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Waterways: Poetry in the Mainstream, February 2003 Gordy compared my working in the library while my heart was really in poetry to a bunch he knew in his home town who worked in the shipyard but who all owned little farms.
from Crops Waterways, March ‘90
WATERWAYS: Poetry in the Mainstream
Volume 24 Number 2 Designed, Edited and Published by Richard Spiegel & Barbara Fisher Thomas Perry, Admirable Factotum February, 2003
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 ©2003, Ten Penny Players Inc. http://www.tenpennyplayers.org
Richard Luftig 4-5 John Grey 6 Ida Fasel 7-10 Will Inman 11-12 Bill Roberts 13-17 David Michael Nixon 18-21
c o n t e n t s
Geoff Stevens Don Winter Joanne Seltzer R. Yurman Joy Hewitt Mann
22 23 24 25 26-28
If you could find the dead tracks through the weeds that lead out to the end of the spur, you’d see the rusted caboose, floor planks loose and littered with beer cans crumpled schedules, the cable spindle
The old roundhouse is deserted— has been for years, its back and shoulders crumbling with age. It can afford now to sleep late or not rouse at all — no one to call or keep the clock.
Ghosts – Richard Luftig
And the broken windows, their mouths agape with shame and shock like church folk caught in the act of sinning, the only ones left to mourn over jobs and dreams shattered about in broken shards.
turned bottom-down waiting for someone to deal the next hand. Out beyond, the old warehouse, the doors all bashed, letting in the wind to knife through the rotting hallways, and whistle bravely in the dark.
The work’s unconscious by this. Then the life is. Fingers are a running motor, can’t stray from the pattern even if they wanted to. Now no pattern has a loose thread, a frayed edge, not even those whose blueprint includes other people.
After Your Divorce, Weaving the Throw – John Grey
You are weaving what you long to wrap yourself inside. but even before you’re done, you have.
Snow is starting, idling in air, gaining in momentum, filling with no more effect
Perspectives – Ida Fasel
than to mound. “It is not snowing at all,” said Earle, I looked where he looked. The air blossomed
fragrant. summertime in winter. The calendar said impossible. Yet that day I stood
In two realities — the snow only nature doing her part, the apple tree all mine.
My last lesson before we moved away, my fingers ran the keys of a Liszt passage like a cart in a downhill spill. She sat, as usual, intensely listening, left hand in her lap, right ready for gentle
They said she had won an international first prize, had played with symphony orchestras in the great capitals of the world, had concertized in Boston and New York. She did not even have her certificate from the New England Conservatory of Music on the wall.
Piano Lesson – Ida Fasel
correction, head bent to my flip-flopping hands with their clear show of lack of practice. On the third try abruptly
her left hand, mute so long, leaped across my shoulder with a force that nearly knocked me off the bench, and linked with the right in a demonstration where even I detected more than virtuosity, swift and sure as it was — something of the magical inherent in the music, just as a waterfall cascading from pool to pool down a hillside
And in that sound, so faultless and full, So radiant and free, I became her huge audience, all applauding.
is more than a spectacular performance of nature. Hands busy at the outer limits of technique, she matched her own internal rhythms to the brilliant notation.
living alone in an unkempt house sitting down on a loose pile of papers and clothes falling everything changes crawl around on floor unable to stand, injured, soon dehydrated, ruptured spleen, damaged small intestine found by an alert friend 911 hospital months slowly recovering for two weeks not expected to live a second hospital . . . a third . . . a nursing facility assisted living home . . . cramped two-men rooms first roommate cougher off-key singer second roommate considerate on dialysis thrice a week
living alone - will inman
beginning to feel alive attending poetry workshop on monday nights fetched to and fro by members assisted in shower by one caring friend but, yet, everything has changed, try to catch up on mail a student from 1970s classes sends an electric typewriter now released from parkinson’s handscript can compose letters and poems(!) on typewriter life becomes worthy again the broken dimension begins suturing lots have far greater troubles than i have
14 March 2003 Tucson
beginning to catch up on lost sleep
Depending on Ambrose – Bill Roberts You can get used to seeing someone almost everyday, the way I did with Ambrose the street sweeper who came by whistling ‘most every morning, wielding his two multi-branched whisk brooms, slowly pushing along his waste barrel on wheels, quietly efficient, cleaning out the gutters as if it were the most important and most rewarding job on earth.
Only thirteen, even then I knew that selling newspapers on a corner in the early morning when people sleepily waited for buses and streetcars to transport them downtown in the Nation’s Capital was just the means to an end: providing me with enough money for lunch and after-school socializing. Dependable Ambrose failed to show up one Monday and the cluttered gutters remained choked with refuse until I was nearly ready to start
my long run to get to school. This gigantic groaning truck swung around the corner, belching a spray of water and noisily sucking up the refuse with its hungry rotary whisk wheel, its driver up so high I couldn’t see his face. Certainly it wasn’t Ambrose, who would never have left the errant clutter behind that the new-age truck driver did.
Fourteenth Street Diane – Bill Roberts
Fourteenth Street Diane was the most famous whore in Washington, D.C. from the late thirties to mid-sixties, giving almost thirty years of head and body to her work, tirelessly on duty throughout afternoon and evening hours. I’d sell her both papers in the morning before I’d bike off to school, she often giving me a quarter for her dime’s worth of reading pleasure. I knew who she was, so infamous was she in the neighborhood, and some mornings we’d chat, she asking how I was doing in sixth, then seventh
grade, me not daring to ask how and what she was up to those days. It was hard to tell her age, but my fellow newsboys figured somewhere around fifty, an antique by our reckoning. I never badmouthed her and looked forward to seeing her around seven each weekday morning, pretty early for someone in her trade, some days sporting a black eye or busted lip, still able to smile, goad me to keep up the grades, go to college, get a formal education, not the doctorate degree she’d earned on the streets of D.C.
Published in the 7/02/01 issue of ‘Spare Change’
Work Song – David Michael Nixon I felt I had to work and my hands grew silent.
But when my work sprang from love, my bones sang and danced.
I thought I had to work and my mute feet suffered.
The Poet as Worker: More Bread! - David Michael Nixon Some weeks, the poet sells a book, some weeks, three; no cash comes from trades and gifts or from magazines which pay in copies. When the poet gives a guest reading, part or all of the donations make a fee. Of course, the poet applies for grants, and, in ‘90, won a small one. In ’93, the poet won a slam in the Bronx and got
one hundred dollars out of the till, just in time to not go broke. Sometimes, a magazine pays the poet in money; sometimes a reading provides a set fee, not as much as E. Gordon Liddy gets to talk, but the poet was never a plumber, which is one more reason the poet is poor — not, mind you, a poor poet, but a poet without sufficient funds. To bring in more bread, there are
many unfun jobs the poet sometimes does: housecleaner, model, yardworker, office help. But, of course, the poet also teaches, which is the kind of fun that breeds more poets. But that’s alright — the poet needs inspiration, is used to competition, can eat poems and flowers when food gets scarce. Some weeks, the poet writes a poem.
While I was employed - Geoff Stevens poetry was working there too, until one evening we met While I was employed at the library, but we never bumped into each other
in a downtown bar.
First appeared in ‘Desperate Act’
Since she came to Burger Chef Vera is all he thinks about. She calls back “Two double cheese, hold the onions,” and he slides down that voice onto a sofa where they sit frenching, blowing in each other’s ears. She makes change and he makes it under her sweater, her nipples lilac in the space heater’s flames.
The Grill Cook’s Dream – Don Winter
“You fucked up, or what?” boss yells one night when he’s already boosted the radio in his head to “10,” Vera’s throat wild with words: “yeah baby, oh baby, yeah,” her butt wriggling, her skinny legs jittering like electric rubber bands. “I’m fine,” he swears, sweeping buns into a dustpan and secretly believing he and Vera have the whole night ahead.
To a Female House Finch – Joanne Seltzer Can’t you do something why he doesn’t show to make yourself his bright red streaks less frumpy? or come comfort you Your flashy mate with his clear, has chosen you musical voice. (plain as you are) Paint your eyebrows white. but when those spotted, Put rouge on your cheeks. pale blue eggs Liven up the gray. come along And don’t act so smug you’ll be stuck in househunting your well-made cup of grass in early spring— while he goes off after you move out gallivanting that structure will have with the boys no resale value. and you’ll wonder
Iron-Maiden’s Skullcap – R. Yurman The frames of my glasses weigh on the bridge of my nose clamp behind my ears — my temples throb. What do I hope to see that prevents me taking them off and rubbing my eyes?
Late afternoon clouds clear, the sun supports long shadows — my self-imposed small torture rivets me.
There’s a contest on the radio, Kiss the Subaru, keep lips locked on metal to win a car. My lips lock on ten years ago, before I entered this purgatory of raising words:
It’s this paper, this pen, this hand, all these poems I’ll never get to write. It’s the houses on all the streets, one light, one person up before the dawn. It’s this town, this street, this house taking all this time from days that hold words like a sieve.
. . . and a kiss – Joy Hewitt Mann
time enough for kisses waiting, waiting, just waiting for time to catch us, one step forward, two back, and who cares; the smell of fresh coffee, rising slow and the slow rising, up by noon on weekends and lolling, lolling around all day.
It’s this paper, this pen, this hand that won’t move, these words that slip on the soft mush of 5 a.m., but there’s nowhere else to find time to write.
It’s the kids, the getting them to school; it’s the husband, the making lunch, the missing a kiss goodbye; it’s the three-year-old, the morning cartoons, the struggling, struggling into clothes; it’s this dry cleaning, this day care, this “pick up something for dinner” this day, this day, this bloody workday. It’s “you forgot this . . . forgot this . . .” time, time, time and . . . words stuck in my mouth. Time is money and a kiss is a bright red Subaru.
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