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
What a friend said to my face one afternoon,
at my own kitchen table
–with a line from Lynn Emanuel
Should’ve been you.
She turned a butter knife between thumb and forefinger,
laid it down, then sipped her coffee—
You’re the one with the messed-up female genes, after all.
From my dead mother, true, who got them from hers.
No doubt those ill-fated ladies gifted them to me.
Only a matter of time, I always half-joked—
Should’ve been you, been thinking that for a while now—
Said this in her assassin’s voice
she used mostly for stories about her boss.
So, how was I such a beacon of health?
While she, with a child and a clean family history,
succumbed to the scalpel that sliced
her woman-self away. Said all this
while pointing to the flat balloon of her blouse.
Wasn’t supposed to happen to me—
She was just past forty, parents still alive.
Showed me an old photo where she’s dancing with friends.
Party Girl. That was her nickname, she said, her voice trailing off.
How she missed those days! Who wouldn’t want them back?
Or the young body so perfect in red.
She was playing with the knife again.
So, what do you know of fear?
She cut her gaze at me.
Enough, I said
and raised the flat of my hand against the blade of her curse.
Enough, that when
she got up and left, I locked the door
while the blood in me rose high, sloshing in my skull that whole afternoon
like a lake behind a dam.
Maria Rouphail‘s third poetry collection, “All the Way to China,” is due out in 2022 from Finishing Line Press.
Reading W.S. Merwin “A Note
from the Cimmerians”
I look up
something rustling in the garden
I move quietly to the open window
frame a cosmos shivering
in the still morning air suddenly
a crow rises from the dirt
I open the shutter a small crucifix
of black feathered light
flies down my long lens
I press another button to see
if it’s there in the dark chamber
with yesterday’s dog chasing wild
turkeys into the evening fir trees
the first star settling in the sky
Note: “Cimmerian” a Western people believed to dwell
beneath the earth in perpetual darkness
Frank Rossini grew up in mid-century New York City & moved to his present residence, Eugene, Oregon in 1976. He has published poems in various literary magazines including Raven Chronicles, Chiron Review, Cascadia Review, & Seattle Review. sight | for | sight books published his latest book of poems, last confession, in March 2025. A review of his book can be found online at www.ravenchronicles.org.
That Red Bird of Love
—after Diane Seuss, “I Look Up From My Book|
and Out at the World Through Reading Glasses”
The poem’s final line: All forms,
the man wrote, tend toward blur remind me
of my dad, how he recedes into dense fog
and rarely speaks to me anymore.
He’d always say, Truth lies in silence.
Wearing that pensive look, he’d polish
his two pairs of work shoes early on Saturdays
while my mother slept. She was a dark bird of prey
who dreamed of small rabbits, lizards and field mice
through the best part of the day, when the moans
of fog horns on the bay merged with the murmurs
of mourning doves in branches of our mock orange.
No mock anything back then, only sharp, clean lines
and colors that kept their silence, bright and true.
No confusion in those days over truth’s location.
Truth was in my skinny legs that propelled me
to the door when dad came back from the laboratory
reeking of test tubes filled with alfalfa juice. Truth
was in his chemist’s hands that dropped briefcase
and lunch box, scooped me up, and pressed me
to that paternal breast where I found what was missing
in my mother’s milk. That man who’d rise in darkness
to lure the sun above the horizon, who later lullabied me
into dreams. When did his shape begin to blur, his colors
fade? How I miss him, my dad, that red bird of love.
Laura Ann Reed holds a BA in French/Comparative Literature from the University of California, Berkeley and completed Master’s Degree Programs in the Performing Arts, and Psychology. She was a dance instructor in the San Francisco Bay Area prior to assuming the role of Leadership Development Trainer at the San Francisco headquarters of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. She and her husband now reside in western Washington. Her work has been anthologized in How To Love the World: Poems of Gratitude and Hope, and has appeared in Blue Unicorn, Grey Sparrow, Macqueen’s Quinterly, and other journals.
Girl Flesh Glows
It’s Saturday night and I pull the rollers
and silver clips from my thick curly hair,
feel it swing free onto my shoulders
with a perfumed rush. I rub my salt
and chlorine-dried skin soft with Nivea. My silky
tent dress patterned in paisley
swishes around my hips. Dabs of Tabu
deploy behind ear lobes, on wrists,
in elbow crooks. My sister and I sit silent
at attention in the back seat of Dad’s Buick
on the way to the party, nod seriously
when he warns us to behave, tumble
past the swing of chrome-accented doors
into Ruthie’s place, inhale the sweet
smoke of Durban Poison* thickening
the air under the beat of Vanilla Fudge
set me free, why don’t you babe before Old Spice
and English Leather battle it out with Tabu.
*Marijuana strain named after South African port city.
Vivienne Popperl lives in Portland, Oregon. Her poems have appeared in Clackamas Literary Review, Timberline Review, CIRQUE, and other publications. She was poetry co-editor for the Fall 2017 edition of VoiceCatcher. She received both second place and an honorable mention in the 2021 Kay Snow awards poetry category by Willamette Writers. Her first book, A Nest in the Heart, is forthcoming by The Poetry Box.
True and False
These are words, I said.
You are feeding me words.
They taste papery and brittle.
My heart is a fetus in its chamber
of blue. In its upside-down womb
it plays tambourine, digiting secret
codes with index and thumb made
of filaments. Never sleeps, my heart
busybody, yet quiet.
They are better than flowers, he
said. At least they don’t die.
But, I said, they crumble.
My heart is my father, short and squat
thick-skinned, curled, dark, sweaty
fond of color red, the tint
of its upholstered armchair, greasy
and caved in like an used nest.
The tint of his temper.
You are dressing me in words.
They are soft, he pleaded.
I said, they are inconsistent.
They come off at the seams.
They fall into pieces.
The tint of the jacket he wore, with
the scraped collar and a knotted cord
for a belt, father mad then innocent
compressed like a fist, like a bullet
gathered in his chair, father thinking
father of wrinkled brow.
I’ve heard the harsh note in the sound
the wren makes, calling from the fancy
bird clock displayed on the kitchen wall.
I heard it when I came close in order
to wash the dishes. I overstepped, breaking
into the sacred sphere of illusions.
I heard the hint of a croak under mellow
chirping, like the chopped staccato
of a barrel organ playing at a street fair.
I felt sorrow tinged with compassion,
as if glimpsing at the wrinkled cheeks
of a clown removing his make-up.
As if noticing the long tear in the trapeze
artist’s fishnet tights. And sweat pearling
her brow, when she finally alights.
Toti O’Brien is the Italian Accordionist with the Irish Last Name. Born in Rome, living in Los Angeles, she is an artist, musician and dancer. She is the author of Other Maidens (BlazeVOX, 2020), An Alphabet of Birds (Moonrise Press, 2020), In Her Terms (Cholla Needles Press, 2021), Pages of a Broken Diary (Psky’s Porch, 2022) and Alter Alter (Elyssar Press, 2022).