Leslie What

Writer, Editor, Caregiver, Teacher, Maskmaker, Mom


Why Vintage Jewelry?

April 26, 2017

Tags: Personal history, vintage jewelry, Taxco Mexico, Victorian hair jewelry, mourning jewelry, memory, momenti mori

End cap for Victorian Braided Hair Jewelry
My mother returned home after the war to reclaim some of her extended family's belongings. The neighbors who were paid by my grandfather to watch over the family effects had long ago deduced no one would ever return "from the east" and believed they had the right to appropriate everything entrusted to them as their own. "We suffered, too," they said, (more…)

Not in Kansas

March 19, 2017

Tags: Jesus hat, homeless, street people, giving, smokers, PDX, Keep Portland Weird

Had such a PDX day. Walked out into sunshine and was severely under-dressed and cold. How can it be cold when the sun is shining? I guess I'm not in San Diego anymore. I waited for a streetcar and was entertained by a toothless wrinkled guy wearing a JESUS hat who said he'd move (more…)

If You Buy a Futon, You Are Part of the Problem

March 5, 2017

Tags: futon hostage situation, sales, shopping, city life, trapped and desperate

I just escaped from being held hostage in by excessively aggressive futon salespeople desperate to survive furniture trends they know are going the way of tanning salons. A sad salesman asked what I was looking for (a firm pillow one might prop behind her back) and when they didn't have that, his (more…)

City of Weird

October 9, 2016

Tags: Fiction, Short Stories, PDX, Keep Portland Weird, City of Weird, Forest Avenue Press, Gigi Little, OMMP, Trainwreck

I've lived in the city of weird for most of my life, but it's mostly been a milieu of my own making. Now, there's an anthology called "City of Weird" http://www.forestavenuepress.com/city-of-weird-features-30-supernatural-portland-stories/ that's chock full of fun, surprise, and real and imagined weirdness from the city that competes with Austin (more…)


April 8, 2016

Tags: proverbs, news, illness, worry, cancer, hope, despair

My mom used to say, "No news is good news," and I never understood the proverb. I assumed it meant that all news is bad news: that there is no news of any kind that can ever be good. I assume this makes me a cynic and a pessimist, except that I figured out (more…)

You May Already Be A Winner

December 30, 2015

Tags: feet pain, injuries, arthritis, aging, hope, Dr. Scholl's, parades, celebrations, fantasy, short short story, flash fiction

Counting today's purchase, I've spent over $200k on Dr. Scholl's foot care products. Every time I buy them, I try to remind myself of how many inserts lie on my closet floor collecting dirt or how many have been lost or abandoned in the last 20 years, but hope springs eternal and there are always (more…)

The Genre that Dares Not Say its Name

November 16, 2015

Tags: Fabulism definition, Lewis Caroll, magical realism, transrealism, new weird, insterstitial fiction, mome raths outgrabe, Gabriel Gárcia Márquez, Thomas Kennedy, John Frame

by Leslie What

We are creatures who seek to classify ourselves by tribe and history, creatures who must categorize every human experience to better understand it. You live either in a blue state or a red one… a team wins or loses the Pennant Race… a story is either realism or fantasy. We teach (more…)

Old Baby, A Fable by Leslie What

November 12, 2015

Tags: Flash Fiction, Parenting, Trauma, Families, Alcoholism, Family Systems Theory, Fiction, Short Story

I'm reading this 7-minute story tonight at the Phantom Drift Ensemble Reading:

The newborn was wrinkled and curled like an old man.

"You look as if you've already lived," said his mother.

The baby, eyes watery and butterfly blue, opened his mouth, popped imperfect spit bubbles with his tongue.

The husband stood beside the hospital bed to massage the mother's shoulders. "He's like a fish," he (more…)

Fear of the Unknowable, the Unknown, the Known

March 18, 2014

Tags: fear, surgery, philosophy, panic, pain

It's 4:00 AM when I begin this post. I've been awake for a while, thinking about the trigger finger release surgery I'll be getting later today. I'm not worried about the surgery itself, which I watched being performed on YouTube and seems quick and relatively simple. But I do worry about pain and about possible (more…)

Think Big. Act Small.

March 7, 2014

Tags: writers block, creativity, hospice, confidence, success, self-help, death

The last few years have been fallow, creative-wise, due to illness, moving to Portland, and the continuing emotional cost of grieving for my mother. When you're not doing the thing you think gives you an identity, it might be useful to find other things besides that one thing. I've been editing fiction forPost a comment

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Selected Works

"… Invaluable advice on how to love… how to be human."
–Ursula K. Le Guin
"A powerful,  lean, direct, taut, sinewy, substantive, holy,  prayerful piece of work that matters"
–Brian Doyle
Short Story
Flash Fiction published in Serving House Journal

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