Willawaw Journal Spring 2022 Issue 14
TABLE OF CONTENTS (Z to A):
COVER ARTIST: Jessica Billey (see BACK PAGE)
NOTES FROM THE EDITOR
Page One: Paul Willis Heather Truett Pepper Trail Beate Sigriddaughter Page Two: Jessica Billey Maria Rouphail Frank Rossini Laura Ann Reed Vivienne Popperl Toti O'Brien Page Three: Jessica Billey Robert Nisbet Lisa Ni Bhraonain Kevin Nance John Thomas Muro Cameron Morse Page Four: Jessica Billey Robin Michel Catherine McGuire Jayne Marek Katharyn Howd Machan Scott Lowery Page Five: Jessica Billey Amy Lerman David Dodd Lee Gary Lark Laurie Kolp Tricia Knoll Page Six: Jessican Billey Stephen Jones Lorraine Jeffery Suzy Harris C. Desirée Finley Sarah Ferris Page Seven: Jessica Billey Ann Farley Jannie M. Dresser Kris Demien Daun Daemon Dale Champlin Page Eight: Ken Chamlee Natalie Callum Jeff Burt Corbett Buchly Louise Cary Barden Hugh Anderson Page Nine: Sandra Alcosser BACK PAGE with Jessica Billey
This issue provides a testimony to the imagination and diversity of voices within our poetry community. I came away from my final read-through feeling lifted, reassured. Though the chaos of war and destruction in Ukraine persists (see Lisa Ni Bhraonain), and the pandemic and global warming are still with us (see Lorraine Jeffery, Pepper Trail, or Natalie Callum), our collective imaginations are drawn to birds, colors, and lions–yes, I said lions! Alcosser’s poem prompt also led some of us to speak of our fathers (Laura Ann Reed, Scott Lowery) or to go back in time to those formative years that shaped our becoming (Catherine McGuire, Suzy Harris, Vivienne Popperl, Robin Michel, Gary Lark). One poet, Laurie Kolp, wove a new poem from a golden shovel, using two lines of Alcosser for the end words to each line of her poem.
As Heather Truett puts it, “The birds told me everything . . . My story would never be truer than a bird’s song.” And Pepper Trail concurs: “ . . . we learn at last the awe that was in the robins always.” “How can you not love something with red wings?” says Beate Sigriddaughter. Frank Rossini adds, “a crow rises . . . a small crucifix of black feathered light down my long lens.” Laura Ann Reed is direct: “my mother . . . was a dark bird of prey . . . my dad, that red bird of love.”
The reds continue with Toti O’Brien whose father was fond of red. Lisa Ni Bhraonain begins with the red of Helium, the blue of Hydrogen, and follows with “the advent of a fourth color” –saffron, sulfuric yellow. A full array of color appears in the gardens of Louise Cary Barden’s “Taking Stock.”
But the lions were the greatest surprise. Says Cameron Morse: “some fight with the lion in your den, bombed out porcupine hairdo daughter, are you all right?” C. Desirée Finley speaks of training a lion: “your love lays down a path . . . . Lions can pick up on that.” And finally, for Louise Cary Barden, the lions act as her familiar, hovering close throughout the day until sleep, when “I walk in golden grass beside a river, sun warm on my back, a wide plain ahead. The lions pad beside me”–our hidden strengths.
Jessica Billey has generously headed each page with a piece from her Antler Family series or one of her botanical woodcuts. Her notes on the Back Page are illuminating; she is an artist of many talents!
Once again, I have attempted to offer you a bit of a map both to ease your navigation through the journal and to draw you into it. Forty-nine poems–I have mentioned less than half! It might take more than a single sitting. Take your time, my father once said to me in a fretful moment, enjoy the breeze, the songs of the birds; and please share what you enjoy with your friends!
As we curve and climb beside the low white guardrails,
two empty steel barrels boom and rattle
in the back of our Toyota. On the top they say
Bowen, Portland, #46, #48. That’s from when
they jostled in the hold of a freighter to Japan
as my aunt Lorraine and her missionary partner,
Virginia Bowen, sailed their slow and faithful journeys,
like Paul across the Ionian and Tyrrhenian Seas.
Lorraine and Ginny are gone now, stowed
under a green slope on the shore of the Willamette Valley.
My son and I bring these barrels to my brother,
way up in the Cascades, where he will store
his mountain gear outside his trailer in the woods,
one mission succeeding another. Roll out the barrels!
he will sing to us when we arrive. Bring them in
from the fields of sin! And we will. Oh, yes, we will.
Paul Willis has published seven collections of poetry, the most recent of which is Somewhere to Follow (Slant Books, 2021). Individual poems have appeared in Poetry, Ascent, Writer’s Almanac, and Best American Poetry. He is a professor of English at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California.
The birds told me everything. They still have another
song. The mockingbird sat on my shoulder to whisper
imitation, flattery, a good place to start. The crow didn’t
say anything, kept doing fast fly-bys, dropping gifts
without connection, fluttering flags, a saxophone, one
expensive sneaker, two red curls, three different kinds
of friendship. I fed them a nest of newborn spiders, served
in a lampshade dipped in dust and what if maybe
no/and yes/but. Their wings ruffled lace patterns
and one bird beaked his way into my bed, built
a bower, stole polished fingernails to assemble
like stained glass. He wouldn’t let me touch. The parrot
mimicked my hands, clicking keys to kill time until I told
him he was right and I would write and the cardinal winked,
already half asleep, warned me the blue jay is a word thief,
my story would never be safe. My story would never be
truer than a bird’s song, the inner map of one pigeon,
the intricate dance done for the other, the only, the one.
The flap of feathers rocked my mattress until
I rose again and words flew out of me.
Heather Truett is an MFA candidate and an autistic author. Her debut novel, KISS AND REPEAT, was released in 2021. She has published poetry and short fiction with Hawaii Pacific Review, Constellations, and others. Heather also serves on staff for The Pinch.
City River, Portland
What are we to make of this passing flow
Spanned and re-spanned
Ploughed, scoured, straightened, hemmed in
Played upon, dumped into, withdrawn, re-routed
Altered but not unmade, fluid fact
Defining this bridge town, forever
Making the east side and the west side
Different, the world tilted upstream and down
Keeper of secrets, of ghost-white sturgeon
In the lowest deep, of lost diamond rings and
Stone tools and bodies gone to bones
Of fish and the liquid memories of fish
Salmon, heavy with meaning, moving invisible
Their thoughts of the river unspeakable, their own
Winter of Robins
This is become the season of robins, this wintertime
Robins changed from the ways we have known them
Grown strange in the cold: sturdy, dark, and wild
Raised from the customary earth, they crowd the trees
And the white skies are restless with their flocks
Forever weaving through the ragged air
In and out of the quilted clouds
At morning there is no end to their leaving
And in the blue falling dusk they return
The madrones are hectic with their wings
And the wild roses bend beneath their weight
The disregarded rise before us as a multitude
And so we are taught, and so we learn at last
The awe that was in the robins, always
Pepper Trail’s poems have appeared in Willawaw, Catamaran, Rattle, Atlanta Review, Windfall, 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 lives in Ashland, Oregon, where he pursues his many interests in writing, photography, natural history, and environmental activism.
While the exquisite lady sings a heart-rending ballad out on stage, the dancers in back are frantic.
“My belt.” “My shoe.” “Where is my fan?” “Hand me that shawl.”
And while you make polite conversation at the silver platter buffet, rain soaks rice fields thousands of miles away.
It is all the same show. Clap your most excellent hands!
Late Summer Mountain
Orion back just before dawn. The air filled with morning wings of birds.
At times the voice of a red winged blackbird, the arc of a red winged grasshopper in flight. How can you not love something with red wings?
My love looks good with sunrise, mountains, juniper behind him, tall with a prickle of intensity.
The past with its lazy lamplights has faded to wood scent in sunlight. And I believe
at the time of my birth this raven was planned high into the air for just this moment, adding bold shadows to the play of light.
I still don’t have the language for a simple rosebud. Words feel like earnest handshakes among mortals in the presence of arcane immortal beings.
A tiny yellow flower whispers solemnly: I am your song.
Beate Sigriddaughter, www.sigriddaughter.net, grew up in Nürnberg, Germany. Her playgrounds were a nearby castle and World War II bomb ruins. She lives in Silver City, New Mexico (Land of Enchantment), USA, where she was poet laureate from 2017 to 2019. Her latest collections are prose poems Kaleidoscope (Cholla Needles, May 2021) and short stories Dona Nobis Pacem (Unsolicited Press, December 2021). In her blog Writing In A Woman’s Voice, she publishes other women’s voices.