You are on page 1of 34




ISSN 0 1 9 7 - 4 7 7 7

-W- ATER"\X'" A YS: Poetry in the Mainstream

April, :r997,_... . __ ~

~ A TER ~ A YS: Poetry in the Mainstream

Volume 18 Number 4 April, 1997

Designed, Edited and Published by Richard Spiegel & Barbara Fisher

Thomas Perry, Assistant

Bruce Hesselbach Ida FaseI

Kit Knight

Joy Hewitt Mann Geoff Stevens


4 Karen Kirby

5- 6 Lyn Lifshin

7-12 James Penha

13-19 Robert Cooperman

20 Albert Huffstickler

25 26


28-29 30-32

Joan Payne Kincaid 21-24

\,\laternays 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. \'Vaterways, 393 St. Pauls Avenue, Staten Island, New York 10304-2I27

© 1997, Ten Penny Players Inc.



THE RIVER Bruce Hesselbach

I t gushes down from mountains

in the spate of Spring accompanied by occasional canoe, raft or kayak, past the former cow pasture,

over rock ledges, swimming holes, past sandy aspen islands,

dodging rocky hills with waterfalls. River otters live here, feasting

on brook trout and frogs. Mergansers fly by,

brightly colored red and green, faster than cars.

Once the terror of the valley, West River, flowing East.

Some seasons decked in hoarfrost, threaded current thronged with ice. Some evenings bronze and burnished. Reddish brown in spate;

deep blue in summer sun;

gray and whitecapped beneath the storm.

Ever changing, ever flowing, creator of these hills

and their destroyer too.



River rare and restful, friend of passage, go on forever, which in the language

of pleasure is just what you are doing. You are no Rhine, clogged with tonnage, but a stream that runs by my house. Round the bend no legendary rock,

no Lorelei luring by stereo.

Only a woman in a boat on a river cool and gleaming, bound and moving between valleys that curve and climb into hills. We weave the pattern

of bright blue afternoon as one life.

In May the hidden begins to showmarsh marigolds blossom

along the banks and spread in golden nuggets of great radiance.

A woman a boat a river

and marsh marigolds touched alike by a gossamer breeze whose music is water's gentle undertone.

River rare and restful, company I love to keep, with you I flow

in the rhythms of the real beyond the real to the over-and-over-again of oars.


HOWITIS - Ida Fasel

If I were plane-crashed, an owl by land

or, if shipwrecked, a seagull by sea would be wai ting

to pick up my soul--

but I'm way ahead of both: it's already been taken

by a love song, a dark pink homegrown climbing rose --

one of my foolish risks

that turned out very well.


DR. BEVERLY SMITH, 1975 Kit Knight

He died; Stonewall Jackson was one of the 29,000 men-a conservative figure since fragments of men lay uncounted--who died in r863 at Chancellorsville,

a small town in Virginia

and so much more. It's a wonder only 29,000 died. No doctorsYankee or Rebel-understood how infection spreads.

Surgeons plunged

their unwashed hands from


a nasty stomach wound

into someone else's

mangled leg. Amputation was the accepted treatment. \X'e're called "sawbones"

for a reason. Agonizingly, veterans on both sides spoke of tables turned into butchers' blocks and limbs piled waist high. It's hard to feel sorry for folks

who died over a hundred years ago. But those men didn't know

they were marching out of one era and into another; they were


spear carriers in uniform under telegraph wires. The general hung on

for days, and even though it didn't have a name then, his cause of death was

a blood clot that traveled from his sawed off arm to

his heart. Stonewall refused a softening touch of brandy, insisting he wanted to remain clear. The general gave

battle orders, but Jackson's last words were, "Let us cross the river and rest

under the shade of the trees."



My brother just died. World wide, newspapers are grieving about the end

of the Lincolns. The President had four sons and three died young. Eddie was only

four; my grandfather was still a lawyer in Illinois then. \V'illie died

in the White House during the Civil War. The South lost Kentucky and Tennessee in


1862 and the President lost a I2-year-old to typhoid. The third son died

at 18. The only one left became my father, Robert. He'd been named for his Kentucky grandfather.

My dad had uncles and cousins who fought and died

for the South. That War

was so personaL Many mothers watched one son march

north while another went

South and they mourned

both deaths. And now,

my dad's only son,

who'd been given



the President's name,

is dead. Everyone called my brother Jack. Our dad told Jack he wasn't to use his given name until


he "proved worthy." At I6,

Jack was showing grand potential. He was studying in France, preparing

to enter Harvard. Blood poisoning. Jack died

and everyone says

the great Lincoln line died, too. No one cares

that my sister and I

will have children

and that's almost as good. 12


I have seen you try everything to save our crop.

This year

mists of dragons' breath encased the fruit like Snow White's glass coffin

thin as the skin that enticed her to bite. Some years I felt we

had bitten off more that we could chew but you could always disturb, the air with some wild scheme of recovery.

I walt expectant while you peel the fruit, watch as you sink in your teeth

and swallow.

The sound of your laughter is more beautiful

than the sweet juice upon your lips.



Here we sang our nuptial song -saluted by the heron's volant chant white and grey ... white and grey ... chiaroscuro water --

eschewing foreign climes for Nature's close, our leis of fireweed in fern,

perfumes of cedar smoke and beans

cooked on a palsied stove,

long midnights echoed in star studded flux, beating with the rhythmic hymn ofloons onto the water

like a drum.

Nature was always

our second nature here

and love's florescence seemed ... natural.


you are gone, but here the earth still breathes,

the air still moves like water through the soughing reeds, trees submerge wave on wave into our sedge rimmed lake.


The wind rustles through the weeds like chanted words and

mingling notes of redwings drift across the rippling light and ...

I think I hear your voice.

Forgive me dear,

Nature's door is dosing fast, the sign is up and soon

another's memories will carve our pines.

It is so still here-- this one last look - while air stirs sunlit needles on the glistening lake and flutters back to silence once again.

I drink the lake, the sky -- our marsh -- into my veins,


feel ferns run wild about my feet ... break through the algid pellicle of time.

This one last touch-- last sense -a silver flick of tenuous fish nibbling moonlight from my toes as if I am the lake ...

as if I am ... something of shared elements flows through our blood

-- the lake's and mine --

and eyes align in underwater light. I miss you dear,

standing in the reeds,

following lilyroots to the source

of a flooded world.


RED GERANIUMS - Joy Hewitt Mann

Across the crumbling brick

and near the fire escapes that cling like rusting metal vines, the tenement is blooming with geraniums.

The woman with the shriveled skin

finds the strength to water hers, and Mr. Freeman who survived the war

sinks his face in beauty every day. The fat woman in the bed

has lain for seven years

but her husband fiercely nips the buds to keep the blossoms swelling.


And at the broken window

fifteen year old Lisa holds her child.

A can in tiny fingers feeds

their budding living hope.


FAUX PAS Geoff Stevens

Having a great time, shipwrecked on the rocks, but the whiskey is absent and so no chance

of breaking the ice

with the other guests.


CONTEXTS Joan Payne Kincaid

We are here in body and mind

I not where we would want our body and mind to be not the spacious homes

like the estate on Long Island

the one in the mountains, France,

with the marble behind the wood stove all that quaint substance of wealth

is absent here; where are the forests the exotic intricate gardens?

If you saw us in our proper context you would know could not help but notice superior beings

our reserve and excellent manners

see that one on top waving gentility?

\Ve have candelabra balls and cocktails

in our dream ... and flights to anywhere outside ourselves while carefully preserving and perpetuating images of how we will

be perceived ... not this .. .isolation ... this lack of control...these ever-rolling waters ... tiresome company, boring dialogue

ennui and calm quotidian paralysis

this unwanted repellent panic.


SCATTERED Joan Payne Kincaid

I am writing on an iceberg mythologizing access possibilities which hat to grasp in time

so others can surface

here in everyone's Siberia

no choice here no choice whirling gagged songs

sinking scenarios of where

we thought we were going

like setting out to market

can drive you into an accident

we are sinking here

having nerve attacks stuffed in formal dress laughing about how escape is only a fiction

stick and drift with the tide life goes by more slowly

the seaweed and tidal inhabitants regard us as frills.


SUNSET BIRDS Joan Payne Kincaid

Waiting for the sunset birds dressed in velvet of another time where we lay beyond exhaustion of what use were riding breeches stranded on a rock

everyone formally dressed surrounded by a slopping ocean sky spreads violet hues

beyond help in final rays

slow time, time for hors d'oeuvres in a country squire's mansion ... crepuscular schedules endure.


PILLOWS OF AIR Joan Payne Kincaid

In this strange drawing of us

we hide in caves, hang on a mast, lean against a lifeboat

we are caste offs

abandoned, hot as wool

in sun fever air

need gills like fishes detached squinting blind

at white bird frieze

cormorant kites on mirage haze unquenched, waiting for south west wind seaweed rock stillness

numb thirsty dread

in pointless period costumes. 24


What if that obviously crazy Icarus dude didn't really perish

from his plummet into the sea? \Vhat if he rose triumphant like Jesus from the tomb

his proud 'wings spread wide drip-drying in the sun?

The sun, the source, the root

of the problem--how they tell you don't get too close

to the heat, your fire-don't get too close

to the light, the truth, your desire. And don't even think about flying!

But what if they were \Vfong and we believed ...

never tried, died

without ever even getting wet ...



the mad girl feels the room slide away, the edges blur. A

chair starts swirling. The iced over river could be some

thing under her hair, fish watching sun

as feathers freeze

into a wave. Thursday is lace that distorts the edges as geese

shatter the quiet and the tangerine trees loses the last of the

small pea sized globes of green that had like the morning started

to become something it didn't

SHOAL -Jrunes Penha

The river meanders

so With

my bark somewhere

I know not

if I'm up stream, down stream, or alone

on a vain tributary of my life.


EVENING Robert Cooperman

To my wife, evening's no different from night. She's from Galveston, the sun falling faster

in that latitude,

hardly any breathing space between syrupy afternoons and steamy nights.

I'm a northern boy, and think of evening as sunsets like salmon


lazing across the sky, then a blue deep

as perfect blueberries until full night descends.

when Venus appears it's night, time to return to his family.

Or I think of the sun's slow parachute,

sky the color of skim milk, then dish water

after a big, satisfying meal

of many complicated courses.

My wife and I walk

after supper. We'll embrace at the exact moment

I believe

it's no longer evening.

A friend drives in the evening, the roads empty,

crickets rehearsing cantatas;

SUSTENANCE - Albert Huffstickler

A man is sitting in a room smoking a pipe. He is not only smoking the pipe, he is caressing the wood.

It is very old wood and his hand closes on it, feeling the time in it and feeling then the time around him.

He is finding himself in time by holding the pipe and smoking it.

He is dreaming of a woman that he could hold as he holds the pipe and anchor himself in time through her body.

He is thinking particularly of her hips. They are very full and he is wrapping himself around their warmth.


He is holding himself against them and remembering where he is.

He is holding himself against them and resting.

He is resting from all the places he has been that day

both in his flesh and in his mind, his spirit. He is feeling that he has circled the universe and returned

and is anchoring now to this warm woman . flesh and resting.

He is thinking of all the many journeys he has taken

across the universe and back, across time and out of time

and he is thinking now that he is back


in this one place and time

and that perhaps he will stay just here until the end now

because he is very tired and nothing will heal him

but to lie a very long time caressing this woman's hips,

contained and exact in this one warm place. A man is sitting in a room smoking a pipe. He is not only smoking the pipe, he is caressing the wood.

His head drops and he sleeps.

He is dreaming of the woman with the full, nourishing hips.

He will wake to time and go on.


from Fee/fllgj, Fall '96, Easton, P A