ISSN 0197·4777

vVATERvVAYS: Poetry in the Ivf a i n sr re a rn April 1994

The beasts in the field are glad, and have not wit

To know why leap'd their hearts when spring-time shone. Man looks at his own bliss, considers it, Weighs it with curious fingers; and 'tis gone ..

--~-- - -- ---- ---- ---- -~ ~-

vVATE RvVA YS: Poetry in the Mainstream

Volume 15 Number4 April,1994

Designed, Edited and Published by Richard Spiegel & Barbara Fisher Thomas Perry, Assistant

Hilary Tham 4 - 7 Geoff Stevens 31

Sylvia Manning 8 Terry Thomas 32 - 33

Gertrude Morris 9 Charles Pierre 34

Robert Cooperman 10 - 11 Joy Hewitt Mann 35 - 37

Bruce Hessclbach 12 - 15 Joan Payne Kincaid 38

John Grey 16 - 19 James Penha 39

Wil] Inman 20 - 28 Ida Fasel 40 - 42

Susanne R. Bowers 29 - 30 Albert H uffstickler 43 - 44

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 of Art, Life and Nature (1884).

© 1994, Ten Penny Players Inc.

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DRIVING TO

A DAUGHTER'S CONCERT Hilary Tharn

He said things he'd bottled up a long time. He was tired

of playing parent, tired of days in the office under artificial lights, having to ignore the sun smiling at his window.

I might as well be dead

for all the living I get to do.

He wanted the broad river, sunlight on green leaves whispering to wind watching reflections form

and reform on water.

4

Parenting pleasures, he saw as walls

she built around him, walls and doors with locks that kept him from his desiressun On his face, the smell of river

water and wind from mountain peaks.

We don't go to a daughter's performance every Sunday, she said. No, he said, but you don't come with me when I go

to the river. It's not the same without you.

She realized then three thinas

D

were the stones in his shoe: -

she did not love the thinas he loved

o .. J

he did not come first always and she was not his on demand.

1

IF YOU DREAM OF ELEPHANTS, YOU WILL WIN THE LOTTERY Hilary Tham

I never saw a Siberian winter or

a Russian steppe. Yet in the dark of sleep

I was Russian earth, my body a landscape of white and cold watching myself, antsized in iron boots, trudging the slope from hip to ankle. Knowing terror, the dustmote I moved left foot, right foot, left,

right, left forever without beginning, without

end, without even a footprint to mark the passing.

I Eked my dreams of elephants better but they only followed me home twice and Mother would not let me keep them.

5

THE OLD CHINESE ALMANAC Hilary Tharn

These many years of our marriage,

the almanac cover shows the familiar farmer with his pants rolled up, wading flooded rice fields, leading

a fat ox. Yet I stil! touch wood

when you hold me, husband me, haunted by specter of the farmer in rags,

straw sandals on his dry feet, pushing an emaciated ox, symbol of crop failure, spring without rain.

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r

NOTMANDERLY Hilary Tham

Last night I went back to your house in the old country. But the orchids were all gone from your garden, only a rolling swath of green grass

where your father plodded

after golf balls to sink them

into tuna cans. We had tea, your mother and 1. She, elegant in white hair and silk, was cool as the cucumber sandwiches

on the table. She called me "Butcher."

Then she went away, without reason

as people will do in dreams. The way you did dropping years between us like thorn seeds. I followed, losing ground as grass became jungle, the wind rattling briars, kudzu.

I am left pondering omissions, guilt

a rash like poison ivy in the blood something for the enduring until

it too becomes Past The heart

must learn to cope with letting go.

7

REITERATION Sylvia Manning

(He himself is beyond the kitchen, always darker than the day, where I can stay again, though

in another time, for coffee.

All there is.

This blackbrown brew unbuffered by cane sugar powder white

in old cup heavy, worn

ironstone, my grandfather's

This cup he used back then

in the still shadowed kitchen where his daughter speaks softly is all there is.

He is beyond pecan tree sphere, outside such given shade

As memory allows to wandering souls, holding ironstone.)

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WHO KNOWS 'WHAT Gertrude Morris

It was only seen as a picture a picture of an idea

a gray mass of silence,

in a place formerly imagined where imagining

is in the nature of mountains.

It was an idea

pressing upon the larger idea, still, not part of it.

It made a place for itself as it settled in

nudging the rest to perform the unusual

No one knows how it came there, but there it was:

a soft stranger

quietly waiting to start ...

who knows what.

Something was needed to make it shudder

in its soft skin.

to grow smaller, smaller, and disappear

as if it had never been.

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LE1~rER TO OVID IN EXILE, FROM HIS ADOPTED DAUGHTER Robert Cooperman

Dearest Papa,

Ever since Caesar sent you away

our house is silent as the ru ins at Carthage. Mama has strength only to sleep fitfully after weary days of srn iling at officials

who demand bribes for promises empty

as my poor, silly head.

It shames me to mention my little griefs, but who else, dear Papa, can I tell?

The boys of good family have stopped fluttering round me, butterflies on a rose-a phrase too stupid for you to descend to, but all that my brain can master.

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I do not miss their desertion,

but one former favorite snubbed me today, while Mama and I hunted for an honest consul like a truffle in a field of dung.

This boy rode past when I smiled,

his stallion almost as haughty

as his pretty face that turned from me

as if I'd betrayed his love with stable boys. My reward for forgetting Mama's injunction to ignore all who gobbled our hospitality but scorn us now, as if we're cheating tradesmen.

I pray you return soon with a potion in the form of a poem so clever

it will make him fall and worship me whenever my litter is carried past him; and when he whines he dies for my love, I'll laugh and bite a grape in half,

its juice crimsoning my lips.

Am I not a shameless daughter? Oh Papa, forgive me in your trials.

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THEOLOGICAL BLUES Bruce Hesselbach

There is no heaven; there is no hell.

There is only a booth where the vegetables swell.

There is no truth and there are no lies. There's just a big carcass all covered with flies.

There is no heart and there is no mind. There is only the childhood we left behind.

There is no ice and there is no snow, There is only a shltload of places to go ..

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II

There is no lust ancl no romance.

There's only the time for a song and a dance.

There is no peace and no goodwill.

There's only a highway that leads to the hill.

There is no sorrow; there is no joy. There's just the blues of a carpenter boy.

NEITHER LEOPARD NOR FROG Bruce Hesselbach

Here lies a flattened frog, em bracing road. A leopard frog before, though now it's dead And neither fish nor fowl. This episode

Has cancelled mind, and left behind a dread

Of nothingness, of atoms' senseless rain. Docs Thought control or is it counterfeit?

Is Thought simply the smoking of the train? Yet even frogs can fear that endless pic,

A pit that ends in nothing. Sharp as fire, Oblivion is feared yet more than pain,

But why should not a rest be our desire And mere survival weigh not on the brain?

Might mind and soul possess a resting place, Or be forever crushed, destroyed, disgraced?

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CATAiVfENIA Bruce Hesselbach

I cause dry bones to shake and rattle. 1 fatten the sow, and blight the cattle.

Never come to the pure, quick funning river. I darken irs brightness, and spoil it forever.

I drive the madding bees from their hives, ruin white linen, dull edges of knives.

I anoint the dead on the sales of their feet and wrap their fears in a winding sheet.

Walking nude at night through the standing corn I kill the dropping canker and worm,

I,'

expelling by the meteor's trail

all raging tempests, lightning and hail.

The poison in me has powerful features to act as a poison to poisonous creatures,

In the moon's decrease 1 find my power, in youth's virginity of butan hour,

With the starry hunt of Diana 1 fly,

one with the denizensofthe midnight sky.

A chest without locks, bound fast with a chain. A river of waiting, preparing for pain.

Who dies in my bleeding? Who later might live? Who drinks all my loving and all I can give?

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TOO GROWN John Grey

My own childhood is a stranger to these ones that lap around me. I can talk to these kids

laughing at their own antics

or dancing in the hydrant's

giddy wet music

but those years cannot.

They're antique as fine Wedgewood and eq ually fragile,

and are cocooned by wisdom, nervous, mute as stars.

My body casts an unwelcome shadow. My voice is lowered down

to these impish innocents

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and they look up to see it coming like a gray cloud,

heavy with warnings and advice. My time steals the air

the moment they are about to breathe it,

chokes life as if to better it like fingers plucking a petal. That childhood of mine

could slip inside their dreams, those bouncing kamikaze heads, as easy as a wink

but its eyes stand to attention and its legs are afraid to move and its laughter,

once as buoyant as oceans,

obeys the commands of where I am now before I even have to give them.

GOODBYE, RINGSIDE John Grey

and with such promise

in that spirited airborne farewell that I never took their southward jaunt personally.

But the older I get,

the more protective

I am of my surroundinzs

0'

the more the lea vi n as bruise

'" '

break bones.

The women have me against the ropes, pummel the air out of my chest,

and even the ducks,

in formation, pointed warrnward, are smooth like Ali,

not breezes.

I never knew leaving would be this aggressive.

Suitcases click like ringside bells. Doors smell of oil and lint

And cars pull out of driveways with a sharp jab to the jaw,

a succession of blows to the midriff. I can remember, as a child, watching ducks

repay the seasons

with a grand, free flying garden of wing and plumage, so light, so ordered,

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LOVEREOY John Grey

I was in love at the beginning. Even when] was uncomfortable

with ligh t, and there was just hospital blur, the blood of birth, I felt that shiver in my new heart.

It could have been (he shimmer of

glass, the' nurses bobbin" in and

"

au t, tangoing with trays,

or that first breast,

the sun, the sky, the stars, before I knew the real thing.

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Perhaps the sound, the hungry chorus that surrounded me, that I improvised on when I had no words, or the soft twilight feel of sheets beneath my squirming pink body.

I only know I was in love, fingers roaming around the cot, across my mother's chest, grabbing at the face, the breath of everything that touched me.

I t wasn't quest for knowledge or adventure for these things are weighed down with compromise and there was none of that

in my first fury.

In that tiny universe, I was dramatic, silly, tearful, deli rious by turn as everything I felt

fan away with me and, by the time of my first kiss,

I was already an expert. .

MOTHER'S LATEST DATE John Grey

He's sitting in the parlor

dressed in these gross brown and green plaid pants, a bright blue shirt, red checked scarf around his neck, wing-tips big as water skis,

thick grey hair parted in the middle, trying to entertain me

with boring conversation

about his college days,

how he was the best third baseman their baseball team ever saw. Where does she End these guys?

Makes me glad I slipped out of her into her arms

and wasn't somethi ng

she picked out from a

room full of sq ualling babies.

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sources unseen Will Inman

if i could remember further back than Self, would you be there already burrowing? even if i could look into my original

face, would that, too, close me off from

what lives, under? were you digging your dark tunnel through to a now beyond my thenreach? have you followed me, loyal hound or curious serpent, into my present life, or

were you here waiting when i first

crawled up out of ocean?

are you woven

out of this lifetime's issue, or did you

plait earlier hidden portions of me

into that dark side i sense watching me

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but that i have yet to see into?

am i, then,

so many rivers running in one stream-bed? do 'we have one direction, one fate? am i driven or drawn? or do i ride an invisible animal shaped to my own visible contours?

1 say i want to take control. be responsible for who i am and where i'm going. but sometimes feet turn and hands falter. time lurches, under, with direction and pace that do not wear my name

10 August ]990 Tucson

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raincrow calls Will Inman

in dawn dusk two lumps of mud turned into

doves. when i walked near, they undid themselves from a dust wallow and flew to the power line overhead. they mourned, and i v v histled back.

i used to believe their sad song was a bad sign. i sang it back to them to undo myself

of the wallow of their grief. one would answer me for awhile. then i'd sound something wrong

and they'd fly further off. sounding the same dirge from a distance. they'd call to each other but ignored me when i answered their sad. i talk with trees and try to con .... erse

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with birds. curved-bill thrashers have a bob-white call they make when they're warning mates. when i whistle it around my upper plate, they cock their heads at me as if to say, 'he's

breaking the rules.' i'm invading the territory of their calling. soun d has its own flu id lines, nothing to do with fences or power lines or trees. still i keep trying to talk with mockers

and roadrunners, starlings, woodpeckers and cactus wrens. i lay the yellowbill cuckoo egg of my false ca 11s in the nests of their

l . listening. nothing hatches but me.

24-25 April 1993 Tucson

web Will Inman

i have known spiders.

not all arc human. some arc:

with webs of words of eye-reaches of resonances.

some spiders catch and bite with their dark. some wrap their bright webs across our eyes. some reveal geometries of space. some spiders spin and unspin their gravities around us.

i'd never known space was a spider

until i saw that fine-string web at dawn: garden spiders do not weave their magic nets to catch dew, no! dew captures spiderwork with unintended transcendencies.

so, chaos

/

enhances cosmos,

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so it is with geometries: stretch such patterns so, space

takes over from weaver, distance

transports sun into liquid jewels: that large

clumsy radiates years compressed of one dawn's stillings into beads still shining with whose fingerprints.

we who wanted to live forever--

witness in one instant

dew-galaxies of incarnations: we could not live longer and learn more, god

must laugh when we grab the blue gristle of time, how

it dissolves our reach into sacred webbed

flow, how that instant now we know

spider's bite is our heart's eye opening

its last beat stretched silkbright and fine.

2 July 1993 Tucson

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WOLF UNDER THE WISE MAN'S HOUSE Will Inman

the wolf has dug her den

under the wise man's hUL

she has whelped four young.

her mate scours and scrounges respectable consciences for food, he swallows it, mixes it well, their gall

with his bile.

On his way home, he enters

the wise man's room, he shows what he's gathered, shares it with the wise man. who chews it all and gives most of it

back.

the wolf then crawls into the de n and spits up the nourishment

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for his mate and their four young.

every dawn, a different one of the four pups crawls to the wise man's door,

scratches, whines, till the wise man

opens. the young wolf shares some of

the food a second time with the man.

the man chews the food again, then gives half back to the young wotf.

when all four have shared,

the wise man cuts out his tongue and lays it outside the wolf den.

the wolves witt not touch the tongue

they already know what the wise man's tongue is telling them.

they urge the tongue to go share wisdom with people.

the tongue cries and crawls back into the wise man's hut and into his mouth.

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then the wise man cries, too.

he does not know how to share wisdom with people.

they're too respectable to listen toa tongue that has been denied by wolves.

6 March 1991 Tucson

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F

PAREN'Tf\L EFFECT Susanne R. Bowers

I never saw them

touch

like meaningless love

notes.

or

they were both indians

except in photographs which papered

the walls

of our

house

Most were in costume she,

a bare-back rider he,

ring master

once, they sat together on a boat.

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WHITE Susanne R. 'Bowers

a white canoe, my bathtub,

I drift softly

in a pure white, tile white

sky

under ceiling stars, watching

my arms floating, sucking

on a washcloth, humming

a mantra

elves play in my bathtub fairies dance

someone will bring me a bouq uet of Dowers

Chagall flowers

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-------- - - ~ - -- -

TOWARDS KEEPING DRY

Geoff Stevens

Outside the theatre & the Odeon

cars draw up

& girls in furs

alight

on silken legs & arms of men

in American Express card suits ....

Neck pulled in collar up

the flooding water soaking knees

leaking into shoes overcomes hair trickles into eyes nestles into stubble on my chin ....

Lips tight

with cigarette gone out I shuffle on

in wretchedness whilst taking down a mental note

of ways I've learnt of keeping dry.

I swear to choose the giggling route should opportunity e'er present itself.

Just ahead

a young man holds an umbrella & a waist

hugs her tight

so that the rain

ice cold & very wet gurgles away

like her laughter fails to put

a damper on

their happiness ....

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OLD APPLES 'Terry Thomas

I can hear them fermenting on the cool cement in

the cellar. Pithy now,

with wrinkled rings spiraling back to sunny days

and young pips, bred for pulpy bites, now you languish in eternal night,

Your tree was mine--

limbs curling toward heaven, roots snaki ng beneath

damp earth. We've ripened together, sun rounded and clear sounding to dark centers. Now we wait for the slow worm to tunnel, funnel life

in small snacks, Hacking

bits across cold stone.

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- = -- ---- ------

SHE FLEES FRO;-'·1 i\JE Terry Thomas

"I'm out of here." Then she's gone--who used to juice up, any way imagining,

(no thoughts of disease) not even asking for money, 'til she learned new tricks.

And I was sober, 1 think. But I wonder sometimes,

as the teacher, tutor, seducer, (Whatever), why she left. Now she's the teacher;

hell, even the tutor. Guess I'm glad to see her, but I do wonder if she's been with

my best friend, enemy, father, or some other tainted dude.

at the blood on my hands.

I'm a lucky guy.

She's back--andbctter; after bump and tickle, (what a pickle)

she grabbed me, physically, nibbled handily and asked, "Do you like it like that?"

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DINGHY Charles Pierre

A young boy's joy overturned in the reeds, waterlogged, beyond

repair, gently rocks to the only rhythm it has ever known.

All memory of affection continues to stream

through the uncaulked seams.

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THE KEY - Joy Hewitt Mann

It directs the world in its spin and stops it dead,

takes us into the eye of the storm and lays us lower

than the earth.

We obey it as instinctively as Nature.

What is the core and cortex, the reason and result,

of all thi ngs,

the key to ecstasy and agony,

and the indemnity

for all we inflict on others?

What is aspcrous as soured wine, blissfu I as ho ney?

What is the trophy

that extols,

the curse

that cripples?

What lives and dies in us? We cannot exist without it and yet

it cannot exist without us.

The tides move to the mOOIl, the earth turns to the su n, stars settle every nigh t

in a bed of dark cyan.

Sowe,

mad stars and reckless planets, luminesce in love.

We are born from love and

we die

for it,

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STRIPPING MOONFLOWERS - Joy Hewitt Mann

Afternoon

and my garden is sleeping in the summer heat and something

the flickering sun perhaps

or the shifting shadow of the house standing with blinds drawn blinking in the harsh daylight or this cool wind as it stirs uneasily among the flowers

brings you back. It is the wind I am sure now

that seems to sleep among the flowers and now and then

turns over and makes them ripple and sigh

as you used to make me sigh

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when you turned in my bed. Was it yesterday

1 saw you smile from the terrace

as budding stars of white clematis swarmed up the rising

and golden rain showered from the spent moon flowers

making you something immortal? or at least I saw you that way.

And now I am newly lonely

watching you walk down those same steps towards me

stripping memories from the drooping rnoonflowers.

A cold wind

blows across the grass. I close my eyes and

1 am alone.

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IT SNOWS 2 INCHES AN HOUR FOR DAYS Joan Payne Kincaid

The beauty of the storm turns to terror

when you are stranded now at home

the lamplight spills on it

the cat sleeps in her box yawns and thinks

thin sonnets innocently certain the world

is happy.

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CHAOS

In Western Australia James Penha

The federal government callsit

arid

shrubland.

but it's desert to me when it hasn't rained two years.

And home.

The sheep, they're toO weak to bear

their own wool,

so we sell 'em to Saudi

for barbies. I guess.

Now the shrub, itcan last three years without rain, but we 'v c got the perfect balance here, if

of course, it will rain, before three years.

I can't think different.

A year ago, the crickets got real quiet,

and the moth hung on our panes.

Rain, says the black fellas, I believed 'em

'cause I had to.

So don't a big black thundercloud

-,-----------------

puff

across my station here quier.,

and it pours itself

right where the pond was 'til the sun shines

on swans and ducks floating

in the middle of the desert?

Thought it was a damn mirage. No sense,

yes?

so, it's got to ra in soon.

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BACK YARD - Ida Fasel

My genes lean to spring but I

would not channel-change the seasons to one only. The year must come round to its due time, grass and leaf

at their brightest green, the first narcissus at its whitest.

Time enough to be perplexed at eternal fading and return. The red of common clover

holds an angel in his natural fire. The red red rose could be taken

for wholly carnal, but who does? Only a back yard and no idea of how the land is being transformed.

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In all this abundance

with every tulip and primrose given a chance to blossom too.

Flower to bird, yellow to yellow: shadows lie in the light of both. Which is dandelion, which, oriole? Ti 11 one of them fl ics

one and one makes one.

r=

t.

RESTING MY CASE Ida Fasel

why is it taking so long

to recognize them? put them in practice, in focus?

live and let live our uniry,

setting aside gene and gender studies, honest abou tau r faili ngs?

Which of my addict brothers and sisters shall I [end in sickness

when they can't get high?

There are so many brothers and sisters, their eyes, windows in a crumbling wall.

t\ shower kept me inside looking out.

I didn't think After th is I'll have [Q water the grass only hal f an inch.

I didn't ask Will this soft expression of nature in passing

turn inca a gale force wind,

a twister?

1\'11' mind stilled. I just stood there

in the steady direction of rain

in the company of rain

one small step from rain

shining, entranced, entertained, and while it lasted

washed wonderfully clean.

I brough t the h u rly-burly world to the window when I came, [he bab ble of talk-show hosts

In my ears.

I fume but never call in.

if hu man societies have more th ings in common than differences

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HOW OLD DO YOU THINK lAM?

Ida Fasel

As I walked toward the stase

b

to get my prize

I sensed the thought of the audience She's older than ...

My eavesdropping intuition didn't catch the rest.

Yes, I'm older than ...

The number fell off my age

some years back.

When I think to check,

the computer is usually down. I'm proving younger than ...

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Not young in the way

I littered my time in the past with wastes of the moment, recovering only to repeat.

Older in that I'm more choosy now, spending time on quality goods. Ageless in wounds that never heal, the ones I clon't speak of.

POSSIBILITIES Albert Huffstickler

A man is driving home from work. t\ sparrow lights in the road to retrieve a crumb. The man doesn't see the sparrow tit! it's too late. The sparrow tries to fly out of

the way but the car hits him and he dies. Maybe if the man had

not wanted to catch the five o'clock news, he wouldn't have been driving so fast. But maybe another car

would have come along and hit the sparrow. Or maybe a child would have been standing by the road

and run out to catch the sparrow

and the car would have hit the

child. Maybe the child would have been lying in the road while they waited for an ambulance and the ambulance would have gone through a red light and struck another

car and both of the dri vers would have been killed.Maybe.

Maybe if we'd met another day ...

April 24, 1994 firs. published The Heretics Corner 1994, Erie Pa

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TITS

Albert Huffstickler

Nice tits, he says ""

as though there were bad ones. He means, of course, that absolute configuration

that mayor may not exist -

pale marple globes that caress the hand like silk. Meanwhile we have, in all its variousness, flesh" rou nd or sagging, firm or soft,

moled, furrowed, large-nippled, srnall-nippled, dark, light, murky,

pointing skyward, sinking toward earth, bulbous, flat

and, finally, that terrible abyss where one was and is no more.

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All this

and the sway of hips, lilt of head-

all those errant signs that let us know that woman is about,

moving through her element, bestirring, beguiling, beatific solicitous, salutatory,

eternal.

first published SEEMS no. 30, 1994, Sheboygan WI

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