Poetry in the Mainstream


Waterways: Poetry in the Mainstream,

October 2002

to the azaleas cascading the window ledge once Cherry Lane

a blue-dark hand reaches up history house on Commerce Street

— Emilie Glen, "Just One"

WATERWAYS: Poetry in the Mainstream
Volume 23 Number 9 Designed, Edited and Published by Richard Spiegel & Barbara Fisher Thomas Perry, Admirable Factotum October, 2002

Ida Fasel 4-8 Geoff Stevens 9 James Henry Brennan 10-12 Dan Lukiv 13-14 David Michael Nixon 15

c o n t e n t s

John Grey 16-17 R. Yurman 18 Fredrick Zydek 19-20 Will Inman 21-23 Albert Huffstickler 24

Waterways is published 11 times a year. Subscriptions -- $25 a year. Sample issues — $2.60 (includes postage). Submissions will be returned only if accompanied by a stamped, self addressed envelope. Waterways, 393 St. Pauls Avenue, Staten Island, New York 10304-2127 ©2002, Ten Penny Players Inc. http://www.tenpennyplayers.org

Index is the start of all — the saddle-jointed thumb linked to its opposite wedging earliest stone to a point, striking fire to a stone. Square and sensible hand, where the dugout forced shelter of a slope, it builds a brick and tile-roofed house. Strong and sensitive hand, it draws note to note on a violin, threads a needle, turns a page,

Hand – Ida Fasel

grows a blue-ribbon red rose.

Wrist bone, tendons, muscles, hand bones, arch and veins beneath the skin fuel a spaceship, retrieve rocks from the moon, impossible they said watching TV.

Wonder, musculature bonded to a will, hand that can touch another’s hand, what kind of hand are you, raised to slit an innocent throat?

Note: American Air Lines Flight 93, September 11, 2001

Come Let Us Reason Together – Ida Fasel As I joined the anthem being sung on TV, my heart lifted like the hands of brave men 1.

braving falling debris, and I thought how little skilled mine were to match theirs in selfgiving.

Red stands for blood, but the hands that pulled the flag up from rubble were suffused with the sublime.


Hands pledged to the flag have the love of their country for the love they give. Flag burners have a rag. 3. In a world where wonders daily solve problems, can

visionary diplomacy at last

achieve a round table of the world’s countries pledged to good will, all hands raised, not one held back? Terror enslaves, Until words prevail, war’s will must follow long long thoughts through to change achieved.


‘I cannot tell a lie,’ said Commerce, ‘I chopped down Cherry Lane, it was I that changed its name.’

‘I cannot tell a lie’ – Geoff Stevens

And yet there is still a market for cherry trees, aesthetically, they brighten any street with their blossomed branches of white or pink, and the fallen beauty with which they scatter all around.

Fifty years ago, a newer, cleaner, older Greenwich Village . . . beloved Washington Square, a parkly green; But there thrived no floral abundancy Of little boxgardens hanging from sills, No richness of sundry plantings ‘round Our trees, or atop our party-setting Rooftops, no ubiquitous private flowerings, No floristic plumage bursting wild To be seen wherever the eye was cast. But then—thanks to those heroic, precious Gardeners few—the Woman’s Prison Gave to wonderous lush behind the Court House,

Fleurs du Bonne – James Henry Brennan

And the Loewe’s rubble/St. Vincent’s old lot Became a Triangle of mystical florescence… And that did seem the beginning of things, Of thousands of mini-Edens, rampant, Of people planting all manner of Flowering lovelies everywhere! [See there!, impatiens and vincas and Roses and petunias and geraniums and all manner Of ivies and carnations and tulips and daisies And, yes, even azaleas . . . and O, the colour of it all!] And now—in our frought and freighted world— When we are yearned to pieces for all Things natural, for Mother Nature’s Sweet life and freshly scent, it seems As if every window sprouts a box of

Plantings dear, every tree has around it Humble offerings, every groundpatch On every street, every little open Aperture and niche, now holds A “garden” (at least in the eye of the beholder). Amazingly, our little streets are rife with blossoms, With floral treasures delightful, providing An ambrosia delicious unto our souls; O, good Flora, goddess sublime, watch, Please, over all this floriferousness, Give us ever our window boxes, our wee plots Of greening ground, that, for all, we may be Sustained—and lifted up—by a little Touch of heaven, our neighborhood aflower!

Summer 2002

“‘She Shouldn’t Have Gone,’ She whispered.”* Dan Lukiv

Take your treasure, Place her behind frost-swirls And lumpy glass And whirling snow In whirling wind In death’s white desert, And forget to kiss her lips Good-bye Or hello,

And forget to say The wind-blistered skin And kitchen-ragged fingers Are worth it for A moment of gentle joy, For an embrace that Warms the blood For a whole hour.

What arrogance made you think That wood thrown to the fire Would not burn? You left your hearth For a line of barbed wire; You left behind the chance

*“The Painted Door,” by Sinclair Ross


To confront yourself, To yell at your wife’s lover, To kick your own behind For being the idiot-priest Of some ice-bound Pilgrimage.

Did you recall skipping With your treasure Through the wild meadow To the prairie-hut?

What did you think about As the wind howled about your Face, As the suicidal Heat of your body Seeped through your clothes Into the prairieChill?

Did you recall that she’d begged (Or that her face had begged) You not to leave her alone? Did you really think You were making things better?

I have been blue in all hours, until there is no corner of the night or day that has not been stained by my blueness. No one has flaunted their color as I have. I have turned Earth’s rotation blue.

Blue Earth – David Michael Nixon


The Dead Man’s Suit in the Closet – John Grey If I could just open that closet window, the wind would fill it like a body. It would swirl about. It would rise up and offer me a cuff. But no one’s budged that window for years. It’s been sealed against the cold. Someone even hair-dried plastic over and around it. They must have been thinking

in that sober instant, that the weather must be kept at bay at all cost and that no one ever dies. Maybe I will tear away all that good work and let the breezes in. Then I’ll start on all the broken faces, the red eyes, the tear-soaked cheeks.

The wind will float the suit, will fill the memory. The stuff he wore, the stuff he was . . . wouldn’t you rather know that it still fits.


your apartment that first time inside facing those fierce eyes the dream slips . . . I stand again outside hand raised to knock

A Dream Cannot Undo the Past R. Yurman

this time pull back unseal my life descend the stairs phone’s shrill cry startles me 5 a. m. awake

do you know who this is you ask as if that tangled voice were possible to escape

She is resting in the window waiting for the morning sun to toast her deep into doze and purr. From one half-closed eye, watches an unwary moth. With a flick of her paw, she plucks him from the drapes as I might an apple from a tree. In four quick gulps he is gone. The black and fatted Tom sleeping in the velvet chair has not noticed. His dreams are more sedentary. He’s a lap cat. But the calico is wild and full of daily hunts. She’s a mouser, a creature

The Marmalade Cat – Fredrick Zydek

so agile she can snatch a fly in midair. These terrible skills give territorial rights none of us dare challenge. We don’t set plants or small knickknacks on the sill of one window. It’s her favorite ledge. She visits it every morning once she’s sure we’ve all been fed and found something to do. If the sun comes, her talons stretch out to grasp new feline dreams.


garden relentless of songs (a study in illumination) – will inman he loved working in his garden but was bewildered when leafbuds and flowers began to press their way out of his pores. the pain was intense, like cutting teeth, except that this was all over, not just in his jaws. foliage grew thickest at the join of his thighs so that he no longer needed to wear clothes. to himself, he smelled like a funeral. he thought he looked like a walking grave, and people stared, supposing he was a kind of ad for a florist. he saw no use in going to his doctor: what could he do? pull out the flowers by the roots? the gardener had already tried that: not only did it hurt, but more plants grew right away out of the ruptured skin.

just as he was getting resigned to being a flesh garden, he was awakened one dawn by voices: the various flowers were all talking, talking all at once — joyful, outraged, gossiping, arguing — he wanted to break off all their heads but was afraid they’d all grow back fourfold. suddenly, their chatter ceased, there was a brief stillness, then the flowers began singing. such a chorus the gardener had never heard. no actual words, but clear healing sounds. melodic chanting. now tender, now leaping joy, ecstasy pervaded the choir of his flesh gone green. but now he was no longer in bed but found he was down in the street. he was being lifted a few inches off the road. flowers fell from his pores and sent down roots between

cobblestones and in cracks of pavement. trees quickly grew where foliage fell out of his body. flowers began to open singing across the naked body of the sky. when he really awoke, wind leaned down his body in through the window by his bed with petals of caresses. his mouth rustled full of unsung crocuses and calendulas ‘til sun unwound its glad serpent out of the thicket of his thighs. flaming irises sang scorching his ears. turtles laid eggs of dragons under the dunes of his tongue. when young dragons hatched, his tongue became a river of flowering volcanoes down whose depths dived black rainbow birds singing turtle songs and anthems of irises in the new language of a race of lovers

from Earth’s Daughters, Barth 58, Thunder 2001

Summer Night – Albert Huffstickler The air so soft, a sweetness to it — like hands . . . how touch can come out of nowhere sometimes, no intrusion, just there suddenly . . . how touch can be a kind of light . . . how we remember for seconds everything at once — like a wave against the shore, in the moment of touching already receding.

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