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ISSN 0197.4777

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"\i"VA~I""ERVVAYS: Poetry in the Mainstream June 1993

"Energy is eternal delight."

"\.tV ATE R'\.i\T A YS: Poetry in the Mainstream Volume 14 Number 6

Richard Alan Spiegel & Barbara fisher -- Co-Editors

Thomas Perry, Assistant

Lyn Lifshin

Terry Thomas

John Grey

Patrick Sylvain

Will Inman

Susanne R. Bowers Joy Hewitt Mann John Alan Douglas Bruce Hesselbach

Waterways is published 11 times a year. Subscriptions -- $20 a year. Sample issues -- $2.60 (includes postage). Submissions will be returned only if accompanied by a stamped, self addressed envelope. Waterways, 393 Sc. Pauls Avenue, Staten Island, New York 10304-2127

1993 themes from William Blake's "Marriage of Heaven and Hell".

© 1993, Ten Penny Players Inc.


7-12 13-15 16-19 20-21 22-23 24-25

26 27

Kathleen C. Griffin

H. Edgar Hix Joanne Seltzer

Joan Payne Kincaid Ida Fasel

Gertrude Morris

Kit Knight

Albert Huffstickler

June, 1993

28 29-30 31 32 33-38 39-40 41-42 43-52



Black roses, flattened bougainvillaea. Cappucchino, baguettes of bread. The

sun, a purple ice plant of

light sucked behind

Berkeley Hills.

Sidewalk vendors

pick up glass beads,

copper. One smooths

a shirt the lime and

blood is already faded

on. Dark moves in. Rice in

pots for men in long over coats you know they've slept in. t\ thin dazed woman in white cotton could be heading for a safari, her arms blotched, tattooed, all tracks. Night's thick as the soupy rice a young girl passes out on corners. A gold capped tooth glows from an alley. Hashish, tomato soup and vomit slither over a man's tweed coat

that has the shape of his bones, 4

not of any suit or shire or jacket. He crosses the

street with a shopping cart piled with three books on geography, quilts some patches are missing from as if

the holes were windows to new shores he and his cat look toward. The cat regal

on the neatly folded rags that in this light

could be a silk and velvet throne, its leash rhine stone studded. Both, maybe, heading toward a

beach of palms and coconut leaves

only sun and surf lick

perhaps in Maui if the chrome of the care floats


She's clutching the mane and loving it as she holds on

to it thru black dripping maples. Here, he's leadinz


her, they're close

to her Mama's house. "yVill I

see Nanny?" my mother asked weeks

before she let

go as Allie doesn't in this sepia in knickers. No one knows she'll lead him by 11 months where neither come back from. Here she's curls and lace, he's only looking ahead




What if Shakespeare lived today?

How would he occupy his time

and pay for his condo? Would he open a hair salon (Willyrs)

and create poetry in curls? Would he ghost write

for sitcoms,

penning humor for

a healthy rating?

Or would he find his way

to public radio -reading compositions dedicated to

HIV positives?


He came at sunset--

sort of like a tramp, leaning into his shadow, flicking rocks into the dark

. ditch and pitching a whistled tune.

Hat in hand, standing quietly at

my back step, he paused for a

look-see before tapping gently at my sun scalded door. 1'00 you have work-for barn space and two squares?"

I didn't care that he looked used

by time and the road; he carried

a load of life in blue eyes.



I liked him. "Sure. There's walls to paine, wood co split and posts

for mending.uBending slightly at the hip he tipped a tired fedora. "Done."

for two weeks I cried to catch words and fill out his frame, but I didn't

even get a name. He worked--

in silence, like some coolie

toiling noislessly, endlessly turning stones or placing planks. He thanked me every evening at supper, cleaned his plate

and disappeared into the warm barn.

Too soon he was gone --

trailing tiny swirls of dust and

whistling his nothing tune.

Summer passed, than another and still more. Winters wore holes in my patience and slipped white frost in

my hair. But cedar burned brightly-more cheery than the man who

so carefully SLacked several cords. Posts are slightly stooped and paint has begun to peel again. I need renewing and listen for quaint' tunes whistled in the summer gloom.



We see him overhead, small aircraft,

(single engine fixed wing flying straight), His steady purr

and trim

seems to defy gravity. Flying to sunsets and back, skimming horizons, singing steady songs

and crop dusting clouds, he longs for light high

and rare. Aware

that motors may stall and props call for earth, you still give birch to lighter-than-air

stares, transporting

cares to lands beyond landi ng.



It didn't come in the dark harmony

of night - -

no three a.m. lyrics

whispering upward to nothing.

It didn't come with the dawn - -

light spearing through a melody seanng

in heat.

Ie came dancing - - a neat step

to close out my program,

dismiss the band and waltz me off the stage.


My perception

is narrowed to an empty cereal box - -

a little one

(midget munchies

for dieting space freaks). The top is ragged,

torn in haste,

and a green bird

leans toward

a fortified banner.

What manner of toil pressed these flakes for my brunch?

I munch in imagination, far flavors mingling with the roughness

of silage.

Lots of mileage from coni and simple cardboard, pushing my treads through the green day,




The monsoon floods have busted the bridge, though the trickle of river at the feet

of his truck gives lie to the bursting of the sky only a month before.

Hot and steamy, sky blue as the piano notes he listened to on his cassette deck

while cutting that cord of dust along the

bush roads, rain is like an exotic eastern religion, as good an explanation as any for the splintering of the bridge but offering slender evidence.


His twenty t\VO wheels sink down into the muddy flesh of the river bank,

still a good two weeks from hardening enough to hold up the steel monster and its sixteen tons of fuel drums.

He lights a fire, smokes a cigaretre,

cuts open a can of smelly hash, waits no longer like a truck dri ver in an inner city traffic jam but the way the trees, the brush, the stunted grasses do,

where time is a slow alloy forged from the melting of the weather into skin and, in the slow release of every

part of the body from the accelerator, distance comes to you like hot wind.



I never stop and ask

myself what I'm doing here. Why risk the moment,

that perfect bridge

across the ages

from appreciative eye to inspired art.

why cess a philistine thought inro the aesthetics, introduce doubt into

this endless church

where senses pray

to vivid gods of imagination.

I know the practical rules this planet like a dictator

but why not be

the relentless rebel, in moments as quiet

I •

as a dove SWings,

with weapons fierce as the senses.



ALISON - PATRICK SYLVAf;-'; Something sparked in room 208 which drew them closer - Their eyes were like a mirror reflecting

their internal happiness. Perhaps

it was simply a need to communicate, to learn, and to love which started

their human fire. Or maybe; their differences intrigued them.

Her skin and hair resembled gold,

her eyes were that of a soft blue Caribbean sea. The students were the color of the night

with moonlit eyes, and wooly hair.

They were seeking knowledge and a warm heart to welcome them in a land which changed faces

four times per year, 16

Alison was their friend. She jumped rope, hopped and tossed in hopscotch,

she repeated Krak! when they called Krik! before telling a tale. To them she was soft as a cloud, or perhaps soothing like a coconut slush under a hoc tropical sun.

She taught them how to recycle paper,

how co sing uplifting songs,

how to twist their tongues while uttering English words without loosing their own Haitian rhythm. It wasn't easy at first, but they helped each other in overcoming the smoke of distrust and prejudice which can drive a person blind.

She was not Einstein's daughter, or a Magical One, but the mirror of her soul reflecting through

her eyes, allowed her to view each child

as a mathematical equation without minuses. or as birds with lovely songs to sing.

We landed in.New York,

in this cold winter night.

All of the passengers went their separate ways, I stood there with a ~sample of broken English playing hide and seek inside my head. My ears

were coo slow to pick up

new sounds. I couldn't follow

long directions. I walked the way the others did, only to find myself picked up by Taxi arms looking for a buck. "I go to Boston."



They laughed.

Was it my Accent?

My suit, or my shoes? No, it was the question.

I was still in New York, lost. among the crowd, a voice yelled:

"J ust Come! Retounen anndan an pou al pran avyon."

Although his voice was not friendly, I smiled. A Haitian identified me as a new comer and said go back

to the terminal. My heart

played many drums before it finally found a friendly face who escorted me to gate 12.

I remember her, she was

an older African-American woman from Philadelphia.

Her French was as broken as my English, but her heart

spoke to me.

When [ arrived in Boscon,

I saw my mother and my step-father waiting.

My heart sang,

and I blew cold air like a dragon.


A REQUIEM [-'OR GLADYS LEA - WILL I0i;"IAN Once, in Manhattan, when Gladys Lea was in her mid60s, a few years younger than I am now, she was in vited

toa Carnegie Hall rehearsal of Robert Shaw's leading

a chorus in the Brahms' German Requiem. She asked me, then a little better chan half her age and sometimes

nearer her sex than my own, to go along. I believe we took a cab, but we rnust've walked one way, or partway -she lived on East 50th Street When we returned to her apartment, she pulled off her shoes, said her feet

hurt. Whereupon, to her astonishment -- and mine -- I

proceeded to massage her feet. .

'Son, you know,' she confided, 'no one has ever done that for me before now.' It just seemed a natural thing to do.

She was sitting, she said, on the very sofa where Thorn Wolfe

and Jim Agee had sat and got drunk and talked into the wee hours.

Gladys had moved north to get away from relatives' racial bigotry and to teach voice.

Her feet carried much Southern grounding, but, as I rubbed, I also felt Brahms' resonance walking fields as he beat out in the air his great earth rhythms.

After that much of the poem I began writing a letter

to Maia, was prompted by her note to telephone Kevin in San Luis. Didn't occur to me to mention massaging Gladys' feet. But then, Kevin told me he rubbed Maia's hurting leg, gained so much energy, he got up and

did one of his best readings.

Healing moves both ways.

OUf wounds are in our reach.

'Ve must never not. 21

July 4, 1992; previously published in Coffeehouse Poets Quarterly, 1993



You got trapped there In the magic,

he said

that's where you got stuck.


of fireflies

and elves and fairies in a pocket

as deep as a cavern

lined with dandelion fuzz a baby's bunting

first stars

glowing all night keeping the

ghosts away

I smiled remembering the little lights I always carried in my pocket



The night:

she set herself on fire accidently

no one was there to see her dancing wildly

around the kitchen

arms waving and flapping pouring water

on her breasts.




Rich flames like living flesh gather round the darkness. consuming light.

crackling words,

denying the stars their name.



pine sharp barbs of wind

tear across the cloud-capped sky and whip and snap at

whirling spume,

and catch mad weather on the move.

They fall from height to lapping waves of air

and send out shrieks like half-felt fear.

They know wild wind

is broken by irs strength. They know the catch is swallowed by itself.

AFTERNOON Bur the Poet
Jom·.! ALAN DOliGLAS Scientists Theologians knows
tell me tell me It as
Scrawled on the bed it's only it's some a little
cat napping, a pet. inferior species god
I feel a furry to be worshipped
warmth Scientists dominated. on ancient
on tired leg. tell me Nile.
it's only Mororiscs And my heare
a warm bag tell me
Shallow relatives of molecules it's a nuisance tells me
tell me under skin. to be ground Ernie is
it's only down. the soul
a pet 26 the world. J~ •


Oh double struck moon

d ri )

how do you grow so mellow an npe:

Blue rushing streams

hurl themselves through the lash of your lemony beams.

You sing the snow to sleep

and dance to the fir trees' rune.

We see you

hiding now

in a silvery hue

behind the sprawling maples darting behind their legs

as a little jackrabbit

chased by the naughty children.

, I

When you're close to us, you smile; expand I ike a grand balloon;

play hard to get, as you women do. Why must you rise away, ascending that ladder of stars, inconstant as always, saying adieu? We've been warned,

and we warned you too.

See, now you're smaller, older, paler, older.

Ask yourself why.

How long before you shrink into a tiny

near invisible

tear of sky?



I f I do not recognize you,

you must remember chat (like the fleeing three-legged long-haired calico cat)

pain is my sterner lover, extracting my fullest astonished attention.

It is all uphill from here: as the failing street lights just disturb the dusk,

one leg leans on the other, both on the scrabbling stick.

Weren't you happier before you knew what the wind-chill factor was?



It is a door you know

has an epiphany beyond ic.

You pound on it like a heart against ribs; like bare feet on grass,

jumping and falling, jumping and falling;

knowing the moon is roo high: jumping after the irresistible fruit, falling back on the inescapable earth.



I am your shadow on a gray day. You cannot see me on the concrete. You hear our heels click in unison and think I am an echo.

1 am quick and quiet as a cat stalking you with wide, black pupils. You can miss me or ignore me

but you cannot lose me.

Go inside;

I go with you.

Turn out the lights; I am all around you.

You think I am your image. You think you are the sun that you cast me from you,

that I am an echo hanging from your feet.

But, I am night.

And, while you are a scar, who are you in:

Who hangs from whom?



you spent the first half of your life rejecting God

the second

trying to make contact





is a form of religion you said

never taking God for granted

expecting to be reborn at whatever time

in whatever place

on whatever terms you had earned

with no inclination for surgery radiology

or chemotherapy

you nursed your silent pain 31

until silence

became the statement that death is uni rnportant because energy

never dies

old girl

I see you dancing in your next life as leaf in the wind as dervish


On the beach

a heron floats

effortless suspension layers of blue striations I sic

in high suo Spring at 4pm low key energy

green coming in willows stunted sumac stubs

plastic coffee cups forever boccie caps

dead raccoon half stripped of fur

alone with non-stop dobe I sit

on old plank

encenqg energy where there was none.



In Lugano that afternoon on budget tour I strolled alone -- my "daytime free" --

as if I'd JUSt alighted from the Concorde. I didn't think of adding a Museum

to my itinerary. The sparkling lake,

the tourists bobbing on it, the hubbub around me made only the merest blur

in a cranny of my consciousness.

I moved in radiance to an inner music, old-growth palm, olive, lemon trees gently rustling alongside. Out of

a dream wardrobe my floating chiffon, my flower-garlanded floppy hat.


Back home; in sweats, I jog past nameless

trees, a Walkman clamped co my plodding head. The music makes no magic for my bruised foot, no lyric sensibility for my ears.

Those elegant rhythms--

tradition, grace, dignity of bearing-why aren'trhey working here?

As if 1 were to Grand Hotel born?



Zeuxis, when you laughed at that wrinkled old woman, when the last roaf sent you boisterously to your death

at mortal vani ty offering to be

model for immortal Venus, were you

as smart as you thought?

Zeuxis, if you had stopped short of the overcharged language

of that last volley and set

your painterly eye to the same dimension as those of famous grapes, you would have come


co bone and marrow, to the pathos

of sci 11 unfinished desire, to love beyond the exact detail of biology: love for those one loves and cariras -caring, kind regards, for those

one cannot love.

Zeuxis, how little you knew how long it takes.


BOf\T StOpS me on the way co BOOKS.

Magic Marine, Bosun's Club, Admiral's Bridge, Full Service Boat Yard, Custom Sail Maker. Shoreless Denver becomes the shore.

The little shop bobs like a peanut shell

among the hooded craft. The door is open. Clem Cobb breaks out of the dark,

his round cheeks and snub nose nipped polar red, a Santa Claus in Levi's holding a corner light.


"To morrow wear your sneaks." He cocks his head, consulting air, his mind already made up.

"I'm putting Bell II overboard. Come by early," 36

B .. ,

Words all winter I've been waiting for. I'm 9. fast to cleck that frosty morning like a blade of grass sheathed in ice, I drop

with white houses to their ells and rise up whole. The sea pelts me with arrowpoints of spray stinging like rocks snapped from a sling.

The droning buoys give up pursuit, gulls fall back. Islands wind-cleared of fog scatter out of the way, channels deep between. We head for the horizon, all there is, all we're in. My hands tingle out loud.

How slow quicker's been since. Slow as my fingers turning the pages.




I have hacked and hoed and cleared this soil to a rich black passion

for growth. From my sighting point, flowers seem as far out as stars beyond telescope range.

I muse the dark, my hand narrowed down to tiny seeds.

am I foolish to think they will keep the promise of print and picture,

give weight to the shape and stature of a landscape I dream in water colors every spring?

I only know, as a future-watcher

I feel like a million, standing here, all the electric power in me charges up to the hilt,

posting empty packets,

seeing blue delphiniums.



In those days

we bought hand-loomed tweeds in Hester Street that seemed to bloom in the rain.

On his Sundays off

Dad sewed our coats and suits with buttonholes finished by hand.

He built a jacket

in slow careful stages as his father,

a Master Tailor in Russia, taught him.

Numberless stitches were sewn into lapels and when they were turned,

they lay perfect, light, and elegant.

Later he'd fall asleep

in the green easy chair till suppertime,

on Monday, start work in the "shop" for another week.

The fact was he couldn't seem to stop working;

Was he afraid to stop

as his energy ebbed?

Month by month he grew frailer until he looked like all the others, transparent, yellow as air.

In the end he was the smallest package ... a gift, a doll in a m uslin shroud

sewn by strangers.

There are times.I feel a weight in me

of all the bolts of cloth, the years of seams, father, stitched straight to where you are.


One needs

to grow into glamour. Fifteen years ago

if I wore a long skirt to a school event,

I felt like Shirley Temple with her hair up. No matter how much I squirmed

the dress didn't seem "right." I look

at photos from those years and I usually appear constipated. Trying too hard.

\Vhat was I straining co achieve? Now,

all my clorhes-veven old ones from college years--

hang better on me. It's easy to wear long gloves

with an ostrich feather boa and my husband just gave me a blue fox fur coat.

someone who wasn't afraid wid me I was born

to wear that coat. Other women try it on and most everyone wants to pet it. I wear

a black velvet cloak and


it's easy to stroke silver glittering body jewelry over my eye shadow;

and the following morning I can always find

bits of glitter

under my pillow and on my husband. Once

our daughter found sparks on the eat's whiskers.

Last summer,

my editor leaned toward me & Perry's hand approached my eye and I watched his mouth

form the word "what?"

And I said, "Shiny fleas. Very

shiny fleas."



I'm into barter.

I barter poetry for cigarettes

at the Promo Convenience Store and poetry for coffee

at the Hyde Park Bakery and poetry for copies

at the Union Copy Shop.

I'm trying to build a world

in which poetry is currency. I won't say it isn't happening but it's going real slow.

July 11, 1991



I climbed those small white mountains hand over hand, the crevice white and shadowy between them,

She lay there watching me over her shoulder,

eyes intent, watching my eyes as they followed my hands, pulling the dark cleft open to peer inside.

She was six and I was the same. We knew what we were doing. Her body smelled of heat, funk of child's sweat,

grass from the backyard, and the darker odor

moving up from the spread white slot into which

I peered and probed. Later, in Northern New Mexico, I walked the brown gullied wastes above Santa Fe,

up one arroyo and down another with a sense of imminence, a feeling of being about to encounter a mystery,


Ii -I

a realization that would shake my life to its foundations.

We live surrounded by our own carefully-constructed analogy and call it 'That" and "Them". The fissure

spread downward from the tiny pink anus

to the puff of white flesh enclosing recreated lips. I spread them, inserted a tentative finger.

Something like a seashell, wet, shiny. slick to the touch, pink, of course, but with the sheen that comes from

being submerged. I heard the sea in my ears-and smelled itand moved my fingers to the other opening, recognizable, and probed. Here was something I could understand.

I watched the skin fold around my inserted finger. .

Her muscles tensed, then relaxed, and I probed deeper, feeling the heat around me, feeling myself enclosed.

Still she watched, silent, taking it in. Bad odors


are learned. She just smelled personal when I drew my finger out. There's more. I learned her

one item at a time while she watched me, a mystery in her eyes I'd never fathom. Then she did me

in equal detail, the sunlight from a window, clear and complete, moving over us, highlighting white skin and shadowed curves. Making curves of

childish angles. Finished at last, we dressed and went outside, needing distance suddenly, needing to be somewhere

not alone. We lay on the grass not touching, breathing

deep and watching the sky move past, intent on our secret. After a while, we began to sing, nursery rhymes,

one right after the other, every one we'd ever learned.

first published in Worm, Brooklyn NY, #32,1992 46

COl\GLO~v[ERATE - ALBERT HUFFST[CKLER He looks burdened.

She's content,

sipping her coke, chatterinz

• b

while he hunches, nodding brittly--

as though his neck might crack

and send his head

reeling off down the mall. She's round.

He's narrow.

You imagine them eating, her shovelling it in,

him with his small grudging bites. So what links them?

It's there,

intangible and final

as a name. They're together

and [hey have business with the world, She'll always run forward open-armed while he hesitates


drawing her back;

and their direction will be

a blending of the two movements. That's all you can say.

~he finishes her coke noisily, rise and heads off blindly.

He gathers up their bundles and follows lurking along behind, ' scouting the way.

Cafe du Jour, Feb. 16, 1991 first appeared in tight, Guerneville, Ca, v'l, No.2, 1992



He meant to live a life like Hemingway

but discovered that when people yelled at him

he shook uncontrollably and couldn't think of anything to say much less do.

Violence made him sick to his stomach.

He loved beautiful women but was too shy to talk to them and most of them thought of him as short and ineffectual-which he was.

And every time he went to a new place, he got lost. Small slights affected him deeply.

It was like his skin kept sliding off, leaving his nerves bare The burden of doing small things without being overwhelmed was all he seemed able to manage.

He thought a lot about death 48

but stark terror discouraged any attempt at suicide. He lived his whole life down co the wire,

at peril each moment in his innocuous surroundings where adventures never occurred.

When death came at last, he embraced it wearily, no name on his lips, no feeling but relief.

For a long time afterwards, his ghost lingered, flitting from commonplace co common place

content in the knowledge that nothing could touch him now. Sometimes it would appear for a moment .

in the bedroom of a beautiful woman

shining with an unholy light

then fading slowly to a small, sad spark that vanished without a trace.

Cafe du Jour. Feb. 27,1988 first published Poke with Sacks, Toledo Oh, No.5, 1992



Felicia: the days go by. Yesterday downtown to Kinko's to make copies, buy copy paper which is just as good as bond and much cheaper, about $4.50 for a ream, then to Choices

for coffee, sit in that underground lair and meditate. It

is a strange coffee place, lying as it does below ground, and

it makes your thoughts different Then the bus home, starting to get hot, heat seeping into you,


and work a while, letters to answer, stuff to send om, somewhere lace I finally stopped and ate (Oh yes, after Kinko's bacon and eggs in a little hamburger joint next door, treating myself to breakfast, which I seldom do) another chicken in the crockpot, I

seem to move through life

from chicken to chicken these days. I expect any day to

wake up and find an egg in

my bed. But worked till

almost dark, caught up in

rhe rhythm of what 1 was doing rill suddenly just like chat

I was depleted and stopped and looked around and thought how nice it was to have a

thing that totally absorbed

me. Remembered the hurricane and called my sister, Martha,

in Fe. Myers, It had missed them, charred a little, then, feeling dutiful, hung up and watched TV and then read and then this morning, Larry banged on my door while I was wriggling into my coffee so I fed him


some coffee and listened a while (private matter) and then decided to go to the city library and sell them a book and look up some university presses so I did (both) and then home not having eaten and suddenly spaced out, had chicken and rice and then took a bath and had a nap

and woke to find the day almost gone and that was O.K. Late evening now. Coffee on. Sometimes this time of day,

I can feel the whole planet take

a long, weary breath and let it

out slowly and then look around to see what's been done and what can wait till tomorrow. And

the cars head home and the feet walk home and everything is homing and I am home in this small place typing while the coffee bubbles

and it will soon be night again

and the days go by.

Aug. 25. 1992

Keeping It Simple from XLB, San Diego, CA