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
We Worked the Evening Shift
and the Casino Paid Us at Midnight
Stinking from the night’s grind,
rancid French fry grease and pickle juice clinging
to our aproned skin
cigarette smoke perfuming our hair,
we didn’t care. It was payday and we had fake IDs
and a change of clothes,
ready to cut loose and spend
some hard earned cash outside our casino walls.
We wanted to taste not our salty grime,
but one another’s skin flavored with tequila and lime.
Beneath the cage’s bright lights our foreheads
glistened. Yeah, we knew the casino’s game,
but we were young and smart, We wouldn’t fall
into their trap. We tallied up potential dance partners
while waiting to cash our paychecks—
One or two co-workers bailed out—
Hey! I’m tired. I’m gonna call it a night—
We knew better.
My Older Man with his sad eyes
stayed behind throwing dice and I went outside
to stand beneath (inside) the wet moon’s
armpit stain. Any night now, My Older Man had whispered,
I’ll hit it big and I’ll be outta here. What about me?
We’ll be outta here.
Waitressing a summer job after my first year of college,
an in-between stopover on the way to a better life—
Robin Michel is a poet and communications consultant for non-profits, K-12 and community college districts. Robin’s work has appeared in Blue Mountain Review, Comstock Review, The MacGuffin, and elsewhere. She is editor of How to Begin: Poems, Prompts, Tips and Writing Exercises from the Fresh Ink Poetry Collective (Raven & Wren Press, 2020). Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, Robin has lived in Northern California for most of her life.
In July, the metal swing set scorched our skin.
Still, we climbed each end to sing the newest song—
I Wanna Hold Your Hand—to each other,
the hollow steel tubes our only mic.
Four girlfriends, in cotton shorts, scabby knees,
Audrey, Patti, Marianne, me—
“The Glamour Girls”. We put on plays
under an olive Army tent
draped on a clothesline—bullet holes let in light.
That war just another story
uncles told over beers.
The Jersey heat melted tarred driveways—
we poked bubbles, burnt our fingers.
So very little to poke at.
With no context, the subdivision—as young as we were—
caused no regrets, no yearning.
What did we know of gnarled oaks’ canopies,
of mellow, handsome homes?
Raw pine fenceposts spaced wide enough
to scoot through, visit each others’ yards.
Forbidden the streets, still we once went far enough
to be lost, happily playing under a porch
while the whole neighborhood searched.
It was a four-street box that could have been anywhere.
Sometimes, I long for such a narrow frame,
the wide world ignoring me,
my ambitions stretched only as far as
the Jersey shore.
Catherine McGuire is a writer and artist with a deep concern for our planet’s future. She has five decades of published poetry, four poetry chapbooks, a full-length poetry book, Elegy for the 21st Century (FutureCycle Press), a SF novel, Lifeline, and book of short stories, The Dream Hunt and Other Tales (Founders House Publishing). She lives in Sweet Home, Oregon on a mini-homestead, with chickens, a garden/orchard and bees. Find her at www.cathymcguire.com.
Photograph, French Village
Side by side, two old men
in brown jackets, their berets
atilt, lounge in the plaza
of this hamlet, on benches
where retired friends sit out the heat
of afternoon while they discuss today’s
game of pétanque. Near us, metal clinks
as the orbs nudge each other familiarly.
I’m a visitor, twenty, in love with France.
I can’t help saying so, and the men beam,
so I ask to photograph them, and they agree
for this nice young lady, far from home.
How many travelers have such luck? When,
months later, I send a copy of the photo
to the address one of them scrawled on a map,
I receive back a postcard with embrasse, embrasse
over an unreadable signature.
And who by chance might meet a stranger
with a camera who will take your picture
with your best friend, on your favorite bench,
listening to the soft talk of metal boules
kissing each other’s silver cheeks?
No, the day offered no promises—given
the thin towels in the French hotel, the long
narrow bones of stairway winding around
the spine of an elevator that did not operate,
given the tilt of floors the color of dried blood,
the unwelcoming dimness that had shadowed
a hundred years of guests used to walking up
with string bags of vegetables, baguettes,
and bottles of wine clanging like hearts
on a wedding day—one might not hope,
on the fifth-floor landing, for a small table
topped with lace and a vase with one violet
whose petals pointed toward a door
with a number matching the key
that rattled like a shackle in the keyhole, one
might not have thought there was any promise
of apricot sun sweetening the slate rooftops
beyond open shutters, with even the flying bugs
winging in and out in a freedom that felt like love.
Jayne Marek, winner of the Bill Holm Witness poetry award, has also been nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart Prizes. She has published six poetry collections, with her next volume, Dusk-Voiced, due in 2022. Her writings and art photos appear in Rattle, Spillway, Calyx, and elsewhere.
In Our Living Room
He dared not touch me where the dragons curled
their woven tails of sapphire and flame
on the old rug I gave a secret name
and treasured as my safe small childhood world.
By crooked couch, cat-riddled chairs, I pearled
curved claws with whitest marbles, daily game
as though I were intent with shooter’s aim
to make them slowly roll where long tongues swirled.
I knew he watched; I knew he hungered so
for me to leave my dragons, let him be
my god so he could make me go below
with him to where no one would ever see.
I stayed as sunlight sheltered me in grace
and kissed the tears on every glowing face.
Katharyn Howd Machan, author of 39 collections of poetry (most recently A Slow Bottle of Wine, winner of the 2019 Jessie Bryce Niles Chapbook Competition) has lived in Ithaca, New York, since 1975 and has taught Writing at Ithaca College since 1977. After many years of coordinating the Ithaca Community Poets and directing the national Feminist Women’s Writing Workshops, Inc., she was selected to be Tompkins County’s first poet laureate. Her poems have appeared in numerous magazines, anthologies, textbooks, and stage productions, and she has edited three thematic anthologies, most recently a tribute collection celebrating the inspiration of Adrienne Rich.
Fixing the Dryer
–Jack Lowery (1929-2006)
Those days, the scene looked like disaster:
you bent over the dryer’s gut-spilled bolts,
its cracked V-belt and graphite stains
spread out on the flaking basement floor,
habitat of silverfish and sow-bug,
laundry baskets shoved aside, filtered stubs
piled in Folger’s cans, blue smoke curling
into the general haze. You’d painted
the damp block walls a redundant gray, and
heavy fluorescents swung from dirty joists
above you, in your ratty undershirt
and Sunday stubble, firing off bursts
of bitterness, your knuckles bloodied.
Those damned parts that would never
line up, your second-hand wrenches,
the neighbors with their wrinkle-free
lives: the enemy, on every hand.
I was busy at my pint-sized workbench,
behind the mummified arms
of the old furnace, gluing together
a styrene model of the Arizona,
cotton smoke pouring from its bow
which hadn’t exploded yet but would,
I’d learned, from the boys down the block.
You’d been too young to go, and so
instead had saved scrap iron, copper,
and every steel wartime penny.
Holding on: it was in your blood like
a stubborn song, even while Mom
cold-shouldered you from the kitchen,
ignoring your banged-up victories.
She’d married the wrong type of boy.
You swore, not quite under your
coffee breath, and kept your head down,
while I painted in an acetone haze…
Since Mom remembers less each week,
those old battles are gone,
along with the grudging armistice
you patched together toward the end.
Trying for a laugh, this afternoon
I told her how I’d felt compelled
to open up my old Maytag,
its insides kettle-drumming,
and got it fixed, and heard your voice.
She just shot back her stock reply:
Why would you want to do that?
Later, I’ll try to call you up again—
come share this peace and quiet
as I switch the dryer on
and it tumbles a load of thin air.
Scott Lowery is a poet, musician and retired educator who is relocating from the Driftless Zone of southeastern Minnesota, magnetically pulled toward his young grandchildren in Milwaukee. Lowery’s collection Empty-handed (2013) won the Emergence Poetry Chapbook Award from Red Dragonfly Press, and recent work appears in Prairie Schooner, RockPaperPoem, and Briar Cliff Review. Samples from his workshops with young poets can be found at scottloweryblog.wordpress.com.