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Waterways: Poetry in the Mainstream, June 2003

"You need to get your act together. Youre losing it."

Albert from Good News and Bad News Huffstickler

The other day, my toaster told me,

Waterways, May 2000

WATERWAYS: Poetry in the Mainstream

David Chorlton 4-5 Simon Perchik 6-7 Herman Slotkin 8 M. A. Schaffner 9-10 David Michael Nixon 11 Cynthia dEste 12 Edgar Hix 13
Volume 24 Number 6 Designed, Edited and Published by Richard Spiegel & Barbara Fisher Thomas Perry, Admirable Factotum

June, 2003

Waterways is published 11 times a year. Subscriptions -- $33 for 11 issues. Sample issues $3.50 (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 2004, Ten Penny Players Inc. (This magazine is published 8/04)

Anselm Brocki Joan Payne Kincaid Joanne Seltzer Paul Grant Paul Lyons Pearl Mary Wilshaw Joy Hewitt Mann

c o n t e n t s
14-15 16-17 18-19 20-21 22-23 24 25

Richard Kostelanetz Sylvia Manning Lyn Lifshin Bill Roberts Geoff Stevens Dudley Laufman

26 27-28 29-30 31-32 33 34-36

Breaking Down David Chorlton

Everything breaks down in time; the cassette player speaks in tongues, software doesnt function, and the soul slips beneath a shadow. When my online provider stops providing, I dial a number that tells me to dial another and so on until I reach a living voice that speaks with a dusting of Indian spice

offering me an upgrade to a more costly version of frustration. An inspirational speaker claims from the television screen that problems are illusions. He starts me thinking about the people whose jobs left them behind when they moved overseas, about the ones who sleep outdoors, and those whose lives have broken down beyond repair. We need to connect with our inner selves, the speaker

says to find our way to the light from which we emanate. I dial again, calling long distance for directions to the source of life. Please enter your zip code and date of birth, please turn inward. If you seek happiness dont look around, the world is broken in places you cant reach.

Step by step : some key will fit and the ground open, my shoe enter the Earth through a twist and emptiness this stone

Simon Perchik

is homeless now, loosened you think it's time, the small hole beginning and the light exactly where it left off

will visit this stone, give it a name a garden, let it grow tall in one place you think it's a path under my shoe

and with each step more stones line up against each side :a great sea breaking in half, half you half me breathing into the ground, calling and my throat bends backward forward, breaking in half and you

think it must be morning, begin from the bottom, filling my heart with underground streams till I too am the river, the sea and under the shore more kisses, our mouths at last by themselves.

OK Dylan, I will "not go gentle into that good night." Go ranting, raving like a caged ape? Ridiculous!

WAY TO GO Herman Slotkin

Go lawyerly "with strenuous objections, Your Honor?" Obsequious! Go cringing in retreat to couch or church or cave? Craven! Very emphatically. When that Final Messenger says its time to go, Ill just say "No!"

The priest thanked us for the Ovaltine, the lady whose parlor it was joked about other visitors meaning the centipedes undulating swiftly across the carpet, yet when I repeated the mot she frowned and mother chided me, right there on the ruffled chintz. It was Asia, after all, and the transplantation never quite works: see Francis Xavier or our officers who, when the band in the O Club played as a joke the old Imperial Navy anthem, and the old SDF Captain abruptly stood to attention weeping changed their laughter to applause, not knowing which was the greater insult. Then the maid said

Victory at Sea, Epilog M.A. Schaffner

bombs had fallen not far from our quarters not long ago and I was so young I would be so young so long I said Cool and she must have been afraid to argue, I guess, which is what it means to win, especially to boys and nations just waking, splitting a fine silk cocoon.


The Horror Collectors David Michael Nixon

Every day, a new horror just like the old one or totally different, until I have a collection like no other. But then you show me yours, how they seem to threaten you, almost the same way mine do me; they are almost identical to mine. Who said we have nothing in common? Let us be married and join our collections of horrors. Then they will no longer be lonely, and we shall have each other as well. Company: thats what we all want.

The Worlds a Tilted Place Cynthia dEste

The worlds a tilted place. The hot, round moon smolders at its edge, burns a hole through mood diminishing indigo. Things turn round at the Solstice. Old things expire. New arise from sacred fire.

There is a Barbie on my computer. Neither toy thinks, but both imitate the realities well. Perhaps they are shadows of Platonic Types and somewhere there is a mind actually thinking and a body not made of plastic but still smiling, hand outstretched. Then again, maybe 1 is as high as can be counted. Maybe 0 is the only alternative. My plastic Wile E. Coyote smiles at me, holding his plastic dynamite, leaning on his ACME plunger.

There Is Edgar Hix

Night Man Anselm Brocki

If youre like me, Rick says to Harvey at the AllNite, dice is like sex. You just dont feel quite natural in daylight.

Like the time in Atlantic City shoulda taught me a lesson. Two hundred dollars, a room for 14 bucks everything was perfect when I strutted into the casino shortly

after midnight three naturals in a row first time its my throw. Before I know it Im five hundred ahead and suddenly want something to eat.

Maybe I still am, so I go back and put on the line $25 twice two craps in a row. When they turn on you, you know it.

What dya know? Its daytime. Diner platter this big of bacon and eggs at Dennys, which I deserve. Shoulda stayed out and fed the sea gulls on the empty boardwalk. What the hell, I was hot.

The dice got cold for me and everyone else, even a guy who comes in with a grand. They got him in less than an hour. And by lunch Im lucky I paid for the room ahead of time.


Summer Holiday at the Harbor Joan Payne Kincaid

We had finished eating the picnic brought to the harbor with the family and were giving some attention to the lovely surroundings just before dark and noticed a fancy Ferrari speedboat floundering on a sand bar with the owners getting out and pulling her along and finally succeeding in finding a water depth in which they could navigate now, we again see her by the boat ramp a grand new yellow jeep is backing down with a trailer to bring her on to land; we see through the binoculars the jeep is going too far into the water

and the rest would be a long night for the owners of that rig . . . we watch helplessly as the harbor police yell you have to get a tow truck down here the tide is coming in fast you cant get her out with the jeep we all walk over to the event watching along with a variety of professional personnel; it will take two hours for a tow truck to arrive to aid these apparently totally inexperienced sailors this summer holiday and the water rises too high to hook the cable without a diver to negotiate and no diver arrives; finally we have to leave as the roof of the jeep disappears beneath the harbor.

A nose descending at full throttle intruded on the virgin kiss Jimmy Durantes look-alike tried to force between my lips during a round of spin the bottle. That heavy schnozzle dueled mine without the clever poetry of Cyrano de Bergerac without a plume to represent nobility of spirit when,

Adams Rib Is Whining Again Joanne Seltzer

like the first piglet rooting for wise apples in the mixture thrown by the creator of hogwash, the one my fortune pointed to already played the full-blown boar.


Though false face fits, must we wear it? Is life a masquerade? Todays reunion letter bomb proposes dining low-cal, dancing low-key, getting high on school spirit.

What will I say to Pinocchio if he observes my yearbook badge and asks: How did your life turn out? My life, oh yes, an excellent example of the rococo.

After preliminary dealings in ornamental womanhood, I saw my generation turn from silver-coated full-length mirror to near invisible glass ceiling

while Jane, defiled by sniffy ape, stepped out of history to declaim: Remember Freuds theory of nose, remember nuns who cut theirs off rather than submit to rape,

remember me, Gods chosen clone, as more than monumental feature tweaked on the jungle floormore than the dark parlor you gamed in more than a broken wishbone.

Nothing can ever be too much, since nothings never enough. Nevertheless, deep in your baptist-buddhist-animist heart, you cant very well object to the cobwebs hanging like a rope-bridge across the picture frame above your bathroom mirror, which contains a matted photograph of a woman you once loved whos gone on before: here, she will always stand on a ledge path, looking into the mouth

Ephemeruis (Dogma) Paul Grant

of a cave on a sacred mountain, the Black Hills stretching out in the distance, and

the cobwebs span the uprights of the frame, dipping beneath her feet, so that besides standing on a ledge in the sky, shes also always crossing a bridge of smoke into the empty-always.

You know you should keep the place cleaner, but you also know youll leave the cobwebbed picture to clean itself with gravity and, until then, on every sighting leave the Airstream of consciousness temporarily baffled, marooned up on pilings behind a yard gone wild around the rusted-out machinery of desire.

Evergreens Complaint Paul Lyons

Why the maples fuss, this headlong rush through March? as if green were money and money, happiness and happiness well, whats the fuss?

Ask the worm of green. Shell turn to raise a quizzical brow and likely share

Ash and sackcloth peasants all Winter salad days indeed you, oaks, writhe and twist and pine for Summers comfort or the colors, gaudy bright, of Fall.

a rather lengthy talk on brown.

I can see the forest in these barren trees; and all the dogwood leaves in Edenlike a new Easter bonnet

decide to rise with Spring, chestnut, elm, birch; hunger three days, like three months, for the saps return, life blood. But if you hadnt stripped for Winter youd hardly need to dress for Spring.

wont make sacred the profane


Give Me Liberty, Or Pearl Mary Wilshaw

The young want to be on their own, So busy, they dont even phone, They wander astray Till that grim, fateful day Clean laundry and credit have flown


The toasts so dry the crumbs spray out like sparks and coffees cold as the day. It dont promise much a few spangles of sun breaking through the rain, a peevish wind to sneak through cracks and rile the bills Im killing. Aunt Marys as warm as Mexican sunshine, and these days it takes more than weather to keep a sixty-watt brain aglow.

Tia Maria Joy Hewitt Mann



InSerts Richard Kostelanetz

ProTotYpe InDiviDual PreCipIce


I can tell you what I need is Sylvia Manning

I can tell you what I need is a new plan it doesnt matter how foolish

something to provide direction

raise me as a populace unit of one from the stark hunch that free lunch is all served and were out of dessert

I can tell you what I need is a new plan; it . . .

I can tell you what I need is a new plan: it doesnt need to be parfait


the boots in the hall she wore weeks before the diagnosis, the huge laundry bag with folded, still clean sheets from her last taxi ride up where some body, if you left her, would do towels and sheets. Later Ill find that she left me more bags full than wool in ba ba black sheep as if to make sure Id remember, hold, be held in one of many ways by her as if death couldnt get in the way. Wool coats all midnight. Blankets, never assembled space-savers on a love seat covered for so many years with what had no place, I couldnt remember what it looked like. Hall with its telephone

It Starts With Lyn Lifshin

table Id climb up the steps toward after school, find her perched at, smoking. Green marble topped radiator always warm as arms. Open the closet door: kitty litter for my cat, scale with my sealed manuscript in it. Book case with all my books under glass in the dust and bags from Brooks with their batteries on sale, Oil of Olay face cream. Its like slogging thru deserts or woods with no trail, to move thru, ghosts, bags of collars and leashes from cats dead 12 years. The Chinese wall paper from the 30s or 40s, there before we were, pealing, stained. I broke my thumbs running one Valentines Day into its grey. Books there never were enough cases to hold, spilling over, messy, tripping me up like all the rest

Had to keep odd hours in my formative years, four in the morning until midnight, except on blessed weekends. Had to get up early to hustle to my corner to sell newspapers to the early risers on their way downtown by bus or streetcar. Had to run all the way to school and be bright-eyed in my seat before the tardy bell sounded.

Odd Hours Bill Roberts

Had to force myself to stay awake during classes I should have enjoyed had my weary mind been alert.

Had to practice football, basketball and baseball after school hours to be on a team with little team spirit.

Had to yakkety yak with close friends To discover the boundless mysteries That awaited me after childhood. Had to struggle with homework late into the night, night after night to win that precious scholarship. Had to give up trying so hard on occasion to mend the taxed body and soothe the troubled spirit. Have finally learned to give up the mindless pursuit of excellence now its beyond reach.

I always consult my toaster if I want to know how to toast bread, Because it sees the problem from both sides, But for toasting friends, I go to my wine merchant.

I Always Geoff Stevens


This Woman Dudley Laufman

Its hard to believe she did what she did. Inherited the family place on the shore down there Westerly, Rhode Island, big place like an estate, spent her summers there as a kid, hated to leave in the fall go back to Indianapolis or wherever it was out there someplace, cry, carry on. But she stays out there school, house, job, husband, you know.

Then she chucks everything, Job, house, marriage, comes east, winterizes the shore place, retaining wall against the line storms, shutters against hurricanes, spent a fortune. Says she is going to move in, write, paint, soak up the shore, talk to the locals knowingly about lobstering be part of the community. So what does she do but get a job, a good job mind you dont blame her there,

up in Worcester, good bucks but doesnt like the commute, what 75 miles? So she buys a big town house, moves in tells everyone at parties all there is to know about Worcester. Hits the shore only on occasional weekends. She keeps it like a delayed orgasm n last summer she goes to France, gets to the shore once, cries when she leaves