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
I Am Kneeling
You are kneeling next to me.
Our skins touch. Worlds are being born.
A line of kneeling bodies to the vanishing point—
all our naked knees needing the earth, our bread.
It is night, sky obsidian,
the iris of each star’s iridescence an invitation.
Our heads hatless, our feet shoeless—
dark settles on our shoulders.
The desert is still, cautious, weighing each soul’s imprint—
carbon, water, sorrow—
her beige body stretches
makes room for more bodies
bending the way they do when kneeling,
leaning one way or the other.
Sandwarm from sun’s singe,
we wait. We wait
for our invitation from some singular star—
leaning and quiet.
I woke this morning a mountain.
What I mean is I woke and found
my body to be a mountain. This was unexpected
and spectacular. A mountain
breathing with a four chambered heart
holding raven’s sky. I mean
ravens are holding up the sky
and the sky is in my mountain heart
and though my heart has only four chambers
each is infinite and curious. The first chamber
holds all my mother’s kites.
Holds my mother’s kites
close to my mountain skin, wind
and ocean salt. And as the unbreakable dawn
declares herself, I, mountain, am now weeping
because I am also a body that is human
and very small, with a four chambered
heart that impossibly pumps, holds the strings and sees
the streamers of all my mother’s kites
boundless as sky and salt and let’s not forget the stars.
Lindsay Rockwell is poet-in-residence for the Episcopal Church of Connecticut and hosts their Poetry and Social Justice Dialogue series. She is published, or forthcoming in CALYX, EcoTheo Review, Gargoyle, Radar, River Heron Review, among others. Her collection, GHOST FIRES,is forthcoming from Main Street Rag Press summer ’23. She is the recipient of poetry fellowships from Vermont Studio Center and Straw Dogs Writers Guild/Edith Wharton’s The Mount residency. Lindsay holds a Master of Dance from New York University’s Tisch School of Arts and is an oncologist.
One Last Adventure
Ol’ Man River, the Mississ Sip, Ol’ Muddy, Big Blue
You’ve more names than Lord or Lucifer
Your might is what draws me back, that and
a wish: can I ride you one last time?
I dream, I refreshed at an oasis far from home
I wake to find my head flatbacked
beneath the water line as a child,
birdlike, laughs me up and down.
I’m not done. I’ve still got it. I’m going to show
the Odysseus in me can still break through.
I can’t hold back. I’ve got to act as if tomorrow will never come
like when I ran the red sand hills with their crushing downs.
Do I still have the time, I wonder, to build a raft and sail the river down?
Will sweet Ginger get upset if for dinner I don’t quite make it home?
Jim Ross jumped into creative pursuits in 2015 after rewarding research career. With graduate degree from Howard University, in seven years he’s published nonfiction, fiction, poetry, photography, plays, and hybrid in 175 journals on five continents. Writing publications include Columbia Journal, Hippocampus, Lunch Ticket, Manchester Review, Newfound, The Atlantic, and Typehouse. Text-based photo essays include Barren, DASH, Kestrel, Ilanot Review, Litro, NWW, Sweet, Typehouse. He recently wrote/acted in a one-act play and appeared in a documentary limited series broadcast internationally. Jim and his wife–parents of two nurses, grandparents of five little ones—split their time between city and mountains.
The only time I see him
This man is bigger than the bakery.
He spills with joy
like the bags of frosting on every counter,
his arm hair, muscles and laugh
too much to be contained
by his apron.
He makes my coffee, bags my loaf
of ciabatta, tucks that little slipper
into brown paper as if he’s dressing
a sleeping baby,
hands me our bread child,
leans forward, asks if I’ve tasted
his eclairs, which I haven’t.
Holds one over the glass case
of sugar, take a bite, he says
with the pastry at the gate of my lips,
you’ll never be the same.
It’s easy to focus so much on the air
that you forget about the earth,
dust to dust,
so enchanted with the gold-
finches and song sparrows
taking black seeds into their beaks,
leaving the husks behind
like silver confetti.
Somewhere, behind our eyes,
we know it is only a matter of time
before the lumbering lump
stretches out of her slumber
and follows her nose to the oily
sunflower we hung, the greasy suet,
one swipe of bear arm takes down the feeder,
bear haunches completely fill
the stairs while she dines, nothing can pass.
Is this how death comes?
A shining mix of strength and softness,
paw and claw? Fur you want to sink
into, even while you fear it? Can’t you
see yourself climbing onto her back, grasping
tufts of neck in your fingers and savoring
this very new thing even as it carries you
into the darkest part of the woods,
shining nose tilted to the air?
Heather Stearns is a potter, bird lover, and writer based in the northern woods of Wolcott, Vermont. She is the author of three chapbooks: Virtue, Vise, and Cicadas. Her new work is forthcoming in Thimble Literary Magazine. She spends her days making pots, spinning poems in her head, and teaching others how to move the earth at her community pottery studio, Muddy Creek Pottery.
William R. Stoddart
I tell her that she’s as pretty as an October pear.
She looks at me like a disapproving schoolmarm.
I try to explain the lusciousness of the pome,
how its skin takes on the hue of autumn,
the firmness of its body, and how the floral ripe flesh
liquefies in my mouth. To prove my point, I press
my lips against hers like a schoolboy on a dare.
She’s still unsure, not fully trusting analogies or the raw skin
of desire, old as God’s dog, old as dirt. I watch her walk
away into a cold rain. She’d rather be anywhere than with me
because of the pear thing. She teaches me from a distance
that desire is passé, no longer chic. She sends me a pear
plucked from a tree in January, and I see the fruit
of her disfavor, and the reason she avoids that which
she can only see as selfish. Pressing my lips against
the desiccated fruit, dead from ever increasing
rounds of darkness, I taste the flesh of her disfavor,
like a schoolboy on a dare.
William R. Stoddart lives in Southwestern Pennsylvania and has published work in The New York Quarterly, The Writer, North Dakota Quarterly and other literary publications. His poetry was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has been published in Pedestal Magazine, The Lake and elsewhere.
Van Gogh’s Wheatfield with Crows (July,1890)
His ravenous eyes gorged
on the succulent summer light
until his tears blazed with color.
But this painting devoured light:
a landscape without hope;
wheat and sky roiling like
a flood toward oblivion.
With quick, desperate strokes
he released a murder of crows
across the torrent of wheat,
into the troubled sky,
scavenging for any scraps
of calm in the catastrophe
as if his art could save him.
Doug Stone lives in Albany, Oregon. He has written three collections of poetry, The Season of Distress and Clarity, The Moon’s Soul Shimmering on the Water, and Sitting in Powell’s Watching Burnside Dissolve in Rain.