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WATERWAYS: Poetry in the M'ai n st re a rn October, 1995

'We 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\T ATE R"'VV AYS: Poetry in the Mainstream

Volume 16 Number 9 October, 1995

Designed, Edited and Published by Richard Spiegel & Barbara Fisher

Thomas Perry, Assistant


Ida Fasel

Richard Gilmore Loftus Joy Hewitt Mann

Karen Kirby

Kit Knight

James Penna

4-5 6-7 8 9-10 11-12 ,13

Susan Terris

CB Follett

Ruth Daigon Giovanni Malito Gertrude Morris

Sr. Mary Ann Henn

Terry Thomas

Will Inman

Lynn Lifshin Albert Huffstickler

14 15 16-19 20 21-22 23

24-25 26 27-29 30-40

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, selfaddressed envelope. Waterways, 393 St. Pauls Avenue, Staten Island, New York 10304-2127

© 1995, Ten Penny Players Inc,

1995 themes excerpted from Lawrence Ferlinghetti: A Coney Island of the Mind.

Copyright @ 1958 by L;l.wrencc FerlinghettL permission of New Directions Publishing Corp. 2



Anatomically impossible -- outcroppings of wings

my friends say, reasonably enough. Most unlikely -- unaided body flights through galaxies.

But I know this:

When the clear crisp autumn day without warning

blinded the mountain of its trail

and whipped me white in snow up to my hips, lost lost




a great peace came over me. I was lifted in lightness

as if I slept

and in lightness

swiftly smoothly surely brought down.

There is not anything in the universe or human consciousness

that is not everything waiting

to be realized.

Transcendentally improbable, they insist -- actual intervention. Even your Meister Eckhart says an angel is an idea of God.

I agree.

Someone came. Someone vanished. Hard to tell a flash of spirit

from flesh of spirit.

But I know this:

Gossamer is warm.



Richard Gilmore Loftus

The knot is never the same, nor the coiled rope,

clasp of the lock,

hold of the box.

Different, too,

each silent fall,

slam of water,

weight of the sea.

It is never quite the same, you see. I, too, am changed,

wriggling, still,

lean or fat,

twisted or straight,

altered by descent and ascent,


fallen and raised, fat head singing: escape ... escape, as I slip the knot, shed the coil,

trip the lock,

erupt from the box, from the sea,

to the air,

to the sun,

to the cry of the crowd, to me ...

with a drum in my chest to number the days

til it beats, once again, in the sea.


SUNSET STRIP Richard Gilmore Loftus

I am your pinball machine at dawn, she said. I am your dashboard at dusk, said he.

Each grew crazy by the other's light.

Life nor love never dwindled their lust.

She woke to his hands on her hips.

He traveled highways through herat night. At 65, he died young.

She turned his body to ash, powdered him on, belly and neck. Her sweat smeared his kisses to coal. At night she lay in the yard

her navel arched to the sky,

a dashboard hung in the stars - the needle still read 65.


52 PICK-UP Joy Hewitt Mann

How much can star eyes see of love so like themselves,

a dark something with tiny pricks of light,

or in my diesel heart that stains and sparks on iron rails,

or at the baggage of my years?

My late night windows watch the stars

feel the hurry VIA trains full of sleeping minds,

a dark bouncing landscape suddenly gashed with light

as if some passing constellation flashed me in my bed

then ran to tell the world

that you lay there.

first published in Church-Wellesley Review, 1993

You were so good to look upon so I pretend there's nothing wrong.


HANG IT UP Karen Kirby

On & on we go

another year

round & round

laundorama drive up phone

new year's eve

you call

up but down


intoxicated &

any day now any year now

I say again


it's gonna get better just hold on & on

as round & round we go

a lot

Cloudy thoughts fuzz my brain

.. I think

I'll drink too

being down but up I'm kidding about but I know you

·so well

&you think

let's run away

that even yes

would turn out no

cuz we couldn't risk

that it wouldn't be



that it would ...


MRS. PETERS, 1863 Kit Knight

His death

at the hands of a jealous husband

didn't surprise

anyone who knew

General Van Dorn. For years rumors swirled around Earl Van Darn. Another officer termed him a "horrible rake," Earl was one of the South's most dashing

cavalry commanders. He led hundreds of men on horseback


on dozens of raids into Yankee territory. always successfully. Burning bridges and bringing back needed supplies. women fell into his smoky gray eyes.

I knew I was only

the most recent, but

I believed Earl when

he dropped to his knees and told me I

was the reason he was fearless

to the point of stupidity. And I warmed to the desire squatting in his eyes.


In the army, many top officers travel

with their wives; my husband is the chief surgeon

in Van Darn's command. Being gentlemen,

the surgeon and the general agreed

on dueling pistols and to only

aim to wound. Earl's bullet grazed the surgeon's shoulder. But my husband

shot to kill.i.,


SILENCE IS James Penha

Silence is eerie,


way it smells

like rain

you know

what's coming though no one else hears

the dark

touching me

like a lip

to a lollipop or an other bitter breeze just unwrapped.



Uneasy morning sleep

spilled skeins of spring-tinged yarn. As that wool tumbled,

I fondled it, sniffed, ogled, informing some sheepish shopkeeper of the sacque I would knit. Already I could feel

strands purl

like moss, glimpse an infant blinking with blind seer's eyes.

At home,

I'd have been at [ana's place on Sacramento Street,


buying a cable hook and oiled Aran to make myself a hooded coat of off-white diamonds; but instead,

I could sense my belly swell, my navel distend one more time.

Oh, babies who loom at dawn, you milk me with your gaze. Who

are you? What do you require? And where can I discover

how to block or true

the old ones?


Whatever attaches you to another, whether the cement is quick drying or slow to mature like the accretions of goosenecked barnacles holding fast even in the stormiest lines of surf,

So it is with us,

although I know you would not care to be considered a barnacle

yet they are admirable are they not in their efficient living?

You and I work hard to maintain.

I keep cells tuned to your movement, am here when you turn. For without decibels

we hear the singing of the other and are drawn together.



"Love does not consist of gazing at each other but in looking outward in the same direction, II

so said Antoine de Saint Exupery. If that's true, then we're sunk.

Sometimes I catch sight of something your far eye discovered long ago,

but seldom.

For me, the air burns on the horizon. For you it's hot.

I see tongues of green. You see signs of spring. 16

I talk about the moment gone to seed. You talk about time wasted.

I inhabit the weather.

You wear a raincoat.

But after the body's long pull through the night

(which you call sleep),

we wake to bright buds of sound and we're both struck dumb.


Since I'm your everyday love, let me assure you,

you've broken nothing that's not been smashed before and healed easily.

We never had a choice. Sometimes your subtle knife caused a few shudders

bur by now, digging deeper, it hardly hurts at all.

I, too, have my small resurrections

and when it's my turn to trace your networks until I find weak spots

and blood spatters both of us, we are not surprised.

In the morning,

we drink our coffee and watch the same bird attacking its reflection in our window

over and over.



Ruth Daigon

On my side of the bed,

the air is still and secret. The climate nourishes

a bed of seedlings rooted in April, a wealth of bulbs and tubers,

a garden of plump growing things, tomatoes fleshing out on the vine, lettuce ripening unseen,

each layer crisp and sweet

folding in freshness

of the one below.

If you tear off a leaf,

hold it firm between your lips,

you'll taste all our summer buried there.





Ruth Daigon It is enough to lean against the fabric of your flesh.

It is enough to lie

in the domestic morning. It is enough to watch light expand through windows rising and falling

between our bodies on this bed, this room this continent

We grow wise watching leaky faucets, faded wallpaper, mismatched socks. The coffee boiling on the stone prepares us for the network news, shopping malls, miracle cures

and tomorrow always sitting on our bed.

But in this rush of years,

we have not lost the pure imagined past, the here-it-is, the pitch, the pinnacle

of time shining from within a million summers or the music so intense it disappears.

We invent a lifetime out of small things, free the air between our fingers, diagram the star, dream them into daylight and admit the future

which is here, always here

like a clock that runs forever.


THE LOVERS Giovanni MaHto

their voices merge in a sweaty sigh

and then they notice the tap is dripping


ALL THIS WINTER Gertrude Morris

there is only rain and fog, a warm January sun

that fools magnolias out of their fur.

In winters I knew as a child

snow fell hip deep, stayed till spring. At the first white feathering

I took my Flexible Flyer

and flew swiftly in the cold

with a boy I never saw before.

I lay on his back, held on tight,

we 'bellywhopped' first tracks

down three hills to West Farms Road,

then we lay down and made snow angels. "This is virgin snow," he said,

"No one has walked on it."

that night I dreamt of flying with a tall boy, out of innocence into my first cold world.

Now at last the snow is falling. In a night of sudden diamonds the city is quiet under its quilts.


BROWN DOG Gertrude Morris

Cousin Jack owned an auto camp out West where we stayed one summer.

Water was cold, pumped into the galvanized tin sink,

the only heat, a wood burning stove. July mornings were cold as November,

hell to go out at night. When Nature called; I called Brown Dog

sleeping under the cabin: "Boy!" Ready for fun at any hour,


he whuffed once, leaped up

and danced along to the John and back.

A stray mongrel who followed us home, Jack said he was a 'rogue dog',

that he killed sheep; I didn't care. He wasn't around the day

we went back East (they might have shot him

for all I knew.) It broke my heart

that Mom wouldn't keep him; I was seventeen that summer.


Summer's all too short, she said He thought, How short is short

Yet how short is long, how Long is Long Trying to figure out where time went Slowly, down a cloudy road of mind

He joins the pond under the stars

Stares at his own reflection

His eyes stare back at him

Everyone has a dream don't let it go Dreams end quickly

but I won't let you go You can wait awhile but

Someday I'll sit among those stars



Sometimes I wanted to go to Rebecca's house

and learn the secrets

of zippers and perfume. Sometimes when my hands were steady enough

to pick up a pin, somewhere in my bedroom, I'd slide through the safe gloom of her elm-engulfed street. Then my feet would bog in the molasses of

old leaves, and I'd haul



my cowardly carcass home, or be chased away by some male dog. Sometimes,

to ease the shame,

I'd handle

no-name, master my own secrets of zippers

and perfume. Then I'd imagine her room -- dark, parked

at the end of a

darker lane ~- and the sweet pain would pass. Sometimes I'd ask myself what I really wanted,

(daunted by dogs and daylight) awake all night, heart

knocking against my weak chest. It's best at dawn, when

imps would creep to corners, sleep and twitch, aware of their own itch. Courage would come with rumpled covers, (smothered in cotton)

I'd rinse rotten dreams

from wet hair, my stairs stretched like imagination,

and I'd stumble down with resolve -it dissolved on the way to

Rebecca's house.



Will Inman

a day self and a night self a left self and a right self self awake, self half-asleep

self remembering, self forgetting self wanting more, self denying want self joyful, self stricken

self reaching fast, self fingers bruised self coasting no-hands

self falling limbs all splayed self begging god

self being god

self rooted in one situation self rooted in orbit

self sheep, self lion


so many selves in one all true, all possible

how to balance so many selves how to make one self of many each person is such an ark

how to balance pairs of opposites against stormflood

how to sail serene in heavy seas

how to make friends with so many selves walk dusk between, walk surf

5 September 1994


I just want

to sleep but when I get up for a drink

of water, I see Robert Frost in the bed right next to me getting ready to slide under

the covers. It was someone else in the bed earlier in the night but this

house is like a hotel where people check in for a few hours, sheets flung into

hallways around the clock. He doesn't look any thing like the photographs with his

long hair blowing across his face. He's

younger and taller but I've no doubt


who it is and want to tell him once he

liked a poem of mine my father showed him but know I've heard he's often so difficult and figure if he forgot my father, I'd

be crushed. He'd probably never

remember me or my poem so I figure

I'll just make polite small talk but every thing I say comes out wrong, dull

and next I see Frost's got a mask over his nose and mouth. I don't want to intrude.

Tho he's in a younger body, tall and

Jean in winter bvd's with the feet in them,

he has to be close to one hundred

and needs his rest. I want to know if

he's just old or allergic to

my cat or my rose perfume. I never



wanted to offend him but he's nodding off, each word, a Nightol so it seems

I'm boring him to death



His eyes were blue all the Way down to his chin When they brought him in

And draped him like a bundle of dry-cleaning over the chair While they talked to the nurse.

Two of them brought him.

One was the mother, a Mexican lady in a shawl,

And the other a blond with hair just longer than ivy-league Levis and sweater,

Eyes like nails, galvanized skin. He never stirred except to slide

Like an unpropped book toward the horizontal. Blood browned his t-shirt,

Purpled his levis.



He was not a question but a fact That none of us would confront, Least of all

The brown lady chattering wet Spanish, in a shawl. But the girl with the eyes lit a butt

And eyeing him from the distance of long-dead terror Pronounced the judgement that petrified us all.

IIHe never would listen to nobody," she said.

"He's listening now."

from Epos, Crescent City, FL, Summer 1964 31

LATE EXPOSURE Albert Huffstickler

I remember trying to understand, at the age of twelve, just what

it was between a girl's legs because I'd never really seen it That seems strange now in this world where everyone seems to know everything about sex. But the truth is that I just didn't

know what the damned thing looked like and never had the courage

or the will to find out. I had

been warned" away too many times. So the great mystery was just


what was there. I knew

that it wasn't like mine,that it didn't protrude, that it was

some kind of hole bu t that was the extent of my knowledge and that's where it remained for years. I don't know how my

life would have been altered

if I had known during those critical times when I was coming into my own sexually but it seems to me that a lot of unnecessary mystery would have been eliminated and I would have felt just a little more confidence. But maybe not:

that whole area was so shrouded in darkness that it may have just made it worse. Maybe I really would have become a

sex fiend or feebleminded or any of the other monsters that developed from toO much concentration on sex. On the other hand, maybe I would

have just turned into a

normal human being. Well, either way, it's too late now.

But I wish ... I wish ... I

wish I could have been exposed to that wonderful thing when the wonder was first in me.

On the other hand, life does have its compensations and even now just the sight of that wonderful thing still fills me with wonder at this late date. And that's a very nice way to be as the day

grows late and the shadows gather.

firs! appeared in Ewe, Erie PA, 1994 33


LOVE STORY Albert Huffstickler

He found her on the street and took her home,

dirty, pregnant, ungrateful and alone.

She fucked him for food and lodging. They didn't talk much.

He'd leave home for work

and come back in the evening

to find her sitting in the same place staring off

nothing in the house touched. He cooked supper. They ate. She got bigger.


She never went out

and the house was a mess. At first, he was resentful. Then it became

the way things were.

Sometimes she looked at him

as though about to reveal something of ultimate importance, something sacred ..

But instead,

she'd slide her dress up over her rounded belly and they'd fuck.

She wouldn't go to the doctor. She ate like a horse.

She whimpered in her sleep.

One day, close to her time

he came home to find her gone -gone off like a cat

to hide and hate it.

That was when he learned

that all silences are not the same: however quiet the paning,

a house always breathes differently after someone leaves.

Winchell's Donuts, Oct. 14,1984 first appeared in Ewe, Erie, PA,1994



You don't understand, I said, she didn't reject

me because we weren't close. She rejected me because we were, because suddenly she was not alone there in her skin and she couldn't stand

it. It's fine to go

through the motions of being dose to someone, saying the words, especially saying the


words, preferably from

a distance. But that's

not the same as waking one day to f nd someone else in your skin with you. That's when you start screaming and

start using anything

for a barrier. That's when love and hate

lie down side by side and .YQ!!_tell me which

is which.

first published X-It Press Broadsheet Erie PA, AprillJ)94

HOW SHE SLUMBERS Albert Huffstickler

She sleeps too far.

I can't find her. Wrapped in herself and her tight blanket, she sails beyond . stars and grief,

alone, distinct, needing no one. Morning finds her flung up on

the shores of meaning, a phantom's progeny reborn to loss

first printed in Lilliput Rf:Vit:ml #61, Pittsburgh PA 1994 37

PORTRAIT Albert Huffstickler

of herself but gives as

a maiden lady would ~- not without heart because maiden ladies often give wholeheartedly. Still, there's that reserve.

And still there's that

part of herself that she returns to as one returns

to a home at dusk. And shuts the door and locks

it and draws the blinds

so that all you see passing is the shadow of a figure framed by a window.

I think of her sometimes as a maiden lady with a husband and child. Not that she doesn't give of herself -- she does. But when the giving's done, there's still that part

of her that maiden ladies reserve for themselves -that core, that private and erotic part of her that's hers alone. Her life,

even her sex life, is autoerotic. She gives

January 1, 1995


DISENCHANTMENT Albert Huffs tickler

I thought at 65 I was cured of getting strung out over women, of seeing what I wanted in the place of what was there, demanding that reality shift of itself into

the thing I visualized -hallucinated might be a better word. I thought that finally here on practically the eve of my death I was ready to


accept what stood before me, let it be what it

was and either take it

or leave it. But of

course I was wrong. Old habits don't die that easily: before I

knew it, I was staring her down, trying to make her into the

thing I saw and then, of course, we'd both

be happy. Now, a

year later, I come

back to myself like someone waking from a 40

dream and nothing has changed and, worst of

all, I haven't changed. And ·1 sit here wrapped up in my years, feeling like a fool and, what's worse, an old fool, while God whispers in my ear, "Well, I never promised you a rose garden," which of course he didn't. So why is it I always

come away feeling like somebody owes me something?

Ruta Maya Coffie House A us/in, T exes, September 28, 1994

I l U