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vVATERvVAYS: Poetry in "the IvIainsuearn October 1994

Through Formalism her feet progress=Reach Forrn.c-yet still would onward press. There bid her tarryl Tis, I guess,

But few steps more to Formless

"'VV ATE R""'VV A YS: Poetry in the Mainstream

Volume 15 Number 9 October, 1994

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

con.ten.ts
John Grey 4-6 Bruce Hesselbach 18-19 Lyn Lifshin 30-33
Will Inman 7-9 Joy Hewitt Mann 20-21 Mary Winters 34
Ida Fasel 10-12 Gertrude Morris 22-25 Albert Huffstickler 35-38
Matt Dennison 13 Kit Knight 26-27
Geoff Stevens 14-15 Arthur Winfield Knight 28
Christopher Woods 16-17 Terry Thomas 29 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 scamped, 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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EXCHANGE

John Grey

We slide poems inside

each other's fingers

like razors,

gentle but firm,

so we know the possibilities but don't get cut.

Reading you later in a dull room,

under a dutiful light, I lick the sense

off your lines

like chocolate from fingers and somewhere

you expose my guts,

twist implication into evidence.

But dam mit if there wasn't another poem somewhere,

your hand folding up

in mine,

mine giddy in the hollow of yours,

something swapped

like touch,

like glances,

and later,

poetry taking its place.

I've long since understoodthat it's not the work itself that matters

but the furtive act,

this nipping at each other's pollen like invidious bees

eager to know

and be known

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CIGARETIE WOMk'J John Grey

There's a woman sprawled across the retirement home's lawns,

her untidy dress

a feckless parody

of that complex's smooth-shaved grass. Her pocket book is spilled

at her feet

like a trash can,

its scattered contents unloved satellites

to this desolate chain-coughing planet.

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Red wrinkled hands drive a cigarette

in and out of her mouth. Her lips sag around it mimicking her shoulders. Though worse for wear, she is still too young

for this place.

She seeks its gray-bearded sanctuary I suppose for the numbing of its tongues

and the blinding of its eyes,

even the ones pressed against the windows, puzzled by the blur of her back.

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Most of them in this place grow old like grandmothers, hair bleaching white,

skin shimmering slowly

across still proud cheek bones. So light at the end,

they loosen from life,

blow away from its bud

like petals.

She just gets heavier by the minute. Bitter at everything

sa ve tobacco,

her sadness bares its teeth through dum b clouds of smoke.

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SHOE Will Inman

Shoe was well made. Shoe's character

was built into Shoe's shape, sewn in, grown in, by shoemaker. Shoe knew by its very structure what it was supposed to do, how it was expected to serve. Shoe was lucky: Shoe and Shoe's mate were bought by a person whose feet fitted.

Some

persons don't choose well: then they blame shoes. 'You're not the same shoes you were when I got you!' they say. Sometimes, though, even a well-fitting shoe will not have chosen the right person. Fit

ain't everything.

Sometimes Shoe's wearer scuffed, schlepped along. not bothering to lift

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his feet -- and shoe -- well out of gravel

or weeds or mud. Shoe fumed, silent but hot This Shoe never squeaked. Still, Shoe knew just what to do: Shoe invited in a small pebble or mud clot or grass spicule, knowing full well the painful intruder would take the blame. For a little, then,

the wearer might be more careful about how or where he (or, in another shoe, she) stepped. Shoe hated

to be walked through the chickenyard. Chickens

left such generous gratuities all over the place.

Shoe didn't resent having new sole or half-sole

after much wear. A good lathering shine almost always made Shoe wane to sidle up to his also

glowing partner. Shoe liked to stay dry inside,

though Foot sometimes sweated. And, God forbid, stank. Foot powder made Shoe want to sneeze, but it's hard to sneeze without a nose. He tolerated

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powder to keep Sock dry.

In time, Shoe knew that

wearer had grown old. It was a toss-up which would wear out first, Shoe or Foot. Shoe didn't want to

be given away, not even to an appreciative owner. Maybe Old Shoe would be planted on Old Foot. Then, Shoe found out most feet are coffined bare or only

with socks. Shoe felt like starting a revolution,

but what can an Old Shoe do separated from Old Foot?

April 3, 1993, Tucson

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MAN THROWN OVER Ida Fasel

Days like ballpoints you have to fight to get the ink going, jab and swear at-should be more than that

should be whole fantasies

like Lear his glorious dauzhter

b ,

Gloucester his loyal good son, everything rounded OUt, reconciled day's end

never is

Should draw from rump to the wispiest blown hair a line straight and sweet as bow to violin

never does 10

A friend says Pray and I try

Linda shed your grace on me.

Another says It figures

After the fantasy, the reality. Your bodies lost interest

in each other because

your mind's in order, hers runs on runes and crystals.

Both say You're better off. Think man. You're free.

Yes, free as a tulip bulb

given a chance another season to blossom

only as a tulip

never will

COMPANY Ida Fasel

Dropped off at the edges of the garden, gifts of wind or bird, wildness

with some finess, land-hungry, spreading out from the shade

of the corner pine to borders

of the lawn, and closer still>-

mullein, violets, columbine, bushy wispy yellow clover, Queen Anne's lace blossoming white as wicker on the porch

where the family gathered,

welcome as if they filled the empty chairs.

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CONTINUED STORY Ida Fasel

The high meadow is my front yard.

No need to dress, shirttail half out. Walking through the door is everything. The wind composes a landscape,

the bright clouds, the brighter sky draining sun of brightness

to new character in flecked places. Butterflies go tipsy in boisterous air. A brown thrasher sends out notes on the order of song, aria floated over and over, ripple and flourish artful, intense, tiny, complete.

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Time takes off from taxes, bad art, brawlers lined up face to face.

It's as if I'd recovered a day

from the International Date Line. My heart lifts like the little basket under an ascending balloon.

No body walls contain it.

From nature to iridescence.

One leads to the other, b. the other. What exactly does it mean

to make so much difference here where I am? Always in the act of crossing the line. What line?

DREAMWOLF Matt Dennison

Dare we invite the dreamwolf in,

to jump through our chaste window, carry us over the midnight snow under a far moon?

Dare we at this stage in the old game dare to feel the galloping charge

of hot breath,

rough hair?

Far past our window the dreamwolf runs, hungry, unconcerned

with us.

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HEATWAVE Geoff Stevens

Thrown like a pail of feathers by a circus clown

they fleck the air

and then come screeching back, seagulls suspended and flocked in a summer blue of seaside boiled viscous by the sun.

And boats lie silted,

wilted, tilted, in the harbour sand, their water seemingly deserted

to a dazzling horizon, oceans away.

Whilst, near at hand,

lager-fisted owners band together for a sea-trail tale,

a shanty or a shandy

that will bring a bite of salt to the tongues of sea-dogs lolling about, dehydrated, on the summer shore.

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MACGILLYCUDDY'S REEKS Geoff Stevens

Shadows of the clouds engulf the mountai n with a purple cloak

of darkness

dull the fields

of lying-down cows blacken the rooms

of the stone cotcage huddled by its barn the smoke of peat drifting in the damp stark pre-thunder air.

Lightning cracks the mirror on the kitchen wall

lights the ruddy face

of Kathleen in her shawl shows the steam

hissing out from spout of kettle on the hob. The heavens turn over with rolling thunder

rain splatters on the grass; Nature puts greenery back In summer grass.

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LAST LIGHT, YUCATAN Christopher Woods

This is how the world goes black, But not why it must be lost Inside a night void that lingers Until darkness exhausts itself.

Suddenly the blue water blackens Beneath a red clay sky

That floats above the bay.

A fishing boat crosses a bloody sun, The coconut man leaves the grove His arms full of furry hard bounty. All is right, I tell you.

All is ready for night to be complete.

Let me tell you how it is

In a place of spicy language, Simple people garbed in muslin. Believers still in old gods,

Their skin is dark as copper.

In the dark, in the light,

They are always wrapped

In a kind of lingering night.

first published in THIRD LUNG REVIEW, KC, 1989

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CLEARINGS Christopher Woods

They lase.

After light, and even memory Try to hide them

From us.

They last,

All those departed

In the great sequence That moves steadily on.

They form a procession, Those faces,

So many of them now Across the years.

Once you start to believe They are gone, disappeared, They appear again:

In forest clearings.

Because in clearings Faces live forever, Always safe in light On brittle leaves.

Forever,

Everything once loved.

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MARCH OF THE IOth Bruce Hesselbach

This godforsaken desert is a bitch.

We'd hoped for better pickings in the East, for golden swag and slaves to make us rich, and then become centurions at least.

Holding letters from my father's friend to Trajan's camp I went at Antiochus, meeting many farm boys at a feast, young men of fortune ready to attend

the interview. We'll pay respects to Bacchus and then become centurions at least.

Two wives I'll have in Africa and Britain with triple pay and hoards of silver loot

and frequent leaves to speed my lengthy hitch.

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The nubiles will appear, by Cupid smitten and military life's the fastest route

for golden swag and slaves to make us rich.

At Joseph's fortress where the fight began,

we soldiers soon had boiling oil to drink.

The hail of rocks and arrows never ceased and several times the 10th broke rank and ran for firebrands are hotter than you think.

We'd hoped for better pickings in the East.

Masuda was the last stronghold to fall.

The heat was like an overhanging sword.

We died of thirst near by a poisoned ditch and when at last our rampart reached the wall the sigh t of corpses was our rich reward.

This godforsaken desert is a bitch.

AivfALGAM Bruce Hesselbach

Unguent of toad

and essence of obnoxious weed combined and intermixed produce

a bright flower, but not without

a grueling struggle.

As years pass,

we learn

that one celestial harmony can come from (\<':0

old nebbishes.

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OFF THE WAGON Joy Hewitt Mann

Jane sleeps naked

on the bathroom floor

pink tiles cool against her breasts and the vomit on her lips

hardly notices

and the whiskey that screamed last night

whispers

"Wake up, Janie. It's Daddy."

and he is there

or rather

she is there with him

as he pulls her down the steep hill in the pink wagon

he built

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the year she was born the year her mother died pulls with his giant arms

his giant voice laughing into the wind

that howls

in their ears

... faster

halfway down

... faster

and he is gone --

and the hill sweeps Janie down alone

racing against the wind hurtling into space

and she can only cling to the wagon

and scream.

-

ME AND MARLENE FRYE

Joy Hewitt Mann

We were flat-chested girls

cut dead by every busty prep -and we were short too.

It was never cool to be such "little kids" with childish breasts;

fifteen year old teasers hung out like hoods against the wall

all silver-stud and dangerous.

This was the garbage "they" fed us

and we ate it gladly .

revelling in the stomach cramps of never fitting in.

We puked our torment in pubescent rooms where teddy bears and Barbies listened in and "bubble-gurnrners" stared

from peach fuzz walls --

" ... and chis too will pass" which it did.

So I've got tits now 36B

but it's too late for Jimmy Thorn and all the other heart-drawn faces from the years of "You're too young".

1 got the letter yesterday

-- Class of '73 --

but what's the use?

The girls who married "made it" boys

boast implants .

and thousand dollar lips

and anyway ...

Marlene threw herself

under a bus.

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DUST TO DUST

Gertrude Morris

Mother was always cooking, cleaning, dusting, as if to route her own devils, as well as

those that lurked in the corners.

when she died did They consult a ledger and say: Let her come in, here is

a woman blessed faithful in cleanliness?

Her spirit lingered giving orders:

Dust! Clean! I did what I was told, till it no longer had the power.

I let dust gather on the furnitu re,

in the air, under the bed enough to grow potatoes, orchids, I didn't care.

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Call it Creative Indolence;

writers didn't dust (some had wives); dusting was boring, infra dig.

But it seemed always to be waiting, to reproach me still

her surrogate, and

proliferating like wire hangers. Dust, at least, is subtle;

dust is quiet eternally.

Nights when I can't sleep

I think I hear hangers tangling.

In the morning there would be more of them.

I think I hear dust whispering

soft as a mother,

a friend.

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WAITING Gertrude Morris

Now in winter

shorn of leaves

trees stand simply in their wood.

But even on the verge of solstice

deep in the secret cambium heart a signal is given:

something is changing,

the angle of the light the sun, and the work begins again.

Leaf buds will form part the crust ease out,

tentative at first,

testing the pale sun.

First one leaf

then many arrive in a rush, suddenly there's a canopy, a whole green company

airing out damp new leaves.

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-nr r w--

MIMOSA Gertrude Morris

In the hot wind of August

it thinks it is growing in Australia,

swaying double pinnate fronds, lacy umbrels of fern,

shedding pollen from pale silk-blossoms on concrete

on cars

blaring and blowing going like wind.

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Unaware of the noise

it does not wake or sleep; night and day

under sun moon street lamp

it reaches over the fence

shaking feathery blooms, like Gypsy Rose,

snaking roots under the road bed, wanting to cross the street

and start a forest

AT THE ARTISTS' BALL Gertrude Morris

I walked out in (he summer night a harem girl in iridescent veils and ankle bells.

I wanted to be the Sultan's favorite: (read: Daddy)

Cab drivers honked and whistled at me,

their favorite, in the Harem of the Street. At the ball I met a black bride

in a blond wig,

at six feet two rather tall for a girl. Unmasked, unwigged was a tall black man who wanted to be the girl next door:

Doris Day married to an ordinary Joe, having his kids ... That night we danced and flaunted seven veils

till dawn tore the veil of night away, our silken lies stripped down

to the daily gray disguise.

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ETHEL ROSE JAMES, 1987: THE REAL ISSUE Kit Knight

Only a quarter of all

white families in the South

even owned slaves. All the men weren't fighting to keep something they didn't even possess. Yankees called it

The Civil War. Southerners

call it what it was, The War Between the Scates. I've studied that war; my grandfather was forced into becoming an outlaw because of the war, Jesse James. Southern governors refused

to relinquish their authority

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to Lincoln. Southern people alone

had the right to decide the fate

of the South. Some governors were reluctant to give power

to Jeff Davis even after

he was elected president of

the Confederacy. North Carolina had a shoe factory and Lee's army may have been barefoot, but not if the reb came from R-aleigh .. The first peace negotiations

were held in the fourth year of that passionate and bloody struggle. Davis sent three

highly ranked men to meet Lincoln and Grant aboard

a steamship. As the men passed the battle lines, soldiers on both sides cheered. Everybody

just wanted to go home. If slavery were the only issue, the conflict would have ended on the River Queen. Any ten of the 36 states could have defeated the amendment banning slavery. Davis said, "We are not fighting for

sla very; we are fighting

for independence." And

my grandfather said,

"We vowed never to kneel before any man."

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The white men plan to build a road

over the ground

where our ancestors lie. It's desecration, we say, but they just laugh.

At night we dynamite their bulldozers,

but they come back with more machines. They're always there, waiting. They club us with the butts

of their rifles.

My handkerchief sticks to my broken jaw

like a flag of surrender, and two of my teeth

are missing. I spit blood and ask for a doctor,

but they just laugh, shoving me

inca a cell. They say, "You can't stop progress. to

TIMOTHY TWOTREES: PROGRESS Arthur Winfield Knight

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MEMORIES IN MOTION ON A STILLBORN SATURDAY Terry Thomas

She rustles

into my presence with a starch white image. Never ends mingle, tingle and die along skin deadened to touch. Not

much of a melody, you say,

but my antidote is too expensive,

bones and feathers have lost their power and I cower in my sterile bed,

pensive,

cauterized by thought.

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MIDDLEBURY POEM

Lyn Lifshin

Milky summer nights

the men stay waiting. First National Corner where the traffic light used to be, wait

as they have all June evenings of their lives. Lilac moss and lily of the valley

sprout in the cooling air as

Miss Damon, never late for thirty years, hurries to unlock the library, still

hoping for a sudden man to spring tal! from the

locked dark of mysterious card catalogues, to come brightening her long dusty shelves. And halfway to dark

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boys with vacation bicycles whistle flat stones over the bridge longing for secret places where

rocks are blossoming girls with damp thighs.

Then none 0 clock falls thick on lonely books and all the unclaimed fingers and

as men move home thru bluemetal light, the Congregational Church bells

ringing as always four minutes late,

the first hayload of su mmer rumbles chru town and all the people shut their eyes dreaming a wish

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AS LIGHT GOES Al'!D THE DAYS SHRIVEL Lyn Lifshin

When it was as

if all grey was unfurling my mother started her one

way trip the opposite way. It never seemed

right with so

much jade and the roses exploding. \Ve were trapped in a house like a

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cage where light was barred. Towels tacked up to keep

the dark wood darker. I caved in, as the

road did, to

the blackest water running across and over, down, plunged into what I thought I couldn't move

out of, just kept

my mouth shut. In

this changed light, what's gold pulls off the walnuts overnight, the maple's stained with a blast of

tar, as if all the green that haunted through July

now would

be punished

SHE LEFT 89 PAIRS OF SHOES TOO HIGH FOR EVEN ME TO WALK IN

Lyn Lifshin

gloves never worn

14 pair of black and white ones with

no mate. She left

the slivers of a

versio n of the will with a chunk missing, [eft bowls from

Ba varia, an emerald she never loved and a diamond from her mother's sister,

beads I think are amber powder 6 inches deep in some drawers left gold pieces, dolls sun burnt in the back seat where their rubber arms were exposed, binoculars she probably used to watch my car round the bend, as she waited more and more for much of her life, a

. mahjongg set made in China, blue bowls,

old tea cups left

clothes I don't remember a blue

blouse she couldn't have worn, but I

can, left rings, my

baby teeth, a deflated red whale, left a luminous woman whose body turns to flesh

in the light, caramel glasses brass

shades with jewels

in them, then

left

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OUR FEET Mary Winters

biz toe crunched in bathroom door

~

by whirling white-mad sister;

toe now grown a strange and yellowish pearl at injured joint.

Family foot genes:

your long thin bony plodder and spouse's fat short

lily pad extremity

Family foot game: baby'son in

your lap, you moving his darling feet-my dear, "This is What Feet Can Do" ...

fun, hop, skip, ride a bicycle; .

kick a football, test a bath.

merged to form son's more customary foot you love to kiss and kiss.

My dear, this is what feet can do: run you out of danger,

some kinds at least.

Family foot history:

your big toe be-gnarled since age five; pretty shoes must bend ugly to cover it, that

This is what feet can do -tiptoe you away.

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IN FRONT OF THE GROCERY STORE Albert Huffstickler

The crazy guy yelling at the man who left his shopping cart in the middle of the parking lot has become the Conscience of the World. "Hey you! Move that

cart! You'll make somebody have a wreck!" "That's true," the man says and dutifully pushes the cart up on the sidewalk. He knows The Conscience of the World when he sees it, Duty done, the crazy guy drops his head and returns to his ongoing dialogue with himself.

SIMPLICITY Albert Huffstickler

110 condition oj complete simplicity

costing no! less than everything. /I T. S. Eliot

Like this:

I paid the rent On the little cottage, got the lights cut on (the gas had to wait) and I had ten dollars left, I bought a few groceries, some cigarettes and something co make sandwiches for my lunch when I went to work at Manpower. There wasn't enough money to buy anything to wrap my sandwich in so I borrowed a square of tinfoil from Janie, who lived in front of me. That same piece of foil lasted for over a month. Every day, when I finished eating my sandwich, I'd fold it carefully and stick it in the glove compartment of my car to be used again. It got very malleable in time and each new wrinkle was another facet to catch the light It shone like a jewel. It was a pretty basic time really. I didn't have a radio but I had a guitar which I could chord a little so when I wanted music, I sang to myself. I took cold water showers for two weeks till I could get the gas cut on. The stove was broken so I used a

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hotplate. No refrigerator: I bought whatever didn't perish too swiftly, 11: was October and cold. Cheese kept all right just sitting out on the counter=and celery, cabbage, carrots. When I bought meac, it was just enough for one meal and I cooked it right away. I was doing hard physicallabor--unloading trucks, digging ditches, moving furniture. I got home exhausted and famished, and by the time I had cooked supper and eaten, it was dark. Maybe, if I felt like it, a quick trip out for coffee and then it was bedtime. I had borrowed a small gas heater-one of those old-fashioned ones that spurted flame like a welder's torch. I'd go to sleep nights watching the pattern the flames made on the walls, my bed a mattress in the living room since that was the only room there was besides the kitchen. Some nights I'd make up songs and sing them. I wasn't writing but I did make up a lot of songs. And I drew-big bright oil pastels that I hung o·n the walls till the \ v -hole room vibrated with color, and every

morning I'd make my sandwich, wrap it in my carefully-saved scrap of foil, and drive off to Manpower to work myself in to a stupor. The days moved past I'd see Bob and Janie in the house up front occasionally and Jan who lived in the neighborhood and whom I'd split up with only months before. And just before that I had lost my income writing porno novels. So I'd gone to Florida for a month and then come back to start over. It was an innocent time.

My body, idle for so long, drank the activity. There's a kind of holy tiredness that comes

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over you sometimes after a really hard day's work, leaving you attuned almost in spite of yourself. Weariness pulls down all your barriers and you relax-as though peace were not something you achieved but something you let happen. Anyway, that's how it was for a while: I was letting my peace happen. Then one day I decided that I was sufficiently wealthy to afford my own roll of aluminum foil. After that, 1 wrapped my sandwich in a shiny new square every day. The old piece, from which I had derived so much faithful service, I discarded without a thought Not long after that, I decided I wanted Jan back and proceeded to hassle both her and myself co the point of distraction. And not long after that, I began the novel (never finished) designed to bring recognition and wealth in one glorious sweep. Farewell, Simplicity: the beautiful evenings alone, watching the flame-shadows on the wall. At peace, undesiring ... We will never know now how long a single square of aluminum foil, used day after day, might have lasted. But I close my eyes and see it still, crumpled, worn with use but gleaming brightly-a many-faceted jewel, a shining beacon floating eternally in the still dark of my inner space.

Austin Texas. August, 1977

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ForWATERWAYS' 16th year of publication, the magazine's 1995 monthly themes are:

EXCERPTs/rom Lawrence Ferlinghetti's book: A Conev Island of the Mind.

Copyright 1958 by Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.

January

Oh the world is a beautiful place

to be born into if you don't much mind

a few dead minds in the higher places

or a bomb or two now and then

in your upturned faces

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February

'Truth is not the secret of a few' yet

you would maybe think so

the way some

librarians

and cultural ambassadors and

especially museum directors act

March

the EI

careening thru its rhirdstory world with its thirdstory people

in their thirdstory doors

looki ng as if they had never heard

of the ground

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April

See Miss Subways of1957

riding the Times Square Shuttle back and forth

at four in the morning

May

Not like Dante

discovering a cornmedia

upon the slopes of heaven

·1 would paint a different kind

of Paradiso

June

and I am waiting for the discovery

of a new symbolic western frontier

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July

Don't let that horse

eat that violin

September

The pennycandystore beyond the EI is where I first

fell in love

with unreality

Jellybeans glowed in the semi-gloom

of that september afternoon

A cat upon the counter moved among

the licorice sticks.

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october

November

n,Ne think differently at night'

she told me once lying back languidly

And she would quote Cocteau 'I feel there is an angel in me' she'd say

'whom I am constantly shocking'

I am leading a quiet life

in Mike's Place every day watching the pocket pool players making the minestrone scene wolfing the macaronis

and I have read somewhere the Meaning of Existence yet have forgotten

just exactly where.

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December

The Upper Middle Class Ideal is for the birds

but the birds have no use for it

having their own kind of pecking order

based upon blrdsong,

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