Welcome to WWPH WRITES 54… We have two works to astound us with their precision, First Love: A Villanelle by David Bachner, and Mimosas at the Hotel Washington, flash fiction, set on a July night in DC, by Richard Peabody. And, we are eager to see your poetry of precision for our TINY POEM special August issues. Deadline: July 31. More details are below. Read on!
co-president and fiction editor, WWPH Writes
WWPH WRITES: POETRY
David Bachner is the author of Capital Ironies: Washington, DC Poems and Short Prose (2020); Kirinski’s Life & Times: A Novel (2021); and Just Then, Just There: Poems (2023). His poems have appeared in a number of journals. Retired now, David taught at American University and lives in Washington, DC.
FIRST LOVE: A VILLANELLE
It started out as teasing, the way that boys and girls play.
She sat at the desk in front of me; I would pull on her braid.
(Was that why she didn’t tell me where she lived, why she refused to say?)
My teasing turned to taunting. “Your hair is ugly,” I would bray.
Soon she just stopped talking. I guess she was afraid.
And I never learned where she lived. I wonder to this day.
It went on like this for quite some time. I tried to hide my dismay.
I had really begun to like her, you see, a feeling I might have conveyed
but no one would tell me where she lived. They still refused to say.
In class we made sketches of our homes: maybe this would be my way
to find her house—I would go see her and apologize for my tirade.
But I never would learn where she lived, and I wonder to this day.
Spring came and she was gone. I didn’t see her go so wasn’t able to allay
her fear of me. I kept searching for the house from the sketch she had made,
for no one would tell me where she lived. They kept refusing to say.
And I never did learn where she went. I’m left wondering to this day.
©David Bachner 2023
WWPH WRITES: FICTION
Richard Peabody, born in Washington, DC., raised in Bethesda, MD., and now living in Arlington, VA., is a poet, writer, editor, teacher, publisher. The author of a novella and three short story collections, he taught graduate fiction writing at Johns Hopkins University for 15 years. His Gargoyle Magazine (founded 1976) released issue 76 in August 2022. The magazine has since moved online. His most recent poetry volume, Guinness on the Quay, was published in Ireland (Salmon Poetry, 2019). The Richard Peabody Reader, a career-encompassing collection, was released in 2015 by Alan Squire Publishing, as the first book in their ASP Legacy Series.
photo credit–Caroline Hockenbury
MIMOSAS AT THE HOTEL WASHINGTON
We are eleven stories up sipping mimosas with friends who are arguing the pros and cons of in vitro pregnancies. It’s a cooler cloudy day in July. We glimpse the Treasury Building, the White House, and Ellipse straight ahead. But we’re here because we dig the century-old Beaux-arts building and the VUE rooftop bar. Plus, our friends from out of town, have never visited DC before, and we felt we owed them.
“Not exactly Perry’s, is it?” my wife whispers.
Our guests are soooo not Adams Morgan.
“Wait until the White House lights up at dark,” I tell them.
His wife is pouring mimosas down her throat like they’re 95% juice. Mint leaves and orange slices stuck to the tabletop, her black dress, the chair pillows.
My wife would rather be anywhere else than with these people who are losers losing in public.
One always expects to be able to return to a place you love, without being blacklisted or shown the door. I’m beginning to think either might happen.
Divide and conquer time. My wife leads his wife to the bathroom where she will “tell” about three in vitro attempts.
I will sit and listen as he plays the victim and says he needs her to try again and to believe it will work this time.
Clouds of pink and white blossoms are drifting onto the sticky table. And somebody has planted Mimosa trees in Zamboni-sized barrels around the rim of the rooftop.
When did that happen?
He’s droning on and on as I notice the scent of the blossoms—a fruity gardenia?
It’s all surreal. The White House lit up. The obelisk of the Washington Monument shining.
like a daily reminder that the ellipse is ground zero.
I’ll leave that for another day.
“But look at the view,” I say, meeting my wife’s eyes as the ladies return and my friend searches his wife’s eyes. You’d think they’d prefer a lovely view over looking at each other.
The Mimosa’s fernlike leaves are folding up for the night as my wife sucks an orange slice. The tree’s silk falling faster, carried by an evening gust, making little piles on the table that my wife seems to notice for the first time, brushing them away.
“Are they for real,” I say, as she gives me the look that kills.
“Are you for real?” she whispers.
©Richard Peabody 2023
WWPH Community News
OUR 2023 AWARD-WINNERS will be published on OCTOBER 3, 2023. If you are planning ahead, our 2024 Manuscript contests in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction open on SEPTEMBER 1-November 1…Prize monies, publication, editorial support, and promotion. Past WWPH winners judge all entries blind. Read our recent award-winning books to learn more about our literary sensibility and submit to us on September 1.
Shout out to WWPH poet Nancy Naomi Carlson on two new works: Piano in the Dark and the translation of Delicates by Wendy Guerra (translated by Nancy Naomi Carlson and Esperanza Hope Snyder) now available from Seagull Books. Nancy’s translation of Khal Torabully’s Cargo Hold of Stars: Coolitude (Seagull, 2021) won the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize. A poet and essayist, she has authored fourteen titles (nine translated), including An Infusion of Violets (Seagull, 2019), her second full-length poetry collection—named “New & Noteworthy” by The New York Times. A recipient of two translation grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and decorated by the French government with the Academic Palms, her work has appeared in APR, Paris Review, Poetry, Poem-a-Day, and The Georgia Review. She’s the Translations Editor for On the Seawall and a Counselor Educator at Walden University. In 1997, she won the Washington Writers’ Publishing House Poetry Prize for King’s Highway. More on her exciting new work at seagullbooks.org
Purchase our award-winning books including THE WITCH BOTTLE AND OTHER STORIES, by Suzanne Feldman, winner of our 2022 Fiction Award, NOW AVAILABLE AS AN EBOOK! Purchase our books at our bookshop.org affiliate page and everywhere good books are sold.