#8

Waterways: Poetry in the Mainstream, Volume 25, #8
The city sleeps and the country sleeps,
The living sleep for their time . . . the dead sleep for their time,
The old husband sleeps by his wife and the young husband sleeps by his wife;
And these one and all tend inward to me, and I tend outward to them,
And such as it is to be of these more or less I am.
Walt Whitman
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WATERWAYS: Poetry in the Mainstream
Volume 25 Number 8*
Designed, Edited and Published by Richard Spiegel & Barbara Fisher
Thomas Perry, Admirable Factotum
c o n t e n t s
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Waterways, 393 St. Pauls Avenue, Staten Island, New York 10304-2127
©2005 Ten Penny Players Inc. *(This magazine is published 4/05)
http://www.tenpennyplayers.org
M. M. Nichols 4
Dan Lukiv 5
James Penha 6-7
Elsie Pankowski 8-9
Geoff Stevens 10
Dudley Laufman 11-12
Kaye Bache-Snyder 13-15
Herman Slotkin 16
John R. Cannon 17-18
Lee Evans 19
Andrew Fader 20-21
Donald Lev 22-25
Jeanne M Whalen 26-27
Richard Spiegel 28
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photo by Barbara Fisher
December 27th — M. M. Nichols
Families are out walking in the city.
Families are on holiday, crowding the sidewalks.
Among them scamper the orphans, skirting wide families
westward-bound on the sidewalks.
The orphans are thin enough to slip in and out.
They are inconspicuous under the amicable outreach
of families on holiday.
They join in the spirit, a little band of fellow
travelers to the west on crosstown streets.
Families move along, the children of the dead following
and leading by turns.
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Still Doing Nothing — Dan Lukiv
Halfway through homemade chicken
Caesar, she began to cry,
Right after I’d sprinkled on
Parmesan and said I thought my client
Was guilty!
She spoke through the
Spaces between her white teeth
And between four strangely quiet girls
About how one of the pinstripe
Women at my firm
Saw her on Robson Street
And asked,
“Are you still doing nothing?”
Her bitterness surprised me,
So did mine.
The next day at work,
When that woman said,
“Good morning,”
I knew I hated her.
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Naxos, Greece ’36 — James Penha
a photograph hanging on the wall
of Cafe Batavis, Jakarta, Indonesia
We sleep like four brothers
naked on the last spit of earth
surrounded by all night,
a fearful sea,
the howl of yesterday,
and a universe of time
beyond hours, and
we dream with each other.
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The Poet’s Muse — James Penha
After Rousseau
I do not look at her.
I would not think
to sleep with one
so utterly, so jesusically
vertical, so—
so—horizontally
straight!
yet all those stalks and trunks,
those pillars and pleats—all those lines—
they turn me
on
and I must make a poem with her;
though I do not look at her,
she is all I see,
my muse.
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A Going — Elsie Pankowski
While a fall wind tosses dry leaves
across the grass, an old man
lies awake in a bed that is suddenly
too large. Today, as neighbors
spied from behind their drapes
they took his wife away. She
shared his life for sixty years,
then slowly left him in tiny lapses
that he ignored, tried to excuse,
then finally had to see. Tomorrow,
when he rises to a silent house,
when the coffee perking in the kitchen
echoes through the room, he will know
the end of what his life has been.
He will watch the morning news
and not recall the stream of words.
By afternoon, he will visit a woman
who may or may not know his name.
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Geoff Stevens
As there is deep sleep
and shallow sleep
peaceful sleep
and disturbed sleep
there are various degrees
of wakefulness
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Bedroom — Dudley Laufman
Not used much daytimes
except to change clothes going out
or get laundry ready,
mostly just for sleeping.
No heat, like it cold.
Sun pours in
south and west windows,
looks out on fields
through some spruces to garden,
distant valley and hills,
all deeply wooded.
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Pine paneled bare walls,
knots with shapes of tornados
or water spouts with reflections,
no pictures or book shelves.
When I get old
I will spend more time there,
install a small heater,
cd player.
Sit in bed propped up,
read, listen to Telemann,
watch the cats in the garden,
birds in the spruces and honeysuckle.
Have paintings on the wall,
Breughel, Paquin, a calendar.
Go out to the kitchen
about as often as I used to
use the bedroom,
maybe have a sherry,
smell the woodsmoke,
go back to bed.
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At Dawn — Kaye Bache-Snyder
In half-light, eyes half-shuttered,
I settle in my velvet chair
with a journal lying open,
listening like a patient friend.
Motionless, we wait as the noise
outside and in my head subsides;
wait as the growling garbage trucks
haul off the guilt of wasted days.
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The door will serve to keep at bay
the I-must-do and I-must be,
while pen records whatever comes
without the slash of editing.
It scribbles gibberish, then spits
some blue-black anger on the page,
splatters a list of my complaints,
then waits a brighter colored ink.
Pen takes me on a fishing trip
to hook a dream from last night’s sleep
and puzzles why I seemed to walk
a peacock on a rhinestone leash.
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It writes a casual dialogue
between me and my favorite books:
“What was it like in Amherst then?”
“How was life with Anne Hathaway?”
Pen pauses as a spider spins
its silk across the open page.
I watch, thinking how easily
we crush such creativity.
My cat is clawing at the door,
meowing demands that I return
from journeys that my pen sneaked past
the half-open eyelid of the sun.
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The Tenor of Our Time — Herman Slotkin
“Be lean and mean”
is the tenet of our time.
Lean on the meanest.
Be mean to the leanest.
It’s good for their characters
and great for the bottom line.
I think I’d rather be stout and kind
even if it flogs my character
and makes me look too cooperative.
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Ancient Dance — John R. Cannon
Two great blue herons
floating down
together,
to stand in shallows
bright
with morning sun.
They spread their wings,
extend their necks,
and step
in slow-motion time.
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It’s a pair displaying,
a mating dance ?
rhythmic
and relaxed.
I scarcely breathe;
don’t break the spell;
so rare to see
this intricate ballet.
A shiver runs
clear down my spine;
I’m watching holy rites.
A dance duet so ancient,
before man lived;
unchanged
for countless ages.
Riveting ?
Spellbinding ?
These dancers
beyond all time.
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MOTHER’S DAY — Lee Evans
Old age has come upon him. There he leans
Against the rail that separates with Death
The meek who mourn from those who mourn no more.
A bright bouquet of flowers in his hands
Seems to await the moment when the tide
Is once more at the rising, where her fall
And his bereavement unclasp hands and part,
Immersed in darkness deep within the world
That circles round him like some bird of prey—
As we who came but for the pounding surf
And rolling thunder of this gaping hole
Steal glances at the sorrow on his face,
And turn our eyes away, far out to sea,
Where Life and Death are merged, like ebb and flow.
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Last Time — Andrew Fader
That last day I went to see you,
that last sunny, summer day before I left,
I stood in the hall outside the sitting room
where they always sat you in your chair
facing the window, partially—I always thought—
to let the sun burn off some of the anger
that had grown in you these last years, and partially
because they loved you for what you had been.
But I did not go in.
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For once, you looked serene, resigned.
If I had gone to you by the window and called
your name, you would have tensed,
but you would not have known me. All I was
by then was an outline you recognized
without the glasses you had lost years before.
You would have rambled on in the garbled sentences
you had grown to deliver as the fire in you burned
and razed all of you in its path.
So I stood outside the sitting room and said my goodbye.
The sun cooled your face.
You sat in your wheelchair, pacific
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Christmas Eve 2004 — Donald Lev
Merry Christmas.
It’s Enid’s first yahrzeit.
I’ve been sitting by
her candle
drinking chicken soup and
cataloguing her poems and stories,
and listening to
jazz on public radio.
They’re a little too sophisticated.
I have a recording of Bing doing
White Christmas somewhere in
this house and I’m going to
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play it before the night’s over.
Jack Newfield died recently.
I just heard it yesterday on “Fresh Air”
where there was an old interview with him
when he moved from the Voice to the News.
I knew him a little at the Voice.
He was fairly friendly (I was basically
a messenger there) but I respected
him greatly for coming out early for
Bobby Kennedy for president.
Sirhan Sirhan crippled us both
along with the rest of history.
He was at Hunter College when I
was. I remember him (it may not
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in all fairness have really been him)
responding to my backward Queens
querying, what is progressive? “pro
Negro and pro Jewish” he (possibly Newfield)
sputtered. This could be ’55 or ’56?
Bobby Darren was also celebrated on “Fresh Air” today.
Interesting that he had tried to tie all those different
genres and sensitivities together to come out with
something really unique and wonderful.
My dear friend Eunice, also gone these many years, was
very into him. Maybe because he also was
German-American? Or suffered tragic illness?
Maybe just because he was Gemini like Eunice and
Bob Dylan, who she liked a lot too.
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So have yourself a merry little Christmas all ye who mourn
this silent night.
Sleep, all ye who sleep,
in heavenly peace.
I’m in no condition now to play White Christmas.
Maybe tomorrow.
Thank G-d this year it is not a white Christmas
As I have to drive down to New Jersey day after tomorrow.
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Solitaria — Jeanne M Whalen
She’s a migrant worker,
a sharecropper of cardboard boxes.
I sell in the free market.
I watch her matronly face
form gently Spanglish words
inconsistent with her saucy eyes.
She’s always hauling—
tables, boxes,
imprinted with restaurant labels
in bold reds and greens.
I'm having a sale.
And if it rains, will you and the girls
let me use the hallway?
Just a table or two.
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To try to make a penny.
I've only seen her smiling
with young, brawny men,
with the pink-haired boy
who vacuums the hallway
and the glassy-eyed blonde
who delivers the morning paper
to the utility closet,
and I can't help but wonder
why her eyes are so sad,
how many smiles she's watched
fade into sleep, echoing
Maybe heaven would be waking up
next to you.
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Self Song — Richard Spiegel
The religion of the self refuses to be aware of another
but in the post modern world no one talks only to himself.
Others talk in the language of the technological sublime,
the technological high: the atom bomb and Las Vegas.
Words in the air resonate a sublime notion
then drop delusions in the field.
Take me to your ache and shout me back.
Musicians jam in cafés in Paris, New York, and Freetown.
They jam over the net, beating together,
pause and flow, the time fractures
the jism in the flow of thought.
Ngunim over the radio, late night
mystical experiences pound within my chest.
Fears glide along my consciousness.
I come to write the city.
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