Waterways: Poetry in the Mainstream, Volume 25, #9
This is the grass that grows wherever the land is and the water is,
This is the common air that bathes the globe.
Walt Whitman
WATERWAYS: Poetry in the Mainstream
Volume 25 Number 9*
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)
Andrew Fader 4-6
D.T. Bolling 7-10
David Chorlton 11
David Rogers 12
Sylvia Manning 13-14
James Penha 15
John Grey 16-17
Joan Payne Kincaid 18
Kay Bache-Snyder 19-21
David Koehn 22-23
Robert Collet Tricaro24-25
Geoff Stevens 26
Fran Farrell Kraft 27
Donald Lev 28
photo by Barbara Fisher
The Milky Way — Andrew Fader
Often my father’s friends showed up
at our backdoor on those Saturdays in December,
long before dawn, to pick him
and his telescope up to drive deep
into the Jersey Pinelands
to gaze at a black sky smeared
thickly with a crush of stars.
In my room, after they left
with all their telescopes packed into the rear
of an old step-van, I stared
at the stars I created across the sky
of my bedroom ceiling till, past daybreak,
they returned, exhausted, and filled our kitchen
with talk of the heavens
as Mom fixed them breakfast so I
could sit and listen to their conversations
about God-as-a-shooting star.
I heard their stories
about Aldebaran, the eye of Taurus
who opened up the year so long ago
and ploughed the furrows of the zodiac;
about his battle across the heavens
with Orion who chases the Seven Sisters
still, though Jupiter made them doves, then stars.
I would talk with them anxiously
until they ignored me; then, I’d slip away
to help my mom, who by now
had brewed more coffee and turned
the kitchen window blinds to keep the sun’s glare
from striking a breakfast table
strewn with stories of stars.
Father, years later I recall the thoughts
of this child, still warm in flannel,
against the coarse wool of blankets
stretched over an adult earth that bears
the chill of night air as I stretch out
beneath the ceiling of the Milky Way.
In the Doll Museum — D. T. Bolling
In the doll museum nothing moves but the travelers,
those who have arrived to remember themselves
in eyes of glass.
A private transaction, ritual of return promising
comfort, even the comfort of small sorrows.
And the bright expectant eyes never close, so much
have they to perform.
Eyes that tell the stories of their visitors,
histories almost forgotten or new made or sold
in the common market of everydayness.
Or again, in all their numinous opacity, eyes
serving as confessors witnessing guilt
without blame.
Here in this small house of diversion what is
it that passes through the speechless air.
How is it that silence says so much, even the
children holding their cries and chatter,
bored perhaps and preferring other games.
Is it that long withdrawn days and the new
meet best when words subside and only eyes
meeting eyes commune.
Or is there more.
What is it to be a doll, what to be the long
exiled adult at last returning home
or almost.
Who is seer and who seen and where does mind
Whose gaze holds the force that defines things.
Is this a place for building a mind from the
shards of innocence, loss, pain, a
harbor after private navigations.
Or is something missing here where time
grants luxury of meditation.
In the storehouse one finds them: jumble of
decapitated heads thrown in a box. All colors
of hair, all pigments of flesh, dust crowning all.
And under a table rows of crumpled figures
dressed mostly in rags and bearing labels:
dolls salvaged from torn bodies of children
in Auschwitz, Wounded Knee, stations of
the underground railroad.
What message in these bowed heads of toys,
bodies of cloth once loved by children
of short passage.
In this museum of dolls, sanctuary of memory,
what is to be seen, what forgotten.
What private, what collective guilt.
What failure of vision.
One AM — David Chorlton
The late night tram in a rainswept city
turns a corner with light
blaring out of its windows
like a theatre on rails.
It rattles and rings
as it passes through the narrow streets
where all houses
look the same, with their grey faces
and doors locked to hold
back the silence of rooms
in each one of which a clock
plays a muffled pizzicato
above somebody’s bed;
oblivious to the outside world
with each second
devouring the next
in the untiring march
of sleep’s metronome.
Rabbit — David Rogers
My eye returns again and again
to the rabbit at the edge
of the grape arbor.
He hovers there, feeding
on small grasses
and other things I cannot see.
His shape wants to move fast
through a lot of air. His fur
is the color of old leaves
stretched like an accordion
or balled up like an acorn.
The back legs work
like a pole vaulter in slow motion.
The dark brown eyes
can see all directions at once.
I look away
and when I turn back he is gone
as if the Earth itself had revealed
for a moment its soft, fleshy part
and then grown suddenly shy.
Daring — Sylvia Manning
daring to put here what cannot be called conceit
even by she or he who might understand device
and metaphor
daring one Sunday morning the mid-summer glare
of farthest back lot, where two peach trees stand between us
and the cars, all cars of good Catholics
parked along the street for mass
daring to suspend curiosity for why
our María, blessing us by being here,
does not seek congregation,
assembly of her own kind
daring mostly the wasp, which has found this peach first,
to sting me, for I will have this one peach, our only,
our small harvest from three hard years, and drought.
Daring wasp to more than buzz.
Bringing it then to all — washed clean, its blemishes
cut away — a taste for each of us of peach, durazno,
avowed favorite fruit of María,
this Sunday in late June:
here together only because we dared and are
real — not characters — and because our lives are that, not
narratives, here though
daring to plant trees and wait
however long
to taste dry summer fruit,
its sweetest juice,
however scarce.
Paradise — James Penha
Spring aerates my wine
and sweetens
with the sun’s bouquet.
It must remind the grape of home
and rain that bade
its blood to run
and the dirt
that gives it body still
but for this sparkle
of spring.
Parades — John Grey
At the July 4
we go there late and
the streets were crowded.
Even my father could
barely see the floats
from behind a throng
five or six deep,
and I was lost in legs
and shoes and looking up
at the wide backs of men,
the fancy feathered hats of women.
Even when my father
hoisted me up on his shoulders,
I still peered through
a jungle of arms,
of bobbing heads.
I barely saw a baton,
a shiny band uniform,
a tumbling clown,
a giant pumpkin.
Eventually, I just drifted away
from the excitement,
amused myself
by digging in the dirt,
picking up pebbles,
playing hide and seek
with my reflection
in the hardware window.
I didn’t feel as if
I’d missed anything.
I knew early on
that I was my own parade,
that there was a quiet, intimate joy
to the watching of it.
Travelogue II
Joan Payne Kincaid
Replete with epiphany
to be read by another you
don’t know looking at Oyster Bay People
and the paintings
pushing you out
refuse to be marketed
training and feeding all these years
there is a writer’s block coming
down at the dock where wealthy yachts
of decadent love affairs
bring your life to heel
tripping out of control
listless as silent canvases...
abandon ship!
at a front table
people with umbrellas pass
listening to rain
dreaming acquisition
Joan Payne Kincaid
this blueberry bush
the size of a small tree
has grown pale and vein-y
swaying in powerful winds
it waits another turn
Walking on Geyser Hill
Kaye Bache-Snyder
Are you here?
Upstairs or down?
I call out to Him, as I have,
entering my house at night
to husband at his desk;
to father, working wood
in basement shop.
I would talk,
of this quarrel in my head,
as if someone is here
at Yellowstone and
I am not alone,
walking from the lodge,
wind rising, sun setting
red on glassy snow.
Old Faithful blows:
towers of water rain
breaking glass below.
The hourly crowd
disperses: a flow of
long blue shadows
seeking inner fires.
I wander Geyser Hill,
a field of steaming snow
and twisting vapors.
A coyote lopes ahead.
Bison and elk converge
on warmer ground and
trumpeter swans glide down
to fold the night beside
the Firehole River.
Are you here?
If so, then say
who or what I am,
going where and how.
A blue shadow I become,
walking, pausing;
listening to
caverns hissing,
mudpots popping,
cones erupting,
earth thudding.
Is that eternal laughing
at the absurdity of
asking to be heard
among the multitude of
tangled prayers, telephoned
on overloaded lines?
Or is this bubbling,
steaming, boiling, drumming,
whooshing, overflowing,
your talk in tongues
to be divined, as from
the maddening ethers
of the Delphic oracle
in ancient Greece?
I feel tonight, as if
I have become more who,
than customary am,
as distant pine is not
a tree except with
space and light around.
It is as if an emptiness,
both swallows me and fills.
A mauve glow lingers
on earth’s jagged edge.
Wind shifts and chills.
I drift downhill in dark
towards light and fire.
No answer need I more
than the overflowing
in this earthly place,
this Yellowstone.
The Auctioneer — David Koehn
“Find what the sailor has hidden—that the
finder cannot unsee once it has been seen.”
Vladimir Nabokov,
Speak, Memory an Autobiography
You have all gathered here to bid on what remains of one man’s life.
I am not here to tell you when he died or what he died of.
I am here to call out the items though we have but a few,
And the rest of the goods will be auctioned off in unmarked boxes
Which you can bid on by size, by weight, or by whim.
Consider the boxes empty except for what is inside them.
I do all the talking, and I talk quickly, so listen carefully.
Each “going” should not excite you. Do not move a finger
Unless you want to bid. If you so much as twitch
I will call you out as a buyer, and I will make you pay.
Watch my hands, when they turn out to you for bids, offer.
Do not watch my eyes, I may assume your glance means you’ve bid.
We have a coal burning stove, two bookshelves, and a filing cabinet
Full of who knows what, perhaps his blueprint for an afterlife.
In these boxes may be his wife’s diaries of her illicit affairs
(She died young.). Or maybe his journals, which one always reads
Out of fear and curiosity, gambling that each page
One turns to is not the final page or that its date is not today.
Escarole and Beans — Robert Collet Tricaro
I caught her in the innocent act of eating dinner
on the cheap — a meal of escarole with
cannelloni beans. Sauteed in olive oil and butter.
Cheap greens with white beans never graced
her parents’ carved mahogany table.
It was a dish for peasants.
The grand regency-style house in Normandy,
oleo-black Peugeot, sailboat, private school.
War collapsed them all, sending my young Nanna
to Ellis Island, then on a steam engine
to a five story walk-up in Boston.
Her eyes brightened when I asked for some
and dipped warm crusty bread into the sauce.
Sweeter inner leaves tempered the long taste
of outer bitter ones. Plump meaty legumes.
Who needed an entrée and dessert?
Nanna died spry at 94, never knowing that her
bitter greens were repositories for phytochemicals,
or that a trove of protein and soluble fiber bulged
her cannelinis, her oil, chartreuse with good fatty acids.
I ordered escarol and beans
by its French name in a trendy Manhattan bistro.
The “gourmet” side dish cost six fifty.
We all profit from bitter taste now and then, one
way or another.
Geoff Stevens
Pollution is a localized phenomenon
is a blot on the landscape.
When it becomes commonplace
it ceases to be pollution
Musings — Fran Farrell Kraft
What a vacant lot this is
Not a shiny hubcap in sight
Nothing but dim bulbs,
pizza boxes, soggy napkins
Not a stray daffodil
not even a dandelion
Where are the fresh-faced daisies
yearning toward the sun
the sunflowers, violets, baby’s breath
reaching for the light
Not even a thistle or a burr
to focus attention
How can a seed germinate
in this arid soil
— a daunting prospect.
Just Think — Donald Lev
Just think what it would be like
if everything went wrong — if you
were old and weak and all the
wrong turns you took in your
life that you hoped would
somehow find the right
direction after all, definitely
proved irretrievably wrong,
deadly wrong. You are
tremendously in debt, your wife
is desperately ill, and you don’t
want to burden her any more
with the results of your
foolishness, where should you
turn? To God? To friends?
From all of whom you’ve
created such distance as will
not now be decreased. I am
standing in water up to my
knees. The tide is slowly but
steadily rising. Perhaps a huge
bird will pick me up and fly me
to some beautiful land where
all I love is healthy, happy, and
at home.