Dedicated to Poetry & Fiction Writers in the DMV
Welcome to Issue #6
Our poetry and fiction this issue shimmers with summertime–cicadas and lightening strikes–by award-winning poet Myra Sklarew, a longtime member of the WWPH community, and by a new voice to WWPH, Briana Maley.
And remember: submission to WWPH Writes is free, though you will see a voluntary ‘tip jar.’ We plan to submit nominations to Best of the Net, Best of Small Fiction, and the Pushcarts as well as any other place we can find to lift our WWPH writers. At this time, we cannot reward our writers with payment for WWPH Writes; however, we hope that our efforts to showcase your works speak to our commitment to the DMV literary community. Please see our Submittable page for more details.
One last thing before reading the astounding poetry and short fiction below: Jona and I have worked on describing what kind of writing we would love to see in WWPH Writes. If you are thinking of submitting, and we hope you are, see below for our insights.
Fiction Editor of WWPH Writes
WWPH Writes: Poetry
Myra Sklarew has written poetry, prose, and nonfiction. Recent works include A Survivor Named Trauma: Holocaust Memory in Lithuania, SUNY Press 2020; a collection of essays on medicine and science; The Refusal, a novel set in a Greek mountain village, in manuscript. Her collection of poetry, Altamira, was published by The Washington Writers’ Publishing House in 1987.
We mark the loss of our beloved Venus Thrash.
I do not mind your multitudes
nor your tymbal songs.
Once in China in 1500 B.C., you were carved
from jade before burial and placed on the tongue
of the deceased, so he could emerge
from his body, reborn.
Cicada, remarkable timekeeper, I’ve saved
your remnants from 17 years ago—your nymphs,
empty carapace, and a single red-eyed soul.
Now I go out at evening to gather your
abandoned shells so carefully welded
to the leaves of my Stewartia Tree.
THE BIRTH OF MEMORY
God scraped a bit of skin
off the shin bone
of a second as it waltzed by
on its way to the future.
He tucked it into a tiny box
marked “The Past.”
Here it grew, like yeast. Tick
tick, it said. Grew like
porridge in the fairy tale. Never
ending. Until God in his old
age forgot where he put it.
Then it was up to us.
© Myra Sklarew 2021
WWPH Writes: Fiction
Briana Maley’s short stories have been published in Fiction Southeast, New Flash Fiction Review, Little Patuxent Review, Lilith, and elsewhere. She received Lilith Magazine’s 2019 fiction prize, was runner-up in the 2020 F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Festival fiction contest, and received an Honorable Mention in Bethesda Magazine’s 2021 short story contest. Her work was nominated for the 2021 editions of Best Small Fictions and Best Microfiction. She lives in Takoma Park, Maryland with her family and a dog named Ramona Quimby.
How You Struck Me
You were nothing like they said you would be. They said you would come quick. They said you would be a shock. Being struck by you should have been a revelation. Instead, you were a question mark.
When you struck me, or rather us, or rather the dark green luxury sedan that carried my father and me due west through a rare Wyoming rain, time slowed. You did not arrive in a bolt. You were a filament of light that licked the hood of the car then forked in two directions like the tongue of a snake. I watched you slither beneath my window. You were so delicate, no thicker than embroidering thread. No thicker than the tiny roots I had ripped from the ground when weeding my father’s flowerbeds.
How could I have seen all this? How did I have time to notice these details?
The instrument panel fell dark while we were inside this moment, then sparked back to life.
“Lightning,” my father said.
Did we say anything else out loud? Did my father explain the science that had spared our lives when the one in a million came our way? Probably. Or maybe we had this conversation telepathically. My father had described natural phenomena so many times before. I didn’t need him to speak to know what he would say, were he to bother. And now we were linked by this new thread, this tiny electric wire. Perhaps our thoughts traveled across it, even when we were silent.
Years later, I seldom think of you and how you struck me. And when I do, I wonder if you were even real. I could have asked my father. But he was difficult to impress. What if he had dismissed you with a wave of his hand, as if to say that being struck by you wasn’t any big deal? What if he didn’t recollect you at all?
When it came time to say goodbye, I let this and so many other queries flicker, unspoken. They filled the air like static. I took my father’s hand. Questions surged between us like a current. For the one that mattered most, I already knew the answer: I love you. As for the rest, I made the choice to live in wonder.
© Briana Maley 2021
WWPH Community News
ANNUAL CONTESTS FOR FULL-LENGTH POETRY AND FICTION MANUSCRIPTS NOW OPEN
The Washington Writers’ Publishing House’s annual JEAN FELDMAN POETRY Prize and FICTION Award for full-length poetry and fiction manuscripts is now open through November 15th. For 2021, we have expanded our geographical outreach to include any resident from the DMV. We have also increased our award to $1,500 and will select one winner and up to three finalists in poetry and fiction. Our entry fee also remains at 2020 levels: $25.00. Members of WWPH will judge.
Thinking of submitting to WWPH Writes? We are looking for poetry and fiction that celebrate, unsettle, and question our lives in the DC, Maryland, and Virginia area (DMV) and in our nation. We seek work that is lyrical and dynamic, and we believe in cultivating a diverse environment of content, form, risk, and experimentation. New perspectives and voices with craft and fierceness are strongly encouraged to submit. Send us your best work–challenge us with your ideas and your writing. We look forward to reading your poems and stories!
WWPH Writes is the bi-weekly literary journal of The Washington Writers’ Publishing House, a 45-year old nonprofit, 501c3, all-volunteer, cooperative press. Enjoy summer!
Fiction Editor, WWPH Writes
Poetry Editor, WWPH Writes