#10

Waterways: Poetry in the Mainstream, Volume 25, #10
Have you heard that it was good to gain the day?
I also say it is good to fall . . . battles are lost in the same spirit in which they are won.
Walt Whitman
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WATERWAYS: Poetry in the Mainstream
Volume 25 Number 10*
Designed, Edited and Published by Richard Spiegel & Barbara Fisher
Thomas Perry, Admirable Factotum
c o n t e n t s
Waterways is published 11 times a year. Subscriptions -- $33 for 11 issues.
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Waterways, 393 St. Pauls Avenue, Staten Island, New York 10304-2127
©2005 Ten Penny Players Inc. *(This magazine is published 5/05)
http://www.tenpennyplayers.org
Donald Lev 4-5
Fran Farrell Kraft 6
Richard A. Spiegel 7
James Penha 8
Herman Slotkin 9
Joan Payne Kincaid 10-11
David Koehn 12-13
Shannon Connor 14-18
Geoff Stevens 19
Jeanne M Whalen 20-22
Greg Moglia 23
Robert L. Brimm 24-25
Ida Fasel 26
D. M. Ross 27-28
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The Test — Donald Lev
‘Put down that water. Don’t come any closer.
We shall see what you’re made of.’
Yes, I
need assistance.
No way to ascend or
descend. No way to learn. No way to
escape. Push, push, push on air. I’m waiting
for a bus.
A bus comes by every four or five
minutes. It is never the right one.
But when
the right bus comes it’ll be good. I’ll sit
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comfortably and look out the window at the
houses and shops, the fields and gas
stations till a destination is reached. A
conclusion, perhaps. Perhaps not. I’ll climb
off the bus and begin walking. I’ll check my
wristwatch to see how little time is left. There
ought to be something to hurry for,
something to risk missing out on, to be late
for.
I have arrived at no conclusion. I’ll simply
fold things up and turn out the light. I will set
the clock as an experiment to see if the
alarm goes off.
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Musings — Fran Farrell Kraft
So you say ‘White’
when I say ‘Black’
(Did we ever deal in gray)
Was that one of the things
I first loved about you
A freewheeling mind
An unwillingness to conform
Have we changed
Are you even more contrary
Do I require full agreement
Have we just got bored
‘grown apart’
Should I say ‘White’
when I see ‘Black’
Should we both just say
‘Good bye’
Or is it too late
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Richard A. Spiegel
It is a moment of no consequence — a moist bead
of time hanging from the tap. Do you mind
if I borrow it? Set it on my easel.
A moment left on the canvas.
Place your time beside mine. I’ll train my wrist
to untangle the tock. A single moment
multiplied, burst out of now. The pulse attached
to a string, a brush, or a pen impulsively across
the synapse. Thoughts, half-forgotten, are given
body. In an instant the moment moves on.
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Omelette:
You Can’t Make One Without
James Penha
Cracking a chicken egg
or duck.
Breaking it;
crushing it in your hand:
shell shards
and shrapnel
your diner
will mine
minutely
on his palate.
Thinking about it
without a worry
for purity:
letting the yolk explode—
taint white
now runny together
from fist to bowl
like a helmet
upside down.
Washing your hands
of it.
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Moving Moments — Herman Slotkin
In life’s sure, seamless slide
From second to second,
Beginnings are endings,
Endings are beginnings.
When my boss says, “You’re fired,”
In one flowing instant
Unemployment says, “Hi.”
When Carmen thrusts her rose,
Instantaneously
Carmen’s José begins
And Micaela’s ends.
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Event — Joan Payne Kincaid
Today the trees gave up
all that was wild laid down
the primates vanished
the last birds were silenced
the whales stopped singing
the innocent were erased
the victors went to church
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Ring Around The Rosy
Joan Payne Kincaid
The shower finally soothes
the pain from too many falls
landing on the same yelp
a familiar ring in play
allowing some leader
to set - you - up on slippery
mandatory no - way - around
deja vu all over again after
backwards down the stairs
before the thongs were trashed
for twisting around the betrayed grip
and before that the trip
to the identical place over a police
barricade demonstration against
wars
in bed the hip remembers best
the surprise debacle in a heap
at the bottoms of things
so now only the delicious liquid heat
is what loves and attends.
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The Complete Do-It-Yourself Manual — David Koehn
The walls and ceilings will age the color of piss;
The floors will warp and you will accuse your dance partner.
Baseboards will no longer corner, and keys will break off in the locks
But no matter, the jalousies and the blinds will never need repair.
Such openings, flawed by design, will never fail,
Will always let the outside in: the chimney will never need a sweep,
The gutters and downspouts will always gush,
The house’s forehead will never wrinkle with concern.
No manual is needed for these: the plumbing, if it goes, it goes;
The power, new circuits have been laid for others will burn out;
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And the furniture, no den can ease the discomfort.
No, only for this, does the Complete Do-it-yourself Manual apply—
Suspend a vent near the automatic overflow from a truss
Above your bed so what escapes sleep may be recycled;
Re-install all gauges so that system does not self-monitor;
There are so few screwing applications. Do not forget
The chapter on attaching to hollow surfaces, men.
Allow only up flow. All air is central. The guarantees:
Exercise without sweating, sex without love,
Faith in nothing, and other hardware for necessary repairs.
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Blackout — Shannon Connor
8:54. Six minutes to go.
The computer screen zeroes with
a sad little whine.
I step up, into the dark.
The one string of emergency lights in the whole damn building
is not where the people are.
The system beckons, (Yes, I’m coming…)
I slide my feet to the bottom of the stairs.
Chaperoned by the railing,
then I am free standing
in nothing but the sound of the storm.
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I smell it with my ears.
It smells like new
rain smacking eagerly
against concrete,
my mind expanding down the hall…
I follow the sound, tracing gravel
along the wall
from the bathroom
to the vestibule
but it’s longer than I thought
It should be…here, but it’s not
and then I turn in time to see the nighttime come alive.
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Sister forks of lightning
split the sky
wide open, pouring rocks of thunder.
The lot, the valley, the hall light up
like an electric ocean, and I am struck
with just one thought rolling, over and over…
Brilliant
Until I hear Al in the corridor
searching slowly for me.
“Flashlights?” he asks, disembodied
“In the closet — wait — I have a lighter,”
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I remember. With flame aloft, I lead the way
a proper concert enthusiast
to the beep beep beep of the alarm’s percussion
Al turns owlish in the tiny light.
He fills the doorway
as I lift the lighter to the box.
SYSTEM FAILURE, I repeat.
NO SHIT. I grin privately from ear to ear.
With a firm but reassuring finger, I silence the alarm
and then the building falls quiet
except for the rain
and our suddenly reverent breathing.
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I am aware that I am awake
in the dark
for the first time all day.
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Geoff Stevens
Battlefields have grown broader
desertion is more difficult
one needs to go further
than the ends of the earth
in order to escape them
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Tunneling — Jeanne M Whalen
When Seattle went underground
she had the insight to put skylights
in the streets above the town,
as if glass would compensate
for inconceivable inconvenience
paid for a simpler sewage system.
Over the years, magnesium in the glass
turned each pane purple
and the empty alleys below bask
in a royal hue.
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When Detroit went underground
she swallowed grandeur,
gulped cocktails of industry’s finest,
tossed European olives and toothpicks
into sprawling Ranch and Colonial barracks
while flying banners of skeletal marble and iron -
empty cocktail glasses
for smoldering revolutionaries
to smash rather than scour.
The city’s discarded garnishes forced their own obsolescence
when they strained the soft limits between man and metal,
soul and machine,
but they still whisper and breathe, forming a skyline of ghosts
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that beg for our eyes and our morbid curiosity.
Lavish carpets that cushioned the fall of auto moguls
have dropped thread after thread through too much space
between rotting floorboards
and windows cling to shards to resist the weather.
Walls glow with angry graffiti,
angry at the backwash dregs left to ferment
in motor oil, lead paint, asbestos,
but they still make babies downtown.
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What a Body Would Do
Greg Moglia
If you must go she said
Leave your hands
Please leave your hands
And I was not generous
Kept all to myself
Toured the land
Wandered through every
Midnight trap
Found no light
My hands singed
By the flames
Of emptiness
What a body would do
For less than love
For less than love
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Hungry Eyes Feasting — Robert L. Brimm
Awash in the buzz and crackle wafting from
The Hillside Tavern’s enchanted neon signs,
I wake to the sound of nothing in my room,
Find the aching cold of yesterday’s shoes,
Then, exploring the hall’s echoing darkness
Hear the ticking clock, the click of the lock
Before I go strolling past houses haunted
By the absence of dreams, empty windows
Staring back, thousands of broken promises
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That will not be mended — not this night;
Slowly I march to the song of something
I can almost hear, feel its hungry eyes
Feasting on me, sense its crouching, tensing,
Preparing to pounce, and I dare not scream.
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For Worse and Better
Ida Fasel
A mere stumble
flings me aloft
like a pebble
snapped from a sling,
but not so fast
that I am not aware
my face is heading
for concrete,
come what may.
I streak down like
a falling star
a hundred weight
thudding ground
the equal of a ton
in a shatter and scatter
of glasses and purse
a public spectacle
in white rapidly red,
blood pressure rising rising
ambulance speeding speeding
x-rays counting bones broken,
angel stitching skin split open.
It could have been my head.
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Portrait of My Father As a Dog — D. M. Ross
for Kathi Vail
Whenever my father enters a restaurant
He turns into a dog
Muzzle elevated
Nostrils working moistly
He plunges into a world of sounds and signals
Most humans miss
Alert to every movement
Especially the double swinging doors that give on the kitchen
My father ignores polite conversation around him
In favor of cautionary guttural growls
Warning off anyone who turns to look
By curling his lip, exposing incisors
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When a waitress approaches our table
Armed with menus and a nervous smile
Whether it is the tone of voice
(“May I tell you about our specials?”)
Or the apron
Or the rectangular pad
Or the scratch of the pen
My father’s eyes dilate
His ears shoot back, the hair on his neck rises
And he emits barks in all directions
Snarling, snapping,
Alerting our family to the approach of danger
And offering, in the bargain, the chance for everyone within earshot
To approve his vigilance
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