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Poetry in the Mainstream
" ... long vistas without end
Of caravans and seas and roads
And cities dwindling in remembrance ... "
\VATERWAYS: Poetry in the Mainstream
Volume 10, Number 6 -Iune, 1989
Barbara Fisher & Richard Alan Spiegel --- Co-Editors Thomas Perry - Intern
Page 4-7 Hilary Tham
8 lyn Iifshin
9-12 Joan Payne Kincaid 13-17 Albert Huffsticklar "ill Felicia Mitchell 19-22 Ida Fasel
23-28 Gilbert Honigfel d
29-31 Sr. Mary Ann Henn 32-33 Joanne Seltzer
31 Rose Romano
35-41 Kit Knight
42-13 Peggy Raduziner 4i Susan Packie 45-52 Connie Ouellette
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Checks payable to Waterways, 799 Greenwich Street, N.Y.,N.Y. 10014-1843 Submissions will be returned only if accompanied by a SASK
1989 is devoted to "The Ghetto" by Lola Ridge and the responses by other poets to her words ©1989, Ten Penny Players, Inc.
UPTURNED PALMS - Hilary Thrun
How many mothers, absent fathers go in
to making a wanderer, where does it begin? I've watched them trundle their carts, grind their nails, unzip their hearts
open to pain:
birthing is lighting
bonfires to dance in the rain, to laugh at lightning
lashing the treeless park.
Flesh and bones, flesh and bones:
city lights, flickering like rhinestones spilled on a black satin bed.
In a stairwell, three stroke danger, open a disposable syringe to mingle fluids. Upstairs, Niobe Johnson, single again, undresses for a stranger.
...., .. ,
Around them, tall buildings indifferent
as trunks of elm to dying deer, take into their shadows old men shuffling home in the dark. Somewhere a lover, once more softly closes a street door.
REUNION IN LONDON, MAY 10, 1986 - Hillary Tham
That night, impersonal tour guide, you showed me Covent Garden. The stone stalls
once flowered oranges.bread, soaked up
smell of horses, voices rubbing against each other, unwashed vendors, buyers scented with rosewater. Pillars stand, grimy from sweaty skin, backs
that had warmed them for centuries.
Waiting for you, I visited the Tower,
Saw Traitor's Gate where cloaked figures, Mary of Scots, Thomas Moore, once stepped from boats to climb the stair to death
or prison. I did not know
the years betweenus had grown solid as the walls they vanished behind.
Three rockers ~ode by, talking
videos and West End girls, punk hair moussed purple/green, even now still-life,
becoming history. I touched the stone;
it was ice cold. The past did not live here.
You liked London, you said, your blue eyes cool.
ON THE NIGHT OF TIm IRONWEED PREMIERE ~ lyn Iifshin
windshields glaze the first December in this house I couldn't imagine 14 years alone here packed thimbles in tissue for someone else who'd be gone
in quilts soft as memory buried like a child
in mahogany in
a snow field
BLUES = Joan Payne Kincaid
Songs of loss survival infinite
something you can't lay
skies of disguise
your hands on
you would give
only ink can touch
In your genes
even in your favorite clothes
That noon waiting for soup did he see them
when he walked his dog? He ladled out beef barley and said "Yeah"
man of few
words. I had a terrible feeling about them, remembering a few days before
how you could gasp
at the abundance
of water fowl I counted
200 Canadas, several Plovers, a Swan, and gulls, gulls, gulls
of many varieties "
I ASKED MAC - Joan PayneKincaid
before the morning
I found corpses strewn every ten feet. Near
the wharf, where ice had formed at least a hundred guns
bobbed deadly in the break up.
A friend at the Thrift Store
read in N ewsday they got ptomaine at the dump, and were being analyzed. I called Bob Mrazek's office because he says he's going to
clean up the Sound, and they knew nothing. They remained a couple of weeks in sub-freezing temperatures. I notice the lone swan
I'd fed the day before the incident has disappeared, I keep looking, but so far ...
The autopsy has revealed someone mixed insecticide with their
food. In the drugstore he said
"Well, they get to be a bit much sometimes." I remember when I was a child there weren't many
because their feathers decorated women's hats. Today, at the beach only a half-dozen.
PlLGRJlVi[ ~ Albert Huffstickler
She got off in Socorro
with her purple wig and eight small pieces of luggage,
from AWOL bag to laundry sack,
seventy if she was a day, penniless,
mooched her way from county to county,
one agency after another all the way from Ohio. Pert as a lace pillow, she tried to bum lunch
at the diner where the bus stopped
(the long sky stretching out beyond Socorro,
wave upon wave of lacey clouds lapping at infinity beyond distant mountains),
"She did it last year too," the bus driver told me,
"took a different direction so they wouldn't know her." "Where's she going?" I asked.
"Does she have somebody here?" 13
first appeared in Sun dog, Chokio, Minn.
"I don't know."
I watched from the window as she hobbled on off down the streets of Socorro
like the ghost of somebody's long-dead Grandma and tried to imagine what went on in her head while the long sky stretched beyond the small city, wave upon wave oflacey clouds lapping at infinity beyond distant mountains.
June 10, 1987
DELIVERANCE :M1NUS ONE - Albert Huffstickler
He dreamed that an angel of mercy appeared at the bottom of the shaft
where he had scrabbled in the darkness for what seemed ages in a futile effort to free himself.
Her eyes were like suns and her breasts were like
the morning light on the surface of a lake hidden deep in the woods. And she reached out a hand to him and he took it
and the darkness vanished and he was free.
When he turned to thank her.
he foundhimself holding a small girl by the hand.
She looked up at him with wide, wondering eyes and laughed. They were standing in a valley surrounded by mountains with the sky blue, blue above them.
"Where are we? II he asked.
She looked at him with wise old eyes and said "Your usual place. We're inside the outside
first appeared in Rhodendon, Salt Lake City, Utah.
Do you want to play some more?"
No," he said, sitting down on the grass. "Do we have to?" Suddenly he was very tired.
"Of course not," she said.
"It's your game. You can stop any time you want to."
She put her hand against his cheek and immediately he was asleep. When he woke, it was night and she was gone.
Above him, the sky was clustered with stars
and in the distance he could hear
the sound of a small girl singing
a song he almost remembered.
END OF DAY - Albert Huffsticlder
I could say how
the dusk descends on the body of a man as the day ends, settling down
on him like
a weight of intolerable proportions and how he walks stunned out
into the evening, lonely in his burden,
the day a blur
already receding as he trudges beneath the growing stars homeward across
the silent planet. 1988
first appeared in Aileron, Aust; n, Texas
DAVE HILL'S Mll.JK COW a Felicia Mi tchell
It's a cow's life that cow has, heavy with calf and flies,
the sultry honeysuckle air lost on its horizons,
its milk full of summer grass. Barn to pasture, born to pasture, that cow knows its place.
Heavy, laden, lowing, lying down.
A STAR CALLED EUNAMY ~ Ida Fasel
He is locked into silver cloth -- "Nylon full body suit with torso and leg zippers." He sports the pockets with his hands, the flag and shuttle patches with a face
of secure joy. Even before the package came, before the earlier cap ("Feel like a high flier wearing our bold navy gold trim hat!")
he had an instinct for upper air and could get ground level to yield by jettisoning himself
between thumb and forefinger with splutter and zoom and intricate sweeps of the guiding arm.
He's outgrown kites. He likes to accomplish things.
He's on his way, he shouts to me along with sound effects, to a star called Eunarny between 300 - 600 North Latitude,
his flight plan inspired by the "Cosmic Constellation Viewer," a present, like all his toys, from the Smithsonian catalog.
I'm fortunate to know where my child is.
. .J ='1
CLEAR CREEK a Ida Fasel
The creek turns up less yellow in its basic sands, more diamonds as it cuts, polishes, trades
with rocks in passage the high-luster, deep-shadowed commodity of itself, with me
in the quadruple-locked open spaces
of my solitude.
I fall in love at first look, given
a glimpse of larger nature as partner.
The business of motion is routine of the day, and routine is portable, carrying me
to the margins at the sides of day,
in between the lines of day.
I live well, moment to moment.
They say you can't go home again. No need to go back to
grading and sorting what is irrecoverable. Memory is purest here, being immediately future. The center of the world sheds light
for the light that shines on the ledger.
Hung from a rope across,
the sign to one side announces "No road -- no camping."
As far as I can see
it is a road
until a slight rise comes between us. I shall be pondering its perfection
as I drive on: no sage brush to strike out, no ten-mile breaks to tell
how far to the next minute.
It goes all the way because it goes nowhere.
a broken line in the design to free spirit
as the Indians believe for the journey home.
CROSSING WYOMING ~ Ida Fasel
you copy only part
like a squiggle in Klee,
like this highway that takes me back.
Naming gives it a local existence however shortened its surface potential for visibility, icing, wind sculpture.
It gets you there --
I FOG OVER BEDROCK" Gilbert Honigfeld
and finally, about an hour after
dawn, flings that blanket away, emerging into day slick as a new-born
The city, all towers and spires, like so many knuckles and knees, kicks at its blanket of fog;
This gouty conglomerate of silica and steel, stuck at the dew-point, oppressed at every pressure point, struggles, tears at its covers, heaves, grumbles, tugs, kicks,
FOG m Gilbert Honigfeld
From the Jersey side
New York is swaddled in fog,
its ragged profile blanketed gently, as though someone cared, a welcome fog, palliating,
a mother's palm, gentling,
at the fevered moment of crisis, a kind of balm, airborne
as a lullaby, or dust motes
settling on the shoulders of the city as silently as pollen setting down their cargo without a sound.
RESIGNED ~ Gilbert Honigfeld
Resigned to her fate, like a married woman or a cut-rate whore, Garrett Mountain
is bullied by her lovers, macho Mediterranean men who step all over her, especially on weekends when wine flows fast
and talk is cheap, and men must escape the valley with its sixty-hour week served like a sentence
in mills on the Passaic,
industrial carnage running in sluices into the river steady as an LV. into
the arm of a dying man, this valley a place to leave
on Sunday, escaping to the hills and flesh of the mountain, visiting that faithful old putana, bullied by her men,
but loyal to their need.
SlJl\l1MER - Gilbert Honigfeld
It was a time between two wars
when summer was an endless boredom and everyone's mother was stout,
kind of a fleshy sausage cased
up and down in steel-ribbed corsets, one-piece jobs with the boobs up top
and those funny stocking-clamps hanging down along the bottom, and an the cars shifted on the floor (3 speeds not 4),
mohair seats that were agony for
little girls in skirts, those cars lined uniformly in mousefur of indeterminate hue, maybe grey, maybe tan, maybe,
and schoolyards where kids too poor
to bring a ball played games like Johnny-on-the-Pony, the dominating
principle of which was the simple destruction of the opposing team players' collective spines, a useful lesson
in microcosm for later games in life,
girls in pinafores (a retired form of dress), and; yes, there were even pigtails,
and crew-cuts, and barrettes, e-
and nickel candy bars and a sense
. that school would never end in June to start the cycle of endless boredom once again that was July and August, dayless weeks of unremitting heat.
GARRETIMOUNTAINWEARS DOWN - Gilbert Honigfeld
Garrett Mountain, who has seen it all from her fixed position high over Paterson,
fire, water, birth, death, maintains her integrity as well as she can,
the occasional granitic tear
rolling down her cliff-face
when March thaws and freezes exact their price, and muddy runoffs carve gullies in her foothills where boys run their dirt-bikes,
pitting engines and wheels against gravity, risking once more the wrath of the old lady of Garrett Mountain, who's seen it all before.
ROUND UPS p Sister Mary Ann Henn were becoming more and more frequent. They shouldn't sleep at their address.
She rents a place on the other side
of town but her husband won't go
so she goes with her two children.
The Germans come at 6 AM
destination Auschwitz. Jews are just
jews. He couldn't say goodbye.
When his wife returns, she doesn't
know--- They come for her but she
escapes through a window wearing
a borrowed coat and scarf. She's
seen photos sometimes she thinks
she sees his face. Now every time
her name is spoken she looks around like a hunted animal expecting
to be arrested. Will it never end? 29
SHJE n Sister Mazy Ann Henn
shuffles some to warm her body some to use her muscles
She wonders the day has gone seems like I just got out of bed and its late afternoon
birds keep zipping around the sun kids kids they make fun of me but they don't know don't know kids don't know they're poor
She lowers herself to a park bench . watching a small boy sticks out his tongue at her She sighs no friendlier than it's ever been
HE ~ Sister Mary Ann Henn
si ts all alone
warming his hands
by a campfire
dreams are shadows dancing on walls where sun doesn't heat He takes out his bag chews hungrily
his eyes far away
his thoughts far away from where he sits alone from this corner of town where the last street crosses where he sits alone
He dreams of the land the feast he longs for He wonders where the time has gone
THE BA'ITLE OF NICOPOLIS, 1396 - Joanne Seltzer
Knights of the cross in captivity
stripped of heavy mail unhorsed, wounded, shamed soon to experience decapitation
must have wondered why they were forced to march behind the caravan
of their conquerors instead of marching
the heathen back home along with the spoils
from a holy war.
The winning Turks
gave praise to Allah
while the crusaders
tried not to blame God
for human error, touching on the truth: there must be eight pawns for each king and queen four pawns to a knight four to a bishop
and four to a rook.
Which side was God on? God created rules
TO YUYA, A MUMlVIY IN THE CAIRO MUSEUM - Joanne Seltzer
Were you perhaps Joseph of the coat of many colors,
Ancestor of Tut
are you homesick for Canaari?
to whom did you belong: the god you served, Osiris,
or God, the God of your fathers?
and were you left
at the time of the Exodus in the Valley of the Kings between two pharaohs and beside your Egyptian, mummified wife?
- --- -
JUST TWO MORE - Rose Romano
My aunt, keeper of the family history, says my grandparents were Neapolitan
nobility, owned property on the bay, named my father Victor, after the Icing -- they knew him personally. They seem to have come over accidentally. My aunt can't offer a satisfactory reason why they would leave a home of
respect and riches -- a count and countess --
to come so far to this classless
society, where they were just two more wops. I try to imagine the bay, the hills rising in green steps around it,
Mt. Vesuvius smoking, But when my aunt
. explains that my grandparents owned a villa in Castellamare, which she describes as a suburb of Naples, all I can see
is my cousin at his barbecue in his backyard in Staten Island.
MADDJ[E'§ HANDS ~ Kit Knight
Passing a Baptist church,
my mother pointed and said, "Frances Cloud's mother died; her late husband was a minister at that church. Do you remember Maddie?" I thought, I haven't seen Frances in two decades,
let alone her mother. I squinted and said, "Maddie,
I never knew her name. Small woman, maybe only 4' 10", stooped over,
grey hair -- I think, it was always covered with a babushka." I shrugged,
"That's all I remember." I sensed
there was something else, a vague impression, but I couldn't
capture it. For six of my first
seven years we lived in the projects. Rent according to income.
Sam and Frances lived next door, and I spent nearly as much time dancing in Frances' kitchen as I did in my own. I remember the night Sam beheaded
a chicken by swinging it over
his head. His thick black fingers
the white feathery neck. Blood on Sam's blue shirt. I was four.
The headless/runninglbleeding chicken
horrified me. Waiting
for this now silent bird
to squawk. Maddie shielded me
with her body, saying, "Sam,
you scaring Kitty." She bent down cupping my face in her hands, making me look away.
Her hands were warm
and firm. I must have looked into her solenm eyes, and I think she wore glasses. I still can't see her face, but I do remember Maddie's hands.
first appeared in Russian Riner News
THE DOG ON THE BATHTlJE a Kit Knight
It's a faded mustard color. I was three months old when I celebrated
my first Christmas and my parents gave me the toy dog that is four and a half
inches tall and three of those inches
are taken up by the head.
The dog is made of soft rubber. Perfect for teething.
When I was old enough to talk I christened the dog Frisky. An original name.
I didn't get a big bed
till I was seven (mom said I was a tiny child), so Frisky
just hung around in my crib. Then we moved to Long Beach
and Frisky went on his first
plane ride. Then we moved 12 more times and Frisky always came along. Once he got mixed up with ten pounds of rocks
and remained in storage
for two years. My dad retired
from the navy and the family settled in Pennsylvania. I went to college and Frisky came along.
He also earned a B.A.
in communications. Frisky
tagged along on my first marriage and he was there for the divorce, too. Three days later, I got married again and Frisky was home
waiting for us. A year later I put the little dog in my daughter's crib.
She thought Frisky
was a fine name, and insisted the dog belonged in the bathtub with her. Ten years later
when we were moving to San Francisco for eight months, I told Tiffany
she could pack a duffel bag with anything she wanted and her father & I would take it with us in the car.
Tiffany was going to fly.
The bag was crammed with a can of crayons, a special drinking cup, valentines,
two teddy bears and other assorted treasures. At one of the last minutes she ran in the bathroom and grabbed Frisky. Stuffing him into
her already lumpy bag, she said,
"We'll have to put him in
the new bathroom." The little dog will be 37 this Christmas.
Happy Birthday, dear Frisky.
IVIEMORY ~ Peggy Raduziner
Memory comes uncalled for
In sounds, odors, lights, and shadows As quick as the flight of a bird.
In fragments: a eat's leap, a sheep's bleat The quick beat of the heart
As it remembers other times, other places. Roads, trains, the roll of waves
All a remarkable gift of the past
From the millions of cells
In this all too human brain.
CRIMIl\IAL CAT A Peggy Raduziner
A soft, silky, solemn cat
Sat seriously staring at that
Broken vase lying beside her on the floor
My grandmother's beautiful vase -- Now no more.
She wistfully looked up at me With her avocado eye to see
"What reaction I had to this morbid event A crime to me -- to her an accident.
My temper grew -- felt full of fright I'll punish you -- no supper tonight
I shouted "How did you do this, how?"
Her tail beat a sad tune -- she answered "Meow."
TOWN SIGN ~ Susan Packie
The sign read:
Mashpee -- Land of the Wampanoag.
Their souls have long since joined the Ancestors
who had warned against the first Thanksgiving,
prophesied that at some distant time the paleface would denounce their race, lay claim to native lands,
declare there were no Wampanoag, that all had walked into the sea
the day they ceded their sovereignty to the Plymouth Colony.
Their footsteps led
past Pilgrims struggling to plant corn, cranberry bogs,
and the affluent community of New Seabury,
then faded into the sands of Nantucket Sound. Scrub oak and pitch pine
no longer hide feathered headdresses and beaded clothing,
the remaining Indian bodies crammed into small frame houses on the northern fringe of the town.
Only a lonely sign gives testimony.
EVE - Connie Ouellette
In that tunnel of exhaustion,
where my dreams counterspin within dreams making mind strip the everyday myths
down to the fossils they really are,
Eve is never slender, white,
vulnerable, like a lily entangled by jungle, but black, bulky, built for burdens.
Crusading through dreamscapes, I dig pit after pit:
riddle the ground like a one woman gun aiming to upturn some skeletal clue.
I hunch in a blanket,
cut through to the bone
by the cold Sahara moon.
Bleeding, cramped, haunted by Eve, I watch the sun take over.
It spikes up from the dunes
with the hot breath of hell.
My journey flicks by fast.
Here, there, I think I see her, squatting to birth another life,
as she treks across dying plains that turn to desert in her wake.
I call out. She does not stop. Just
points to a black man sprawled in his blood at the bottom of white marble steps.
The steps go up to a huge gothic structure
that prods and pierces the sky, makes it rain red. All but Eve vanish into sticky pink steam.
I call out again. She "Will not stop, but
this time, signs drop from her left hand.
On one finger: Dr. Charles Richard Drew Two fingers: Burlington, North Carolina Three: American .Red Cross, World War II Four: Whites Only
Eve plods onward, her babies hanging from her. So much for the dream ...
Awake, bleeding and cramped, I am haunted by Eve.
Not the Genesis Eve, oozing seduction, but the genetic one, giving her gift
of Matriarchal DNA
to her first daughter
right on down to me.
My body's patterned from hers,
as is my daughter's.
- ------ --
Our blood cycles the same way, knows and is slave to the same clock. it doesn't make sense that
Eve could have been the color 'of sand; you know,
a regular white woman. Surviving the heat
takes a body black as night.
Even the Tauregs, dye their wrappings blue as they can.
While anthropologists chart how far
Eve's dark skinned daughters
travelled towards the cold to fade,
where survival is just an engine unconcerned with the shade of its casing, the paradox throbs:
no one wants to acknowledge our roots weren't lily white
or say all women have wombs blue as dawn
with a moon magic lining 48
that wept bloody tears
at the onset of womanhood.
As I said,
roy Eve is black, bulky, built for burdens. And her darkest daughters still trudge on at the baseline of survival.
If there is ever epic disaster,
it'll be some black mother,
pushing her kids
to get through the mess just like she's always done,
who somehow gets them to safety.
I can imagine the faces
of a war ploughed earth
like rare black roses.
JAZZ l\1AN a Comrie Ouellette
The sound the jazz man makes,
rolling open that first note, long, mellow, folds over and over into the night club haze ... fine tuning clinking glass, small talk,
the scrape of a chair,
footsteps ... until
the jazz man's note becomes an sound and he can let it loose
to climb, swing, soar,
declare it has claimed the room.
The lyrics tremble in the electric calm
like bird wings brushing bells in pleasant accidents. The tension spirals, free falls
as he walks his voice along the old tune until he can dig in, drill down like a taproot,
strike the sweet flow
of a new-spring waterway to song.
He channels the fresh waters with care, working the notes with a single-mindedness that beads his forehead with sweat.
His body swings wide, joyously tunneling out broader ground. He knows he's almost there.
A woman in a red dress strains forward with him, his mouth, his eyes, the lush sounds from his throat full of discovery: here, here it is, the whole rush
of an uncharted river of music
and he dives right into it
with the audience following him like he was Moses.
The river swells and swells, is a tidal wave that breaks without breaking
Applause crashes in to cover the dry ache in the throat,
the glimpse of a miracle place in the mind that will only be recalled in broken echoes.
The Flamingo Lounge is just another night club: pink-legged waitresses, pink cocktail napkins with risque quips, hot pink noise,
and a honey skinned man clutching a mike, swe-ating, trying too hard at onstage patter.
It is unbearably human.
The woman in the red dress downs her drink,
fusses for another, flirts with her pouch-eyed date as if no other time and place has existed
but Saturday night at the Flamingo Lounge. 52
until the other side is reached.
Then a reigned scream that curls up to silence, to the stopped-world lovers sometimes know.
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