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
Living Among Chickens
Across celestial fields they range now,
festive in their plumes: my snow white Leghorns,
chatty Rhode Island Reds, and diminutive
Rainbow Bantams—rulers of the flock.
How earnestly they’d scratch and cluck,
pursue willy-nilly flies or pause in step,
tipping their heads to the strains of some
fetching melody playing on the wind.
Most ladylike, my girls, unless tomatoes,
lettuce or squash appeared on their menu:
brief scrums ensuing as they’d squawk
and claw their way to repletion.
Belles aware of their high station, they’d
preen and strut about the farmyard,
buk-buk-buking their practical wisdom
to take each day one peck at a time.
Living among chickens, how could one not
value life’s simple joys: good company,
unhurried hours, contentment—and the privilege
of holding a warm, fresh-laid egg?
Upon the mantle of mind my dears perch—
Agnes, Dot, Rosie, the feathery rest—
their bright, surveilling eyes seeming to ask
whether their investment in me paid off.
Darrell Petska, a retired university engineering editor, is a 2021 and 2022 Pushcart Prize nominee. Previously, his work has appeared in Chiron Review, 3rd Wednesday, Muddy River Poetry Review, Verse-Virtual, and widely elsewhere (conservancies.wordpress.com). Father of five and grandfather of six, he lives near Madison, Wisconsin, with his wife of more than 50 years.
the smack of ivory balls—
darting across green felt
glisten under the table lights.
Where boys eye the lie and angles.
Wafts smells of lagers and ales,
cigs, cigars, they’re flipp’n off,
throwing smirks, yeah, bullshit! swaggers,
strutting cues speak back’n forth in shouts,
laughs and screw-you! replies.
While women, young girls, pose
say Oh, my God! hike
skirts to sit on high stools,
swing smooth leg
yak to each other
at the players
Thump‘n thumping pulses from the ceiling
black boxes. Through this Friday haze,
before high-up flat screens
where flashes sports clips
whose talking-heads cannot be heard
inside this pilsner palace.
The children commune and cruise.
Barmaids duck and weave
in Marco Polo routes
with shots, exotics,
slop the brimming
back and forth like
ducks in a shooting gallery.
Soon girls flip up their hair–it’s getting hot.
Guys laugh louder, grin more
have won or lost enough.
Lose interest and seek
reach more frequent
touch a back
Noise notches up
people speak loud—louder
Now it happens between them
from pleasing welcome-you lips,
flashing smiles of the flip-flop
wearing women, who still wait,
enfolded in summer shifts
Wait to receive the cue’s kiss.
To be carried
lain on green felt lawns,
where chosen young men
in solids or stripes,
will finally fall into softness.
Neal Ostman has learned from people stateside and abroad. After trekking, his work life involved responsibilities as CFO for healthcare companies. His poetry has appeared in various journals, anthologies and e-zines including: Cattlemen & Cadillacs; Electric Acorn, Dublin, Ireland; Poetry Pacific; Red River Review, Under the Streets and Bridges, WordFest Anthology 2022. In addition to poetry, his published credits include business and historical articles. His poetry readings have been well received at many venues in the cities of his travels. Neal is a member of the Poetry Society of Texas and lives in Colleyville, Texas.
Prayer was Chanel No. 5
On Saturday mornings
prayer was Chanel No. 5
uncorked once a week,
a haze of sophistication
added to Pond’s soap.
Prayer was middle-aged
women in the synagogue’s
upstairs balcony, calf-length
dark wool skirts flapping
back and forth as they rocked
and swayed, fur coats collared
with mink, or fox heads draped
across shoulders, velvet hats
with short lacy veils drifting
over powdered foreheads.
Prayer was whispered,
scratching and crisping
out of creased lips
edged in red.
I never thought I’d miss
the smell, sound, closeness
of bodies, or the smooth
dark wooden built-in chairs
with hinged seats flung back.
It’s so much more comfortable
to sit cushioned at home
safe behind a flat screen
that shows only faces,
and a camera that I can turn off.
The familiar Hebrew words
rattle quietly in the empty room.
I try to raise my voice,
to swell into the ancient river
of song, to join the holy current,
but after a line or two, I fall silent.
A few high notes drizzle
from my throat, then fade.
Vivienne Popperl lives in Portland, Oregon. Her poems have appeared in Clackamas Literary Review, Timberline Review, Cirque, Willawaw, About Place Journal, 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 and second place in the Oregon Poetry Association’s Spring 2022 contest “Members Only” category. Her first collection, A Nest in the Heart, was published by The Poetry Box in April, 2022.
Ospreys In Casco Bay
How you glared as we entered your space,
away your raised wings said, away from our nest-pilings,
or your bones we’ll break as our name remembers,
fillet you like a gudgeon in our claws,
shred you like a lovely hake for our nestlings’ dinner,
calling for sliced glut herring,
menhaden you wished me to be,
as you flexed your night-shelving wing-crooks,
your black eyeline arrowed at me.
Daniel A. Rabuzzi (he / him) has had two novels, five short stories, 30 poems, and nearly 50 essays / articles published. He lived eight years in Norway, Germany and France. He has degrees in the study of folklore & mythology and European history. He lives in New York City with his artistic partner & spouse, the woodcarver Deborah A. Mills, and the requisite cat.
This River We’re Crossing
Like the day we brought the baby home,
everything seems too bright,
too large and loud, this bridge a million
miles long. Then, I wanted to go back
to Good Sam, where a star magnolia
bloomed beneath my window
and the nurses wore quiet shoes.
Today, the same thundering semis, same
gorge wind shuddering the car. I’m afraid
to take my eye off the highway,
to ask if you heard what the surgeon said.
Below us, sun sparks the whitecaps
and sailboats, the picture-book lean
of their sails. Impossible from here
to see which way the current is moving,
impossible to tell how fast.
When Carol reads her poem
with its phrase, earth’s late afternoon,
I think of birds on their way
elsewhere— geese in efficient
formation, pelicans the color of mud.
Gullets and the great engines
of their wings unevolved over millions of years.
For the first time in anyone’s memory,
they’ve abandoned eons-old flight plans
for the refuge of farm ponds, spring-fed
and clear despite drought. Carol reads
earth’s late afternoon and I think
of scorched caneberries. The hell-summer
scent of smoke.
Winter is coming.
Quince and crabapple trucked to market,
the last of the pole beans drying on bamboo.
What migrates will go.
Carol herself is leaving, her husband
is dying, and they’ve sold their farm.
She reads and I think of spiders
nesting in the toolshed, gapped floorboards
welcoming the wintering mice.
Someone else’s turn
to patch the barn roof now, to move
the pump from the creek bed
to higher ground.
Emily Ransdell lives and teaches in the Pacific Northwest. Her work has appeared in Poetry Northwest, Poet Lore, Tar River Poetry, Terrain, River Styx, Calyx, and elsewhere. She has been a finalist for the Rattle Poetry Prize and the New Millennium Writings Award, and was the 2019 runner-up for the Prime Number Poetry Prize from Press 53 as well as the New Letters Poetry Prize. Her debut poetry collection, One Finch Singing, is forthcoming in late 2023 from Concrete Wolf Press.