Issue 92: Suphil Lee Park

Suphil Lee Park (수필 리 박 秀筆 李 朴), photo credit-Sam Ahn Headshot

About Suphil Lee Park

Suphil Lee Park (수필 리 박 / 秀筆 李 朴) is the author of Present Tense Complex, winner of Marystina Santiestevan Prize (Conduit Books & Ephemera 2021), and a poetry chapbook, Still Life (Factory Hollow Press 2023), winner of the Tomaž Šalamun Prize. She's also the translator of If You're Going to Live to One Hundred, You Might As Well Be Happy by Rhee Kun Hoo, forthcoming from Union Square Books and Ebury, U.K.

Find more about her on her website.

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A Profile of the Author

Notes on "Love Song", "Already Noon", and "Wino's Song"

This small suite of poems–two by Kim and one by Hoe–sings, among other things, of love. Yes, Heo’s poem blatantly brings up the word 郞心 (lover’s heart), centering the whole verse on the speaker’s internal, romantic struggle. Kim’s explore this sentiment in more implicit, albeit sexually more explicit, ways.

What captivates me about so-called love poems from these two vastly different Korean poets is their different approaches to moments of hardship where their love is challenged. Each of the poems presents a different conflict. “Already Noon,” the poet’s financial ruin and subsequent life on the farm; “Wino’s Song,” a playful verbal jousting with a seemingly reserved addressee; “Love Song,” the lover’s fickle heart.

While Heo expertly molds her conflict into a verse rich with metaphors, classical imagery, and puns—for which she is famous—Kim takes a more lighthearted approach. I'm as much in awe of Heo's ability to pack so much into such a concise form as I am delighted by the irresistible sense of life that Kim's poems exude. Where Heo offers a timeless, elliptical landscape, Kim plainly depicts and embraces her pains or mocks and seduces her husband, defying social norms. But who's to say which one does it better, or is superior?

Whether about love for family–sharing in moments of literal sweat–or romantic temptation and frustrations, their poems equally provide indispensable insights into the lives of Korean women poets. Their fate was, more often than not, dictated by the reciprocity of their various kinds of love, and that always leaves me with much to ponder.

Music, Food, Booze, Tattoos, Kittens, etc.

I have a single tattoo–an infinity sign crossed with a zero–on my left ring finger. Among other meanings, this tattoo primarily alludes to the famed line from William Blake’s “Auguries of Innocence.” And yes, it’s that line: “To see a World in a Grain of Sand / And a Heaven in a Wild Flower / Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand.” It has come to carry an important reminder that a poet’s mind never fails to find a microcosm of reality and truth in just about anything she stumbles upon. Instead of the palm of my hand, I chose the more forefront–admittedly less painful–place for my tattoo. The placing itself serves to signify how I uphold what this tattoo embodies above all other promises I have made or might make in the future.On a largely irrelevant side note, I have a beautiful gray cat that I like to address in many ridiculous ways other than his actual name, such as “crown jewel of my heart,” “my guardian angel,” or “gyeongookjisaek (경국지색, meaning a beauty so fatal that it might destroy a nation).” I’d say, speaking from experience, affection justifiably defies all conventions of designation and role definition, and invalidates shame (as my translations of the poems, specifically "Wino's Song," might also hint at).Nowadays, I’m also into pottery–or carving shapes into wet clay–probably for no deeper reason than the one that drove me to pick at my scars as a little kid. Just a slight alphabetical variation from poetry, it's a wholly different craft that helps me take my mind off the kind of things I delve into when engaging with poetry.

Issue 92 Cover

Two Poems Translated by Suphil Lee Park

By Donhiser, Fiona | October 14, 2023

Found in Willow Springs 92 Back to Author Profile 日已午 BY KIM SAMUIDANG (金三宜堂) 日煮我背汗滴土細討茛莠竟長畝少姑大姑饗麥黍甘羹滑流匙矮粒任撑肚鼓腹行且歌飮食在勤苦 勸酒歌 BY KIM SAMUIDANG (金三宜堂) 勸君酒勸君君莫辭劉伶李白皆墳土一盃一盃勸者誰勸君酒勸君君且飮人生行樂能幾時我欲爲君舞長劒勸君酒勸君君盡醉不願空守床頭錢 但願長對眼前觶   ALREADY NOON TRANSLATED BY SUPHIL LEE PARK The day scalds my back Drops of sweat to the ground The furrow of buttercups And foxtails, plowed My in-laws bring out Some barley to feast … Read more

Issue 92 Cover

“Love Song” Translated by Suphil Lee Park

By Donhiser, Fiona | October 14, 2023

Found in Willow Springs 92 Back to Author Profile 사랑 노래 BY HEO NANSEOLHEON (허난설헌)   공령탄 입구에 비가 처음 개니무협은 창창하고 안개 구름처럼 평평해한이 많아라, 임의 마음 조수와도 같으니이른 시간 잠시 물러갔다 저물 때 다시 오네 LOVE SONG TRANSLATED BY SUPHIL LEE PARK   Rapids takes a pleasure boat Blue or bluer fog clouds all … Read more

Issue 92: Sara Burge


About Sara Burge

Sara Burge is the author of Apocalypse Ranch (C&R Press), and her poetry has been published in or is forthcoming from CALYX Journal, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Baltimore Review, The Louisville Review, Prairie Schooner, River Styx, and elsewhere. She’s a three time Best of the Net nominee and teaches creative writing at Missouri State University, where she serves as the Poetry Editor of Moon City Review.

Sara can be found on Instagram as @das_burge and on Facebook as Sara Burge.

Read more of her works online at The Good Life Review, Pacifica, Atticus Review, Up the Staircase Quarterly, as well as at her website.

A Profile of the Author

Notes on "Sexy Fish" and "Harry Styles is the Way"

While these poems aren’t Pandemic Poems, they were written during quarantine, so that time’s vibe seeped into them. “Sexy Fish” grew out of a tipsy conversation with my husband about how much we missed the comradery of the restaurant industry. We met working in restaurants, and while we’d long been out of the biz, the community that came from being in the trenches with other humans—all working toward the singular goal of getting through a shift—was something we sorely missed. This was during lockdown when everyone was isolated and questioning life decisions and turning into little rabid caged animals. So, “Sexy Fish” started as an inebriated quarantine fantasy about trying to make life worthwhile and beautiful again. To have control. We came up with a business plan and everything. Then we went to bed and Sexy Fish the restaurant turned into “Sexy Fish” the poem.

At its core, “Harry Styles Is the Way” is about missing the comfort provided by seemingly trivial things once they’ve disappeared. Nothing new, right? Very pandemic-y. It started out as a more straightforward ode to a Harry Styles cardboard cutout (“standee,” I’ve since learned they’re called). Every time I drove by him, I smiled and said, Hey, Harry Styles! It was like the thrill you get when you hear the owl in your neighborhood and think, There’s our owl! But Harry vanished, and then the pandemic hit. Not seeing Harry on my once-a-week trip to get groceries amplified a sense of hollowness a lot of people were experiencing. I so badly wanted to see him again. Harry Styles as missing savior.

Music, Food, Booze, Tattoos, Kittens, etc.

My husband was a chef for years, so I am blessed to get fantastic food on a regular basis. That man doesn’t just follow recipes. He chefs. Hard. My favorite thing he’s made for me recently is his chile relleno.

I’m mostly a vodka gal, but when fall hits, it’s either Piney River Brewing Company’s Black Walnut Wheat Ale or Mother’s Brewing Company’s Winter Grind. Both breweries are based here in the Ozarks and make all kinds of tastiness. Shout out.

I’m going to get a tattoo of a praying mantis soon—my husband got me a gift card to a local tattoo shop because I’ve been talking about getting a praying mantis tattoo for years. I already have a cat tattoo on my shoulder. It’s a black cat, like my beloved black kitty Maeve (Sweet Kitty) who passed away last October. We now have a gray tuxedo kitty named Lucifurr who lives up to her name, though she is finally allowing me to give her affection without immediately clawing me to bloody shreds.

Issue 92 Cover

Two Poems by Sara Burge

By Donhiser, Fiona | October 25, 2023

Found in Willow Springs 92 Back to Author Profile Sexy Fish One way to begin a new life is to be miserable in the current, so miserable you fantasize about opening a bar or food truck, anything to fool yourself more easily into believing a morsel of what yo do matters. You do a few shots … Read more

Issue 92: Teresa Milbrodt

milbrodt author head shot

About Teresa Milbrodt

Teresa Milbrodt has published three short story collections: Instances of Head-SwitchingBearded Women: Stories, and Work Opportunities. She has also published a novel, The Patron Saint of Unattractive People, a flash fiction collection, Larissa Takes Flight: Stories, and a monograph, Sexy Like Us: Disability, Humor, and Sexuality. Milbrodt earned her MFA in Creative Writing and MA in American Culture Studies from Bowling Green State University, and her PhD in English from the University of Missouri. She is addicted to coffee, long walks with her MP3 player, and writes the occasional haiku. Read more of her on her website.

A Profile of the Author

Notes on "Coffee with Werewolves"

I started work on a novel-in-stories about Lee and Mattie at the beginning of the pandemic. I'd been researching the disability rights movement of the 1960s and ‘70s, and when I chatted about my project with a friend they wondered aloud what the experience of queer disabled people might have been at the time. That question launched me into a series of stories about Lee and Mattie, all of which are tinged with a sense of loss and displacement. Since beginning this project I've done research at queer archives, a fabulous experience which made it easier and more difficult to evoke the mood of the time. While some communities were fairly progressive regarding queerness and queer politics, those often existed in small pockets. It's been challenging to strike a tone that feels authentic without duplicating harmful stereotypes or my 2023 sensibilities. Overall, though, this is one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences I've had as a writer.

Music, Food, Booze, Tattoos, Kittens, etc.

Nine Things that Bring Me Joy and/or Peace (in no particular order):
1. Growing cherry tomatoes, giant zinnias, and kale.
2. Taking long walks with my partner during which they explain the intricacies of their latest tabletop roleplaying game.
3. Inventing cookie and brownie recipes during episodes of stress baking.
4. Washing dishes to ‘80s music.
5. Repairing my partner's jewelry.
6. Drying zinnia heads to save seeds for planting next spring.
7. Daydreaming about picking up various skills like how to do plumbing.
8. Appeasing my cat by letting her drink from the bathroom sink (my partner taught her that).
9. Texting hugs.

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“Coffee With Werewolves” by Teresa Milbrodt

By Donhiser, Fiona | October 25, 2023

Found in Willow Springs 92 Back to Author Profile LEAVING TOWN IS AN ESCAPE in slow motion. As I load boxes into the back of Lee’s Ford Maverick, it feels like we’re in one of those horror movies she loves, fleeing danger when we can’t see who’s chasing us. With Vietnam, Watergate, and all the Soviet … Read more

Issue 92: Julie Marie Wade


About Julie Marie Wade

 Julie Marie Wade is a member of the creative writing faculty at Florida International University in Miami. A winner of the Marie Alexander Poetry Series and the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Memoir, her collections of poetry and prose include Wishbone: A Memoir in FracturesSmall Fires: Essays, Postage Due: Poems & Prose Poems, When I Was Straight, Catechism: A Love Story, SIX: Poems, Same-Sexy Marriage: A Novella in Poems, Just an Ordinary Woman Breathing, and Skirted. Her collaborative titles include The Unrhymables: Collaborations in Prose, written with Denise Duhamel, and Telephone: Essays in Two Voices, written with Brenda Miller. Wade makes her home in Dania Beach with her spouse Angie Griffin and their two cats. Her newest projects are Fugue: An Aural History, out now from New Michigan Press, and Otherwise: Essays, selected by Lia Purpura for the 2022 Autumn House Press Nonfiction Book Prize, out now from Autumn House.
Check out her website and Facebook.
More on Julie can be found here, here, and here.

Denise Duhamel, Julie Marie Wade, and Maureen Seaton (left to right) at their joint book launch in 2021.

A Profile of the Author

Notes on "What is Far From Heaven" and "What is Rear Window"

These two poems, "What is Far From Heaven?" and "What is Rear Window?," belong to the “Spoiler Alerts” category of my new manuscript, This Is Jeopardy! I grew up watching Alex Trebek host Jeopardy! every night on our tiny television set in the kitchen. If we finished dinner early enough, we got to watch on the bigger screen downstairs. In a home where much was fraught much of the time, Jeopardy! offered us a televisual neutral ground. Everyone could agree that Alex Trebek was a good host and that responding to questions with fixed answers was a safe activity.
Some of my best memories are of watching Jeopardy! with my parents during dinner, or afterwards with popcorn and Shasta, learning things I didn't know already and feeling pleased when I got the answer, in the form of a question, right. Years after I left home, I dreamed that my parents and I were the three contestants on an episode of Jeopardy! I didn't like the idea that only one of us could win—that two of us would have to lose in order for a single winner to emergebut in some ways, that condition also mirrored the dynamic in my first home.
Of the dream, I only remember that the Final Jeopardy! category was "The Future." None of us knew the right answer, which is to say none of us had the right question in mind. This dream inspired me to begin writing my own poems-qua-clues.


Music, Food, Booze, Tattoos, Kittens, etc.

I've been listening to Dolly Parton's cover of "Let It Be" a lot recently. I love Dolly Parton in general, and I love the song "Let It Be," so the combination of artist and song is a double love. My friend Maureen Seaton--who, long before I ever even knew her, was a poet whose work inspired me to stretch, to innovate beyond what I thought possible in a poem--passed away on August 26th. No doubt many readers recognize her name and work, are missing her presence in this world just as I am.
For several years, I was lucky to live in South Florida within walking-running distance from Maureen's home near Hollywood Beach. Now that she is gone, I still run past her small apartment on Hayes Street, just a few hundred yards from the Hollywood Broadwalk, almost every day. I listen to Dolly Parton, who reminds me of Maureen: the talent, the vitality, the boundlessness of spirit.
I think how Maureen helped teach me how to write a terza rima, which I never imagined I could writeand likely couldn't on my own. With Maureen's long-time friend and collaborator Denise Duhamel, now my long-time friend and collaborator too, we wrote a terza rima for Dolly Parton: 75 lines for Dolly's 75th birthday. I wrote the middle lines, the center of each tercet, turning the language between my two great poetry heroes. It reminded me of how generous they are, how they had made a space in their friendship to include me.
Issue 92 Cover

Two Poems by Julie Marie Wade

By Donhiser, Fiona | October 25, 2023

Found in Willow Springs 92 Back to Author Profile What is Far From Heaven? $800 There’s a blue car as long as a boat-Melancholy motorized & sailing. There’s a woman in a red coat with a lavender scarf who always looks ravishing, especially when she stands on the platform watching a salient train depart. Ravishing is the word she’ll convince … Read more

Issue 92: Bill Gaythwaite

Bill Gaythwaite
Bill Gaythwaite

About Bill Gaythwaite

Bill Gaythwaite grew up in Boston and is the author of Underburn, (Delphinium Books/HarperCollins 2023). His short fiction has appeared in Subtropics, Chicago Quarterly Review, Puerto Del Sol, South Carolina Review, North Dakota Quarterlyand many other journals and anthologies. Bill has worked at Columbia University since 2006, where he was on the staff of the Committee on Asia and the Middle East and is now the Assistant Director for Special Populations at Columbia Law School.

You can buy Bill's debut novel Underburn here
His website (with selected short stories) is
His recent essay on the writing process can be found here

A Profile of the Author

Notes on "If You Only Knew"

I have a special feeling for this story because I wrote most of its first draft while my son was an infantLarge chunks of it were written in the middle of the night with him in my lap when he couldn’t sleep. I cradled him while typing with one handThese memories are forever linked. Considering that my son is now 26, I suppose this piece also represents persistence.  "If You Only Knew" was a finalist in various contests and came “close” at other magazines, but it was never offered publication.  I didn’t give up on it thoughI just kept revising it through the years The story itself was always a pleasure to come back toKevin’s sardonic voice remained in my headIn the revision process, I did cut a long scene at the end between Kevin and his estranged father, a Kill Your Darlings strategyIt was a really tough decision for me, but I think it helped the story overall.  I still do much of my writing in the middle of the night, given other schedules and responsibilities, but sadly my infant cradling days are in the pastI’m so pleased that when "If You Only Knew" found a home it was at Willow Springs!  

Music, Food, Booze, Tattoos, Kittens, etc.

I’m a movie guyI’ve never been a music guy, so when it comes to music I depend on my partner Tom and his all-encompassing Spotify playlistWithout him, I would only be listening to Kelly Clarkson covers, which are fantastic, but there’s something nice about getting some music education on a drive to the grocery store.  Unlike Tom, I really only listen to music in the car.  I’m always pointing to the dashboard and saying, “Who is that again?” and Tom will grimace and say, “It’s Pat Benatar, how do you not know that?”  We listen to everybody from Frank Sinatra to Troye Sivan, from The Rolling Stones to Years & YearsOn our drives, I get acquainted with groups like Public Enemy or The Go-Gos, who I should have been listening to in my youth but I was too busy watching old moviesTom will sometimes stop the music and tell me facts about a particular singer or about the first time he went to an Elton concert or when he saw Diana Ross at Radio City or the time he met Kenny Loggins after a showI like these little biographical interludesIt’s like when he lets me pause old movies to explain why Barbara Stanwyck was considered Hollywood’s most cooperative actress or why Humphrey Bogart’s Oscar win was so popularI guess we each get points for patience.     

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“If You Only Knew” by Bill Gaythwaite

By Donhiser, Fiona | October 25, 2023

Found in Willow Springs 92 Back to Author Profile BEFORE MY FATHER RUNS OFF, he suddenly showers us all with attention. It’s jarring at first, like having someone crowd next to you on a bus when there are plenty of seats in back. There’s something desperate about it, but I’m not thinking this at the time. … Read more

Issue 91: Madison Jozefiak


About Madison Jozefiak

Madison Jozefiak is a fiction writer and copywriter from Boston, MA. She graduated from Colgate University in upstate New York with a degree in English and creative writing. Her short fiction also appears in Inscape Literary Journal, The Baltimore Review, and Thin Air Magazine.

“Slow” in Inscape Literary Magazine, 2021, print

“Day One” in Baltimore Review, 2021, print and online

“Why My Matches Aren’t Responding to Me on the Dating App” in Thin Air Magazine, 2022, online

INSTAGRAM: madison_jozefiak

A Profile of the Author

Notes on "A Tour of the Mural at the Merari Public Library"

Like anything else I’ve written to date, a lot of really random stuff went into this piece. But walking is one of the most important parts of the process. During the pandemic winter I used to walk on Carson beach, in Boston’s south end. One day I started imagining a town where each person had the soul of a different sea creature and became very invested in creating a myth about this. I wrote a whole legend about the sea falling in love with the land and infecting all the fish with a fatalistic land-longing, an octopus who was the head of an underwater council, and a sea witch who tricked them into becoming human and losing their memories so she could exploit them. There was a lot of dialogue, a lot of description, and even a seagull who served as the sea witch’s assistant. When it was finished, I didn’t like it very much.

Sooner or later I asked myself if the myth didn’t resonate with me because it was out of context. Who would care about this octopus? So what if the townspeople used to be fish? I decided to put the myth where it was supposed to be, in the past, and have it be told in the present day by one of the sea creatures’ direct descendants. The library mural was a useful storytelling device. And Christopher helped me out with everything I felt the piece was lacking: energy, humor, relatability. I’m very grateful to him and his many decided hours of volunteering. Initially, he was giving a sort of lecture, but I got some feedback at a virtual workshop that led me to think of ways he could interact more with the audience. That’s where the question-and-answer sections come from.


Music, Food, Booze, Tattoos, Kittens, etc.

Music: The duo Cafuné. They’re a little under the radar, but I’ve been a huge fan for years, and their song Tek It recently took off. They’re going on tour for the first time, and I can’t wait to see them in concert next month!!

Food: Ratatouille. It’s not so difficult to make, you just have to chop a lot of vegetables.

Booze: Mad Elf Ale.

Tattoos: Just one. It’s a seagull. Pretty on-brand, I’d say.

Kittens/animals: I have two dogs in my life. One is a 14-year-old Dalmatian. She is my family dog. She is pampered yet constantly dissatisfied in the manner of an aged French heiress. The other is my boyfriend’s cute ginger-colored Australian cattle dog. She’s a menace, and barks at everyone. She’s very good at climbing mountains, too, which can come across as intimidating. But she’s got a good heart. Once you’re part of the pack, she’ll protect you no matter what.

Issue 91

“A Tour of the Mural at the Merari Public Library” by Madison Jozefiak

Found in Willow Springs 91 Back to Author Profile ON THE LEFT-HAND SIDE of the Western wall, painted waves roll towards us in swells of green and grayish blue. A lattice … Read more

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Issue 91: Randall Watson


About Randall Watson

Randall Watson is the author of No Evil is Wide, (Madville Publishing), which received the Quarterly West prize in the novella, The Geometry of Wishes (Texas Review Press), a finalist in the Juniper and Tampa Review Poetry Prizes, The Sleep Accusations, which received the Blue Lynx Poetry Prize at Eastern Washington University, (currently available through Carnegie Mellon University Press), and Las Delaciones del Sueno, translated by Antonio Saborit with an Introduction by Adam Zagajewski, published in a bi-lingual edition by the Universidad Veracruzana in Xalapa, Mexico.

To find out more, check out his website.

A Profile of the Author

Notes on Three Poems

So. I ask myself, where is it poems emerge from, what locus of influences, what subterranean roots, like an Aspen grove, the hidden, often obscure indefinable interactions out of which a form emerges, the rhythm and image, like leaves and branches swaying in the wind? To fix, to name, such presences, with any definitive parameters, is akin to naming the ineffable forces that have shaped the person we are at any present moment. What shadow on the leaf of a strawberry hovers in our forgetfulness? What cruel word, or gift, delivered by a well-meaning parent, a drunken friend? What shattered or consummated love? What vision of the sea an hour before dusk, something that drives us into a kind of silence, that sinks into the pool of memory only to resurface, unexpectedly? What burden or release, abandonment or arrival, those inscrutable twins?

The constellation of such events, their immeasurable complexity, whose accumulation makes up our very being, this being from which a poem arrives in its raw and inconsolable forms, half inexplicable, half will and distance and scrutiny, shaped, given a beat, something slow that races, something racing that slows, a field of juxtapositions, forces, images, that moves us, we hope, that pleases the eye, the ear, the humane part of us that loves and grieves. All unnamable. Except for the poem itself, which is our act of naming.

Thus, as to the 3 poems here, in a limited way, for they speak for themselves:

“Little League”, from a real event, that moment in a child’s life—a poem of love and grief and hope—and ultimately—of communality. The analogy resonated so naturally in so many ways I was surprised to discover it. The smallness of some people, how change can be perceived as both welcome by some and threat by others, hurtling towards us like a ball thrown by an eager child. How relation—personal, and intimate, individual--that knowing--is our salvation?

Or “The Future of Nostalgia”, a kind of landscape of decay, and our tendency to romanticize our pasts, a kind of sentiment that rejects the impulse toward sentimentality while still feeling affection for the worlds that produced us, with all their shadows. The paradox of the open-armed rejection?

And then “Losing the Self”: I thought—what would it be, who would we be, if we found ourselves suddenly ‘selfless’, endlessly decentered and mutable? What would be revealed? Confusion? Dancing? The immediacy of the beauty about us, unencumbered by projection, definition, “iridescent” and manifest?

I could say more, but a poem is, fundamentally, inexplicable, in the sense that whatever meanings we can discover and explain, which have their value, (and I would never dismiss interpretation), it retains its otherness, its immediacy, its beyondness. I think this is the source of its power. The mystery that sometimes occurs when we meet it, when we enter into it as it enters into us, like a shard, an artefact, where words are the repository of a transcendent potential, a fracturing and a compression that subdues space and time and division and elides every distance into a kind of unity, a concordance, once hidden to us, and for a moment, at least, revealed.


Music, Food, Booze, Tattoos, Kittens, etc.

Ah . . . music:

There’s Glen Gould’s Goldberg Variations, Bach’s Prelude from Suite No1 for cello in G Major, Tom Waits, Hendrix, Keith Jarrett live at Cologne, Talis Scholars, Ohio Players, John Gorka, Otis Redding, Henryk Gorecki, —the list would go on for pages and pages . .

And Birds: the lovely scrub jay, the pine siskin, mountain chickadee, evening grosbeak, juniper titmouse, rufous sided towhee, rufous hummingbird, an aggressive, greedy flash among the pinyons. . .

Then wild cats beneath the house, who let you pet them only when they are eating . . .

And what would the world be worth without one blind dog groaning with pleasure when you rub his ears?


Issue 91

Three Poems by Randall Watson

Found in Willow Springs 91 Back to Author Profile The Future of Nostalgia     Not your town but a townby the sea, a little village, maybe, namedClean or Bay Shore … Read more

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Issue 91: Jeffrey Higa

Orange Shirt arms crossed ID1A6006 corrected

About Jeffrey Higa

Jeffrey J. Higa is the author of Calabash Stories, which won the Robert C. Jones Prize, and was shortlisted for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing. His short story, “The Shadow Artist,” was a finalist for the Italo Calvino Prize and received an honorable mention in the Kurt Vonnegut Speculative Fiction Prize from the North American Review. He has published widely in literary and commercial magazines, including Zyzzyva, Sonora Review, Tahoma Literary Review, Willow Springs, Bamboo Ridge, Salt Hill, LitQuarterly, Honolulu Review of Books, Honolulu Magazine, Business Today, Poets & Writers and others. He was a fiction fellow at the Sewanee Writers Conference and his full-length play, Futless, won the Hawai’i Prize from the Kumu Kahua Theatre. He lives in Honolulu with the biologist Marguerite Butler, the actor Raine Higa, and the good dog Tim Tam.

He can be reached at or on twitter @higatweet.

A Profile of the Author

Notes on "The Boy, the Carpenter, and the Risen"

Let me tell you a little story about this story. Sometimes when I need some inspiration, I’ll re-read the shorter works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. One night, I was lying on the couch and reading the story, “Blacaman, Vendor of Miracles” and if you know this story… well let’s just say when you get to the end of the story, it’s not the end of the story. And I remember finishing the story and my very next thought was that I knew exactly what I was going to write.

At that moment, I had a decision to make. I could get off the couch and start writing it, or I could try and remember what I was thinking the next time I sat down to write. As a younger writer, I probably would have relied on my memory to recall what I had been thinking. But being an older writer, I knew the countless times that path had failed me. So I got off the couch and spent the next 3 or 4 hours at my desk crafting the voice and writing the first page.

Thinking about it afterwards, I was never more of a writer than when I got off that couch. Because we all know people who have told us, “I could be a writer if I just had the time,” or “I wanted to be a writer,” or “If I could be anything it would be a writer.” And I always answer, “Yes, you’d be a great writer’” or “Yes, you’d probably be a better writer than me,” because I know the difference between them and me. I get off the couch.

Music, Food, Booze, Tattoos, Kittens, etc.

For several years now, I have become obsessed with artifacts from my Gen X childhood. For example, I believe Generation X is the “Made from concentrate” juice generation. Nobody drank fresh squeezed anything. Fancy for us was when you went to your rich friend’s house for a sleepover and the next morning their parents served you defrosted frozen concentrated orange juice. Anyway in Hawaii, during the reign of Kool-Aid and Tang, there existed a competitor called Orange Exchange that came to us in slim steel 6-ounce cans. They were insanely cheap. I think they were 25 cents each but on sale, you could grab them for 6 for $1. Everyone I knew drank the bright orange stuff, and the rule for making it–1 can exchange and then 5 cans of water–was the only mathematical ratio we valued. Even the jingle from the commercial, “The Exchange goes round, round, round, and down, down, down…” was part of the indelible soundtrack of our lives. Then, one day, it suddenly seemed to disappear. Whether it was a fatal fickleness of fashion or the demise of the Exchange conglomerate, I’ll never know. But I do know there were no more leaning towers of Orange Exchange at the grocery store and more tragically, its existence and lore of its recipe passed out of kid knowledge. I would say I looked for over a decade before I found an empty rusty can of it from a seller with an eye-watering markup that would have netted me 30 cans back in the day. But at least now, I have this little memento of my childhood, hermetically sealed in a glass display vessel that my Gen Z child will throw in the recycle bin once I inevitably go the way of the Orange Exchange.

Issue 91

“The Boy, the Carpenter, and the Risen” by Jeffrey J. Higa

Found in Willow Springs 91 Back to Author Profile   THE VILLAGE. There was a time before the plantation cleared a road to the village when we were known as the … Read more

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Issue 91: Lis Sanchez

lis sanchez

About Lis Sanchez

Lis Sanchez is a grateful North Carolina Arts Council Fellowship recipient. Her poetry may be found in Michigan Quarterly Review, The Georgia Review, Ploughshares, Cincinnati Review, The Bark, and Copper Nickel. She has received Prairie Schooner’s Virginia Faulkner Award for Excellence in Writing, Nimrod’s Editors’ Choice Award, and The Greensboro Review Award for Fiction. Her most cherished people are her husband and her plott hound.


A Profile of the Author

Notes on "Seaquake"

In 1899, Hurricane San Ciriaco pounded the island of Puerto Rico with a brutality never recorded there. Thousands of people drowned. My great grandparents, like so many Boricuas, not only lost their home but their means of livelihood. The coffee plantations and agricultural industry were all but destroyed, the distribution of relief food depended on the pleasure of new U.S. corporate overlords, and the bodies of those who had starved to death appeared on the roadsides.

My poem "Seaquake" is an attempt to comprehend that moment in 1900 when my great grandparents, my bisabuelos, met their son, my future grandfather, for the first time. Adrift among the wreckage, how did they cope? Did dread underlie their great resilience? I imagined myself in their place as I wrote this poem. I hope it honors their spirit.


Music, Food, Booze, Tattoos, Kittens, etc.

During the first year of the pandemic, I lived in a tent in my backyard. I had to. Like many people with environmental illness, I'd learned that my home was unsafe for me.

While outdoors, I listened. The backyard, while within the city limits, sloped down to a wooded ravine with a creek running through it. Nights, animals came to slake their thirst. They wandered around my tent. Cocooned in my small space, I heard footfalls, soft or loud, disconcerting at first.

Frequently, barred owls jarred me awake with fervent calls. Not those "who cooks for you" suavities—these were gruesome cacophonies—gargles, snorts and hisses, horrors my imagination mistook for creatures tearing the heart from other creatures.

Eventually I came to recognize the sound of deer moving through leaves. Of possums scaling the wooden fence and flying squirrels latching onto a poplar. I could distinguish fox from cat or coyote. I welcomed the sounds of their movement and wondered at my good fortune.

I heard human sounds too. At two a.m. I was wakened by a vehicle screeching to a halt. A man hollered from the street, "You wanna know what matters to me?" Seconds passed. The car door slammed. The engine roared down the street, then it hushed while the lone voice shouted curses at the sleeping houses. Next day, neighbors posted online that their Black Lives Matter yard signs had disappeared.

Weekends, my neighbors across the ravine blasted golden oldies from their patio, shaking the walls of my little space. My blood boiled: were these the Covid parties I'd heard about, intended to hurry the spread of the pandemic? By midnight, bouts of laughter gave way to shouting and delirious howling. I remember lying alone in the dark, wondering what it took to abandon oneself so completely.


Issue 91

“Manuél Sánchez. Seaquake” by Lis Sanchez

Found in Willow Springs 91 Back to Author Profile   Son of mine, little Borikén, buttingYour bloodhead along a blind chute, child who breaksThe saltwaters of your mother’s loneliness,Cyclone spawn, spume … Read more

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Issue 91: Adam Scheffler


About Adam Scheffler

Adam Scheffler grew up in California, received his MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and his Ph.D. in English from Harvard. His first book of poems – A Dog’s Life – won the 2016 Jacar Press book contest. His second book of poems – Heartworm – won the 2021 Moon City Press Prize and just came out this winter. His poems have appeared in The Yale ReviewThe American Poetry ReviewNarrativeVerse Daily, and many other venues. He teaches writing and about hell and the underworld in the Harvard College Writing Program.

You can buy his new book Heartworm here.

His website is

You can find more poems by him here, here, here, or here.

A Profile of the Author

Notes on "Advice From a Dog"

Well, I’d just reread Amy Gerstler’s fantastic poem, “Advice from a Caterpillar” and I loved the conceit of presenting a bunch of super specific things caterpillars do as advice (“Spin many nests,” “Alternate crumpling and climbing”). I liked how sometimes these pieces of advice from the caterpillar sound like aphorisms (“Don’t get sentimental/about your discarded skins”), but often don’t, and how overall this strategy allows for a kind of playfulness and weirdness that's also very matter-of-fact. So I thought I’d try that out as a writing prompt with my poodle-mix Bee Gee.

I started making a list of dog-specific “advice,” but then got slightly derailed or sent off on a (hopefully fruitful) tangent when I got to the moment about giving Bee Gee heartworm pills. Dog owners have to give their pets regular medicine so they don’t develop parasitic worms in their hearts, yet we also often seek “treatment” of a sort from our pets for our sadness and anxiety. It seemed to me that “heartworm” might also provide an apt image or metaphor for the poison and bitterness that can build up in the human heart over time, and for which I at least often turn to animals and the natural world (not just to dogs) for relief.

In doing some research, it also turns out that the technical name for the number of worms in an animal’s heart is “the worm burden” – which seemed like a fantastic phrase to me, since it speaks to what we all carry with us as mortal beings.


Music, Food, Booze, Tattoos, Kittens, etc.

You know how goats eat almost anything? Well, I tend to like almost all music no matter how “good” or “bad” it is. I have a true ignoramus’s bliss when it comes to music in that I don’t know anything about how it works, and am constantly being delighted by it. For instance, I finally & belatedly discovered Leonard Cohen and have been devouring his music, but I’m also very fond of Taylor Swift and Carly Rae Jepsen. I used to be embarrassed about my lack of discrimination, but now luckily I’ve read Susan Sontag’s essay on camp and Frank O’Hara's line about wanting to be “at least as alive as the vulgar,” so I have a fancy sounding defense of what I would like to be doing anyway.

I also recently read Rax King’s book Tacky: Love Letters to the Worst Culture We Have to Offer which opens with an un-ironic defense of Creed. I’m not quite brave enough to defend Creed myself, but I’m happy to have Rax in the vanguard protecting us more vulnerable philistines.

I would add that I really love it when ‘serious’ musicians do covers of pop songs as in the band Postmodern Jukebox which does jazz age covers of “All About That Bass” and Selena Gomez. I also heartily recommend the whole Folksy Covers section on Spotify, particularly the Carolina Chocolate Drops’ cover of “Hit ‘Em Up Style.”

And I can’t stop singing the praises of Amanda Palmer’s “Ukulele Anthem” which quite seriously suggests that silly joyous creativity might not only be a survival technique, but also prevent people from becoming murderers.

Issue 91

“Advice from a Dog” by Adam Scheffler

Found in Willow Springs 91 Back to Author Profile   I Piss expressively. Detect the aura of seizures. Judge objects first by movement, then by brightness, then by shape. Impersonate a … Read more

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