Willawaw Journal Spring 2020 Issue 9
Willawaw Journal Spring 2020 Issue 9
Notes from the Editor
COVER ART: Claire Burbridge (see Pack Page for artist statement)
Table of Contents:
Page One: Hugh Anderson Susan Ayres Frank Babcock Nan C Ballard
Page Two: Claire Burbridge Sarah Bigham Dale Champlin Joe Cottonwood Steven Croft Barbara Daniels
Page Three: Claire Burbridge Shannon Finck Irene Fick Dan Gallagher Suzy Harris Marilyn Johnston
Page Four: Claire Burbridge Tricia Knoll Dana Knott Bruce McRae Francis Opila John Palen
Page Five: Claire Burbridge Emily L. Pate Vivienne Popperl Bill Ratner Sarah Degner Riveros Kim Stafford
Page Six: Doug Stone Paul Suter Samuel Swauger Guinotte Wise Nicole Zdeb BACK PAGE with Claire Burbridge
didn’t watch us good
I knew this to be true
the day we saw the baby
gator in the canal
Kicking feet beneath
our inner tubes stilled,
we watched and drifted
as the lizard razored the water
We had been told
there should be a parent
coming along any minute, which
could sink one or both of us
to the river’s soft floor
and hold us there tightly
until we drowned
and that knowledge
was like a dare.
With the Sandhill Cranes
In outlet stores that smell haunted
by ghost tins of popcorn;
In sheets of rain that follow me down,
until I shelter in place,
a squall arriving in an inlet;
In a paper atlas my grandmother produces
for a rabbit-toothed cousin
with a geography project,
several natty pages in
a creased Soviet Union,
and no one says out loud
how some things here
have become useless—
for instance, the console tv
upon which sits another tv,
the space-age satellite dish,
dead-eyed on a stalk in the yard;
In the sprawl we wind in the truck,
braking for cranes in the road,
their beaks and legs clothes-hanging
the frocks of their bodies,
the cautious steps of old nomads,
pluckers of snakes from hot pavement,
on their way to the uncaged pool deck,
When I say I am never coming back here,
to this hopeless, shiftless,
this unfinished thought of a place,
I don’t mean it, because look
at the sugar sand, the squat palmetto,
the amber sinkhole where the kids swim
in shirts and shorts,
floating like sweet tea bags.
Shannon Finck earned her M.F.A. from Georgia College and her Ph.D. from Georgia State
University. She teaches writing at the University of West Georgia. Her critical and creative
work have appeared in such journals as Angelaki, Miranda, ASAP/J, Lammergeier, and
FUGUE. She is Poetry Editor of the independent literary journal, Birdcoat Quarterly, formerly
Muse/A. Originally and undeniably from the part of Florida with the most sulfuric smelling
tap water, she has made it no farther away than Atlanta, GA, where she currently lives with
an old dog and a young one.
The toilet keeps backing up and I’m tired
of thrusting the splintered plunger up and down,
tired of coaxing the noxious water to flow
again, tired of the suction, the waste.
Then I’m 17, on my knees, retching
vodka and OJ into Johnny Romano’s turquoise toilet
His thin-lipped mother comes home,
calls me trash, shrieks Get out! Get out!
I loved that skinny, dark-haired Lothario.
I sang Johnny Angel over and over.
I think of this as I plunge–
press, release, press, release, up and down,
up and down. Our brittle, little romance
fractured into such tender pain,
I belted out The End of the World
just like Skeeter Davis
wondering why the sun went on shining,
why the sea rushed to shore,
since her man didn’t love her anymore.
Irene Fick’s second poetry collection, The Wild Side of the Window (Main Street Rag), received the first place award from the National Federation of Press Women as did her first, The Stories We Tell (The Broadkill Press). Her poems have been published in such journals as Gargoyle, Poet Lore, The Broadkill Review, and Philadelphia Stories. She lives in Lewes, Delaware.
Mapping the Sky
Sometimes I feel like I’m flying over Alaska
And can’t see anything
Or I’m a moose shot in the snow
Too deep for transport
My relatives seemed to serve
On military bases in Alaska, anonymously
Without talking about it
Not even with each other
Nothing top secret
Just the quiet which must
Settle on soldiers when it’s winter
My grandfather was like a co-pilot
Who watches the storm pass under us
And says nothing about it
Seems like the sky’s the limit in Alaska
And bald eagles walk around downtown
Waiting for dinner
Grand Forks, North Dakota
It could have been a January like this
when the afternoon light
from that bowl of blue sky
illuminated the tips of snow
drifted across fields, like waves,
the harrowed land
glittering like a prairie ocean.
So we took the children out to see
the ocean. A woodpecker beat
its steady drum into a fence post
and a cardinal flashed brilliant
across the white waves.
The children averted their eyes
then scuffed their boots
across clumps of snow.
It was no good.
They wanted a real ocean
with salt and sand and seagulls
across a turquoise sky.
After Because by Linda Pastan
Because it was winter and we were young,
we drove to the coast on a whim.
No, it was because it was Christmas
and just the two of us
and our presents were small and disappointing.
Or maybe it was because
we wanted to escape Christmas altogether.
So, we drove to the coast
and walked on the boardwalk.
Sideways rain seeped into our socks,
soaked our rain jackets
and because it was Christmas
we were alone on the beach,
the shops and cafes closed.
It was just the two of us
and I remember how we stopped
in the rain to hold each other,
laughing as the sky and ocean merged,
a giant soup of salt, water and sand,
us in the middle,
holding the whole wet world in our embrace.
Suzy Harris grew up in Indiana and has lived in Portland for her adult life, as teacher, lawyer, parent, spouse. She is now retired and has returned to poetry, watercolor, oil pastel crayons, and other means of playing with color and words.
On the Road to Oakridge
Mid-morning and I’m late to a meeting
at the Town Hall, and I’m only outside of Eugene.
But the shy light distracts, no one in front or behind,
a good country tune on the AM station. Then,
as if choreographed, elk enter from each side
of the highway, seven of them—and I’m following,
as if without hands on the wheel, and they’re
pulling me, as if they knew I needed this ride—
the chance to breathe deep, in control of nothing.
And we travel like that for miles, smooth and steady,
and we travel like that until Oakridge approaches
around the final bend in the road—until the elk part,
as gracefully as they’d come—like the Red Sea,
only kind and silent.
Marilyn Johnston is an Oregon writer and filmmaker. She received a fellowship from Oregon Literary Arts, a Robert Penn Warren prize, and selection as a Fishtrap Fellow for her poetry. She is the author of a chapbook, Red Dust Rising, and a recent full collection, Before Igniting (2020, Rippling Brook Press). Her work has appeared widely, in such publications as Natural Bridge, Poetica Magazine, and Rough Places Plain: Poems of the Mountains. She teaches creative writing as part of the Artists-in-the-Schools program.