Welcome to WWPH Writes 61… This issue features two very different pieces linked by observation and craft. In Kim Roberts’ poem, Gertrude Stein, the narrator meditates on the famous writer and her relationship—what they think and do in love. In The Bus, flash fiction by Olubunmi Adeloye, the speaker keenly sees their fellow bus riders, imagining their lives and reveling in creative solitude until they step into the snow.
Don’t miss our third annual WWPH WRITES THE HOLIDAYS poetry and prose contest. Our guest judge happens to be the versatile and creative Kim Roberts! Details below.
Lastly, dear readers, we are beginning an effort to raise funds for our 50th anniversary celebrations in 2025. We plan to kick off our literary festivities in 2024. We hope you will join us and contribute $50 for 50. Our goal is to raise $5,000 by December 31st. We have included more details below.
Caroline Bock & Jona Colson
co-presidents and co-editors
WWPH WRITES POETRY
Kim Roberts is the author of six books of poems, most recently Corona/Crown, a cross-disciplinary collaboration with photographer Robert Revere (WordTech Editions, 2023). Roberts edited By Broad Potomac’s Shore: Great Poems from the Early Days of our Nation’s Capital (University of Virginia Press, 2020), selected by the East Coast Centers for the Book and DC Public Library to represent Washington, DC in the Route 1 Reads program. She is the author of the popular guidebook, A Literary Guide to Washington, DC: Walking in the Footsteps of American Writers from Francis Scott Key to Zora Neale Hurston (University of Virginia Press, 2018). In 2023, Roberts was the recipient of a Pride Poetry Residency at the Arts Club of Washington, grants from the DC Commission on the Arts, and an Individual Practitioner Fellowship from Humanities DC. More on her website here. Photo credit: Farrah Skeiky.
I think of you, legs spread wide. All the nights you’d write until the sun rose and Alice came
downstairs, gathered your winged papers, brought them to the typewriter with delight—
with delight!—to type up your pages. Alice’s baking, her honeyed aromas coming from the
kitchen, and the two of you snuggling in bed, making up pet names for each other’s vagina.
I think of your rooms of paintings, salon-hung, so the walls swam with color. Meaning in
the morning, feeling in the evening. The way you wrestled with syntax, wringing out
sentences so that even the most common items, butter for instance, became vehicles of
wonder. It all makes perfect sense when you say it out loud, you claimed—and sometimes
you were right, although sense was never the point. You rumbled repetition, you were
always half in darkness. All your clothes were tender. Alice’s too, with her delicate touch
unzipping. Bliss was always near: disrobing, spreading her thick, magnificent thighs.
©Kim Roberts 2023
WWPH WRITES FLASH FICTION
Olubunmi Adeloye is a Nigerian writer and digital artist currently pursuing an MA in Literature, Culture, and Technology at American University in Washington DC, and is focused on writing speculative and short fiction.
Snowflakes fall on top of the bus and blanket the world outside like a torrent of petals.
I touch the window pane and frown, worrying about how I will be forced to trudge through the storm to get back to my apartment.
In front of me, a mother raises her child, a cherub who squeals with delight at everything and cups the baby’s radiant cheeks. An elderly woman sits with her eyes closed by the front of the bus, her wrinkled hand grasping her cane like it’s something fragile.
Across from her is a student whose head bobs up and down as he listens to music so loud that I can hear it flowing out of his black headphones from across the bus. His hair is a palette of pink, orange, and blue hues that come together as a rainbow dashing across his head.
A lone woman by the window. Her dark hair falls and covers her face like a black veil as she stares blankly at the phone in her hand. In my head, I make up a story about what she could be looking at.
Behind her, children burst full of vibrant energy that only thirteen-year-olds have. I watch and reminisce on my own bygone youth as they duck their heads together and laugh, switching between languages with a casual ease that would make any interpreter jealous.
Soon, the bus will stop, and I will have to face the cold as I walk through the snow that will bury us. But for this moment, I’m allowed to exist in this bus full of life and warmth.
©Olubunmi Adeloye 2023
WWPH Community NewS
Shout out to the Washington City Paper for highlighting our new books, calling the Washington Writers’ Publishing House “A D.C. favorite,” and for noting that our “contest winning books have gained a national readership.” Our 2023 award-winning books are now available everywhere you buy books–and now available as trade paperbacks and ebooks! Plus our WWPH fiction classics are on sale — their ebooks are at the lowest prices ever.
HELP US CELEBRATE 50 YEARS! Read our letter to you, dear readers, below.
We are also happy to accept checks. Please see our donation site here for our WWPH snail mail address. Most of all, thank you for considering a donation to our (almost) 50-year-old literary press! Questions about a donation? We would be happy to answer via
our email at wwphpress @ gmail.com