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
Beach Village Surgery
Four of them waiting: the strong young woman
with fine breasts and a wheezing chest
(her small son tugging to be away), the man,
in his seventies maybe, coughing softly,
the woman with stiff, archaic perm,
her face impassive, the middle-aged man,
looks a joker, subdued by an aching throat.
None is seriously ill. Doctor O’Flaherty
is able to patch and palliate, adjust,
to listen, maybe to pick up the echoes
of the big infections: for two of them
the cruel partners, for one the debts,
for a fourth the daughter’s gambling.
Soothed and medicated just for now,
they leave singly for the car park, less than
a furlong from the sands, feeling briefly,
like a shot in the bloodstream
(maybe from the grains of salt in the air,
maybe the remembered view), the breath
of an ancient and continuing world.
Robert Nisbet is a Welsh poet who has been published widely in Britain and the USA, where he has appeared frequently in San Pedro River Review, Third Wednesday and Burningword Literary Journal. He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize four times in the last three years.
Helium is Red
Hydrogen is Blue
My first and last use of light on Sveta is when the
well-known and beloved
element ______ disappears from the periodic table: I
and stunned, its annihilation –plink, plank, plunk – nihilism
makes noise and it stinks – burnt hair, citrus, tar–
A vacuum is breached, a klaxon goes off;
there is surficial confusion, some fission, some fusion
where the element
never was – parched cindered patches on laboratory walls,
water coolers, coffee pots, all beakers imploding,
the poster of
Mendeleev’s face shot through like a paper target.
Sveta sinks down on her beautiful knees proclaiming
the advent of a fourth
color, and always the first to see things in a
different light, and as the
world is now anew, I let myself fall for her.
We are standing together at a disintegrating window; the
sky is saffron,
a sulfuric yellow, and birds are different, some dropping
from the sky,
we see a griffin, the starling elongated, the black crows,
the metallic sheen of their enlarged wingspan infused with
the tint of Sveta’s
new spectrum as a wider prism unfurls and infested with
the enhanced weight of
the ever-present louse the size of quarters and spilling from feathers.
Timetables shatter, a mottled and early dusk falling,
all clocks moot, and with the never-having-been of her
husband, I ask Sveta out
over the romance of electromagnetic waves on the
spectrum of altered
and antique light, my invitation received via her Russian
radio coming through
big-bang static behind Shostakovich’s No 7, all clarinets,
all harps missing.
Sveta loves the radio’s marbled green case and imagines
its big happy
dial was once tuned on a Black Sea beach. She pries open
its plastic back
to check up on its innards: the cauterized and soldered
transistors, all but the coils intact, and in Russian informs
me: All components
glorious and Soviet and – then dream-like and in Ukrainian,
she says, sad.
By a flat-faced pus-colored moon, no luna maria, Sveta,
opaline under the
changed metals in stars, the altered constellations and no
Big Bear, follows my
footpath of pea stone through a wind-spill of pine needles
up three brick steps
to the twin carriage porch lamps, the glass panes molten,
filaments gone, no
longer ferrous, into the open twin flames of two corpse candles
and the pandemonium of tetrachrome moths.
We slurp up the last puddle of vodka through paper straws;
we spit out the dull shards
of glass; we tune the big dial, now wobbly and
gummy; we get a last update
on the Zoopark in Kiev: Kamchatka bear gone, elephant
gone, zebra, swans, Przewalski’s horse, and old caretaker
too – and after the long-distance
phone call with old-fashioned shouting, the tombak brass in
now melted on a kitchen table in what is left of the concrete
slabs and re-bars
in the five-story apartment building on what was once
Lisa Ni Bhraonain, originally from the East Coast, lives in Oregon. She has a deep affinity with Russians and Ukrainians and has traveled extensively to both countries. She writes both short fiction and poetry.
She was two blocks in front of me when I spotted her. I couldn’t see her face, but something about the way she walked made me think she was someone I knew, and it seemed important that I should catch up to her and have a friendly conversation, which seems to happen so rarely these days. I quickened my pace, almost running, but when I had reduced the distance between us to a single block, a car turned in front of me and cut me off, and then there was more traffic, so I had to wait as I watched her receding in the distance, leaving me behind all over again. When at last I was able to make it through the crosswalk, starting to run this time, she turned onto a side street and I couldn’t see her anymore. I broke into a sprint, rounded the corner and there she was, gazing into a store window, absorbed by the sight of two mannequins, one male, one female, standing close to each other and wearing beautiful clothes not unlike her own, and I nearly bumped into her. She looked at me then, surprised and a little fearful but not unkindly, and I understood how I must have appeared, dressed in my usual fashion, breathing hard, perspiring freely, perhaps in the early stages of some medical emergency or psychotic episode, and I could see that she was not anyone I knew or would ever know. Yet after a moment she seemed to know me, or to be able to make an educated guess about me, and she asked whether I was all right, if she could help me in any way, and I said no, just no, answering both questions at once.
Kevin Nance is a poet, arts journalist and photographer in Lexington, Kentucky. His two collections of photographs and haiku are Even If (University of Kentucky Arts in HealthCare, 2020) and Midnight (Act of Power Press, 2022). His free verse has appeared in The North American Review, Poet Lore, and Cumberland Poetry Review, which awarded him the Robert Penn Warren Poetry Prize in 2003. His photographs have been exhibited in Chicago, Portland, Lexington, and other cities. His articles and criticism have appeared in the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Poets & Writers Magazine, and other publications.
Walk in October
It wasn’t the bright bundles
of leaves that hung like paper
lanterns with stray tassels
of light or the vast poverty of
October skies, nor the fields
speckled with the stubble of
stalks, crumbling stone walls
and oddly shaped gourds that
looked like engorged rose
hips that had tumbled into
the dark culverts of a sodden
earth. Not even the flocks of
tongueless birds, rising and
falling, then reassembling
mid-air like gables, but the
fragrant, ill-begotten wind,
festooned with grains of straw-
dust, lambs-wool yellow, and
infused with the odor of varnish
and the dank rot of shallow
bogs and woodlands that’s
holding me, deep-rooted, fast
to land, certain there’s been
a lessening of distance between
this life and what’s to follow.
A lover of all things chocolate, John Muro is a resident of Connecticut and a graduate of Trinity College, Wesleyan University and the University of Connecticut. In the Lilac Hour, his first volume of poems, was published in 2020 by Antrim House, and it is available on Amazon. A two-time, 2021 Pushcart Prize nominee, John’s poems have been published in numerous literary journals and anthologies, including Barnstorm, Euphony, Grey Sparrow, and Willawaw. His second volume of poems, Pastoral Suite, will be published this spring.
Daughter I wake to discover, “bolt
upright” in bed, not the one I laid you in,
quite a night you’ve had, some fight
with the lions in your den. Bombed out
porcupine hairdo daughter, are you
all right? I don’t like the sound of that
chain smoke rasp in your voice,
the husky cowboy ghost possessing you.
I tell my computer to sleep and lie down
beside it. Tiny gears go on whirring.
A little while clicks off. Trombone tock
of the train station clock, comings
and goings, gongs in the valley
of the temple, the dimple in my skull.
Coffee in the tilted mug spreads a brown oval. Wind rifles through the maple’s green handbag. I would never insert at random the seasick faces of Thomas Jefferson in Lili’s purse as she believes I would. Since the night of the robbery, I have kept my wallet out of the glove compartment because I have had no wallet to keep. My canceled cards return to me in the mail, singly, like a scattered flock of geese I slip from folds of leather, birds of a feather, whenever I meet a fellow poet for coffee. I used to believe Starbucks served a variety of blends but now all they ever seem to have is Pike Place, so I just order that. You’d think I’d learn not to set my mug on the narrow wicker armrest but that’s just not how I work. I don’t learn. Not really. You’d think I’d believe her when Lili shows me the video on her phone, but nobody believes they snore when they sleep because they’re asleep when they snore.
Winter Storm Brain Scan
In this dream I wake up to pre-medicate
for the wake, the black trees
wedding gowned, brides in the fallout
from radiation. Imagine me
prancing insensate though this brain
snow in my birthday suit, my suite
the trundling insides of the machine
shop loud with elbow grease and blood
redacting the sentence of my death.
Hear me out in bloops and bleeps
naked groom getting ready to denude
the dead bird, a black suit sliding
bullet through the chamber, the magnetic
tube of resonant mechanical waves.
Cameron Morse is Senior Reviews editor at Harbor Review and the author of eight collections of poetry. His first collection, Fall Risk, won Glass Lyre Press’s 2018 Best Book Award. His latest is The Thing Is (Briar Creek Press, 2021). He holds an MFA from the University of Kansas City-Missouri and lives in Independence, Missouri, with his wife Lili and (soon, three) children. For more information, check out his Facebook page or website.