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ISSN 01 97·477 7

"W" ATER"W A YS; Poet:ry in t:he Mainst:ream. Oct:ober, 1996

~ A --r"'ER ~ A YS: Poetry in the Mainstream Volume Ii !'\umber 9 October, I996 Designed, Edited and Published by Richard Spiegel & Barbara Fisher

Thomas Perry, Assistant

c <».-.. t erl.:t:: s John Grey john Sokol

Arthur Winfield Knight \x;:ill Inman

Albert Huffstickler

Ida F asel

David Michael Nixon Lyn Lifshin

H, Edgar Hix

Billie Lou Cantwell James Penh a

4-6 7-8 9 TO II

IJ-I4 15-16 17-18 19-26 27-28

1::'

\X'ater.vays is published II 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. \X'ater.\iays, 393 St. Pauls Avenue, Staten Island, New York 10304-2127

© 1996, Ten Penny Players Inc.

1996 themes are pictogmp/yJfrom the WA1.A.H 01.(",1,1 (An Epic of the Lenni Lenape),

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3

Sameness in Difference Ida Fasel

Backtracking to supposes and might-have beens (as if my life would have come out any other way), following the steps of seekers of origins

and other futile matters,

wasting my birthright of time

on wishful thinking and safe risks of reason,

I stumbled out of the undergrowth of innocence (innocence can be as dark and tangled as ignorance) into a landscape

where stories stood for final meaning, all shades of sameness in difference -gold, lavender from soft violet-blue

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to hard rock amethyst, quintessentially warm royal ruby red, densely lit emerald. Stories whose doors stood ajar

to a rejoicing place,

by such knowing to know what enough cannot be said of, meeting the needs of life.

What a wonder stories are. I f only I remember them

when I'm asked to play guessing games space-mailed from Mars.

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Sun Signs Ida Fasel

.11 he be? A scientist?

ist old enough to feed himself icks and separates his oatmeal aeorizes

othing fit to eat

.11 he be? A philosopher? hallenges the set-up uestions the necessity

ir me to dictate

'hen the will is free

owls

What will he be? A mystic?

sees flower petals in the glob splashes in the dew of milk pursues a blazing star

all the time in the world

\X'ill be what he will be. Problem-solver. divides to be put together

gives a little

takes a little

samples with his face

dances with the spattering spoon

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I I

They Say I Am Weak David l\Hchael Nixon

They say I am weak and fading quickly, but I have felt the cool sea of night

and shall float there until I stroke toward morning. where the wet sun will burn away dark water

and rage around me as I travel inland.

When I have had enough of blazing, again the cool sea will rise on the

purpling horizon and I shall shamble to it, having circled the earth in one day.

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The Woman In The Well David Michael Nixon

\'('hen the fall was finally over,

she lay on the soft, wet, slimy bottom, feeling around her in the darkness

for the cold stone edges of the well.

After what seemed to be forever, dream-moving limbs beneath the water, she started slowly moving upward,

a clear, tranced crawling in the darkness.

Around her the water rose forever

up the black well where no light entered,

and sometimes her hand would find the smooth side, its curving stones slip through her ftngers.

After what seemed to be forever,

she sensed a tiny, tingling brightness, the wash of one star far above her, swimming its slow way toward her rise.

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Geese In November Lyn Lifshin

Before any snow, before the last blood maples slam

skin of the lake, hissing, clustering as if lights on the

from antler branches and the pond's a black ribbon in white,

porch were bracelets of corn

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the geese move closer in thru lapis lazuli

past the apricot

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Unicorn H. EdgarHix ifor Lilly)

When I found the unicorn she was golden, with pale eyes bluer than the sky at dawn, cloudless and calm.

A tiny creature: unridable.

Her bones trembled in my thick hands as I held her, faerie soft.

I don't believe in unicorns except on cloudless days

when the bones in my hands tremble.

Even So

Billie Lou Cantwell

Seven ducks swim across Swiftcurrent Lake.

A flock of black necks

lining, bunching, drifting, shaking, skimming the wrinkles,

ducking,

turning tail to the sky.

Their grace abounds on water, even through clouds, but like the rest of us,

now and then, they

have to waddle through muck, ruffle their feathers,

and quack their discontent to a setting sun.

published in CQ, I994

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P a1rn.is try J runes Penha

In a watery handful of sand sleeps this lazy

mystery:

the tiger's

eye may awaken in need

of direction

or interpretation.

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So what happens next from the folds

of my fingers?

No Longer Looking John Grey

I'm bored with your version of looking out a window.

You sit in a chair, comfortable as a nesting bird, eyes fraternizing with

the first flush of spring green

or traffic doodling by our front fence,

your eager, empty look adding nothing to either. I've slumped myself into those chairs,

looked out those windows,

been drugged by fantasies

that misinterpret bland as bliss

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but now I long for deeper looking, windows that offer a way to something on the other side

more than pictures painted by

the languor of a Saturday afternoon. I want to reach beyond this,

as the rhythm of my journey,

glide my body out of chairs, ofrooms, of houses, waken out of the background shadows,

spray my skin over everything I see,

breathe in the opium of the particles of me

that exist a moment from where I am,

press the window to the world

and then drink away its beautiful glass with a sigh

The Sorcerer's Apprentice Jo1m Sokol -Problems with alcohol

run in the family; it's in the genes.

When you were very young and heard people say that, you had visions of your father's scotch and bourbon, his vodka and wine, his gin flowing down from the attic where he drank, glup-gluppingout of overturned bottles,

down the steps

and across the floors, pouring through the ceilings, pooling in spots

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over the kitchen linoleum where the tributaries gathered and gained momentum,

then roared and splashed

in slow-motion technicolor, down the basement steps and into your paneled bedroom

where you watched helplessly - bailing buckets in hand -- as the flood filled your jeans, engulfed you and carried you away in the torrent

until, finally, you shook your head and pulled yourself out of it,

just like you do now

when you try to sober up.

from The Wisconsin Review, Vol. 28 #3,1994, Osbeosb, Whcoluin 16

Splintered Redwood Arthur Winfield Knight

We hear

what we think is thunder in the middle of the night, but it was our fence falling. It was built out of redwood, but nothing lasts forever. The night before last,

the river flooded

half a mile away,

and the wind blew the roof off a barn in Penngrove.

I t's been raining for days, and people are nervous.

We look out the window into the next yard, across the fallen fence, and see a toilet bowl filled with ivy

and our 80 year old neighbor in a faded blue windbreaker, the rain dripping

from his porkpie hat,

his face stolid. He gave us holly for Christmas. Now he stares at the fence

as if it were a grave marker or a crossword puzzle

he is unable to decipher.

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The Resolution Arthur Winfield Knight

\'ie' e make a resolution to quit drinking

for two .., •. reeks

on N'ew Year's Eve-we're not sure why-and the rain begins the next morning. \'(1 e watch the water rising on the river watch it seeping

in to our garage,

and we move our car

onto higher ground when we're told

we might have to evacuate. We count the days:

five, six, seven.

I t's still raining.

On the eleventh day I tell Kit, "We need some nerve balm," and I circle the block when I come

to the liquor store.

The sky is gin-colored, the river's murky.

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chafings Will I:runan

whales swim among the saguaros:

what ancient ocean recalls itself down desert. continents are overlaid, but their ghosts may

surface.

earth shakes when continental plates turn over in their sleep and rouse each other's dreams.

southwest counties by treaty and by commerce

are united states' veneers,

but an underlayer remains mexico

still deeper danced under with tribal spirits.

those earlier tirneways break through nowsurfaces: history buckles and foreshortens upon itself.

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sometimes our layers merge into new territories of spirit and waking. sometimes we press and chafe each other, sometimes whole continents of differences rub ribraw inside of individuals.

our blood, too, bears the ancient oceans, whales and dolphins call to us

down futures pregnant with forgotten ways through.

the lizard that first grew wings

taught Quetza1coatl to blow the conchs hell.

high rock and deep water thrive in us, we who are swum by all that ever was

sound in highwind songs all that we will be

18 October 1994 Tucson

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irises out of season Will Inman

wings no longer beat in kin rhythms, the great bird veers. waves move in,

once in smooth sequence, now in uneven sweUs. i hear gurgling among the marsh roots,

hissing among oyster shells and tidewater crabs. sky-fires slip and slide in their dark dancing. something's restless under the dunes

though it's not yet time for hatching of turtles

so soon after dark mother dug her hole deep in the sand laid her eggs and returned weeping to sea.

fishes are leaping out of the water

as if ocean-bed steams hot lava.

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now what i gather in the wind is noises of people, they croak and groan and sob and shout.

i smell their breaths and their armpits,

their restless crotches and nervous gases.

i hear their feet trespassing in every direction.

no wind is safe from them, no grass remains virgin, flowers crouch afraid, bruised by returning distances. boots are jealous all the irises have bloomed and gone. i look for rainbows, see only red shadows of fire.

now you reach for me with blistered hands, i kiss all your bruises with my broken lips -how else can we reach the great bird,

how else restore her swooning wings,

how else heal our ribs cracked by storm surge

like ribs of ships sinking in our own hurt and sorrow, how else but by irises blooming in us out of season and the early waking of young turtles from under

our most restless dunes.

27 July 1994

published in The Ledge, 1996

center now and never not Will Inman

he walked alone out on the wharf, he

watched the river, how it bore down oceanwards

from its mountain sources, how its force shook

the wharf pilings under him, how it rushed against incoming tide: he saw waves from opposite directions

how they surged toward each other, met, for a moment were one wave, then crossed and moved on, each still intact.

saw how real forces could have a common center

but different purposes, different impulses, how they could move opposite and move on through surging into still other waves, to be changed only by underswells

he

of tide and river, swallowed by one or both. he

felt that common center pulse down him, he was a wave, two waves, moving toward and moving away, he and one he loved, how even one center could betray them both, leaving them for new waves, new beings, new ways, new awarenesses.

how for all things to have one center that center must prevail and all things

falter, fade, fall apart, discarded by that oneness that, ever so brief, let them be real, ever so short a time, live foreverness in that center, that center flowering in them, center whole, themselves with names that all too soon

scattered between tidesurge and riverflow, he felt his whole life mount a wave into stars, how darkness

swallowed him under, how he surfed that center's brief sojourn down him when all that is

sounded his pulse with a chorus of now

and a curse of never not

3 December 1995

from The Lucid Stone, #7, Fall 1996,

A Lrunentation of Swans Albert Huffstickler

A Herd of Cattle A Covey of Quail A Gaggle of Geese A Pride of Lions

A Lamentation of Swans

They're around a body, of course. Necks arched, heads down,

they circle it with

a ponderous, waddling dignity that approaches grace.

There is a sound coming from them.

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The body is by a stream.

The sound of the stream blends with the sound they make,

a wordless mass, a requiem.

It is a young man's body.

I t lies face up,

eyes fixed on the sky

as though trying to hold onto it. He is almost smiling.

He is almost crying.

The swans circle and circle making their strange sound then one by one

move out of the circle

into the water and glide away,

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