$2

ISSN 0197-4777

WATERWAYS: Poetry in the Mainstream March 1994

The human fortune's happiest height, /0 be

A spirit me/odious, lucid, poised, and whole:

Second in order of felicity

J hold it, /0 have waWd wifh such a soul

Joy Hewitt Mann 4-7

John Grey S

James Penha 9

Cathleen Cohen 10-12

Terry Thomas 13-15

Duane Locke 16-17

J Dan Payne Kincaid 18

Susanne R. Bowers 19

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 St. Pauls Avenue, Staten Island, New York 10304-2127 1994 themes from William Watson's Epigrams oj Art, Life and Nature (l884).

© 1994, Ten Penny Players Inc.

'\IVA TE R "\IVA YS: Poetry in the Mainstream

Volume 15 Number 3 . March,1994

Designed, Edited and Published by Richard Spiegel &: Barbara Fisher

Thomas Perry, Assistant

contents

Joanne Seltzer

Ida Fasel

Mary Winters

Kit Knight Hannah Alexander

David A. Bickimer Albert Huffstickler

2

20-23 24-28 29-30 31-40

41 42-44 45-50

3

THE DRUNKARD Joy Hewitt Mann

They called him a drunkard. "There goes that drunkard," they said,

meaning that he was not himself.

I said,

"Thank God for that!" The "himself' he was I had no use for.

When he passed me drunk something

full of wonder

happened,

4

for when he passed me drunk he sang like an angel.

No more the meek mouse -the man he was when

sober --

he was ... so ... cheerful but they said,

"I have no use for ... " "Drunk!"

'so something happened -he changed.

I had no use for

the meek mouse

when he passed me. "Where goes that drunkard so

full of wonder?" I said. He sang like an angel no more.

Thank God for that?

THE FARMER Joy Hewitt Mann

He knew the secrets of the Resurrection story. Plant

Seed

Father

Son

The wonder of the seasons; the miracle of dying.

What lay long in darkness always rose again from the sweet earth.

He slept,

he ate,

he welcomed sunrise and sunset and worked until his muscles ached and delighted in it

And when he slept

he slept as one dead.

He did not think but merely lived

in sun

in rain

and never knew the ache of an unquiet spirit when he slept his

final sleep.

5

NOT IN THE BLOOD Joy Hewitt Mann

He brings me fossils and bones

feathers

strangely chiseled stones -this is an arrowhead

an ax a blade for cutting fur see here

where all the lines are drawn? a word.

I'm Indian, you know.

6

He has a spirit in him my child

though I can trace no blood to engraft him to

"(hem".

Yesterday

we watched Indians on TV ~ sitting in chairs

plaid shirts and jeans sipping beer watching NFL

and yelling for Fritos.

No!

he yells

tears in his eyes and I explain how "they're"

just like us now

and he cries ...

and cries ... and cries ... Dehganawihdeh,

am I the only Indian left?

MY FRI END LYNN Joy Hewitt Mann

"Surviving Single"

under her protective arm.

There is a charm in her close cropped hair, her.softening form, the warm sweats and runners she prefers to coifs and

business suits,

and roots of strength twine about her form, making her seem

hard to some,

but women

cast out on a man-made sea, floundering in waves of red-tape and municipal tides of gang-bang, must hang on

for their lives.

She works for Family Resources where she courses the paths

of women

cast off the family ship

-- women and children first -by the captain

who after the abuses he inflicts refuses the support

as the family tips

into a welfare sea.

She is their life jacket with a packet of

"How to Write a Resume" "Daycare"

7

_j

EXPATRIATE John Grey

The American I do not feel also writes.

He does not hover

between metre and meter however; there are no biscuits

in his cookie mix,

no practise interfering with his practice

or lorries drowning out his trucks, no internal struggle for supremacy between the left and right side

of his culture.

But eventually,

I draw alongside that phantom, word for word, phrase for phrase, though I do not look down

to see whose lane is wider

or stop to wonder whether

that first hurdle

tires my head

or exhilarates my muscle.

8

MAMMOTH PRODUCTIONS James Penha

Only on a stage

of African dimensions can the herd of elephants

enter without a sound of warn ing. They are there,

a childish god's

monstrous toys,

small and gentle

on a red mountain made to mute hooves'

th under.

The wind does blare, and so they trumpet

and toast at the water hole, splash and spray.

TIny trunks are curious twigs to the gray timbers portaging great bellies back

silently into the bush

with the breeze,

9

DRAWING AN ORANGUTAN Cathleen Cohen

The male sits On a hill

With his back to me, Flaunts his disregard

As he hunches to examine A styrofoam plate

That has blown

Into his habitat

I have been still for three hours. Held back the need to pace,

Tried to breathe with the rhythm of aspen leaves, Praying he will

Show himself

For more than thirty seconds At a time.

10

His face is my seduction, Scroungy red bistre locks, Wide cheekbones

And magnificent jowly facepads Which he ducks

Behind branches

The moment I lift my eyes to his.

So I play possum,

Turn and put aside my charcoal, Ignoring him

As he lifts the plate

With strong, jointed fingers And mouths it

Delicately.

11

Bars bars stripes r----;~i~~~---'I
weaving muscles between them. The
smell of big cats assails
first. Then power.
Pouncing resting pacing. Leap rC~d1i:~ei1t~bhen i
over a brother for ! . - .... '.. !
l_ ..... _ ... :. ..... _.,,_·_:._:·.:.~ __ , __ ·~_ ... __ .·._·· .. J
delectable branch. Startle
as stroller rolls across
concrete. empty. Watchful like
a sphynx for gray
shirred men signalling feedings
of horsemeat.
Bars bars prowl orange caged.
Stretch a magnificent hindleg.
Shift planes with a
turn. We track their grace
with fragile eyes
hoping their souls will
break through the bars.
12 It vibrates along the spine of silence, fluttering like

a moth above tips of memory. Green eyes, darting from notes to ivory, fingers playing over warm contentment; this is what is meant by remembrance.

SOFT PIANO ON A SUMMER EVENING Terry Thomas

An etude to the past--

but sounds can't last beyond moments, dust requiems all, and notes fall into space, plummeting beyond summits of other warm concerts.

13

GOING TO ST. ELMO Terry Thomas

I'd been back hundreds of times -thought my way down dusty lanes, applauded by raucous cicadas

and noted by furtive brown spiders setting up shop in sycamores.

But this time was for real--

a physical sojourn, turning back forty plus pages to find the first grown-up tackle (bigger boy), biggest mud bath by the leaky pump and shine of pride in

Dad's eyes. Ready for an old prize.

But lanes looked different, glittery-eyed bugs were silent and webs were torn and empty. Couldn't find the pump -- or any mud, for that matter -- not

sure if I can tackle the loss of memory, big boys weather in too many suns, light is gone from Dad's eyes and I know that fun is finally in remembering.

14

I rake sycamore skins into the empty garden,

bare breath tingling, mingling with dusty twilight.

Hands into earth=dry, brittle; spittle moistening rough ground, heart rustling around in my deep chest like an old leaf

asleep in winter's cold.

I turn brown/black,

putting back green covenant, content that my continual contract will enact the miracle.

When I'm turned into bare earth my skin will sprout anew.

Look for me in young blooms seeking room--pathways

for the progeny of spiraling days.

I RAKE SYCAMORE SKINS Terry Thomas

15

RAIN - Duane Locke

,/

Among the cypresses, the rain was on the outside, a white gauze curtain waving over a green field

that had somewhat decentered from my point of vision a dark pond with a dead tree where standing on one leg was a white fluffy feathered water bird. The rain

inside the trees was only a sound of rain-touched leaves, and when a spot of dampness appeared on the sleeve,

in the heat of summer, it quickly disappeared.

The rain that paused art leaves and gathered rain to become a rain that would slide and drop, dropped in a space of stacked brown leaves,

a distance away by a cypress stump that between its roots concealed a frog, only his gold eyes visible.

Outside, these trees, their green and red lichens,

the world was blurred, objects lost their contours.

What must be a thistle was a purple flame on a green torch.

i[

16

I stood still, thinking how Aristotle would have loved this scene more than Plato because matter was waiting for sunlight to realize its telos. Although indefinite,

it still was too distinct and identifiable for Plato

to be real. My thoughts had erased the scene, but

a hummingbird brought back what was lost. The ruby throat said it was male. It flew in front of my face, stopped to hover, stared, saw me, flew away into the rain.

17

!

DAYS THAT WILL NOT DAWN AGAIN

Joan Payne Kincaid The past is paradise ~ Protist

It was the vitality

of the family

the history of everyday

and holidays with grandparents and aunts and uncles

an gone now

the best days

the happy days of growing the love and warm dialogues all gone to graves

leaving only dispersed relatives empty echoes

and intense longing to return.

1

18

-,

FAIRY TALE DRESS Susanne R. Bowers

nothing

and it flowed and billowed in the wind long hair blowing

but not tangled.

This afternoon

for the very first time she wore an all silk dress to an afternoon wedding in the country

the store called it pepper

but itcould have been persimmon

paprika

or even pyracantha it was long

almost to her ankles and thin like wearing

Each time

she looked at it or touched it

it became alive like someone's skin

wrapping around her legs.

19

ELEGY FOR SARA ANNE WOOD Joanne Seltzer

Skin turns to dust, becomes flotsam in the air we breathe-which doesn't prove skin can't rejuvenate.

A man with more than one personality trait,

a Bible expounder named Lent, confessed rape, murder, burial.

20

As I write this poem, deep snow and arctic air layered over the white sands of Raquette Lake mystify thin-clad bones.

The search for God's inscrutable finger

will continue until mourners find something they can rattle.

-I

THE BRIDE WORE BLACK Joanne Seltzer

The flower girl, fiftyish but so pretty

her jet hair could be natural. also wore black.

/'

As did the great Piaf, offering a dazzled boy love's remnants,

but both our party-throwers tallying together

one hundred twenty-four years and x relationships

(more hers than his)

marked their legal first.

In response to the Rabbi's plea for accord

the groom stomped crystal while the bride gave a saucy grind.

On their honeymoon when they unlatched

the door to something new strangers only saw something old.

21

RABBITS IN LOVE Joanne Seltzer

What does a rabbit know about mating?

she is coy, he persists. Or maybe it's

the other way

Darwinian theory is forgotten

when hormones flow;

natural selection becomes a thump, a hop, a jump.

around. And they repeat a hop, a jump,

another thump.

22

HIGH SCHOOL CLASS REUNION - Joanne Seltzer

Since a sentimental journey couldn't be arranged

I mail-ordered the video from long ago and far away,

saw half-remembered yearbook names, obscured by falseface, alternate smoochy slow dance

~vith jitterbug.

It's been a long, long time

but we haven't really changed, though smoke got in our eyes instead of stardust.

The blue moon shone upon greenhorns lost in life's blind alleys.

23

itA DAY IN THE LIFE OF" Ida FaseI

Roof taking snow, Amherst turning white you dressed white

Sister of the Order of Poet Alone

snug in a loving home, a cherished room a little sweet let down on a string

to children reaching without question

24

a note for next door unsettled by a spat unwilling to be teased and raised

to a likeness of amity just to oblige

How did you get to know so much tweaking God's nose

letting adulterous Mable in fascicling scraps?

MR. WHO - Ida Fasel

I was shopping on the 16th Street Mall when I saw a crowd gathering

at a small green.

A young man stood there, conscious of his hair

he kept shaping back. Cameras flashed.

And his little earring shone.

Nobody round me knew who he was. Except that he V-/aS a Celebrity. Speech! Speech!

He chose a few words at

a low-cell stage of development. A million dollars each.

All he had he laid on the line.

He was no Einstein but these days who is?

25

IS IT ART? OR WHAT?

Ida Fasel

Looking at Richard Avedon's pages of faces in The New Yorker men women

celebrities mostly

but no matter

men women

I saw thata photograph is a one-stroke poem like a Zen ink-trace

spontaneous after study uncorrected after brushed

as is as on ly as is can be in a moment a whole life

26

THOSE SUMMERS Ida Fasel

When we drove up in our old Buick, Mr. Briggs

would be washing the bow of windows (his wife Dorie worked inside) just as he washed and listened

when Grandmother and I sat in our wicker chairs,

a wicker taboret between. 'Nave after wave

in a wide sweep, wing-spread, tugged at the mammoth and raised it smoothly, higher and higher,

spilling whitecaps like a fl urry of small birds

on the run. We'd look at the sea and look at the sea and not say a word and like it that way.

She made me feel as if her life began

with our su mmers, the first ritual of comm un ion folding the slip covers mornings to each other.

When she played the piano she seemed to forget me. But she was the clock that kept me practicing

27 •

- - - - -

.oiIiII&

a full hour. Grandmother couldn't climb stairs, she rested afternoons in her library-bedroom,

but when I took flight, hushing my sneak squeaks on the glossy floor of the back hall, 'I always imagined 'the curved dormer under the roof

was her eye on me. While Marie's little brother swung his bat testing for an imaginary pitch,

he went crazy, romped like Jo March, raved

like the real Mrs. Rochester, collapsed shrieking

into the grassy bluff that took us orbiting the world and kept us spinning long after we were dropped off.

The "speech of my secret choice"

(as r read in her Conrad) touches

the lip of the Atlantic to mine.

She drifts lightly as calm water in the sun, radiates a soft glow my skin takes in.

The wicker chairs ride off into the distance, lashed to the top of a rippling car.

28

EYE OF THE STORM Mary Winters

is the calm between easing shut

the apartment door in the morning behind third-grade son and opening

up in the afternoon. She stifles a jig at the silence: its cause for potential; sensation of order not

yet become boredom -- she must be in her office some days or else she'd

"be straightening the soap in the

soap dish." Sensation of order not yet become stasis: how she regretted his ten-day visit to Grandma. Her

waiting for him impure, both yearning and dread: Son boring against the door pounding and buzzing the bell, hanging

low from the knob -- she can't risk dozing off: it's too sharp a retu rn as he shoves back the door throws

down backpack and coat his shoes and his hat Pillows jump up off the couch, frames on the wall slip aside

-- her molecules vibrate and dance.

---------

_ ,.,_. ....

29

SUNDAY AFTERNOON Mary Winters

When you are a parent, your

time is not your own: there must be __ especially if you live in the city -Activities; even on vacation no going somewhere to

read in bed for two weeks. And so

one Sunday, since a family can

only go to the natural history museum so many times, you t'NO took the boy to a field (really an uneven patch left by crossing superhighways) in

Queens near a gas station to watch the

30

jets landing at Laguardia Airport -they come over so low you can almost wave to the pilots,

almost see the tread on the landing gear; almost get

caught in their extra-bright lights.

But that day the ru nway was

not in use.'you three stood in nearsilence, the stubbly ground

crusted with brown and green

broken glass. Fortunately, you brought a bat and a ball and a mitt -- people fixing their cars around the

edge of the field

watched the game, the storm drain in the

center home plate.

RETTA YOUNGER: 1874 Kit Knight

When our beliefs turned into "The Lost Cause," who better

to inherit aching Southern hearts than the ex-guerrillas who

gave us hope

with their daring raids? We have Yankee laws and courts backed by northern bayonets, so when

the james/rounger Gang rides, most of Missouri rides

with them. Pinkerton detectives have chased my brothers

thru half a dozen states

31

for eight years; meanwhile,

the rest of the nation

admires their style. They've dropped notes to pursuing posses inviting the man hunters

to dinner. My brother returned money to a stage traveler

from Nashville and papers quoted Cole's gallant explanation:

"It was the north that put us on the outlaw trail and we intend to make the north pay." The papers loved

the press release Jesse handed an astonished conductor

after a hold up. When

the state fair was robbed

the gang rode in at noon

32

--unmasked

on fine horses-and the leader annouoced his name and that was that The Boys were $978 richer. The Times called it

"a deed so high-handed and utterly in contempt of fear, we are bound to admire it," Another editorial was in awe

the county seat was held up in front of 10,000 people

at midday

and ended by saying

"what they did we condemn. But the way they did it we

cannot help admiring."

BESSIE FLOYD: CHAINS Kit Knight

Choctaw beer is made with barley, hops; tobacco, fishberries

and a small amount

of alcohol. Prohibition made it illegal, but dry laws never meant much

in Indian 'Ierritory, My state may have entered the nation as an official dry state,

but thanks

to the moonshiners, Oklahoma was sopping wet Charley drank the wild brew and once

33

used it to lubricate

a mare for a frustrated stallion. My Bradley

was there the day

Charley Floyd became Choc Floyd. Bradley was also present the first time his brother was caught stealing. Choc was 11 and

. a box of fancy iced cookies disappeared

from Mr. Harkrider's store. Ten years later,

me and Bradley both came in from our farm to say goodbye to Choc after he was convicted

of highway robbery. He'd

34

be gone five years.

Choc tried to shake Bradley's hand. Chains clanking. Big 01 chains on his hands and ankles. In the train station,

they had Choc chained to a pole. He tried

to make a joke .

Nobody laughed.

I could see the fear

in his eyes. Choc kissed his son and the baby waved clenched fists.

VIVIAN BROWN, 1932: JOURNALIST Kit Knight

"Reporters always say outlaws are worse than they are

and people hate us

for those very nonexistent qualities." Pretty Boy meant himself and other men who have been forced to go

lion the scout." The Public Enemy may have been correct, but still there was a look to Charley,

a coolness, a dominance,

a back-of-the-eyes grin. He added, "Papers only print half-truths; never our side, never

35

how they wouldn't leave us alone." This interview was

an exclusive, an only. Instead of inside cell walls, we talked under swaying pecan trees. The bandit looked at me square and didn't duck any questions. As he hitched

his foot on the Ford's bumper, Charley opened his heart

to me, in my white dress and low heels, and hoped. Using shorthand, I recorded his words. He first

got into trouble for stealing pennies from a post office;

before that, all he ever swiped

was cookies. He talked about

his five years--"waiting and throbbing"--in prison. Later,

36

as soon as cops learned a con was in town, Charley was nailed

for nefarious deeds and he couldn't get a job. He spoke of his wife

and son and they had needs,

too. About the robberies,

Charley said it was bonded money and no one lost except

the big boys. He swore he'd never shot at a man unless he was trapped. Shoot or die. I sensed the chances of Charley Floyd giving up

were slim to none.

-~-- -

ELLEN CONKLE, 1934: GONE IN OCTOBER Kit Knight

I sensed this man was as genuine as sunrise when he said,

"Lady, I'm lost and I want something to eat," He had

a two day growth of beard and his blue suit looked

slept in. Laughing,

he apologized for lookin' like a wild man and added

he'd been drinking and humin' squirrels, but I knew

better. No one

goes near the woods dressed in good clothes. Don't matter tho,

37

--

..,.;;.:a_

country folk are hospitable

to everyone. Even tramps might be angels in disguise. The man sat

in a rocking chair and read

while I fixed spareribs, potatoes and rice pudding. The paper said Pretty Boy Floyd was somewhere around my farm. This time,

as they'd promised before,

the FBI swore they'd capture

the killer. I'd seen pictures

of the bank robber holdi ng

his son and there's no murder

in the bandit's eyes, no smallness or meanness. The affection was touching. I'd read he sometimes stayed longer than was necessary in a bank vault and burned

38

mortgages. I liked those stories. Pretty Boy never hurt average folk, only monied men. My guest declared my supper was

"fit for a king" and insisted

on paying me. Then two Chevies appeared and eight men with guns spread out. My guest ran

across a pasture, toward

the trees, apples and ginger cookies falling from

his pockets. One of the eight knelt and aimed. Pretty Boy never returned fire. Two fully loaded revolvers were found on his body.

CHARLEY'S MOM AT HIS FUNERAL: 1934 Kit Knight

Thirty years ago we shared a goose down quilt when

my boy was born. But he became part flesh & blood and part

ink. The papers called him Pretty Boy, the sagebrush

Robin Hood; the FB I called my boy a Public Enemy and a killer.

I'll go to my grave swearing

Charley didn't have any part

in the Kansas City Massacre;

but]. Edgar insisted

otherwise. The FBI killed

my boyan an Ohio farm.

39

Hoover is a piss ant. A little

piss ant. Friends and strangers passed the hat to bring his body home. Even the town's bank-Charley robbed it two years ago-chipped in. The Cherokee symbol of immortality, the cedar tree, stands by my son's grave. Oklahoma has never seen

a funeral this big; the sun

is actually blocked

from dust raised by five miles of cars and buggies. Grit. We're born to it,

we fight it and we die in it. Dempsy tries not to cry

in his white suit. When my grandson started school, he was enrolled

40

under a different name because the name Floyd was already

too "hot." The ten-year-old

has always known

this is how it will end

for his dad. Ruby cries

as she sits with another

outlaw's widow. For years,

me and her have known

this is how it will end. But

I didn't expect 30,000 people

to watch me remember the warmth of my boy's baby body

next to my breast

under the quilt.

- -- ~-- ---

A SONG TO COME HOME BY Hannah Alexander

(for MOllhew)

walk into this poem with me you, whom I love:

we have rented our house for the" winter to mermaids: the walls are melancholy with drifting salt, the mirrors amazed

to watch braids of seaweed hair and arms jeweled like cobwebs of morning

the stairs are heartsick

for the music of footsteps

the windows rich with the fog

of our tenants' green whispering:

Time, that long-distance runner

will swallow the months like snowflakes until a night of clover and roses

when the dolphins and minnows wait, listening, the mermaids return to the sea

tak~ng the.fluted shells in which they sleep taking their combs, veils and secrets

then, sunlight, sing in a shower of gold! summer roses, grow big as artichokes rabbits, hurdle the tallest hedzes

o

house, open to birds drunk on honey and apples

who fill the rooms like valentines

searching for your voice

that is kin to theirs

all the mirrors will say

"we have never forgotten your eyes" and the stairs will leap to your feet

41

ANOTHER FLY TO SWAT David A. Bickimer

The flying flesh of the flirting fly narrowly escaped the jaws of the dog to live a bit longer at least

until I successfully swat it on the settee

the poet as fly swatter is not surprising flights of fancy are certainly at home here and death is never far away

really or symbolically killing the distractions which keep the soul mired in useless preoccupations

these preoccupations are such that not only have I ignored God's gifts

worse I can only with mountain moving energy

42

focus on them with attention still weakened by my early failure to save the preoccupied soul almost submerged in the quicksand of life which at first seemed so easy as to be fun

it has not worked out that way at all

my preoccupation entered my unconscious having its total magnetic attraction intact precluding an objective view even when given

just as steak and potatoes does not know of salt and how much better they will be with it so I have lived past the surprise party

at 57 years and only now in year 58

can flirtingly partially overcome preoccupations

as the dog's paws grasp at you and

his sparkling eyes challenge you to fun

you wonder if he is. not ~n t~UC? most ofthe time with the hilarity

of redemption lived in this enervated orb

perhaps that is the genius attraction of pets if you look closely even when they look at you they as it were look away

like they are seeing something you are totally not seeing

Now the dog rests making no judgements as to what is important on this Woodstock weekend the problem is that this is a life without seen salt which when sprinkled like fairy dust

makes all this transfigured and divine thanks to God's approach

across the metaphysical Rubicon

after which nothing for all its identical appearance

thanks to the salt of the earth would ever be the same

some die to cast ... that one

the divine mysterious grains have their way the transcendent is the commonplace

the trained palate of the soul tastes eternity the trained psyche's eyes see past the here and now to the eternal realities which is all there is

so it is not the lost keys to the cabin

nor the found squeegee ball for the pampered pooch nor the latin beat on the radio nor

the game of golf just over that

should preoccupy us-no-

it is the more-real invisible that is so not for any quality of its own

but for our lack of ability to perceive

43

yet even under the most perfect of circumstances to see the divine is really simply to share

in the divine setting itself

something that the eastern clerics observed as not guaranteed but a gift

of mysterious conditions not to be presumed

clearly we have been born blind

in a world whose appearance is not guaranteed even if we were

this discovery relativized our quest for certainty on our own and makes it a gift

under very special circumstances

leaving the poet with very little

to say which he can predict

44

the ultimate irony of course will be to die and realize only then the constant individualized love GDd has for us all the time as we float and expand forever into the universes wrapped in our own thought which holographically folds in on ourselves revealing God's love to be contemporaneous with the pickup in a lakeside bar where the pool table and the dartboard always find takers

and the availability of new sexual partners is the preoccupying topic of the night

but another fly to swat

November 3,1993

WHAT IT'S ALL ABOUT Albert Huffstickler

Once I gave a kid

a new copy of my first chapbook because he had worn his old copy out carrying it around reading it.

Strange

He thought I was doing him a favor.

He showed me the old copy. It was folded and torn

and dog-eared and looked like it had been read to death.

When I gave him the new one, he walked off clutching it

as [hough I'd given him

the gift of the ages

while I stood looking after him feeling like a king,

thinking how simple

it really is

when you come right down to it

Jan. 24, 1988 Hyde Park Bar & Grill

4S

MONARCH Albert Huffstickler

I have a chicken in the crackpot. I am the king of my home.

I don't need one of those furry little things rubbing against my thigh while I sleep, waking me up when I'm trying to finish my dream. I have a chicken in my crackpot.

I put it there myself.

It's got peppers and onions and celery inside and garlic and salt and pepper on the outside.

I can smell it cooking.

It's mine.

I did it all alone -uninterrupted.

Now I'm lying on thebed listening to the radio and smelling my chicken cooking,

46

I am not bothered.

There are no tampax floating in the toilet bowl. I have plenty of jon paper.

I am very peaceful.

When my chicken's done, I'll eat it, then smoke and drink my coffee and be very full and peaceful. That's the way it is

when you're king of your home

and have a chicken in the crackpot: you always get to finish your dreams-such as they are.

first printed in Oxalis, No. 22. 19M, Kings/on, NY

QUINLEN'S SILENCE - Albert Huffstickler

Quinlen sat beside the road on a battered suitcase tied with a frayed rope. He was wearing levis and a broad-brimmed hat, battered and travel-stained. The sun beat down on him. Beneath the brim of his hat, his eyes were.muted with distance, hidden in folds of wrinkles, tracks left by the sun passing and repassing overhead. A small, wiry-haired dog nuzzled his leg. Quinlen laid a hand on his back and the dog arched against it like a cat and whimpered. Quinlen took a strip of jerky from his pocket and breaking off small pieces, fed them to him one at a time. He stuck a piece in his own mouth and chewed slowly, eyes staring off to distant mountains. Let's see. There was something he had been trying to think out, but a silence kept descending over his mind wiping all thought from it. He had noticed this more and more recently. It was not unpleasant. Sometimes a humming accompanied it, like the sound of a car approaching from a great distance. Let's see. He had been trying to think how long it's been. He was somewhere west of Albuquerque and east of Gallup. He'd been asleep when the last ride let him out and only a vague notion of where he was. He stared off again to the mountains. Not much between him and them but brown earth. Sometimes, in his silence, it seemed that the humming he heard came from the earth, a tuneless song without words or meaning. How long? he wondered emerging from the silence once more to scratch slowly at his white beard. The dog sat down and scratched then ambled over to a rock and made a token deposit. When he tried 10 think of time, he thought of miles. It was late afternoon. A car passed, not even slowing. A beer can sailed

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out in its wake and rattled against the highway. When he tried to think of time, he thought of miles instead, and places. Faces flashed across his mind. He couldn't remember when he had stopped telling himself it was time to come in. Days flowed in to miles flowed into distance; time was the space between one place and another. It would not be an act of will that brough t him in. 1£ had been years rather than days or weeks or months, that was all he knew. Nights before he slept sometimes, a stream of faces would pass before his eyes, one after another, faces glimpsed in his wanderings, of no particular significance. Sometimes, it would be places, a street corner in some forgotten town, a store front, a stretch of road. It was motion he was locked in on. It might as well have been heroin. He lit a cigarette and wondered if he should walk on a ways. It would be dark sooner than he knew. There was money in his pocket for food and in the small pack resting against the suitcase, some cheese, bread, a small bottle of water, an extra pack of cigarettes. He didn't need to get anywhere today. His eyes crinkled and stared off again and the silence came humming back. It seemed to him that what had been lost to him in his wanderings was words. To come in he would have to get them back. The small dog leaned against his leg, and Quinlen's hand dropped automatically to stroke his back while the silence swept through him once more. This time he did not resist it but let it carry him away and up,

to merge totally with the heat and the light and the distance. Yes someday maybe. Not now. He was not ready to come in yet.

For Lorry T. First publislted in Tlte McGuffin Reader; 1993

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FOR APRIL the wind delicate as
Albert Huffstickler where it wind-chimes
will ring
too early- and ring we are dancing
late--i'm forever we are dancing
saving you dancing
a bell "" '*' ... dancing
little girl in the
and we all the light
will wait way home
for the all the way ;; '*' ;;
right wind home
together daffodils scentedly
holding it ringing you pass
(one hand In your eyes and bow
apiece) small girls fragrant as
up to bending a raindrop
curtsies fragrant as
49 a leaf wonder is: and braided we'll find
fragrant as what sky and tucked in than your
the silence what leaf your laughter turning
between what blade to the wind
two bells of grass little girl to sleep
ringing what laughter little girl a while
will we find hid among letting us
lI; '"' • that will moonlight dream vou
. not bring what are you
and we are you back? after? a while
left to wonder what are you after?
and we are '"' lI; *
left to drea m 'it lie '" Sept. 16, 1971
, I (you all little girl Houston, Texas
dreams and little girl no wind
all wonder fashioned to turn
now) and of starlight more delicately
what we belted aleaf
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