Willawaw Journal Spring 2021 Issue 12
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Notes from the Editor
COVER ART: by Daniel DeRoux
Page One: Frank Babcock Paul A. Bluestein Jeff Burt Natalie Callum
Page Two: Daniel DeRoux Dale Champlin Joe Cottonwood Susan Donnelly Judith Edelstein Morgan English
Page Three: Daniel DeRoux Irene Fick Sonia Greenfield Ann Howells Marc Janssen Gabrielle Langley
Page Four: Daniel DeRoux Carolyn Martin Hannah Joyce James Owens John Palen FOLIO Daniel DeRoux
Page Five: Vivienne Popperl Khalisa Rae FOLIO Daniel DeRoux Jessie-Lauren Ratliffe Howard W. Robertson Emalisa Rose
Page Six: Connie Soper Ellen Stone Doug Stone John Steffler Pepper Trail BACK PAGE with Daniel DeRoux
My Grandmother Comes Back as Springtime
Her eyes open—bluebells and gentian
her cheeks shine apple blossom pink.
Her toes uncurl into petals on the grass.
She raises her arms—her hands unfurl.
She branches, white-crowned sparrows on each finger.
Leaves tiny as squirrel paws filter the breeze.
Her breath, sweet with butterflies and foraging bees,
powders sunbeam-slanted trees.
In the warmth of her hair, honey, pollen
and nectar the perfumes she wears.
I want to catch her in my arms and tell her
I love her—but she’s unmade the bed of herself—
now she’s rolling foothills filled with forests
skittering and lumbering with minks, and bears.
How can I entice her to stay?
But shh—she’s whispering a story
in windsong and meadowlarks.
The Old Shoe Remembers
wheat sweeping in great
undulations—how the horn
of the train a mile away whistled
in the middle of the night.
Our old square house squatted,
paint peeled away by dust storm after
dust storm, the heart of the house broken
beyond repair, doorknobs falling off, the floor
raising its splinters into my farm girl bare feet.
How we kids were stacked into one bedroom
like cordwood—our cots made of two-by-fours
one on top of the other lining the walls.
I sit here thinking of my mother’s
face—worn brown, cracked
as those floorboards—one baby or another
latched onto her long sorry breasts.
How my teacher said I might have
a book to read but I didn’t dare
take it home—afraid it would end up
in the pot-bellied stove for kindling
and how in the dull evenings
the radio, its nubby brown cloth
covering the speaker, broadcast
Bach and Stravinsky.
Dale Champlin is an Oregon poet with an MFA in fine art. She is the editor of Verseweavers. Dale has poems published in Willawaw, The Opiate, Visions International, San Pedro River Review, catheXis, and elsewhere. In 2019 She published her first collection The Barbie Diaries. Three collections, Isadora, Callie Comes of Age, and Andromina, A Stranger in America are forthcoming.
I have places to go but don’t
I’m sitting in a soft green chair
by the hissing fire with Mickey
who is dying, curled against my feet.
My fingers rub his neck still warm,
his ribs still rising slowly, falling,
his fur stringy and soft. A lesion
on his liver. Ammonia builds in his blood.
Mickey cares not about science.
Muscles weaken. No appetite,
he’s been starving slowly for weeks.
I carry him in his little donut bed.
Some day soon, maybe today, his heart will stop.
He never complains. That’s the nature of dogs
about pain. Blues yodel, yes, he’ll join the chorus
when the siren calls but not today.
In the fireplace scraps of redwood siding
torn from my house after 80 years,
attacked by sun rain insect until
finally succumbing, broken down,
burn now hot and fast and bright.
Mickey still breathes. I sit.
I have things to do,
places to go but don’t.
Joe Cottonwood has repaired hundreds of houses to support his writing habit in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California. His latest book is Random Saints.
Whispers of Things I Don’t Understand
I cruise hours of the night
wondering what it means to be human,
to follow narrow one way roads;
my fingers trace disappearing veins,
or are they arteries, on the underside
of my wrists. I can never remember
which of these thin lines runs, like me,
away from the heart, on the gravel path
of lost loves and regrets,
untold wants and options not taken.
The darkness is full of moments
others say matter; everything
is muttered in foreign tongues,
rolling r’s and guttural a’s.
I have lost my ear, my words,
and the map whose trails
would take me to an alpine plateau
where these languages are spoken,
where nighttime air is a pillow,
and every utterance is a wisdom gift
wrapped in a thin blanket of joy.
But tonight the route is elusive,
I can only find thin blue lines,
unpaved byways leading
to unknown destinations.
Because We Are Nomads
What traveler would dare to tell her tale –
even in her middle years, pausing
as if the road ended here on this ledge
instead of beneath some distant shaded oak,
as if looking back were ever safe, when the way
ahead is masked, unmarked.? As if Time were willing
to sit down on his heels and gnaw a bit of bone.
And who would care if not those whose love
she bore upon her back like household goods
hauled across summers, winters, ice and mud,
over grassy paths and roads of dust and stone?
When the stakes have been pulled up,
when the children have gone to hide and seek
in the fields of corn, who would be left to listen?
The land is rutted with the tracks of wagons
that passed, shuddering under loads of hope.
At mileposts, museums have hung up scraps of the past:
totems to an imagined possibility of return; the walls
are papered with photos of people we never knew
(or did know, once, before they grew to be somebody else)
names written in the invisible ink of blood.
History sings the Siren’s song: “Turn back. Turn back!”
How do we resist the call? How do we pass
through nightmares of what should not be told?
We gather together beside moving waters, lean
into one another, arms braced like tent poles,
our voices rising to form a canopy above us.
Spirit eyes gleam outside the edges,
as one by one we lay logs of memory upon the fire.
Visions flare, smoke clouds the darkness.
The smoke stings our eyes, but we sit
—still we sit — telling down the long hours
until dawn comes to set us free, until light brings forgetting.
We shed our blankets, heavy with the smoke
and nighttime smells, rinse our faces in icy water,
throw dirt upon the smoldering coals and set out
to morning’s fresh chorus of birdsong…
because we are nomads…
An omen, I think, of darker days to come.
Poems by Judith Edelstein have been published in Hummigbird: Magazine of the Short Poem; Verseweavers: The Oregon State Poetry Association Anthology of Prize Winning Poems; Willawaw Journal,; and the anthology The Absence of Something Specified. She is a retired teacher and librarian, living in Corvallis, Oregon.
I inherit browns and greens. I wait
for someone to say it’s all
in the past now so I can stuff the
wood stove full of letters written
on paper bags, carefully made envelopes
and illustrations, and while I’m at it
I wait for the yellowed wallpaper to crumble
which is something I can at least sweep up,
tidy and clean. I wait for new colors,
for my life to arrive like an eager dog
on my doorstep. I know what it will take:
it starts with the sun filtered through leaves
hitting my face just so, or it starts
by throwing the windows open
come the first warm day in spring and
it requires something swallowed down
like medicine, maybe the fresh sap
of my own trees or someone
looking at me like I’m worth seeing.
Morgan English is a Vermont poet and textile/garment maker. Her poetry has
appeared in St. Petersburg Review, Literary North and she has been nominated
for Best New Poets.