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
Winter’s Lonely Witness
I like to be left alone to sort I begin with the domain
of real things wander through the pantry cans
and boxes long past due so many spices some
with seals still intact I move to the closet lay out
slacks and shirts and skirts in shades of pale gray to black
dark to darkest now, the linen closet I toss
old remedies reminded of the wrongs of the body
ordinary aches that surface in the cold I cross the hall
enter the office shred last year’s receipts pitch
old calendars I regard my birthday list delete
those who have died those now dead to me I approach
stacks of unfinished poems all those urgent beginnings
stalled and flatlined I turn away from the new page
that frozen mass of white space that demands a walk
through an unwilling wilderness I recall a different
landscape another winter when supper was spread
across the table and we passed the gravied beef
and passed the broccoli casserole on real plates
and talked about our day I imagine this happened
imagine everyone is still alive sustained
by winter’s shadows its faint and mournful pulse
Irene Fick of Lewes, Delaware is the author of The Wild Side of the Window (Main Street Rag)
and The Stories We Tell (Broadkill Press). Both chapbooks received first place awards from the
National Federation of Press Women. Irene’s poetry has been nominated twice for the Pushcart
prize, once for Best of the Net. Her poetry has been published in such journals as Poet Lore,
Gargoyle, The Broadkill Review and Blue Mountain Review.
My Grandfather’s Last Supper
It was vintage Da Vinci, Jesus and disciples
making blessings at their long table hung
over our Formica one, a masterpiece
configured for suburban consumption—
The Last Supper lined and numbered
on a cardboard canvas accompanied by
burnt umber corresponding to the number
nine and carmine to number ten. The paint-
by-number made an impressionist of Da Vinci—
dining room figured out of pigment changes
and articulations of shadow and light. What did
my grandfather know of The Masters? After
the War he left the navy to build houses.
On our house he built a porch anchored to
a ship’s bell. He was always nursing a hernia,
always the color of red ochre and bent over
some project in the backyard, sweat beading
on his lower back, a square nitroglycerin patch
stuck somewhere out of sight. All the years
of his absence allowed us to make nothing
much of the hours put into the painting—
the board about two feet by three feet; the many
small pots of paint required for a kit like this;
the tiny brushes spread out on a vinyl tablecloth.
His Last Supper was a movable feast through
the decades until it sagged a few steps from the trash
that lived in my mother’s basement, and all I can do
now is dab sun coming in casement windows,
tassels of corn waving to him from the garden.
I can only color him with reading glasses on,
white hair combed back into a tidy pompadour,
and pose him over the canvas where he takes
great care with the feet, such thin straps on
the sandals, until the image of Jesus’s final meal
assembles under his hand while Connie Francis
clicks through her eight tracks on the stereo.
Sonia Greenfield is the author of two full-length collections of poetry. Letdown, released in March, was selected for the 2020 Marie Alexander Series and published by White Pine Press. Her collection, Boy With a Halo at the Farmer’s Market, won the 2014 Codhill Poetry Prize and was published in 2015. Her chapbook, American Parable, won the 2017 Autumn House Press chapbook prize. Her work has appeared in a variety of places, including in the 2018 and 2010 Best American Poetry. She lives with her husband, son, and Shiloh Shepherd in Minneapolis where she teaches at Normandale College and edits the Rise Up Review. More at soniagreenfield.com.
Drenched in Spindrift
Spindrift saturates my bones. Country night comes
velvet black. Ebb tide sings my lullaby,
atonal and aleatoric, draining through riprap.
Half a mile from here – maybe less –
father toddled the homestead in white baby dress,
webfoot, born between river and island creek,
sawgrass and water willow.
From Hell’s Point, map calls Sayer’s Point,
his father, Rich, set sail to harvest the bay.
Dark. Sharp-featured. Thin. A splinter
darker than pines standing shoulder to shoulder,
shore to shore. And his mother,
Clara Mae, grave lost to time and tide,
lies somewhere near the cenotaph.
Cousins: first, second, and more,
once and twice removed, even double cousins,
live up and down the shore in frame cottages
and drafty shacks. Potters, Twilleys, and Thomases,
inhabit this spit of land,
three miles long, one mile wide.
My grandmothers were sisters –
bloodline doubled back on itself, the river
that flows our veins. Small wooden coffins,
like snug little ships that always brought them home,
lie buried at the little white church,
highest ground of the island.
In aqua-green dimness among pines, bare soles
pound humus-rich soil.
In blackberry season our mouths stain purple,
arms and legs a bloody calligraphy.
We suck sweetness from honeysuckle –
pleasures of childhood extended.
The river – a silver-scaled dragon – twines
through our lives: friend and foe, god and devil.
Lives timed by tides, heartbeats lapping waves,
bloodlines a tangle of honeysuckle
among gulls and ospreys, terrapins and piss clams,
the big white house at the center of the world.
Ann Howells of Carrollton, Texas edited Illya’s Honey for eighteen years. Her books include: Under a Lone Star (Village Books Press, 2016), Cattlemen & Cadillacs as editor (Dallas Poets Community, 2016), So Long As We Speak Their Names (Kelsay Books, 2019) about Chesapeake Bay watermen, and Painting the Pinwheel Sky (Assure Press, 2020) persona poems in voices of Van Gogh and his contemporaries. Her chapbooks include: Black Crow in Flight, published through Main Street Rag’s 2007 competition and Softly Beating Wings, 2017 William D. Barney Competition winner (Blackbead Books). Ann’s work appears in many small press and university journals.
The kitchen floor awash in clothes
While flies library whisper around the sink.
There is a hole the size of everyone you loved.
All that remains is me,
The jester in your kingdom of disappointment.
Homeless clothes on the couch–
Newspapers, unread, cry near the door;
And the exchanges between us are short
Unfamiliar and formal.
This is the way we part now,
Like strangers finalizing
Marc Janssen lives in a house with a wife who likes him and a cat who loathes him. Regardless of that turmoil, his poetry can be found scattered around the world in places like Penumbra, Slant, Cirque Journal, Off the Coast and Poetry Salzburg. Janssen also coordinates the Salem Poetry Project, a weekly reading, the annual Salem Poetry Festival, and was a 2020 nominee for Oregon Poet Laureate.
Bolshoi Ballet Tours the West:
A Cold War Poem
The word “defection” floats in the air.
Sotto voce. The ability to hear whispers
is every child’s superpower.
I am a tiny balletomane. My hand
fully encapsulated by my father’s, we move
through a theatre of older women in beaded gowns.
Strange magic lives behind the Iron Curtain:
Nureyev, the white crow.
Plisetskaya, dying swan, Odette/Odile, the feathered
captives of a nuclear wizard.
By the age of seven, I imagine “the Soviet Union”
is a cage filled with white birds and pointe shoes.
“The Cold War” is a battle of ice crystals.
Madame Semenova is my ballet teacher.
Sarcasm drips tart from her lips.
She carries a long black stick,
pokes at our legs and shoulders,
often tells the story of another jealous ballerina
pouring ground glass into Madame’s slippers,
how blood stained the pale pink satin
while the audience watched.
Her bourrées were perfect.
There are A-bomb drills in my elementary school
at least once a week. Children can be taught to move
like baby swans in winter,
in single file with surprising precision,
to line up alphabetically in hallways,
to sit on cold granite floors,
spine to wall, head beneath hands,
tucked between knees.
When our parents find us,
we will be incinerated
into carefully organized piles of ash.
Gabrielle Langley lives and works in Houston, Texas. Her poems have been published in a variety of literary reviews, including Panoply, New Plains Review, Wild Word, Houston Poetry Fest Anthology, and ARTlines. Her debut collection of poetry, Azaleas on Fire, was released in March of 2019. Ms. Langley was also a spearhead and co-editor of Red Sky: poetry on the global epidemic of violence against women (2016). Additional information about this poet can be found at www.gabriellelangley.com .