Willawaw Journal Spring 2023 Issue 16
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
COVER ART: "Silver Stars" acrylic on paper by Rachel Coyne
NOTES FROM THE EDITOR
Page One: Frank Babcock Stephen Barile Jeff Burt Dale Champlin
Page Two: Rachel Coyne Kris Demien Amelia Diaz Ettinger John Dorroh Ann Farley Irene Fick Page Three: Rachel Coyne C. Desirée Finley Karen George Philip Hammial Suzy Harris Rosalie Hendon Page Four: Rachel Coyne Addison Hoggard Marc Janssen Penelope Moffet Anis Mojgani Robert Nisbet Page Five: Rachel Coyne Darrell Petska Neal Ostman Vivienne Popperl Daniel A. Rabuzzi Emily Ransdell Page Six: Rachel Coyne Lindsay Rockwell Jim Ross Heather Stearns William R. Stoddart Doug Stone Page Seven: Rachel Coyne Sarah B. Sullivan Pepper Trail Paul Willis BACK PAGE with Rachel Coyne
country table is my grandfather country who,
his piety personified and sat next to me at dinner,
kissed prayers into the air that I’d recite from dust—
country table is my grandmother country’s surplussed
mashed potatoes and peas, country wrapped up in her
like cotton candy caught in chicken wire—
country table is my mother country who doesn’t use plates,
only ash trays, and beer can’s sweat country draws fate
in rings upon the surface, fallen cherry’s fire lights her own pyre—
country table is my father country and hunting hogs
in bright country bogs, tabling that country game and reduced
to the basest self, best self when the whiskey is loosed—
forget God’s country no country only my country augers
holes in my country skull, ribs; my country goddess raises
from cattails and whistles hymns through the pines
of fragile country, country table swells under my lifeline
and when I press down it splinters, soggy country debases,
false country, wrong country, I sit in rotten country chair
and it collapses, warped country, not my country, I long
to smell country table before the termites, mossy spawn,
forest fauna country, bury me country, I country, you country.
Addison Hoggard (he/him) is a writer and language teacher hailing from the rural inner-banks of North Carolina. He is currently based in the Aizu region of Japan. His writing has appeared in Wild Roof Journal, Cathexis Northwest, Miracle Monocle’s micro-anthology Queer, Rural, American, and elsewhere.
April Afternoon 1
Gnats alight in slanting light
A graceless spring dance
I touched your hand
I didn’t know why
Old oak trees creak back
To life, leaves open, breathing like
Tall ships leaving port
From the crutch of my soul
I touched your hand, clung to it
Maybe I can live
Like spring, where everything is
Marc Janssen has been writing poems since around 1980. Some people would say that was a long time but not a dinosaur. Early decrepitude has not slowed him down much; his verse can be found scattered around the world in places like Pinyon, Slant, Cirque Journal, Off the Coast and Poetry Salzburg also in his book November Reconsidered. Janssen coordinates the Salem Poetry Project–a weekly reading, the occasionally occurring Salem Poetry Festival, and was a nominee for Oregon Poet Laureate. For more information visit, marcjanssenpoet.com.
What comes flickering on the wind is not quite a bird, more
the idea that a feathered being would choose to nest
near enough to let me hear the beating of its heart.
That I might find myself companioned by sparrow,
phoebe, dove or raucous mockingbird, scrubjay
or crow squabbling above high tension
wires. Not so much abandoning my kind
as wanting dual citizenship, the nod
of recognition from my neighbor and
the hummingbird’s lack of fear
when we hover by the feeder,
face to unmasked face.
Penelope Moffet is the author of three chapbooks, most recently Cauldron of Hisses (Arroyo Seco Press, 2022). Her poems have been published in One, Natural Bridge, Permafrost, The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review and other literary journals. She lives in Southern California.
Shake the Dust
This is for the fat girls. This is for the little brothers. This is for the schoolyard wimps. This is for the childhood bullies who tormented them. This is for the former prom queen. This is for the milk crate ball players. This is for the nighttime cereal eaters. This is for the retired elderly Wal-Mart storefront door greeters.
Shake the dust.
This is for the benches and the people sitting on them. This is for the bus drivers, driving a million broken hymns. This is for the men who have to hold down three jobs, simply to hold their children. This is for the night schoolers, and the midnight bike riders who are trying to fly.
Shake the dust.
For the two-year-olds who cannot be understood because they speak half English and half God. Shake the dust. For the girls with the brothers that are crazy, shake the dust.
For the boys with the beautiful sisters, the gym class wallflowers, the twelveyear-olds afraid of taking public showers, the kid who’s late to class ’cause he forgot the combination to his lockers, for the girl who loves somebody else, shake the dust.
This is for the hard men, who want to love, but know it won’t come. For the ones who are told to speak only when spoken to, and then are never spoken to, the ones who the amendments do not stand up for, the ones who are forgotten:
Speak every time you stand, so you do not forget yourselves. Do not let a second go by that does not remind you that your heart beats nine hundred times a day, and there are enough gallons of blood to make you an ocean.
This is for the police officers. This is for the meter maid. This is for the celibate pedophile who keeps on struggling. This is for the poetry teachers. This is for the people who go on vacations alone, and for the crappy artists and the actors that suck, shake the dust.
This is for the sweat that drips off of Mick Jagger’s lips, for the shaking skirt on Tina Turner’s shaking hips, for the heavens and the hells through which Tina has lived. This is for the tired and the dreamers, the family that’ll never be like the Cleavers with the perfectly-made dinners and the sons like Wally and the Beaver. For the bigots, the sexists, and the killers, the big-house pint sentence cat becoming redeemers, and for the springtime, that always comes after the winters.
This is for you.
Make sure that, by the time the fisherman returns, you are gone. Make these blue streams worth it, because, just like the days I’m burning at both ends, and every time I write, every time I bike through the night, every time I open my eyes, I am cutting out a part of myself to give to you. So shake the dust, and take me with you when you do, for none of this has ever been for me.
All that was placed inside, that continues pushing like waves, pushes for you. So take the world by its clothespins and shake it out again and again, jump on top and take it for a spin, and when you hop off shake it out again, for this is yours.
Make my words worth it. Make this not just another poem that I write. Not just another poem like just another night that sits heavy above us all – walk into it. Breathe it in. Let it crash through the halls of your arms, like the millions of years and millions of poets that course like blood, pumping and pushing, making you live, making you live, shaking the dust, so when the world knocks at your door, turn the knob and open on up, and run into its big, big hands with open arms.
Reprinted with permission from the author, from his collection Songs from the River (Write Bloody Publishing 2013).
Find the author bio here.
Hiking to Porthgain
We’ve all seen them . . . in Conti’s or wherever . . .
sprogs of walkers, setting out
to walk long tracts of coastal path,
carting those effing great rucksacks.
And we’ll flick a fleck of cappuccino
from rim of cup to rim of mouth
and think . . . For God’s sake, why?
Well? God’s sake maybe? Are they holy men
(and holy girls- sometimes the veriest slips)?
Or is there something to be exorcised?
What justifies the drizzle
of sweat on eyelids, back-clinging shirt?
Maybe some rising sense
that at the brow of Abereiddy’s slope,
the dredge of lung and muscle
has surmounted hill and hardship,
stands them, gasping,
on some kind of crazy height.
The light in the Lane is almost crystalline,
as spring and a late March Sunday coalesce.
There are traces of late Saturday’s adventures,
but mainly in the alleyway by Tesco.
The cat, the mouser, has been out since four,
now squats content, mulling a fat corpse.
Ernie is in the garden early, hoping just
to weed a patch or two, smell earth.
The Harries sisters shape themselves for church,
having re-found a faith in recent weeks,
will grace new vicar Rory’s pulpit-feet,
forswearing lust for Lent.
Greg’s garage doors groan open furtively.
Some fiddle again, a trip to Swansea later.
Some guy he knows on a trading estate.
Nice bit of wood, some felt, a few brass screws.
And two lost souls already on white screens,
one with her piece for the council’s focus group,
the seminar, inclusiveness, the other sweating
on his teaching module on King Lear.
And outside, in the blue and amber day,
the mouser’s teeth and claws are red indeed,
the hopes and quirks of humankind are flickering
and Ernie weeds the morning’s friendly earth.
Robert Nisbet is a poet from Wales who has over 500 poems published in Britain and the
USA, in magazines like San Pedro River Review. Third Wednesday, and
Burningword Literary Journal. He lives in a small market town within 15 miles in one
direction of the ancient cathedral city of St. David’s, and 20 miles in the other direction
from Dylan Thomas’s Boathouse.