This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
/lainstrcarn Junc 1995
and I am waiting for the discovery
of a new symbolic western frontier
Lct:;rmc<I F triir.gf..c!li an excsrp: from "Oral llf~sagts/l
Gertrude Morris 33-35
Kit Knight 36-39
Duane Locke 40
Ruth Daigon 41-45
David Michael Nixon 46 Albert Huffstickler 47-56
\7V ATE R'\7VA YS: Poetry in the Mainstream
Volume 16 Number 6 June, 1995
Designed, Edited and Published by Richard Spiegel & Barbara Fisher
Thomas Perry, Assistant
Sr. Mary Ann Henn Ida Fasel
Geoff Stevens John Grey
Sylvia Manning Giovanni Malito
4 5 6-7 8-9 10
H. Edgar Hix 15-16 Lyn Lifshin17-21
Joy Hewitt Mann 22-25
Will Inman 26-28
Joan Payne Kincaid 29
Terry Th omas 30-31
Charles Pierre 32
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
© 1995, Ten Penny Players Inc.
1995 themes excerpted from Lawrence Ferlinghetti: A Conev Ishnd of the Mind.
Copyright @ 1958 by Lawrence Ferlioghecti, Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.
You Are My Sunshine Matt Dennison
The pots, the pans, the walls
she will ever possess.
The young mother smiles at the babe in her arms
The first, the last, [he only
Standing on Tiptoe Sr. Mary Ann Henn
New to the world she reaches for
her mother's hand
so high above her Innocence flows
from her eyes
from her smile "Let's go slow"
her mother whispers but her feet patter qu ickly away
. She doesn't speak
. English yec.
Growing Up Ida Fase!
Whatis growth beyond the mark crayoned on the kitchen wall? Almost 13, I was raised co a level of vividness with a novel I took
in secret, in person, like Jo March, to the Daily Kennebec Iournal,
(he only publisher in town I knew of. I was tall for my age and in
my mother's hat-with-a-veil
taller. But not tall enough.
When after the diploma, after storming heaven with Plato and Brahms,
did I get to know what I had only learned about? In my brush with life bucking the hostile voices,
taking tawdry jobs, turning the cheek, having the good strong words,
never speaking up.
When I was carried over the threshold of intimacy nobody told me
it was a toll bridge to be paid for with many crossings ahead.
When did I come into adult feelings? It took so long for the fine sense
of heart and mind as one
to wrestle with pure contentment and win.
Running Stream Id.a Fasel
Beams of sun, gleams of water: marsh marigolds along the banks
of the stream that ran by our house-the hidden beginning to show golden nuggets of great radiance, gifts of May to open and share
with a breeze like gossamer
and water's gentle undertone.
In summer months I took measure of their thri ving. Then the stream silenced in sand. The blossoms lost their necessary watery floor.
How did I know I stood in a holy place? In the midst of over-and-done with
I was given thoughts
of over-and over-again.
The familiar wonders about me
remain a mystery but still hold
the light they cast upon a pattern beautiful and orderly asan Amish farm: eternal life ever present
in the come-and-go of time.
Chiselling wind whetted by the rain has cut the hillstone left the sculptured granite cores
to frown out upon fields of farms,
their moorland grass squared off
by walls of rocks.
Monuments to time,
the weathered shepherds stand and count
the flocks of clouds
that drift across the sky, and nod acquaintance
to the Georgian farmhouse, each casement window
a stare-back and unyielding eye.
Obelisks Geoff Stevens
In Dead of Night Geoff Stevens
In dead of night impenetrable
black forests of clouds fill the sky
all sign of lifc
.... except for yourself;
you are ell t off
by the sea
on whose waves the moonlight bobs
like blossom scattered on a lawn beneath a cherry tree. Mountain land
cut like a saw-edge jaws its teeth
from across the bay.
Walk Home from the Store Christmas Eve, 1993 John Grey
The lake, a ward of its thick floor of ice. Trees, bare and denuded,
bony as an old man's fingers,
the ones I keep a secret from the cold in these new lambskins.
From the store, past the second last house, snow, that great dernocratizer
slows us to the same speed.
David is concerned for my health,
this mechanism that, when pressed,
still propels me forward.
From a buried front yard,
old Joe Barnett lightens to the lack of cars, shakes his shovel like a pillow.
A kind wo rd forms in his jaw
and his mouth adapts accordingly.
And we are all dressed the same here, parkas, gloves and jeans.
Our clothes ko .. vtow to the family resemblance
even if we don't.
I am retracing steps, they make new ones.
Our tracks, deep and glistening, new as babies,
know no difference.
In 1922 Sylvia Manning
mama was born and so was the town's textile mill and so was milltown on its own by [he Guadalupe
her dad pushed a canteen cart, with hot dogs or such, something workers could chew clown without leaving their alleys
during [he Depression when milltown rats (as they were known) needed credit to feed their families
he worked in the dye room, red-headed Irish rake of a grocer by then, running credit slips on and on for a living
while mama by then who was old enough to make change 'worked the counter of the grocery, are her pay in candy when things got slow
when the thread mill closed in Belton whole families walked to Big Mama's (her mother's) milltown, hoping to get on with any room --
card room, dye room, weave room, shipping room,
seven o'clock, eleven o'clock, three o'clock shift or double-time
her dad ran off with another red-head once, once the Depression ended and he relaxed from hot dye and no cash so that
Big Mama came into her own then, began to manage things, began to hold tent meetings for a better milltown, more Calvinist,
which was where you brought us back to, Mama,
which was where I got my own sense of time
which was where one day when nothing else would do you walked across the street
to ask for work behind the steel doors with 1922 overhead
and so the mill let us live, sent me to school, blasted shift changes into our inner ear, let workers go out white with fibre in their pores, poured dye into theriver, made it indigo blue, and last of all,
the month you died,
scm you an $8.25 retirement check. 12
Note to Explain Sylvia Manning
Why I'm sick this morning is my learning
they're still killing mountain lions
in Starr County.
(I have seen
I am trying getting down to the essence of
the pain in the ridges of my shoulder.
I am trying to recover from a wound-like piece of pain in the stretches of my flat skeleton.
And 1 am telling you
I did not know
after all this time
bu t I know now
that in Texas we kill cougars to this day in Starr County,
and this explains it.
June 9, 1992, Palrnvicw
From the Rocks Giovanni Malito
A lone gray bird, outrider
to a fleet of slow-moving clouds, dim-dips, flying in shadows
out over the growing darkness of advancing stars and storms.
It saunters into the wincl,
the rain and the vast pit
of a great dark world
where fogs do battle
and the mists rise.
In a rapture of flight
on wings eager and palpitant it glories in chance
between the long borders where foam and drift are
the waves sundered.
A lone gray bird, plunges
and then rises from the waves that rear but crumble.
There is a movement
that dangles from its mouth, a lone gray fish
I had seen from the rocks.
Srarship Portal H. Edgar Hix
I 'want a window into the night;
the silent night whose angel stars sing no songs, fulfill no prophecies.
I need a window into the night that is space where the billion billion stars are immortal days.
I will sing no songs into that silence. My wordless eyes will be praise enough when I have a window
flecking her hair with stars
and mirroring my face into the Black.
Holy Night H. Edgar Hix
Night without aliens. No UFOs
Silent stars like politicians telling us ever/thing
they want us to know, nothing they'd rather keep to themselves.
These J til ys Lyn Lifshin
seemed, Only the Campus theater was air conditioned. I folded shorts all week
in my uncle's department store where a fan didn't do much, shifted my \veight, checked twice a day . hoping it would
go down. I wondered if the dark haired man
fling back the smell of light
in the grey living room light moving over the chocolate and pistachio comedy and tragedy lamp and the broken vase pussy willows hung on in suspended as the hoc musk
from the apple orchard would stop in for men's work boots, if
1 could pull my waist into 18 inches, not
pass out. And when I might have something to write about
Back in Providence Lyn Lifshin
leaves on cobblestone long enough ago I could ha ve a daughter older than I was, swirl
around my ankles again and I think this was [he first city I read my poems aloud to any
one in, said to another graduate student they
were Dylan Thomas' poems, mixed a few of my own in.
I tried to stra ighten
long mahogany hair
in a tub we later put dishes in, the spaghetti
and lamb chops staining porcelain as [he last
year downs my dreams in a bed and breakfast
of soft mauve and white braided rugs. My mother
is suddenly heavy, with some thing growing in her
belly, a new sister wanting to come to my house to live and tho somehow I know she is supposed to be very .
sick, I can't see it or
see how not to say yes
to her as I do to what
I'm waiting to slam back
to me from those clays I'd drive a borrowed Chevy
town on Friday. But its only the leaves, the hill the
crunch of what is lapping
at my ankles, I still taste
see lights of buildings where you can't tell much as outlines dissolve
The Woman thing mowing of rags to love
\Vho Starts the Film grass. She's a who melts as
at the Portrait Gallery woman on a she tries to
Lyn Lifshin covered wagon touch him, asks
bending prairie if the volume
with her grey bun grass no one's is ok backs
and cane, poking moved thru as out as if lip
thru the back she unlocks a reading the
fO\V of fold up drawer [he samurai's last
chairsMonday projector's in words only she
at 12:27. The fills the room can fun backwards
wood in her with Japan or
hand could be an Indian legend
the bow of a of a fickle woman
ship parting who's punished,
water, some given a man made
.. 19 The Mad Girl's Ruby Lyn Lifshin
sucked toward a table of rings jasper and tigers eye
cool in her palms as
granite, jasper and onyx
the back of her
she sits in black grass surrounded by the stones clumps of frozen blood
or tears mixed with wine the ruby stains her fingers puts the color of lips on her knuckles a frozen rose
her mother always wanted to get named her
Rose Devorah for
came, like the white cat she wanted on her sixth birthday, to the door almost on the day she was born
give or take about
4 weeks. A ruby Friday, her ankle a welt of garnet on the way to therapy
past tables meteors could have fallen on the white
linen of spelling
an s.o.s. so she stops,
a grandmother v vith some thing in her throat, Dcvoran
of the roses, a ruby birthday, took her daughter at 6
to Ruby Fu's where
she flooded rice
with soy sauce a clot of rose glass, deeper than quartz she can see
her mother beaming over the tables past amber from Poland could it be
ruby for so little
she swallows puts the ring she won't take
off even when it
snags lambs wool and rubbed cotton, a last chunk of sunset a piece of something torn. \Vith a loop the mad girl holds ruby to the light sees pale blotches
the black unfolding like some photograph in a dark room pan
flares flames like
the ones that make
those she's attracted to unique, has their own beauty, is proof they're real
Peter Tripp Joy Hewitt Mann
He did it for a high cause, ~lIS or something,
stayed awake two hundred hours, they said, and the doctors were always
in attendance, checking
and blood pressure.
The first day was the hardest
and he almost fell asleep, but then
he couldn't have slept if he wanted to, after that.
Ic was the worms, you see,
spu n cobwebs in h is shoes and he couldn't figure where
[hey came from
until he S3.\V the doctor's tweed coat It was made of worms,
entwining in themselves like an orgy
of lovers, and it was then he knew
the doctors were after him, maybe theywere worms themselves or monsters of another sort,
bur what ever they were, he knew it was a plot, and
they were after him, and in the end he went quite insane.
I've always thought that if
I could get by on less sleep, I could write more poetry. I've always meant to try it,
and maybe I will.
Poets arc insane anyway, aren't we?
Coffee Ceremonies Joy Hewitt Marin
Hiroko slips across the kitchen floor
on toes of ice to where the coffee waits,
lights a Vantage, reads the paper
her breath a whisper while her husband sleeps.
Sitting in a zaisu she ... venders who she is, drinks another coffee,
does her face at the table while she ... vatches cable TV
drinks another coffee. "Today" is on; ' ..
today goes on and on, ballet-jazz,
fast lunch with friends, tofu soup and
English classes, swimming lessons, does her face again,
and home to clean the house ...
tatarni ready for weekend guests and Hiroko ready for ... ?
published in [apanophile, 1993 as 'American Geisha'
The Day I Got My Wings
Joy Hewitt Mann
These summer migrations were the reluctant eases
of my childhood,
threading through the eyes of aunts, and uncles and cousins twice-removed,
our way Out west
rou ted north to catch the cheapest rates at cheap motels where Mother loved "eating out", my father
sending back my hardboiled eggs (I liked them soft inside)
mat I'd have eaten raw if only the waitress -- and everyone --
wouldn't have looked at me so.
I was thirteen.
Cousin George -- fourteen -- '.vas in the john
when lstumbled from his family bed, pushed the unlocked door,
and collided with his eyes.
A song throbbed in my trembling nest and I, .
unsure as a newforrncd bird 'where its home should be, wanted frantically back
into my shell of innocence,
and George-- fourteen -lingered a little
before he slammed the door.
be still and know Will Inman
newest frontier is firstest: center self:
here genesis begins again and again, reaching infinite OUT, coiling infinite IN: our sometime healing may be found in out-there pieces, yet wholeness moves two ways at once in spiral breathsurges from center, god
cannot rescore one who is not one with all that is and who is one with all
needs no restoring, but no, never shrink back wanting, you always and already carry all that is past, all that now is, all shaping yet to be, listen to that inmost beat of skywings you will hear what's known in you you didn't know you never did not know.
paradox generates out of nothing: nothi ng that is C,,,"" be, yet here it IS: we stretch our skullribs, heartminds, sweating impossibles that keep affirming us to our waking.
anything really new works in how we learn to look, SEE, listen, HEAR what never was not. we only now discover our limits are only
in us, what jacob's ladders, what bridges, what space probes, what BE STILL Ai.'\O KNOW that furthest out-there blooms lotus in our deepest
September 4, 1994, Tucson
the woods beyond the clearing Will Inman
(jor Alofft Hlljfi-ricklff)
Huff has his own way of knowing.
He peels off externals. Layers and layers. He goes in until there is no more out
to go into. Then he starts peeling layers
on the other side of L'i", the place we call ZERO. The CLEf\RI:'\C. He even had a stroke [Q help him go beyond where poets
arc supposed to be able to go.
Those inmost layers,
THE WOODS. BEYO:--:D THE CLEARI:-;C,
he opens up but does not shed, he enters
but docs not violate. He's not only discovering,
he's creating that other, that most most IN, that ami-gravity real
dimension. It's the place dreams have roots in, where they come from
to show us 'what we call REAL is not the only real there is. Huff
'is at home there, even if he has to go off balance in this world
to get that far down deep into that other place. I try to go wi rh him.
but I don't yet have a wand he calls his cane and I keep forgetting
to rake off my shoes.
May 5, 1995, Tucson
Songbirds Joan Payne Kincaid
for some Messiah
of animals and habitats while no one hears their final
Storm Terry Thomas
i\ storm is coming in.
Nerves hum like my old fence, bearing against gusts,
dust driving gray spikes
into wormed holes. Clothesline pole vibrates, evil tongue
undoing cotton and silk innocence. Bums beg shelter) pelted
with summer icc, but it's nice
to have company in the closed kitchen. Listen, the wind tells tall tales,
hail punctuating short sentences;
we're penned in this small room,
breathing out on the loudest ticks from the old clock.
"Say, doc, could we have some coffee?" I stir wind-scoured hands,
slow with fixings, in no hurry .. done. IThanks, mister. Sure hits the spot." But I hardly hear, listening
carefully to that loose shingle chortling neglect, forgetfulness
in peaceful hours. Over my boy's room, blown away too young,
debris now in some big city.
Pity we didn't fix it together,
(damned 'weather -- damn me for neglect). Bet it'll come lopse,~pushe.d away, careering into the next county.
"Another cup buddy? Certainly nice of you to put me up. Nasty out there." Is he in some shelter? ... out of
harsh words, wounding winds?
Look at my shan-time guest for the first time. Young, under lines, grime and too much time on the road.
"Tell me, son, where is horne?"
Tuning Forks Charles Pierre
The sailors arc all ashore
these days, and the emptiness they feel is expressed in silence. There is no great voyaging
over uncharted oceans
now that the globe has become so familiar. Tonight.
the ships drift almost unnoticed at their moorings. in stillness
so complete that not even
a lapping sound can be heard.
Yet high above the ware ••
at the tops of the mastheads. the rigging of each craft rings ever gently through the dark,
rings through thc life of [his night, metal tines striking the mast. sounding the possible routes
of uncharted passages.
The definite. constant pitch of each musical tone.
the stark logic of our art, complete in itself, now fills the harbor, gracing the dark.
Lost ... Lizard Gertrude Morris
when the pee lizard hiding in the convertible couch given [Q the salvation army
was found sunning itself there
on the window sill they thought ir was a plastic toy
but when it moved the police were called
\1,'3.$ it returned to the owner of the couch given to [he asp c a or was it held
as an illegal alien
... they didn't say
(from a news item)
Coyotes Gertrude Morris
It was hunger drove them down from Westchester along the parkway EO the Bronx.
Three we know of. The first found run over on the soft shoulder.
There had to be a second (they mace for life.)
It \, v as found in Van Cortlandt Park
shot [Q dearh. If they were a pair
there had to be cubs
donned somewhere whimpering for the smell of her nuzzling blindly for the soft furred breast,
ir was hunger drove.them.
canis Iatrans: coyote
A third was captured in video browsing the gra ves of Wood lawn perhaps
on the scent of a vagrant vole
a fat rabbit
or plethora of pigeon frothed in gore. But what a skinny cannis latrans. What a sack of bones. No plumey tail.
More squeak than hO\\!L
A starving dog scattering meager scat over bones too deep to dig. \Volf Dog I would save you if I could.
I wou ld release you
far from highways parks and cities of the dead far from the hunting and [he howling.
(from a news item)
\Yale \Vh itrnan Sees the First Women 0 f YVar, 1861 Kit Knight
Yankees say the Civil \Var began with the 33 hour cannon duel over Fort Sumter. But no one died then. Southerners-call it The War Between the States
or The War of Northern Aggression. All Dixie wants
is to be left alone
with their fierce allegiance to states' rights and
their belief in slavery.
The Brooklyn Standard sent me to \Vashington to report on
this first battle. \Ve called it Bull Run and rebels called it The Battle of Manassas. And because of our industrial might--New York alone
has more factories than all
of the South--we expected
a Union victory. Both armies were shockingly unprepared. Soldiers go into battle, but not till blood is spilled
do they understand
wounds and death. Manassas ] unction is on Virginia soil and the defenders of home won. I watched the beaten
and bewildered men in blue limp into this soggy
silent city; cheering crowds watched these soldiers leave. Now, we have over 1,000 men bleeding. More than 400 dead. As the tattered remains
sraazer in two azed ladies
bb , Co
a plank table handing out bread and making kettles
of soup. The rain continues,
all day, and the ladies continue, all day, silent, white-haired, giving food as tears
stream down their cheeks.
Dillinger's Niece, 1934: A Family Reunion Kit Knight
Uncle Johnnie used [Q buy me penny packs of gum
and both of us would lay
on the floor--heads together-seeing who could chew
the most gum. I wrote him ten page letters while
he was in prison. He knew when I got my first lipstick. Things happen in eight years. 1 guess things can get worse in this Great Depression; oyer a Fourth of the folks can't
find jobs. Ex-cons don't
even coun t Johnnie didn't have a chance. Things happened. While sticking up
a bank Johnnie wid the people who entered that he was making a movie. He knocked over
jails and mailed guns
to prisons. Johnnie's skills were the ,~tuff of legend. By the time he was named
Public Enemy Number One,cops were afraid. When word gets out Johnnie is home for a visit,
the police turn on their sirens
six miles before they reach
the farm. When Plainfield Rd. was widened, neighbors.
joked it was so John could leave faster. Two dozen of us
were at the farm that day having a picnic. Grandpa continued
with his chores as Johnnie walked --a AS tucked in his belt--
with me, holding my hand and saying, clearly, he never
killed anyone. Everybody knows who's staying here
for the weekend. Even the bank president waved. johnnie went to school with Owen. The FBI has
an office in town. But they're lower than a gophers gut
and will wait till it's right
A shot from behind.
The Face Duane Locke
A nearby blue jay's sound seems distant at this time of year, a time
when the sky shivers with silver rather than being fashionable in blue. Schoolyards with loose gray sand inside reel bricks return and rain
falls without being seen or leaving marks on the ground. A youth disappears into the surrounding air, Finds the hidden dampness cold. Hidden, the moisture that touches, thickens, congeals into the fine print
that is unseen on [he document of his face.
Detour Ruth Daigon
she pilots the car
up the cracked driveway in to the street
after the stop sign
she changes her face and pulls into her other life
every street's a new language with purple mouths of lilacs trees crowding horizons
and mountains hanging in chains
with a hand delivered from all heaviness she steers the car while her shadow on the windshield waits like an older sister
the road snakes ahead
up the mountain
tires hissing like wings steadily away from earth
she's looking for a place where she can hear prologues of sun and rain
where the dark. eye of night closes
where rivers have no permanent addresses
she's looking for her wild-weed children all bark and twigs
chirping through summer
just about to become
she's looking for the point
where clock and compass meet then she'll sit in antique darkness drinking wine
staring atthe pacific
its waves drowning in salt and secrets
she knows distance and numbers divide memory by half
and by the time she's old
there will be nothing left to remember so she sits in silence
the seat beside her empty
and watches the sky folding back
Back Ruth Daigon
reversing the flow
back through the looking glass up from the rabbit hole
in from out there.
into the stunned silence of snow, a gray quiet
a stripping clean to the roots
and our breath making perfect circles.
Back to Main Street
with summer twilight spreading like fire in dry grass,
the soft susurrus of a slow leak in the
My hands stretching like antennae
now in this street now in that.
to wrap that child's universe around me once again
and warm this woman's frame.
Penicillin Ruth Daigon
what if the bread box gives off memories of that laboratory on Spadina Avenue
and the bread becomes a special shade of green, don't throw it out In honor of
Sir Alexander Fleming, let it be, That mold's a miracle and if it smells so much the better. Suong cures give off strong smells.
In my singing season when I passed that building mice a day, I was' safe inside that charmed circle
still protecting me.
Although I carry deep inside a medley of strong fumes, garlic to ward off polio,
In ustard plasters for pneu man ia,
fish oil to make me live a hundred years, none have the magic properties
of Alexander Fleming's mold.
It holds the flavor of conservatory corridors, floodlights, applause, my own special mail box.
And lately, it reminds me
of quick springs, slow.autumns, my mouth singing in the winter.
Friday Ruth Daigon
Friday happens all at once. It wakes with soft stirrings and floats toward the husk of day.
Friday tastes of apples and slivered almonds crunched slowly, the snick of seeds against tongues as juice
Friday serenades with violins and fresh cadences
of sound, a day of cool amazement, deep breathing. and litanies of Ii zht.
On Friday, children leave school early, mothers wax floors and bake
poppy seed cookies.
Friday is a river of
small shapes, snowmelt, sunstreaks and palmsmooth winds.
After climbing Friday's tree, you can perch on
the highest branch and
all the astonishments
wrap around you.
The Fbk i\1ay Plant a War' Inside Your Body David Michael Nixon
Beware the swirling chunks of metal that float in every human landscape. Often they nestle near [he bone,
where no sharp knife can safely reach them, and there they ache on cold mornings,
until the body longs to purge them,
and so may launch a storm of metal
twisting toward every flying, crawling thing.
Maintenance Albert Huffstickler
Sylvia says that Tony is the best person at maintenance she ever saw. Sylvia and I talk a lot about maintenance, maintenance being all those things that you have to do to keep your life going so that you can use the little time remaining to do what you want to or to pursue your real life's goal, which certainly isn't maintenance. i'vlaintenance involves a lot of things; it's anything that has to be
done from going to work to buying groceries to cleaning house (occasionally), paying bills, fixing a lamp that doesn't work, replacing
a light bulb, you name it. It's everything
that you don't particularly want to do and have to do anyway. And it's important, It's important because it keeps you going and so it's saying yes to life in a very significant way. I would guess that half the people in asylums and on the streets are there not because they can't do the important things but because they can't do the unimportant things: maintenance. Some days, it's like standing at the bottorn of a very high hill
and looking way up to the top. There arc fifty things you have to do and when you get done, then maybe you'll have a little time
to do what you want to. So you either stand there at the bottom of the hilt or you stare climbing. And how do you climb? One step at a time. And when you get to the top,
there won't be any trum pets sou nc1ing or flags waving. There wilt JUSt be that little bir
of time you can call your own. And the thing about maintenance is that it's never done so the next day you get lip and there's that same very high hill [Q climb. And that's it. Maintenance is how you pay your dues. If you're rich, you probably pay somebody else to do your maintenance. If you're not, you dog it on through because maintenance is the glue that holds your life together. And it's the rea! secret of Zen because what Zen is saying is, "If you JUSt get the bed made, enlightenment will take care of itself."
And if you want to know how I figured all this out, well, I got it the same place
"Sylvia did: from 'Tony.
jn);!1 Manana, n~mfc7'J.ry TX,IVro. 1994
I Never Slept in a Laundromat Albert Huffstickler
I never slept in a laundromat but 1 hitchhiked once from L. A.
to San Diego
following a girl from Phoenix
and, broke and not knowing what to do, hit on the idea of throwing myself
On the mercies of some"relatives who were not too glad to see me so I left and went back
up the blue Pacific coast to L. A.
and finally called home (collect) for money. I envy the people who do naturally
the things I had to learn by r!'>te--
and continue to do by rate
though it's easier now some days. But here's the thing:
sometimes I'll see one of those people who do things naturally
and he'll be sitting by himself staring off and he'll have this look in his eyes -bafflement, sorrow, fear-dike he hasn't the slightest idea where he's going.
And I want to walk up to him and just ask, "Did you ever sleep in a laundromat?"
But I don't, of course.
That's one of the first things I learned by rate:
you don't ask questions like that.
first appeared in Coal City Review Lawrence KS 1-994
Reading at the State Mental Hospital Albert Huffstickler
Sometimes they listen,
Sometimes they act out. Sornethings they listen and act out But when they listen,
you can read anything. Nothing's too heavy; they've been there.
And the scarred, emotion-ravaged faces lift to you like broken, discarded flowers and there's a stillness sometimes
lasting only for a fraction of a second maybe but we're all richer for it.
Then they get up and read their own stuff: mostly moonjune, how I love you,
how 1 cried when you left,
One woman sang hers in a little-girl voice and afterwards on break
she was still singing in the background, a sad little voice that went on and on, following me home and to bed
and into my sleep still singing
and I don't remember what the words were but I think she was telling Life
that she forgave it
for what they had done to each other.
first published Arrowsmith No.5, 1995, Bellaire, TX
Halloween Day, Ruta Maya Coffee House
I shall watch the seasons turn
on the porch of Ruta Maya, turning into the earl y morn ing city. I
don't know how the wind will be
on this porch when winter comes. The sunwas hot this summer so
I came early. Now it's October,
the days mild. Some days it rains. One night I read poetry here=inside+ with the stars and the city night outside, people sitting on the
porch smoking and talking, a
small community formed of the city night, the stars watching benignly, not commenting. It was a good night. Now, this morning in late October, I sit watching the traffic bunch and flow, the air grey. My dead
appear around me unsummoned-as they always do this day.
I bless them. They bless me. Ills there anything you want?" they ask. I tell them.
They listen without comment and vanish without a trace. And I sit on in grey October, anticipating winter, pondering
a dream 1 had last night of
a golden woman whose smallest movement I could feel in my space even when she was somewhere else. And 1 ponder
the beauty of (hac and balance it against the feeling of invasion that comes knowing [hat someone is in your space without your bidding. While October moves greyly on
to its death and 1 think
again how cold it will be
on this porch in winter, think how the seasons turn with me
on this porch' and hover flickering
somewhere out on (he horizon, a nameless flicker of light
agai nst the city's grey.
And it will be cold; cold
and it will come to me that
I'll join my dead someday
not too far off. And how
will that be? And will there
be a golden presence in
my space then-without my bidding? And what will
from Mysterious Wisteria . t-;o. 8, 1994, Lorain 0I-1'
Him and Jack
He said he was on the road because he "vas looking for a place
where his demon couldn't find him. He said his demon was named Jack and the only reason he could find for that
name was that it was always trying to jack
him around and 50 far
it had succeeded. Jack had beaten his first
wife bloody and he'd left
with the law on his
trail and he'd crossed
half the cou ntry be-
for he stopped and thought he'd found a place where Jack couldn't find him. He even changed his name--from what to what he didn't feel obliged to say--
and thought he'd finally gotten rid of him but then one day the guy he was washing dishes for in the kitchen of
the Half-Moon diner
just looked at him the
wrong way and Jack happened [Q have a chefs knife
he was washing in his
hand. tie hadn't stopped since he left there. He thought he'd JUSt stay
on the road. He didn't
think there was any
place he could go where
Jack couldn't find him
but maybe if he'd just
keep going long enough
he could outlive the
son of a bitch.
from Mysterious Wisteria No.8, 199+, Lorain OH
The Blue Peace Albert Huffstickler
It was early morning when Hennessey reached the Pacific, having climbed through layer after layer of smog, cluster after cluster of high tech storehouses and suburban sprawl. Suddenly, it cleared and he burst upward into mountains and light, a highway arching and turning above the sea. He pulled the battered, dusty Toyota into a rest.area and just sat there.
If (here was a place beyond exhaustion, that was where Hennessey was.
For a long time, he didn't move, just sat there, eyes closed. His mind was totally empty. Hennessey knew that he was somewhere he had never been before, somewhere drugs could never take him.
finally, after hours it seemed, he climbed out of the car and walked over to the edge and SLOod scaring clown into the ocean. And yes, it was blue. The blue Pacific. The
blue peace. Hennessey Vias weary to his soul. The sight of the blue waves lulled him. They seemed to wash their way inside him. The blue Pacific. The blue peace. Hennessey felt the blue peace insidehim now and knew that it was chis thathe had travelled all those anguished miles for,
He stood a while longer staring down, then turned and walked slowly back to the car. Climbing in, he started the engine, tu rned the nose toward the edge of the cliff and drove slowly over it, eyes fixed calmly ahead, steering· carefully all the way down to the blue waters.
from Hung Ryse, V.1., No. 12, Seattle Wf\ 19-)4
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