Welcome to Issue 37
Welcome to November and Issue 37! This issue includes two works that light up the darkness. The poem, “Ancestry” by Alyson Gold Weinberg explores the results of a DNA test, and that “dark humor” of belonging, or, it is, not belonging. The flash fiction, “Capitol Hill, 4:12 pm,” by Wiliam Fleeson, extols the narrator’s search for a Thanksgiving pie, or is the pie the only thing the narrator needs? You be the judge of these works by two gifted writers.
Plus, we have news to share! Do not miss our November 15th deadline for book-length manuscripts in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. Do not miss our Second Annual Holiday Poetry & Prose Contest crafted and judged by poet Brandel France de Bravo. Inspire or enlighten us with your “word.” And consider applying for our new WWPH Fellowship. All the details are below.
WWPH Writes: Poetry
Alyson Gold Weinberg is a poet, playwright, speechwriter, and ghostwriter. Her poems have appeared in december magazine, New Guard Review’s BANG!, WWPH, among others. She is a 2022 New Women’s Voices Competition finalist, 2022 Harbor Review’s Jewish Women’s Poetry Prize finalist, first prize winner of the 2021 Derick Burleson Poetry Prize, and a 2021 finalist for the Jeff Marks Memorial Poetry Prize, judged by Carl Phillips. Alyson holds a B.A. in Creative Writing-Poetry from the University of Maryland, College Park and has pursued post-graduate work at Georgetown, Johns Hopkins, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Stanford University, and the Kenyon Review Writer’s Workshop. She is the author of five non-fiction books. Her poetry chapbook, BELLOW & HISS, is forthcoming in 2023 (Finishing Line Press).
The results came in an email.
My identity, still Ashkenazi,
at once fungible. A long-held secret
gave me sisters, strangers known,
initially, by initials—K. and D.
at the top of my Ancestry
profile. To meet was to feel
familiar, as when you hold
your daughter for the first
time after you deliver. She’s mine,
you say. I think I’ll keep her.
We didn’t braid each other’s
hair, we weren’t there
for early intimacies.
We are woven, anyway,
as DNA strands wend around
legs tangled on the couch,
long limbs and whispers,
one twirling a curl
around her index finger.
I don’t know which gene gave wave
to Katie’s hair or a scientist’s brain
to Dianna, or to all of us
a dark humor.
I do know we owe it to a unit of measure.
The centimorgan, that counts our blessings in the thousands.
© Alyson Gold Weinberg 2022
WWPH Writes: Fiction
William Fleeson is a writer and former business journalist. A native and current inhabitant of Washington, DC, his writing has appeared or will soon in BBC Travel, Narrative, National Geographic, Newsweek, and elsewhere. In long-form narrative, he was a finalist for the New Millennium Writing Award 2020.
Capitol Hill, 4:12 pm
For the afternoon before Thanksgiving, the second grocery store proved less of a circus than I feared. My task was to buy a pie. My normal store, ransacked by holidaymakers, had none left.
I held an invitation. My suburb-dwelling older brother wanted me over to his house. Again. His wife and kids are lovely.
I walked to the second store. Ten minutes to H Street, among the lettered and numbered squares of Washington’s diamond grid. Heading down Sixth Street, I crossed East Capitol Street, from the Southeast quadrant into Northeast. The stretching sky, a powder-orange pastel.
A left at East Capitol would lead to the Capitol building, where Congress meets. The avenue leads the eye toward it. The dusk turned its white dome peach. On the northwest corner of Sixth and East Capitol a barn-red Japanese maple burned: a signal from high ground. The neighborhood’s name is Capitol Hill.
Acker Place hid proud snug houses, each door a different color, like a box of mixed-up crayons. The breeze stirred the street’s yellow leaves, and my memories. A girl I used to date lived on Acker. Like much of DC, she was not from here. The girl’s father, a Midwestern lawyer, and a good one, bought her the house. That was before she and I went out. Before she moved on, married, had a son. We dated in the summer, when DC is furnace-hot. Now I just felt cold.
In the baseball field downhill a father and son practiced batting. The BRRONNNG of the aluminum sent me back to little league. I longed for another at-bat. To heave one, final swing.
At the tony H Street store I found my pie. “Made with cage-free eggs!”, said the sticker. (Who cares?) The checkout magazines gushed about Christmas, fitness, lifestyle trends and brands. I paid and got out of there.
Union Station, six blocks down, lay like a hump-backed beast. From its belly came travelers. A latter-day whale, spitting up Jonahs. The station’s marble takes its colors from the air. Union bent a sea-blue spine to the waning day, diving lower, to resurface at dawn.
On my phone the temperature read 48 degrees. Chilly and clear. I had zipped up my jacket when I left, yet returned overheated, hot beneath the shirt. Is it fall or already winter? This close to Congress, only the weather is bipartisan.
The Capitol rotunda shined in the deepening gray. The days were shortening. The solstice—winter’s longest darkness—was still a month away. I feared it more than any crowded store.
My new task: to pass the cold evening. Another spell of soul-darkness. My apartment is warm enough. It’s not my couple of rooms that give the dark its acid, but their emptiness.
Tomorrow, pie in hand: Thanksgiving. To be grateful—to feast gratitude in! I’ll take a swing. My best.
Off to my brother’s place, with his wife, their children. I have none. My brother, years ago, found his girl. I’ve lost all of mine.
© William Fleeson 2022
WWPH WRITES: BONUS
2022 Final Judge of our annual Holiday Poetry & Prose Contest: Brandel France de Bravo.
Brandel France de Bravo is the author of Provenance, the 2008 poetry prize winner from Washington Writers Publishing House, and the chapbook Mother, Loose which received the Judge’s Choice Award from Accents Publishing. She is the co-author of a parenting book and editor of a bilingual anthology of contemporary Mexican poetry. Her poems and essays have appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Copper Nickel, the Cincinnati Review, The Georgia Review, Gulf Coast, Poet Lore and elsewhere. She has been the recipient of several artist fellowship grants from the Washington, DC Commission on the Arts, which also awarded her the Larry Neal Writers’ Award in poetry. A public health professional, she currently teaches a meditation program developed at Stanford University called Compassion Cultivation Training.© You can read more about Brandel on her website here. See below for more details about our 2022 holiday poetry & prose contest crafted by Brandel France de Bravo.
WWPH Community News
*NEW! WWPH FELLOWSHIP OPPORTUNITIES! The new WWPH Fellowship provides the opportunity for undergraduates and graduate students, or anyone with a keen interest in the literary small publishing world, to get hands-on experience working with a nonprofit literary press. WWPH Fellows will learn small press publishing from WWPH executive board members and authors while helping advance the press’s mission. Each fellow will receive a $500.00 stipend in return for three to four hours of remote work over a ten-week fellowship session supervised by your WWPH co-presidents Caroline Bock and Jona Colson. Deadline: DECEMBER 6th. More details and how to apply here. Questions? email us at email@example.com and subject line: WWPH Fellowship. Shout out to Dr. Jean Feldman for underwriting this new initiative!
The WASHINGTON WRITERS’ PUBLISHING HOUSE has a Bookshop! BUY OUR AWARD-WINNING BOOKS and help us keep this nonprofit, cooperative, literary press strong for writers and readers like you. Click here and browse all our titles at our bookshop.
Thank you for being part of the WWPH Community!
Fiction Editor, WWPH Writes
Poetry Editor, WWPH Writes