, it’s a lineage. I am
telling you my family. I am telling you my home.
I am telling you one of the saddest things I know,
that none of that is allowed to matter more than
money in the city that’s been built here. Maybe
what I miss is like parents before you find out they
are only human too. I am not surprised by the
changes here anymore. But I am surprised
by the things no one notices. I live in shock that
we have no right to our home.
See About the Poet Laureate here.
the more i learn of god, the more i liken him to my neighbor, jude coltran. his dark
hair shadows the rest of his face, and he spends his days talking to the floor. jude
is like us, but his eyes can only tilt up a certain way, until they tire and retreat back
into his brain. i’ve heard stories, ones that could make me tear out fistfuls of my
hair in fear, but i still let jude take me out dancing to a club he goes to. i dance until
spots appear in front of my eyes, whirling disco balls and little red chandeliers that
line the ceiling. in the night, jude wakes me up to tell me about his god. we don’t
have to sell our souls or clothes, he whispers, he is already in us.
Lana Valdez is a twenty one year old writer, poet, and filmmaker living in Southern
California, most known for her poetry and short films. Her poetry collection. THE RED DOLL,
is available via Bottlecap Press, and her short films are on her YouTube channel, Lana Valdez.
Artist Statement: As a Canadian artist based in Vancouver BC, I am constantly inspired by the breathtaking landscapes of the Pacific Northwest. From the misty forests to the rugged coastlines, this region is a never-ending source of inspiration for my art. In my work, I use a variety of brushes and oil paints to create these landscapes by hand. Whether I am painting the intimidating snow-capped peaks of the mountains or the tranquil waters of a quiet lake, I am always filled with a sense of wonder and awe at the natural environment all around us. I hope that my artwork takes you on a journey to a nostalgic, whimsical world of the imagination, and serves as a reminder of the enduring beauty of our landscape.
Bio: At an early age, Sam Siegel discovered and was supported in his artisitc expression by teachers and family as an antidote to his ADHD. He stuck with it. An injury and consequent addiction to oxycodone and then fentynol sent him through rounds of rehab which eventually took hold. When he came out the other side, his father and uncle joined together with Sam to create his business, Sam’s Original Art, with a gallery in Vancouver, BC, and a well-established website (samsoriginalart.com).
For more information about the artist, you may go to these links: