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WATERWAYS: .. Poetry in the Matmstream

March. 1989

II Flung

L'ike an ancient tapestry of motley weave

Up on 't he op en wall of this new land."

WATERWAYS: Poetry in the Mainstream

Volume 10, Number 3 March, 1939

Barbara Fisher & Richard Alan Spiegel/Co-Editors Thomas Perry / Intern

Subscriptions - $20 for 11 issues; Sample copy $2. + .55 postage.

Checks payable to Waterways, 799 Greenwich Street, NYNY 10014-1843 Submissions will be returned only if accompanied by SSAE.

1989 is devoted to "The Ghetto" by Lola Ridge and the responses by other poets to her words.

Contents Vage

4- 6 Susan Luther 7 - 8 Lyn Lifshin

9-10 Albert Huffsticlder 11-12 Sr. Mary Ann Henn 13 Joan Payne Kincaid 14 Hubert E. Hix

G) 1989, Ten Penny Players, Inc.

15-17 Lowery McC.lendon 18-21 John Gorman 22-27 Gertrude Morris 28-29 Ida Fasel

30 Susan Packie

,J

CAVEAT EMPTOR - Susan Lu to er

their passion comes distorted with a greed for everything blest

On the church bus

to Charlton Heston's

Ten Commandments, a child when reading

Anne Frank, the Bible, histories of bodies

sucked & slung

like olive pits

photographs

of bones & rot

& I am still not saved,

guilty, I forget

I see thee not: how

elide not phantom flesh

in telling, frail moon conscience:

4

a blonde moon rises over Rocket City & its projects

e.g. concrete block one-story dirty-putty walls

& rows of sagging stoop-roofs

Binford Court is falling down

like other, newer red-brick edifices uptown, midtown, crosstown sprouting

children who can't read their history

singing it,

maybe,

in the A.M.E. church up-center of town

from First Baptist's half-black-long mosaic

5

of a white-robed sun king centering the galaxies, crown

floating above gravity, embracing cosmos pointing

toward a million-dollar, moonstruck bell-spire pealing

Vorwarts:

& Vorwarts,

downtown East

of Saint John's A.M.E.

Temple B 'nai Sholom's stained glass windows newly wear transparent cold & stone-proof shrouds

beware

garbled majesty

It sells, Jesus,

it sells

6

THE MAD GIIRL THINK~S "SAD" WHEN SOMEONE SAYS FREE FLOW FROM THE WORD MEMORY - Lyn Lifshin

imagines blue eyes upstage slinking away behind bearded up with black cloth glass of her mother ill grey rooms the sister doesn't call

in, waiting she imagines black hair a nest

. she's the amethyst

, buried in jewel he'll slither from darkness in wear in light her shaking her lavenders and lilacs like just washed hair rinsed spitting rhinestones from apricots or polished tables

7

THE MAD GIRL THINKS IV SADU WHIEN SOMEONE SAYS "MEMORY"

- Lyn Lifshin

and loss what's gone

as licorice in her mother's hair when she stood

on bleachers in Maryland with two friends, her pleated skirt held out like

a pale fan f;iggling the way her hair curled blew across her white skin on the way to

buy marzipan she'd never find quite as fresh

up north she imagines her mother in new shoes, blisters close to breaking on a bicycle she'd never learn to ride havin$ a room mate snicker "kike in the next room

her daughter coiled half of her a blackboard waiting to be wntten on safe as

the war grew to a milkweed pod bursting and the

black seeds about

to be grabbed

8

NEW SHOES - Albert Huffstickler

I stayed two days in Shiprock at the Natani Nez Motel, run by Navahos, read Bury My Hear! at Wounded Knee and freaked out,

sat in a bus station restaurant writing in a journal

and watched a beautiful Indian girl serve coffee.

One of my new brogans was cutting my-ankle and I was limping badly. lfinally cut the tops off of both shoes, which solved the problem,

but the sore ankle was my excuse for lingering .

and the room was only six dollars a day so I stayed on.

The jIkehox played country western, Waylon, Willie, et al, The Indians loved it.

I watched her, plunged into a reverie. mourning with the music. The days passed and my ankle healed

and one day I walked out to the highway with my pack on my back and a big truck headed for Gallup picked me up.

"I'm going to sleep," the driver said. "1 need somebody to talk to me." So I said a few words and he started talking

and talked all the way to the Crownpoint turnoff where he let me out and I got another ride in the back of a pickup full of Navahos

and they took me on to Crownpoint and John' s where I was stopping off

before going on to Flagstaff.

And the shoes never gave me any more trouble

except that sometimes, putting them on. I saw brown Indian eyes in my space

and it made me lonely. ~~'~;ii'i.o".;~ .

(appeared first in Bmnel..S!Blk, no.6, 1988)

9

To touch this space

to leave some residue of what I was hovering

between these walls floating

like a ghost above the cigarette machine curled among

the crumpled napkins a fragrance

subtly penetrating the sharp aroma of hamburgers and fries.

We never want

to leave without leaving something. We never want

to stay

but

we never want

to leave without leaving something.

AT 2Js HAMBURGERS - Albert Huffstickler

(first appeared in ConnecticutR;ver Review, v. 10, no. 1, 1988)

IT~S NOT JFUNNY - Sr. Mary Ann Henn

Old paths of lost ambition-why talk about it

when even families

don't always care--

No opportunityno hope even now no

expectations if I'm

in trouble they

won't help to survive I

gotta have money I'm

on my own the only

ones who'll help are those who want money too

found in drugs or prostitution what else can I do

II

5

moves back

and forth weaving threads

into one tapestry as time

weaves us into one hopefully into one tapestry but it takes time it takes effort many threads will only knot otherwise Are we threads or knots or a

tapestry even one of motley

weave flung upon the wall

NEW FRANCIHIISE - ]" oan Payne Kincaid Their luck

's run out

sleeping in a warehouse creates

a coUege course:

SHELTER ARCHITECTURE and

SHELTER THERAPY for those down

there boxed

in cardboard over

hot-air grates

the mental cases

"flung

to cure themselves

in gutters

locked out

of subways in Washington fenced . out of parks

in New York

the HAVES

demand death- no safety net ... the walls

have closed

1.1

THE ANNUNCIAT][ON - D- Edgar Hix Candles are burning here, risking the tree, .

risking the house. Just like in ancient times

when light was hot, when fire trembled and flared.

AU of my ornaments are handcrafted.

My gifts are lead soldiers and paper dolls, small, perhaps, but really made by Santa.

SUMMER MORNING /169th STREET - Lowery McClendon

Rise in clear fury!

Bright against laughter among the legion children warring

against sleep's kingdom.

Invading their nightfilled eyes with your armies of light, you rout them through time-hollowed hallways

as they elude the "Be quiet!" of mothers' harsh whispers and the muttered damns! of fathers turning in grumbled

half-sleep and broken snores.

Bursting through the doorslam days of summer's reckless freedom, they wave their pulled-off shirts,

anarchic flags of a new morning's abandons

out onto the nightcooled, light-blazing streets .. . : ". .

On feet burning and winged they scatter!

.: ~. I

startled birds messengers of yesterday'S vaunts and dreams

casting their hieroglyphic screams

to the still and sleeping wind,

I

I I

15

sparking! broken wires of diminishing stars, webbed nerves skidding shrills and shrieks against sunburned walls,

through cat-haunted alleys and vagrant ways, backs and arms arched against you arced sky,

seething, thudding, barking then brief songs to time's silent beat

(Oh heated warriors consumed in His metronomic flame)

And you, quiet and thunderous Apollo,

spill play into dark eyes that know nothing,

fond of light, weeds, glass and streets

disappearing

bending,

returning

between angles of shadow and light.

16

\ --------

How their skinny bodies blossom in your undeciphered blaze showering under fire-rusted hydrants spurting

magically into the worshipped street wind ...

Through windows as greasy as bacon

mothers with their timebumed bones

watch their glistening sons and daughters splaying light in summer's gusty, de~washed morning.

And they, oblivious to their mothers' wood-brittle warnings, screech defiantly with wave-washed gleaming teeth

and arms unfolded

in daring praise against the sky,

arrogant as Adam's first dream, careless as Icarus' final thrust...

: ..

With wings melting in the sun

they faUlaughing!. '". having forgotten the bell-hollow mornings of yesterday's rough, sky-colored bruises already healing in their miracles

where you gather them in the currents

of your bright and golden arms!

11

but the valley wide and brown between the eastern mountams and the western mountains dust devils

twenty stories

whirling.

No one under me stairs no cabs or that smell from the subway

no one hundred thousand million lights only the stars.

CRAGO CROSSmG JB~WAY,

THINKS OF NUEVO LEON - J ohn Gorman

Pizza Papaya Pizza egg cream

breakfast special hot.

To call it all now m English breakfast/desayuno

papaya squeezed with lime.

My grandmother's adobe house cactus fence dirt yard

down the arroyo goats

like a handful of jiennies

and dimes droppmg

running then we bunched them by the road waiting

trucks, trucks, trucks .

peligroso in flam able corrosive that long noisy line of confusion

ELLIS ISLAND - Gertrude MOJrris

They say it's falling down,

the warehouse you passed through. Whispers still echo along the walls and you among the many ghosts wait on long lines, weary

of steerage for $30, of herring and your bundle of everything, a bed:

samovar, and candlesticks, and quilts.

Freed to slums, a sweatshop

and the first banana you ever ate.

This island, America the Golden Land. ********

19

.................. ------------------~~

20

"Pappa and I went ahead

with Tsivia my oldest sister. Momma came later with Meier. Duvid, Pesha and Ita.

I was young, homesick

for Momma, and the "old home," for my brothers and sisters.

We lived in a little house in Gamel. I cried for the calf when it was sold. For days the cow bellowed,

her udders heavy for the little one.

She was lonely and looked in the window the night we ate in the Succah.

We ran barefoot all day long bathed naked in the Dnieper.

My hair was auburn, thick and wild. Pesha and I climbed trees like boys

we picked wild mushrooms and berries. When Parkven's orchard bloomed

we climbed the fence and stole cherries. He ran out of the house and ,Yelled:

"Jhidl Devils! Out of there!'

When he got drunk, sometimes

he'd slam his fist through pappa's window. Later he cried and tried to hug him,

called him "Beryl, my brother."

One day he put his hand on the sill,the pressers put a hot iron on it. You could hear screams for 20 versts.

21

We kids .slept on a shelf near the stove in winter where it was warm.

There was always another child and another. some died; I recall a tiny baby brother.

When the Czar came through our town

all the houses were freshly painted.

We carried bouquets and lined up.

We had to bow to earth.

Unworthy to look at Nickolai,

Czar, and ruler of all the Russias.

And after all he drove through so fast

what could you see but the Royal Dust?

I cried all the time until Momma came.

I was fourteen when I went to work

in the dress factory In America,"

22

1

GRAFFITI - Ida Fasel

In Pompeii too those fresh scrawls

as the subway screeches to a stop gathers in. slams on

A luxury to write openly: sheer space whose only terms to find a place

driven like hummingbirds that sip their sweet in high deep haste feeding on the run over cliffs of fall

................... --------------

24

a dirty word setting awry to rights an axe of protest

initialed hearts

living tissues and tensions

making stately the moving surfaces they are attached to

with the look of art. art

al ways a possibility

collage that glides together

as parts engage

mosaic of abuse and creation

THE SELlF-EXAMJINJED L1IJFE - ida JFasd

Socrates

you old misleader I shy from

your directed answers

Know thyself

was your joke

that I

should get involved as a mangrove tree arms entangling arms

endlessly

my own

-t-,

'_ \

,

'I, J, '\ '~3:':;'

' .. '~.

, t -\y'!:~~;-:,

<»:

25

26

AHEAD MOST OF THE TKM.E-lida Fasel

I am offered a free issue

of a sleek. slick, sophisticated magazine that tells me "This year King's Road is out"

and I don't need to "dress expensively every day." Panoramas of this moment in history --

celebrities photographed at their best -- or worst depending on the current throw-a ways of fashion. Everything to me is narrative.

including all fme print wherever I see it. I will not send in the "maybe" sticker but renew magazines whose verdigris has a patina of antiquity

that keeps me well ahead most of the time

of tp._e banal.

ANY JFJL.OWJER, THIS FLOWER - Jda Fasel

Beds of phlox, cosmos, verbena, delphinium, beds from every curve and angle .

in movement that delights and calms, ever-living changes ever the same

in the form they had to be,

patterns of repetition, not of passing:

I live close to scarlet, golden yellow, coral,

grape purple, reflected blue of sky.My gardener's eye takes note

of a bitten leaf, a withered blossom. .

My soul answers to any flower, this flower,

seeded or self-returning. Between us,

communion holds, the perfect word,

certain and intense, bright and spare as rainbow.

27

Any flower, this flower never searches for meaning -- it is meaning.

Only a small part of a simple order in an incredibly vast universe,

it intimates the abundance of the whole whose reality is undivided,

infinity conclusive in a small frame.

It speaks for itself more than it can say. More than I can say. I pluck it for you.

THE AMERICAN DREAM - Susan Packie .

Fantasizing

the United States

get a free education

and start up a business, work for a corporation, make a success of yourself

Back home

Puerto Rico

the mother working nights in a dress factory,

the sister soliciting

Africa

an uncle heading

the military,

expecting you to learn enough to take over some day

Nights Spent in remedial classes, days in front of a typewriter, failing at both

The resigned snicker behind hands Dreams die hard when they

have no roots

29

[I

30

SOUR DREAMS - Susan Packie

What do you do When you work All your life

To buy a dream And it crumbles In your hands?

Where do you go When you leave Your homeland For a land

Of future promise And it rejects you?

When will you learn That nothing in life Comes free,

That liberty

For all to see

Is only surface deep?

How can you live

As a poverty statistic, And unwanted element, A voice without hope Crying out

In the wilderness?

The dream makers knew, The dream breakers drew From their own banks And deposited

For the late arrivals Sour dreams

July (due June 1) --

Themes for Forthcoming Issues:

September --

(due August 1)

October

(due Sept. 1)

"They find no peg to hang

'.,: their taunts upon.

His soul is like a rock That bears a front worn smooth

To the coarse friction of the sea,

And, unperturbed, he keeps his bitter peace."

"All gutters are as one

To that old race that has been thrust From off the curbstone of the world ... "

"And he--appraising

All who come and go,

With his amazing

Sleight-of-mind and glance

And nimble thought

And nature balanced like the scale at nought-Looks Westward, where the trade-lights glow And sees his vision rise -- "

Coming June 1 & 2 ... The New York City High Schooi

Literary Arts Fair

Two days of poetry readin. gs and writing workshops For and by NYC Hi~ School students

Sponsored by the DIvision of Alternative Hizh Schools, tile Bayard Rustin H.s. for the Humanities &. Waterways

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