Issue 88: Kathleen McGookey


About Kathleen McGookey

Kathleen McGookey has published four books of prose poems and three chapbooks, most recently Instructions for My Imposter (Press 53) and Nineteen Letters (BatCat Press).  She has also published We’ll See, a book of translations of French poet Georges Godeau’s prose poems.  Her work has appeared in many journals including Copper NickelCrazyhorseDecemberFieldGlassworks, MiramarPloughsharesPrairie SchoonerQuiddity, and The Southern Review.  She has received grants from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Sustainable Arts Foundation. Her work was just featured on American Life in Poetry, and can also be found online at The Journal of Compressed Creative ArtsNew Flash Fiction Review, and  MacQueen’s Quinterly. On the Seawall published three of her prose poems along with her interview by David Nilsen.

A Profile of the Author

Notes on "Even in June"

Two summers ago, for a week in June, my family members were scattered across the country, from Oregon to Colorado and I was by myself at home in Michigan, having my own little writer’s retreat writing poems every day, which was unusual for me. While I loved having the time alone, I really didn’t like the feeling of us being so far apart. It just felt like too much space and distance between us. I’d look at the “Find my iPhone” feature on my phone and see us spread across the country and feel so strange. And then one morning, some of my family woke up to a snowstorm in Colorado, which I didn’t know could happen in the summer. And that felt surreal.

So I guess this is a poem of longing. And a wish to compress distance. My usual challenge in writing a poem is finding a title, which was true for this poem. In the end, I just made the first few words into the title.  And then I worried that the poem was too small to amount to anything, which is my usual worry.

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

During the pandemic, I’ve been making and eating a lot of sweets.  Chocolate chip cookies, brownies, cinnamon rolls and fresh strawberry pie, especially.  During strawberry season, which is early June in Michigan, I’ll sometimes just make a couple of strawberry pies for dinner for my family.  All these sweets might add up but I also walk six miles a day.  I’ve just picked sixty pounds of peaches and in a couple of days I’ll make a lot of peach cobblers and pies.  I have one recipe for peach pie that you can freeze to enjoy later, which my family loves in the winter.  Actually, they like most things I make.

Beyond eating a lot of sweets this year, we adopted a one-year-old golden retriever named George on Christmas Day.  While he has a seemingly endless supply of energy and has chewed up many socks, shoes, hats, a book of poems, a yellow paint pen and a chromebook charger, he has brought such silliness and delight to our house that of course we love him.  He sleeps on my daughter’s bed and there are not many cozier sights than a little golden dog curled up in the blankets.

McGookey Dog

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Issue 88: Sandra McPherson


About Sandra McPherson

My 21st collection, Speech Crush, is scheduled for publication by Salmon Poetry Press in Ireland this year. Among my previous books are Expectation Days (Illinois), The Spaces Between Birds: Mother/Daughter Poems 1967-1995 (Wesleyan), and Streamers (Ecco). I taught 23 years at the University of California at Davis, 4 years at U of Iowa Writers Workshop, and several years in Portland in informal workshops. I collected improvisational African-American quilts and donated 67 of them to UCDavis. I founded and edited Swan Scythe Press. I'm adopted, & in my birth family is Plymouth feminist author Abby Morton Diaz, my great-grand-aunt or something. As a grad student at the UW, I met Henry Carlile in Elizabeth Bishop's class and we were married for many years.  Willow Springs has published him too.

A Profile of the Author

Notes on“Simple Science” and “Portraits in My Room”

The poems you’re publishing came from a deep silence, or too much talking, the opposite.  Finally they became what you found and accepted, & that made me fully happy.  I lost most of my possessions a few years ago, including a vast library of field guides.  “Simple Science” sprouted from what I could reconstruct of wandering trails and marshes with the man who would become my second husband.  We become elements of the natural history. We exist forever now in the poem, although he died young 19 years ago.

“Portraits in My Room” is an indoor poem.  I was an art collector, but, again, lost most of my paintings ten years ago.  Interestingly, the Dolly Sloan portrait, by Agnes Richmond, was purchased by Clarence and Pamela Major, so it is still in the family of poets.  I would very much like to buy it back from them, but can’t afford it.  Dolly looked pretty and painful.  There is a silence in these portraits–they can’t talk if they’re resting their chin on their fist.

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

In this eighth decade of my life my days are filled with three things: obsession with pots, potters, and clay; music 24/7, classical, jazz, and blues; and a social commitment to my friends on Facebook to make daily discoveries of the lives and minds of remarkable artists, comics, thinkers, makers.  Sometimes I use the quotations that turn up as themes for mostly sonnets. My friends depend on me to come up with one or more discoveries per day. It’s nourishing. There’s more peculiarity to be found than we’re used to living with normally.

For 19 years my dearest cat was Dr. Jesus.

I do not work with clay, but I have enormous admiration for ceramicists–Japanese, American, Danish, British, and artists of other regions. You can find their aesthetic statements provided by galleries along with their work for sale; I’m more touched by what they say than I am of the poetry-talk I’m more used to.

Willow Springs 88

Two Poems by Sandra McPherson

Simple Science   Our first time, I was not taking field notes. The gift was too great to jot down. Then together for years we bothered wild terrain to botanize … Read more

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Issue 88: Gary Young

Gary Young_photo by Peggy Young

About Gary Young

Gary Young’s most recent books are That’s What I Thought, winner of the Lexi Rudnitsky Editor’s Choice Award from Persea Booksand Precious Mirror, translations from the Japanese. His books include Even So: New and Selected Poems; Pleasure; No Other Life, winner of the William Carlos Williams Award; Braver Deeds, winner of the Peregrine Smith Poetry Prize; The Dream of a Moral Life which won the James D. Phelan Award; and Hands. A new book of translations, Taken to Heart: 70 poems from the Chinese, is forthcoming from White Pine Press. He has received grants from the NEH, NEA, and the Shelley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America among others. He teaches creative writing and directs the Cowell Press at UC Santa Cruz.

Visit his website:

A Profile of the Author

Notes on “Last night I fell asleep” and “Each moment blossoms”

Both of my poems are from a work-in-progress, American Analects, and revolve around my dear friend and mentor, Gene Holtan. In the Analects of Confucius, the author devotes considerable attention to right action, and takes pains to describe and praise certain friends and disciples who exhibit exemplary character. I had intended to write primarily about Gene, but I am at an age when the number of dead friends exceeds those still living, and there are many poems in the manuscript that address those who have died but continue to exert a presence in my life.

“Each moment blossoms” tackles the impermanence of the present moment, which can never be held or even apprehended, and the accumulation of moments into discrete aggregates that make up memories and the indelible proof of our having lived. I list several of these moments before describing the central action of the poem: holding Gene’s hand while he was dying. We can’t really know what someone else is thinking, but we can get close. Because Gene was such an intimate friend, and someone I loved dearly, I can believe that I knew what he was thinking. And though the sea at sunset only looked as if it was burning, it felt as if the whole world was on fire.

“Last night I fell asleep” depicts a situation that most poets have experienced: you wake up with an idea in the middle of the night, write it down, and in the morning you have at least the germ of a poem—or you don’t, as is the case here. Gene did not trust consciousness, and he taught me to be wary of the anything that I “thought”. Gene was always waiting for the real, “the authentic self” to appear. This poem offers a glimpse.

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

When the pandemic struck, our two grown sons moved back home with my wife and me—a blessing for us, perhaps less so for them. We live in the Santa Cruz Mountains, and we’d settled into a comfortable routine when the CZU Lightning Complex Fire struck last August. We evacuated our home, and for two weeks had no idea if our house had survived. In the end, we discovered that the fire had burned all around us, but our house had been spared, a small miracle considering that over two dozen friends were among the 900 families on the mountain whose homes had been lost in the blaze.

All the buildings on the property suffered damage, and we camped in a friend’s condominium for four months while repairs were made and moved back into our home just two days after Christmas. Our oldest son, Jake, in addition to being a marvelous poet and critic, is also a sommelier and a superb chef. To ease his pain, and ours, Jake dedicated himself to cooking the best meals possible. For the past year, the four of us have dined on world cuisine—Japanese yakitori, Thai soups, miso noodles, homemade gravlax, marinated pork with a Peruvian aji sauce, Panzanella salad with watermelon and feta. This list could go on for pages. We also drank our way through boxes of wine kept under the house, assuming that if we were saving a particular vintage for a special occasion, that occasion had arrived.

Both our boys are moving on again, and though I will be unable to duplicate our culinary adventures, I hope that I will not slip back into the habit watching my diet or saving that special wine for another time. The lesson of the pandemic is clear—open the bottle now.

Willow Springs 88

Two Poems by Gary Young

“Last night I fell asleep”   Last night I fell asleep, and in a dream, I wrote a poem. I worked every line into place, and when I’d finished, I … Read more

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Issue 88: Frank Gallimore


About Frank Gallimore

Frank Gallimore is the associate director of marketing for Gallaudet University. He also holds an MFA in poetry from Johns Hopkins University and paints in his spare time. A sampling of his art and poetry can be found at For more recent works in progress, you can follow him on Instagram at @frank_gallimore.  His poetry has appeared in a variety of journals and websites, including Slate, Harvard Review Online, Unsplendid, Cold Mountain Review, and was featured a couple of times on Verse Daily.

A Profile of the Author

Notes on “Edsel” and “Appaloosa”

“Appaloosa” reflects experiences I’ve had growing up in rural areas of Oregon and Nebraska, living close to livestock and plenty of other domesticated animals. Growing up this way allowed me to witness the complicated relationships we have with them, the bonds we make and sometimes sever. The lives of these animals have in many ways supplied the vocabulary for the languageof my childhood. I know it’s easy to run the risk of anthropomorphizing but there’s a reason for that. I believe animals bear more humanity than we are oftentimes willing to admit. Or, to put it differently, I find we are not so unlike animals as we would like to believe.

I can’t speak to what brought the Edsel into this poem. I believe the poem wanted to be about intertidal zones, their changeability, all that life and death, and life in death. Somehow, in that way that poems have, and because it looks like a fish, someone drove this memory of an old, ruined Edsel into my poem and left it there until the poem became the Edsel.

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

What a funny question! Music-wise, I listen to everything but usually not with profound attachment. FKJ and Elise Trouw have interested me lately, as well as anything mellow with a hip-hop edge. By contrast, I also happen to be an occasional bluegrass fan. I sing old tunes out loud to myself a lot, sometimes without realizing it. I know much about me tends to be contradictory. Intersectional, perhaps. Food-wise, I have a weakness for enchiladas and lasagnas, anything with an excessive amount of cheese. I like a good scotch although I rarely drink. Most of the time I’m good with a diet coke or just water. I have a tattoo on my arm that I got when I was eighteen. In Japanese, it says “Opposite Twins”. We have a zoo, consisting of two dogs, a rabbit, a bearded dragon, and two African clawed frogs.

Willow Springs 88

Two Poems by Frank Gallimore

Edsel I can feel myself winnowing to some rudimentary figment, as when the distinction no longer quite holds between that Edsel and a beached hunk of carrion, its vertical grille … Read more

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Issue 88: David Kirby


About David Kirby

David Kirby teaches at Florida State University. His collection The House on Boulevard St.: New and Selected Poems was a finalist for both the National Book Award and Canada’s Griffin Poetry Prize. He is the author of Little Richard: The Birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll, which the Times Literary Supplement of London called “a hymn of praise to the emancipatory power of nonsense” and was named one of Booklist’s Top 10 Black History Non-Fiction Books of 2010. His latest books are a poetry collection, Help Me, Information, and a textbook modestly entitled The Knowledge: Where Poems Come From and How to Write Them.

A Profile of the Author

Notes on "Galileo,” “The Return of Martin Guerre” and “Immortal Beloved”

A lot of poets’ descriptions of their books these days announce a subject matter: politics, history, relationships, climate change, what have you. Good for them, if the poems are good. But I can’t imagine writing that way. It sounds like journalism to me. I like to stumble around in language, to think less and work more. Some of my Elvii, like singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen and playwright Tom Stoppard, say they don’t think at all, yet theirs is some of the most beautiful, intelligent, moving work we can watch or listen to.

That said, my poems do share common elements. One of these is humor. That’s a good thing—everybody likes to laugh—but it can work against you. I’ve had people tell me, “I didn’t know poetry could be funny.” That’s understandable, because most of it isn’t. Most poets aren’t funny. Look at their head shots: if you’re not scowling like the lead singer of Mudhoney or the Screaming Trees, nobody’s going to take you seriously. I’m often identified as a funny poet, as though I’m only a funny poet. Even my own press says so: if you go to the LSU Press page and tap the icon for Help Me, Information, which is my latest book, you’ll see the tags they use to tell booksellers what the book is about begins with “Humor” and only lists “Poetry” second.

But don’t you like to use every tool in the toolbox? I do. Take a look at my three poems in this issue. They’re about heartbreak, suicide, hanging. Ha, ha! Yet there are a couple of chuckles in each. A poem should be like a letter to a friend or a good conversation. A poem should have everything in it.

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

You know that Andy Warhol movie of a man sleeping for five hours? At first Andy thought about casting me, but I blew the audition. I was too boring.

Actually, Warhol is also one of my Elvii. When a reporter asked him who his favorite contemporary artists were, he said, “Oh, I like ‘em all.” That’s me. I eat everything, from chili dogs to foie gras. I like to shake up a craft cocktail, but I like milkshakes, too. I don’t have a pet, but a pet has me: Patsy the cat decided her needs weren’t being met at the neighbor’s house, so she moved in with us (the fact that I’m allergic to her has not altered her plans in the least). I think tattoos are awesome, but I don’t have any. A few years ago a student was over at our house, and I saw she had a tattoo that said, “Poetry is not reflection; it is refraction.” I thought that was pretty good, so I asked, “Who said that?” and my student said, “You did.”

Flaubert said, “Be regular and orderly in your life like a bourgeois, so that you may be violent and original in your work.” That’s me. I want my poems to be as action-packed as those Westerns I used to watch when I was a farm kid in Baton Rouge and rode my bike into town and plunked down my quarter at the Ogden or the Hart or the Paramount. It doesn’t matter who the artist is. The art? That’s what’s important.

Willow Springs 88

Three Poems by David Kirby

The Return of Martin Guerre   Ever see The Return of Martin Guerre? It’s the best movie. Actually, it’s the worst movie, but I’ll get to that in a minute. … Read more

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Issue 86: Tom McCauley


About Tom McCauley

Tom McCauley is a writer, comedian and musician whose work has appeared in Superstition ReviewLeveler and What Rough Beast. His poem “People Are Not Lights” won the 2018 Joseph Langland Prize from the Academy of American Poets. In 2012 he scored Constance Congdon’s play “Tales of the Lost Formicans” for the Great Plains Theatre Conference, and in 2018, he was a writer-in-residence at the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center of Nebraska City. Currently, he works for the nonprofit AIM Institute and teaches contemporary literature at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

In his spare time, he publishes These H1N1 Times, writes and records music in his basement, edits videos out of Cold War-era documentaries on farming and milk production, and thinks fondly of many people, especially his friends and bandmates from erstwhile post-rock outfit The Answer Team, which has a surprisingly large following in Brazil. Somebody look into that please.

A Profile of the Author

Notes on “Introductory Element Comma Independent Clause: A Study of the Moon and Bees”

This essay came out of an assignment from a creative nonfiction class I took a couple years ago with novelist Edie Meidav at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

At the end of the semester, Edie had us draw the name of a fellow student from a hat. We then had to imitate that person’s style. Fortunately for me, I was assigned a brilliant colleague, Elle Davis, who couldn’t have been further from me stylistically.

Normally, my stuff is driven by the voice of someone who tends to wander around loudly. Someone who tries to neaten up the chaos of experience into a conventionally coherent, quasi-Aristotelian narrative while being chatty, allusive, and compulsively humorous at the sad parts. You know, like a jerk.

But Elle (pronounced “L”) could let in the raw-nerved, unfiltered sense-phenomena of the world with a kind of bright quietude. All-patient and all-noticing, unlike me, she didn’t need to complete every sentence. She could just collect lovely artifacts, stake them on the page, and make you feel like one whole person standing in a field, diminishing an apple.

Trying to write like her was an all-night freedom. I typed until dawn, puzzling together fragments that ultimately didn’t sound like her, but rather a different version of myself. I wasn’t hurrying toward punchlines, just patiently digging up various ideas, images, and semester-long inside-jokes about Roland Barthes, then clapping them together for the echo.

When the semester ended, I sold all my stuff and came home. I put the piece away and forgot about it. For no good reason this past January I unearthed the draft, felt the voltage-gated ion channels open up, and started revising it a hundred times until it buzzed, then let it go.

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

I’ve been listening to Japanese indie punk band Eastern Youth a lot lately, especially their 2007 album 地球の裏から風が吹 (Blowing from the Other Side of Earth). The song “沸点36℃” ( “Boiling Point 36 Degrees Celsius”) just devastates me. It’s everything I could want from music, a beautiful, off-the-high-speed-rails freak out of fuzz guitar and off-kilter drums. The song utterly proves the universality of music. I can’t speak a lick of Japanese, but I know in my bones what Hisashi Yoshino is screaming about. The live version also has me in tears.

I listen to a lot of lo-fi hip-hop / beats to study to and other chill-out music like Nujabes and Driver. It helps for writing, making out, and not falling off the face of the world.

Simpsonswave still impresses me because I’m an idiot.

I’m never not listening to Sleep’s Dopesmoker. It took me six months to get into, but now that I’m into it, I’ll never leave. It’s a 63-minute long song everyone thinks is about smoking weed, and yes, that is what it’s about. But so much more, too. It’s the heaviest thing imaginable. Not heavy as in aggressive, but heavy like a big, warm, mountain mother reaffirming dry land for us, her sublime children of the sea. (For a better exegesis, read this letter from the Times.)

Finally, I’ve been listening to semiweekly dharma talks by this Zen monk from Michigan, Sokuzan Bob Brown. Every Wednesday and Sunday he gives these insightful, deadpan discourses about observing whatever arises in one’s mind without attaching to or judging it. He and the greater Zen tradition are a good antidote to COVID-19 anxiety, which reminds me: I’m also always listening to the audiobook of Shunryu Suzuki’s Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, lovingly read by ex-Sixties radical turned Ken Burns narrator Peter Coyote.

“Introductory Element Comma Independent Clause: A Study of the Moon and Bees” By Tom McCauley

Found in Willow Springs 86 Back to Author Profile 1.   In the open parenthesis beside a conjunction, two commas nest. An independent clause, on its way to the apiary, spies … Read more

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Issue 86: Kathryn Smith


About Kathryn Smith

Kathryn Smith won the Jake Adam York Prize for her poetry collection Self-Portrait with Cephalopod, which will be published in February 2021 by Milkweed Editions. She is also the author of the chapbook Chosen Companions of the Goblin (Open Country Press, 2019), and the full-length collection Book of Exodus (Scablands Books, 2017). She’s on the world wide web at, and on Instagram as @paperhermitage, where she posts about poetry, collage, mixed media art, ink-making, gardening, and other stuff. She lives in Spokane, WA.

A Profile of the Author

Notes on “Ode to Super Friends and Nature Television”

I try to live conscientiously, especially where the environment is concerned, but some days it feels utterly futile. Like, do I seriously think I can forestall the planet’s collapse by line-drying my laundry? “Ode to Super Friends and Nature Television” is a litany of these frustrations, merged with images inspired by the BBC documentary series Planet Earth. So why do I call it an ode? I guess it’s part sarcasm, part Hail Mary to the fictions we tell ourselves with our small gestures, the hope that they might, after all, add up to something. And I do love those nature shows.

This poem started out as several different poems. I wanted to write about how climate change is messing with birds’ migration patterns. I wanted to write about the animals I inadvertently displaced by sending an arborist into my ancient urban maple tree to prune it. I wanted to write a list poem of things over which I have no control. And the ants. Oh, how I wanted to write about zombie ants! But individually, the poems lacked the urgency I was after. So, I took the best and most frantic lines from each and built this Frankenstein’s monster of a poem. And to my surprise, it came to life.

“Ode to Super Friends” opens my new book, Self-Portrait with Cephalopod, which comes out in February from Milkweed Editions. When I wrote the poem, I didn’t know I would use it to set up an entire collection, but it works because it grasps at so many of my obsessions, it’s full of dread, yet somehow, it maintains its awe and love for this doomed world.

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

I just ate a cupcake. I don’t like cake, but I’ll eat a cupcake if someone brings it to my door, which is what happened. This particular cupcake was left over from a memorial service for two chickens. The chickens spent the first eight weeks of their brief but idyllic life in the attentive care of two children (not mine) desperately in need of a pandemic project. When the birds had outgrown their cardboard brooder box (not to mention the patience of the parent whose living room the fast-growing cluckers had taken over), they came to live among my established backyard flock, where they spent the next four weeks mingling with the big hens, sorting out their pecking order (it’s a real thing, if you’ve ever wondered), and plotting their escape before some asshole neighborhood cat broke into their coop in the middle of the night and snapped their necks. The funeral was the children’s idea, or maybe their parents’, but not mine. The cupcake was lemon flavored and decorated with that weird, translucent gel icing that stains your teeth, which had been used to draw the outline of a baby chick. It tasted just how a funeral cupcake should taste–a little bit tart, distinctly chemical in a boxed-cake-mix way, and ultimately disappointing.

“Ode to Super Friends and Nature Television” By Kathryn Smith

  Days when the planet seems particularly poised for disaster, I wear both my cephalopod T-shirt and my cephalopod ring. Have you heard of a more Anthropocene coping mechanism? I … Read more

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Issue 82: Rob Carney

Rob Carney

About Rob Carney

Rob Carney is originally from Washington state. He is the author of five collections, most recently The Book of Sharks (Black Lawrence Press, 2018) and 88 Maps (Lost Horse Press, 2015), which was named a finalist for the Washington State Book Award. His work has appeared in Cave Wall, Columbia Journal, Sugar House Review, Terrain: A Journal of the Built + Natural Environments, and dozens of others, as well as the Norton anthology Flash Fiction Forward (2006). In 2014 he received the Robinson Jeffers/Tor House Foundation Award for Poetry. He is a Professor of English and Literature at Utah Valley University and lives in Salt Lake City.

You can find more of his work online at:

A Profile of the Author

Notes on "When's My Luck Gonna Change"

It’s funny you ask about how this poem arose, developed, etc., and if there were any surprises involved, because I’ve written two essays for Terrain: A Journal of the Built + Natural Environments about just that (well, about other poems that followed the same method I used for “When’s My Luck Gonna Change?”)—

I’d say this is Magnús Siggurðsson’s doing, or else the Icelandic language’s doing, because I found his poems in (also collected in a book called Cold Moons) so damn interesting. I don’t mean the English translations, though those are good too; I mean the originals. Since I don’t speak Icelandic, seeing words on the page like “af myrkri,” and “pví upp,” and “bilaður mótor,” and “blásvörtum” was pretty strange. But also familiar. I mean, they looked a bit like “enough miracles,” and “divvy up,” and “build a motor,” and “stormblast,” so I used those things the way you’d cross a river by stepping from stone to stone, resulting not in a true translation of Siggurðsson’s poem “Blek” (trans.: “Ink”) but in this surprising literary zydeco or gumbo or something.

The key—at least for me—was letting my Guesswork Brain do the steering while telling my Everything Else Brain to just shut up and quit grabbing at the wheel. Who needs to know where they’re headed all the time? Well, most of us, probably, but not poems. They’re luckier than we are.

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

Lately I’ve been listening to Camper Van Beethoven’s Key Lime Pie, The La’s: BBC In Session, and of course Tom Waits—especially Rain Dogs and Frank’s Wild Years.

The La’s were this hugely popular live act in the ’80s, but they never had an album because the front man hated every sound engineer and kept replacing who was in the band. Then, when their album finally did come out, he didn’t like it and disowned it immediately. Luckily the BBC recorded four live studio performances over the years, and hearing the different band members and the different approaches to the songs is really cool. This is the band that wrote “There She Goes.” Yes, that song The Boo Radleys covered, the one on the soundtrack to So I Married an Axe Murderer. Guess who’s version is better?

Eating and drinking? Pizza too often and whiskey not enough . . . one in particular: The Green Spot from Midleton Distillery (that’s spelled right; there’s just one “d”). It’s only distributed in a handful of states, and Utah isn’t one of them, so if you want to send me a present, many thank-yous. Of course, you’ll have to disguise it since wine and liquor can’t be mailed here (lunacy!). Rob Carney, 2309 South 800 East, Salt Lake City, UT 84106.

And animals? Still the same bad-ass cat. He’s 16 now, a Maine Coon; his name is Gruden. And also this acrobat squirrel who eats from the bird feeder by hooking a back claw in the tree trunk for balance—one claw for all that gravity-defiance!—while stretching out Superman-style and going face first into the seeds.

Issue 82 Cover shows Chris Bovery print of a bridge in pink and blue with Willow Springs in decorative font.

“When’s My Luck Gonna Change?” by Rob Carney

Found in Willow Springs 82 Back to Author Profile When’s My Luck Gonna Change   There aren’t enough miracles to divvy up.   Sometimes this frustrates the angels.   They’d like … Read more

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Issue 87: Alpay Ulku

alpay ulku

About Alpay Ulku

Alpay’s book of poems is Meteorology (BOA Editions) and the manuscript making the rounds is Mercator.

He was a First and Second Year Poetry Fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and has received residencies from the Millay Colony and the Wurlitzer Foundation and grants from the Iowa Arts Council and the Illinois Arts Council. He graduated from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

His work has appeared in journals such as Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, AGNI, and the American Poetry Review. His explication of Yeats’s “The Second Coming” was a Poets’ Pick prose feature on Poetry Daily, and Slate magazine selected one of his poems for their “Best Valentine’s Day Poems” feature.

Alpay splits his time between Chicago, where he works as a Business Analyst and Senior Technical Writer on a project basis for part of the year, and the Turkish resort city of Antalya.

His website is

A Profile of the Author

Notes on "Spending the Night at the Blue Mountain Service Plaza on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, I Dreamt I Drove into a Tractor Trailer Just Past Mile Marker 202"

When I first wrote this poem it was called “Ghosts” and we had not yet partied like it’s 1999, and I buried it in my ‘duds’ file:

“You’ve been here forever, in the screech and roll of tightening curves, white lights and yellow lights, signs you no longer bother to read. /Some jazz, some classical. A woman calls about her cheatin’ boyfriend. A man thinks the President’s a crook. /Then the silence of deep country night. A small live thing that thinks it’s moving, thinks there are junctures and exits. /A semi turns its headlights off and on. You ease into the slow lane, and there’s the cop, tracking you with laser beans /invisible to the human eye. The ghosts of two deserters from the Civil War veer off the trail and flatten behind a ridge. Forget the job,/the apartment crowded with stuff. When you stop, you’ll be there. All you need is a little faith. But you’ll still be there, won’t you?”

I made the poem worse in the early oughts by changing the name to “Deserters” and adding “Your son, so she says,” instead of the line about the apartment (I don’t have kids). I somehow deleted my ‘duds’ file without noticing, found it a couple of years ago on an old flash drive, and revised the poem in about an hour.

I swerved into the service plaza on an impulse, driving from Provincetown to Pittsburgh, and dreamt I drove into a tractor trailer.

Notes on "Ice Walking, Columbia Ice Field, Jasper National Park, Alberta"

This was called “Blue Ice, Blue Fractals” at first, and I have no idea why. Later I read an article about a couple that went hiking in the above location in the dead of winter, for their wedding anniversary, I think, and it was with great delight that I read the account to my wife, who is more of a spa-and-bubble bath type.

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

We don’t have a “W” in Turkish, so my cat’s name here is Vookie Voo. I’m waiting out COVID in Antalya, where the numbers are not too bad, and even street cats and street dogs have healthcare. It’s true. There are municipal vets to catch-neuter/splay-and release, but you can bring a sick or wounded animal in and they’ll take care of it. If you can’t bring the animal in yourself, there’s an “ambulance” that will come and get it. The city leaves food for the strays and they have cat houses for the cats, which are these cat jungle gyms enclosed by wire so only cats can get through. Others are allowed into the basements of apartment buildings, and of course people feed them, and it’s a rare shop owner that won’t allow a dog to hang out under the awning or bring out a bowl of water in the summer.

Issue 87

Two Poems by Alpay Ulku

“Spending the Night at the Blue Mountain Service Plaza on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, I Dreamt I Drove into a Tractor Trailer Just Past Mile Marker 202”   You’ve been driving … Read more

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Issue 87: J. P. White


About J. P. White

J.P. White has published essays, articles, fiction, reviews, interviews and poetry in over a hundred publications including The Nation, The New Republic, The Gettysburg Review, American Poetry Review, North American Review, The Georgia Review, Southern Review, and Poetry (Chicago). He is the author of five books of poems and a novel, Every Boat Turns South.

A Profile of the Author

Notes on "Elegy for a Buckeye" and "Seabooted"

I was a night nurse of sorts for both of my parents in their last year.  In those unequipped, nether hours between worlds, I would read to them, read to myself, sleep, and try to dream/imagine their earlier lives. My father was a lifelong sailor and he lived all his life on water or within earshot. On one of those late nights with my father, I traveled back to his childhood home in Sandusky, Ohio lined with buckeye trees.  That night nurse traveling allowed me to enter the space in which both of these poems gather their images.

My hope for “Elegy for a Buckeye” is that the lament for the tree suggests the arc of a man’s life: what he was called to do in the state of Ohio that has been overly fond of elimination and removal.

In “Seabooted,” the overlay of one memory plays tricks with the present or it allows the past to round the corners of the present. By accident, rather than design, I often find myself in the collision of the past and present, how one subverts or informs the other and allows us to stare down our conclusions about what happened and what did not in the brief time we were given.

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

I live for part of the year in the land of roosters.  They are everywhere making themselves known and heard.  It’s hard not to appreciate their enthusiasm for life and sex, but at 3 a.m. when they begin to crow and pass that crowing up and down the mountain, one’s regard for them changes into something like a survival competition.  If and when the final cloud darkens, the rooster, centipede and mongoose will remain to battle it out for top billing.

Issue 87

“Elegy for a Buckeye” and “Seabooted” by J. P. White

Elegy for a Buckeye   I went all the way back to the beginning looking for a buckeye giant On a quiet street in Ohio but it was gone and … Read more

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