_. - ..

vVATERvVAYS: Poetry in the Ivl a i n sr r e a rn January, 1996

VV ATE R '..V A YS: Poetry in the Mainstream

Volume 17 Number 1 january, 1996

Designed, Edited and Published by Richard Spiegel & Barbara Fisher

Thomas Perry, Assistant

Ida Fasel

David Michael Nixon 6 Lyn Lifshin 7-10

\Vill Inman Kir Knight

11-13 14-15

contents James Penha

G ertrude Morris 17 -18

Stephen Sleboda 19

Joan Payne Kincaid 20 Bruce Hesselbach 21-23

16

Phyllis Braun

24-26

Sylvia Manning 27-31

John Grey 32-33

Alben H uffstickler 34-40

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, self addressed envelope. Waterways, 393 Sr.Pauls Avenue, Staten Island, New York 10304-2127

© 1996, Ten Penny Players Inc.

1996 themes are pictogrupbe Iromth« \VIL.tH OU.'j\J(An Epic of the Lenni Lenape). 2

A great light

In the beginning

Stories - Ida Fasel

In the beginning

Let there be light.

A great void is measured off.

And God divided ...

All four directions stood in place.

One river, four ways.

The great sun broods over all to come, And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

And saw that it was good.

And saw that it was good. 4

5

With the tongues of the Old Ones you tell your stories.

Long absent from Eden,

with the blessings of heaven

I tell mine.

In their sameness of difference our equality.

We dance. We praise. We trust.

To The VVerewolf Bride On Our 13th Anniversary David Michael Nixon

Werewolves say 13 is lucky.

Today we've been married 13 years and I still have my throat intact, while you still know no silver bullets.

The years come by the baker's dozen: one down and [he second starting into the oven, one at a time.

Who can see the shapes we're baking?:

improvising with what spices

and what little dough we have; kneading; adding grease; adjusting the heat: now a donut; now a

hole; now a finger pastry for Day of the Dead; now a garlic bagel. Let's stay in our kitchen.

YOli know it's bound to be rainin' outside.

6

would sit at

the open window the first day

of clear cool

light after

weeks of rain,

the cat on

the table cloth vanilla coffee In a mug. She'd hardly hear cars

from the

bel tway, only birds in

the white pines, new air on

bare legs. The sun thru

an Australian prism, light

filling crevices, would make any space she curls into a honey comb

The Daughter I Don't Have Lyn Lifshin

7

wouldn't have to go over all the old hurts, everything in the

past, as if to know

who she is now or

might have been.

She won't string the "what ifs" or "might have beens" into beads she strings into a choker, sleeps in, feels press

into dreams of where whoever left is still

leaving, a chicken bone caught in a throat,

hook that tears

more when she tries

to pull it our. The daughter I don't have could close doors,

walk out in the

rain and see the

pools of water

as stars

The Daughter I Don't Have Lyn Lifshin

s

will see ahead, imagine her own daughter walk thru glass carrying a baby in her arms

She looks back to

her shadow stealing a base in white loose jeans

and touches her

own baby's fingers, feels them curl around her

wrist as if she was the bat the child would

firs t test the world out with, sees her mother in the bleachers take a photograph

of what s he can'[ hold to prove it's real

The Daughter I Don't Have Lyn Lifshin

9

will sleep in a room with lily of the valley in water in a jar on the dresser sun floods thru twisting light

to crystal rainbows that would stay even thru night. She'd sleep with that light inside her, feel

lulled by the cool bells, the sweetness reaching her pillow

where she soaks up ease to hit any curve ball that comes from deep inside her

The Daughter I Don't Have Lyn Lifshin

10

catchings- Will Inman

quick, snuff out the shadows! blowout the dark!

they hide too many secrets

now let in the light blind us with noon

we can see so much we see nothing no need to \vorry a bou t secrets

they hide behind our seeing

so much everything so little is noticed it's all right here all the time

we're safe from it in all this light

11

2

ghosts in a photograph can't move no more can the living:

only mortals can be

fixed eternal in black and white

3

once i photographed god the camera still smokes the film still glows

the image is a mirror that laughs even when i'm crying

4

when the bow strokes the gut

a dead throat comes alive and sings

no room for heaven in that sound just that song, just the god of it just the broken body, the ache the loss! all that instant can give!

even in dried gut, it all waits your ears grow their own wax

wax the bow your fingers already know the way through silence, stroking

pluck the gut of darkness till she shines

Tucse, n, ivh y .30-31, 1990

13

1

Lavina Stratton, 1863 The Social Event of the Year Kit Knight

Northern men piled up bodies against the icy cold

after the battle

at Fredericksburg. Peter used New York buddies on either side and another body

for a pillow. He said, "I didn't have to die

to go to hell." I shivered and was glad Virginia was hundreds of miles from what P. T Barnum billed as

14

"A Miniature Marriage." I'm 24 inches tall and Charles Stratton=his

stage name is Tom Thumb-is 25 inches tall.

Charlie and I are both

on exhibit

in Barnum's museum. Outsiders

insist the great showman

arranged the wedding.

Not so. He may have

mailed 2,000 invitations, but the ones invited were just that. No one, not even reporters, could buy

~

tI\(')'

an invita~'} The President and lvfftLi~oln sent us

a gorgeous set of Chinese

fire screens. My wedding

was a bright spot during

a sad time. The South just may win. Even tho Yankee troops outnumber Confederates. When Lee's army invaded Maryland,

my au nt wrote, saying,

"They were the dirtiest men

I ever saw, a most ragged,

lean and hungry set, .. Yet

there was a dash

about them

that the northern men lacked."

15

::aCSee l..k~ 1?e:'Io_lqG <? ~2. &~ eep)cslc...~cJ<l

Taps - James Penha I look up

an answer

to the puzzle of this mournful day and smile

slowly for broken taps from a scratchy bugle

only background fading sunlight gold

as the domes of the staves

from which the flag descends

half

way.

16

-I

How the Moon Disappeared Gertrude Morris

Once upon a time, the sky hung like a upside-down bowl, where a Great Melon floated in the belly of the night.

The sun rolled his wheel down the curve, ate a few stars, nibbled morsels of melon, till the merest sliver remained.

And before you could say Ohl the moon grew small as an ant's booger and disappeared!

The sun didn't care because his belly was full of moon-juice and star-prickle.

17

But since the sun had swallowed the silver and the shine, there was no one left to light the dark for lost children.

And there was no one to follow lovers like a white-faced clown, an old voyeur, and watch them roll in the grass

18

like dogs in heat. That was the moon's job, and [he moon was gone. And even though she

can sometimes be seen of a morning, what you see is only a ghost, a revenant haunting the sky

If the Eyes vVere Not in the Face Stepen Sleboda

feet

to keep a hold ofmother earth maybe

we

would

not

have

if the eyes were not in the face

but in another fortress of the body perhaps

on

[he

balls

of

the

[0

rise above clouds to plant flag poles on

[he moon

19

Rocking in an Envelope in the Air

Joan,Payne Kincaid

Th'~ fields are empty the sun rides low

you sit with chin

on triangular arms.

Hard divides softly in darkness life separates dances with death.

Your body folds in an envelope

of internal secrets filled with air

and light at the water line

the vast i nfini ty of earth line.

Your androgenous perfect face projects rays

of energy and peace.

20

Ghosts on the Matterhorn Bruce Hesselbach

Unearthly flickers of blue flame surround us, Haunting our footsteps, up high on the ledges. Curling and seething the mists of the chasm. Down on the glacier, pale yellow lights wander,

Haunting our footsteps, up high on the ledges. "Lanterns!" we think. "Who could travel so strangely?" Down on the glacier, pale yellow lights wander, Floating so aimlessly down on the glacier.

"Lanterns!" we think. "Who could travel so strangely?" Flames crawling slowly, malevolent demons,

Floating so aimlessly down on the glacier.

21

"Geister!" the guide cries, his eyes wide and bulging. "Those who see phantoms will die within hours."

Outstretched the arms of the luminous spectre. Curling and seething the mists of the chasm. "Those who see phantoms will die within hours." Unearthly flickers of blue flame surround us.

r

Ode to a Hiking Stick Bruce Hesselbach

Light, yet sturdy,

discovered as part of a tangle

of fallen beeches south of Bromley,

then brought home and carefully sanded. Wonderfully straight!

Convenient half-bent handle,

easy to grip.

Balancing over beaver-flooded lands on black slimy logs,

it comforts me.

Over trails oozing black mud we find the way.

Through fields of sharp rocks it lends a hand

Without that stick I'd be

drenched, tossed, splattered, doused. Would never have made it

to the top.

23

Sun Song Phyllis Braun

The Sun strangled by a

thousand smoky fires, sank into Death's cold bowl.

I rekindled his soul with a candle, held it high above the sea,

casting its light like a net

(Q the sea's far edge

Then ligh tly rose the Sun. New and young

he climbed the morning sky.

24

The days grew wider now. We watch

the long green light of Spring bringing wings and rain, and peepers' songs, and the thrush's, in twilight's hush sounding

pure and clear as a

light inside a spring.

The watery rebirth of the Sun to Earth inspires our desires.

Build no more smoky fires!

25

the Sun sends us heat: we will mate and sleep in the burning heat of the Sun

the Sun

the Sun.

26

A Single Apologetic Sylvia Manning (for Huff)

A single apologetic papaya

hung for months on tall stalk, one

that grew from seeds

you saved to dry and post two years ago.

"These are the little ones, Hawaiian," you scrawled wi th hand that scooped wet shiny slirney pellets,

27

black, from flesh of fruit the color of

a setting sun.

Thinking you meant the trees themselves

were small, I anyway did

my best by them, I who never wanted to see Hawaii, who never thought the hulas danced for me.

Three trees surived.

One bore one ugly thing with puckered hide. When

28

finally I cut it off it was in pity

But its meat was firm, sweeter than even you, saver of its seed,

could have known

it would be. It was

so sweet, that night

a single moonlit woman danced, on a breezecooled beach,

for me.

29

for Estella Sylvia Manning

Es tella chis to tell you:

since the last time I saw you sit to cut with expertise

soft thorns from nopalitos in morning cool

with its own youth (and yours) when sunlight seems to turn [he cara blanca into snow

I have been to the other border and have seen there wide green landscapes without cactus.

30

I have been to the art-rich cities and have seen what masters did with points of paint

[0 capture morning,

repea tedly.

I saw three youths in tights of two blues in dance

and three robins' eggs

of their one blue in nest

on bridge in impossibly traffic-mad city, singing even before they were born of the will to survive wherever we are.

But should I mention all, in real life or museum, in

nature or in art, that [ have seen,

this would nevertheless be only

to tell you, Estella, there was

nothing more beautiful than you,

before the work of day begins again, sitting on the hard night-cooled concrete, cutting spines off dusty cactus leaves for nopalitos.

7/20/95 M issi on

31

Carnival Sky John Grey

If it's a carnival in that sky, the circle of

stars and large fleshy blue moon, then it's one that's leaving town, stirring up the dust of clouds, leaving behind small boys at the

side of the road who stare through blistered tears at dreams shrunk by darkness.

I hear the last sawdust steps of the dancing bear and the rustle of a comb cross the bearded lady's chin, smell butter steaming off

buckets of popcorn, see the ghosts of the

wall of death zooming around and around the distant mountains.

32

ji

But every day, in this numbing heartland, I bend to the misery of busted roads, rattling tractors, fields of starvi ng wheat, things I can touch like stone.

Whatever sparks my imagination,

from a painted face to a smoke-filled barker's cry only lasts long enough for a colorful rent to

be plucked apart.

The carnival was here an instant, forced Que by searing drought that bakes dreams like land and skin,

slipping up into the sky at the first opportunity.

33

'"The I-Iealing - Albert Huffstickler

I dreamed last night ofa man with a wounded mouth and a

wounded heart and the

wounds were the same shape.

I woke thinking of my father,

dead these many years, who

lost his larynx to cancer and learned how to speak by belching--only he couldn't speak long sentences and so he had to write things down.

I thought about how his inability to articulate drove him to writing

just as my own inarticulateness drove me.

34

And somehow it seemed that our stories were one and that was the story I had to write, And

it came to me also that

even though a man sees his destiny, it's still on him to choose it

The road is there before him but he still must choose to walk it

as I choose now to walk

this spiralling road down to myself, this road that is both mine and his,

this road that leads to a place I have yet to find-where wounds are all healed

and the words come of themselves.

from Patchwork Poems, San Antonio Texas, November 1995

35

II

rrhe Le.gionn.aires - Albert Huffstickler

In my dream, the library where I worked for over 15 years was the Foreign Legion. You enlisted as a clerk-typist, the lowest of the low,

and served till you died=of boredom or madness.

It reminds me of something Loretta said one day,

quite rnauer-of-factlv, without any attempt at irony,

"Let's face it. Ifwe knew where we were going, we wouldn't be here," which seems to be a far reaching comment on the human condition.

If you want to understand how bored, how near madness the average person is, just look at daytime TV. That's considered entertainment.

"Isn't that sad?" Wanda would say.

Sad but true.

That terrible sense of exile that hovered like a pall over our desks, cubicles. I n the legion, there was at least the chance of being killed.

36

We seemed, in our exile, to have evaded even death.

And the years went by, went by with parties, paydays and a few good-byes and one day I wasn't there anymore.

I was retired, mustered out.

I miss it some days because you see, there was something else going on, subtle, hard to define, a linking that carried us forward through our days.

We took care of the sick ones, covered up for the lame and lazy, and soldiered on. The face of the human condition is seldom glamorous.

Glamour is ephemeral, evanescent.

We were determined to last--though we weren't sure why-sand we did. We were plain, utilitarian, enduring and, in short, what it's all about: mankind or unkind stumbling along, the most foreign of God's legions, not certain where he's going but carrying on, serving out his time,

here and here to stay.

from Dirigible, #4, 1995, New Haven, CT

37

Pre:para tion - Albert Huffstickler

One reason I went to Flagstaff that summer of '72 was that my mother was dying. Well, she wasn't that sick but I could feel

that she was getting ready to check out.

And I needed to know that I could make it without her without that room in the back of her house

that I could retreat to when I needed and stay till I got it together again. Well, the test I'd never passed in my life

was to go [0 a strange place alone, starr from scratch

and make it in the most elemental fashion--a place to live, a job, all the basics. Every time I'd tried before I'd failed,

wound up on somebody's doorstep or called home for money. So that was the test I'd prepared for myself

to prove to myselfand her that I was ready for her to leave.

38

Because, you see, I was the only reason she would have hung around and I didn't feel that I could add that to the debt I already owed her. So I quit my job at the Tower Restaurant, sold my car,

Borrowed a hundred from Burch and hitchhiked to Flagstaff

with a small assist from Bob and Janie and the Greyhound Bus Company and landed in Flagstaff, found a room at the Canyon Hotel,

got a job washing dishes at the Branding Iron Cafe and lived our the summer. So basically you can say that I passed the rest.

I accomplished what I set our [0 do.

N orhing dramatic, no new additions to the Guiness Book of Records but I took care of the basics.

And, chat done, I quit the Branding Iron Cafe at [he end of the summer and caught a bus, to my mother's in Florida for a last visit.

A year later, she was dead and I was on my own,

no shelter EO retreat to, no room to hide and write in.

39

Well, I made it. I didn't do anything noteworthy but I made it. I kept a job, a place to live, I fed myself and I wrote.

And the years trailed behind me like the banner of some lost legion, forever moving ahead, its cause lost [Q memory. And here I am.

I was never very good at making a living. I never will be.

But I survived.

Nights sometimes I dream of the rainslick streets of Flagstaff,

sparkling with neon,

of lying in my bed by [he window of the Canyon Hotel watching the cars pass, the lonely drunks wending their way down Santa Fe Street.

And I know that a part of me is still back there,

struggling with my burden, lonely, terribly afraid of failing this final test. And I wake in the night to think of all the men in the world

struggling with their fate as they walk their burdened walk

across this lonely planet into the growing dark.

from Poetic Space, Eugene Oregon, V.S No.4, 1995 40

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