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Waterways: Poetry in the Mainstream, September 2003
down streets, up alleys, across parking lots and on, that’s the universal gait of the poor man — the only piece of earth in this whole world moving with that patient, solemn shuffle So you walk along looking at the ground, following an invisible trail
eyes on the ground, that little piece of ground right in front of his feet, he can call his own.
Albert Huffstickler from Looking at the Ground Waterways, January ’92
WATERWAYS: Poetry in the Mainstream
Volume 24 Number 8 Designed, Edited and Published by Richard Spiegel & Barbara Fisher Thomas Perry, Admirable Factotum
Joy Hewitt Mann 4 Ida Fasel 5-6 Paul Grant 7-8 Susanne Olson 9 Fredrick Zydek 10-11
c o n t e n t s
Geoff Stevens Sylvia Manning David Jordan Felicia Mitchell Dudley Laufman 12 13-14 15 16-18 19
Jane K. Kretschmann 20-22 Adriana DiGennaro 23-24 Patricia Wellingham-Jones25-26 Barbara Fisher 27
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 ©2003, Ten Penny Players Inc. http://www.tenpennyplayers.org
I have passed him; slumped against the sidewalk with ragged music in his fingers and felt his breath . . . and heard the panic in my heart.
Homeless — Joy Hewitt Mann
I have seen them; young and fevered with children in their hands exchanging cherub smiles for coins . . . and felt the panic in my heart.
the woman rushing in the glass, her face reflected through the mannequins like sister . . . and seen the panic in my eyes.
And I have seen her . . .
If I were a Stradivarius I’d be a voice of eloquence and quality. I’d make myself heard round the world, and the world would listen. I’d be the final giving, the utmost influence, pitched to the truest health — universal good will.
More atom bombs assembling, more missiles intended deadly: The daily paper whiplashes the house. I walk the burning coals of TV news barefoot.
Quilting — Ida Fasel
I’m only a woman meeting the eyes of another woman huddled on a street corner, behind a scrawl: TRAVELING — PLEASE GIVE ME YOUR HELP. Making the mysterious connections of a selfsame look. Traveling, too.
But I’m only a penny needle, fingers pricked all over from the small fine stitch trying to hold the patchwork pieces in pattern.
I heard the scattered, muffled applause of rain in the banjo trees and under that, a sawyer fiddle whistling the night away. The nails began their holy exit from the wood, a distant psalm at a time, and wouldn’t you know, the house began to whisper as the wind got in.
Schoontree — Paul Grant
A walking bass padded around the dark, not even waking the owl-haunted mice, and a blue guitar dropped to open D settled in to serenade whatever could manage to return come morning with its blue sandman harmonics as my broken-hearted dog and I sailed off on the endlessly fresh salt sea.
Do you want to go with me to the mountain my home? Beware the road is steep and full of stones arduous and fraught with danger hot under scorching sun at times and sometimes ice. Will only conquers fear and toil sweat, aching limbs the straining heart. There is no easy way reward of hope.
Alone — Susanne Olson
Dreams That Begin at the Still Center — Fredrick Zydek
In some dreams our names peel away more easily than old clothes; we become slippery things wandering through the motions of color.
In these dreams the dead refuse their graves and go among us singing. Language grows so weary with noise it finds a way to become music.
Sometimes these dreams let us begin again at the still center. What moves towards the outer edges is all we need ever know about the art of becoming.
There are no masks in this place. Each face is naked as the day it was born. Here time and doubt mutate into what waits in all of us.
We are too close to the ground — Geoff Stevens
to get a clear view of it, astronauts can best see the way around it distance is a great map maker.
Wakes in the Rio Grande Bravo — Sylvia Manning
Boy behind parents walking bridge across river between countries both trashed plastically, polystyrenetically, awfully and for all his life if not for all of theirs or ours
because these are many happy ducks not trying to swim to more plastically United States but leaving perfect wakes, each, as they collectively head nowhere except
Boy wants someone to see countless swimming ducks in river in late gray morning, dark plumaged ducks in nearly smoke black river water cleaner than once upon a less littered time (forgetting banks)
whose mother in rapid sound-waves wacks the air to air that no one should have the right to voice an opinion (quien sabe porque?) unconnected with their own daily life, that it’s not their business to do so and won’t stop talking and nobody will stop walking while she’s talking between countries to let him stop to watch this happening in the Rio Grande, el Rio Bravo, so he runs to catch up.
as the day’s sun travels somewhere above dingy cloud cover above gray but perfect estelas/wakes beneath, beyond the boy
says the tiny sign – trimmed in white lace, bordered with red roses — hanging on our refrigerator door.
Love May Come And Love May Go… But Sisters Are Forever David Jordan
She has four sisters. Family blood warms her, and them. But as the lover who came from the cold and someday may be told to go, I wish love meant as much as blood.
The angel of death disguised as a park bench Felicia Mitchell
It’s time to rest, to stop shuffling your bird-boned feet down sidewalks and across streets and through alleys where men who look just like you nod their blessings. There’s a woman with a chisel in her hand. She wants to reshape your brow. All those furrows could be alabaster-smooth.
(for Sylvie Rosenthal)
One touch, and she will remind you: there is rest for the weary. Listen to the advice the world gives you. The sparrow on your shoulder could be a sign. The crow cawing at the sun could be just as right as the cashier at the last coffee house you sat at. “Will that be all, sir?” she asked. “That will be all,” you said. All all all all — the crow caws. The sparrow shudders. In front of you, the woman with the chisel points to a park bench. She wants you to sit down,
to rest your bird-boned feet, so she can reshape your brow. Next to her, the angel of death disguised as a park bench beckons you like a mother. Your mother, or god, your god-like mother. There is rest for the weary. Have a seat and let the sculptor heal you. By the time you leave this earth, there will be no trace of it in your flesh, just one more statue in the park encircled with pigeons who will never go hungry and sparrows.
There have been many discussions on the best way to get to Alewife. I favor Rt 3 and 2 being as how that is the way I know and besides it has that great view of Boston as you come down the hill on the Arlington Belmont line, and it goes by the pond where I grew up
Directions — Dudley Laufman
can see my old house from there. You prefer Rt 93 no construction going on & make your way cross lots through stop lights along the Mystic River. This is your way. You pore over maps plot the short cuts figuring the best way. These are roads that you may travel alone one day. You have to get used to them.
I. From where I stop with my dog, he looks like a child lingering on the sidewalk, the same height as the mailbox he stands behind. As we walk closer, I see his too short legs and round shoulders, and know he is the midget who rents down the street. I watch him bend into the red plastic hamper, gathering cans into the black bag he holds close. I turn and take the long way home, embarrassed by his need.
South Street Park at Dusk — Jane K. Kretschmann
“Are you okay?” I ask this time, then louder, more demanding, “Sir, are you all right?” He lies on the picnic table, legs pulled tight, hugging his chest.
“I didn’t mean to startle you. You are all right,” I add, then turn away without awaiting his reply. “Don’t, Belle,” I say, though she has done nothing wrong.
Then my stomach gives a lurch: his head rests in a deep red puddle. Suddenly he jerks. “Yeah, yeah, ok,” he says, lifting his head from the crushed red cap beneath.
III. I see him again, as I walk Belle the next week. Across the soccer field, intent, stooping slightly, he seems to be pulled along by some low dog, back and forth, reading the field at his feet.
Before his coming I found coins, pennies mostly, once a quarter, a child’s bracelet, a key ring, a pin. Now my eyes sweep the horizon for the grace of sunset and the darkening heavens for Venus to wish on.
New York Sketchbook — Adriana DiGennaro
I can be here and know the streets of New York know the repetition of cigarette butts, black dots of gum, stagnant pools of brown water, dirty paper sometimes Saturday-morning vomit splashed onto the asphalt of sidewalks, gray square after gray square
I can be here and know the streets that took me uptown, downtown, on routes I never could navigate well Spring, Mercer, Fulton, Front
I can be here and know the way feet complain after hours spent running errands how they ache when you shift your weight at the orange Don’t Walk I can be here without missing those streets …their weariness that always reflected my own when I looked down dreaming of dirt and emerald grass.
how they lay sadly under the heft of smog and pedestrians pushing, pressing
Like an elf lost in magic woods the old man hunches on the end of a log. Mist curls around pick-up sticks — driftwood jumbled in the cove. Red cap bobbing over long white beard, clothes blue as the hands he rubs over a fire which sputters, complaining, in heavy air. A trickle of smoke wisps through hemlocks
AT THE BOTTOM OF A CLIFF Patricia Wellingham-Jones
and cedars up the cliff where I, searching for sea lions and whales, fall into a fairy tale instead.
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