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ISSN 01 97 - 4 777
WATERWAYS: Poetry in the Mainstream May, 1997
15 16-19 20-21
~ A TER_~ _A._ -V-S: Poetry in the Mainstream
Volume 18 Number 5 May, 1997
Designed, Edited and Published by Richard Spiegel & Barbara Fisher
Thomas Perry, Assistant
\Vaterways 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. Watef\vays, 393 St. Pauls Avenue, Staten Island, New York 10304-2127
© 1997. Ten Penny Players Inc.
Fredrick Zydek Mary Ann Henn Peggy Raduziner Joy Hewitt Mann
Joan Payne Kincaid Deochand Sanichar Johanna Herrick Albert Huffstickler
its tune for so many years, I can sing it in my sleep.
The Dance of Ernpty Protnises Fredrick Zydek
Dismay covers the soul like a sheet of ice.
This dance moves like a glacier. I've seen trees grow faster.
The space between anticipation and letdown grows so short,
not even hope can squeeze between them. Ask anyone.
I do not come as a stranger to this dance. You hummed
This is a dance that must settle for less than expected,
a kind of folly of motion choreographed from stubble
and performed in the eyes only. There are words and music
to this dance but even the wind has grown frail around them.
Lost In The Streets
.. Mary Ann Henn
I f he dies, no one will know
until how long? Who knows?
there isn't much traffic good
thing cuz cars don't stop
Late December not Christmas yet
I t wasn't dark when he took off
but no one was looking Not much snow this year
so he's lucky He watches
a crow fly off a ci ty roof wishes he had wings He's not used to it yet
dark city streets dark city streets
Executioner pulls the switch his head snaps back his body convulses
I stiffen, too He did wrong
but isn't he a human being?
Isn't this murder too?
All In The Line of Work
Mary Ann Henn
\"'\T"ho killed this man?
AT and AFTER "Dead Man Walking"
I wanted to forget I'd watched
witnesses watch them
walk him to the chair
guards watch him
being strapped in
A mask conceals his face
his strapped jaw can't talk electrodes in metal cap on his head
one fastened to his leg
Cut It Out Peggy Raduziner
The fight started in the factory dressing room
ver who was to own the last locker.
o I' d i
Queenie said it was her. -- Ann c aime It too.
Their voices got louder and louder.
Their tempers got worse and worse.
I rushed into the dressing room shouting, "Cut it out! Cut it out!"
Ann had Queenie pinned to the Hoar and held a knife in her hand.
The knife she used to cut cardboard boxes she was going to use on her friend.
I leaped on my two friends trying to get the knife away and finally managed to grab the cutting edge.
The sight of blood stopped the fight.
The three of us sat on the floor -- grinning sheepishly.
Right there and then they decided to share the locker.
Renewing friendship is grand.
I walked out of the dressing room door a hero -- nursing my hand.
Joy Hewitt Mann
I am leaving.
I am leaving the rivers that roll quiet, the dead that do not.
I am leaving.
I am leaving the long, sleepy days of summer,
days of snatching crawdads from beneath the rocks, watching high clouds billow across the sky
like white sheets on lines, blue
showing through the slits
I am leaving.
I am leaving nights filled with soft laughter, with fireflies and restless stars,
and the scree-scree of crickets rubbing off the damp, the flames of crosses reflected
in their glossy black carapaces.
I am leaving.
I am leaving for Chicago and its violent dangers, its noisy streetcars and dirty streets,
the greasy toil of a twelve hour day where you die for silver and not for black.
I am leaving September rains and October fires and Decembers
with the smells of pork butts curing in the houses
and the corpses still smoking below the telegraph poles.
Clifton Street Joy Hewitt Mann
(for Ethel Waters)
When mortality creeps close I think on Clifton Street and that wild road back grows certain in my mind. There was no color then. We were clarified
in that big melting pot of white and black and yellow,
all outcasts together, dissolving into crime and violence and poverty. Something as clear and harsh as prejudice couldn't exist in a neighbourhood where even the air was charged with vice.
the songs in the ground were sought by black whore and white, who worked together, lived together and often slept together,
comforted in the dark of sleep, two small ears like proof and negative against the stained pillow, unclear where the light began;
and there was no great shame come up and gnaw rat-like
when a black whore had a trick baby white as a lily.
Singing Early Home Joy Hewitt Mann
We owned a slope full of stones and Early thought he'd be buried under them 'less he left. The mute music of the North called him
and he went
whistling, hands in his pockets and hope
pouring out the holes.
The newspaper told us how he killed a man 'bout a job,
and slew another as his feet scrambled for a hold on freedom.
I wore myself out with singing him home,
lying in the dark and listening for the stairs to embrace
his climbing feet.
But I never saw him again. If the whites killed him
I pray they did it sudden,
while he was whistling, back turned, hands in his pockets, hope pouring out through the holes.
And I pray they buried him in earth
soft and fragrant
as Momma's brown arms.
Preliminaries Ida FaseI
Among the things I learn on TV that I will not apply
is the nouveau way to kiss -rape of consenting mouths.
Mouth surveys mouth.
Mouth goes at mouth.
Mouth grapples mouth,
clamps on, slips, grabs.
Mouth ravenous for mouth, distraught with desire, insatiable, grips, gnaws, drops, pounces again, a shapeless wild thing cramming.
I prefer lips that hold
in sweet civility, each to each, touching all the way through with only a slight jar
getting into position,
one side or the other of the nose, before going on.
Browsing Old Woodcuts Ida Fasel
The American Stage, 1860-1874
\Vhere have the high-minded heroes gone -- faced heartless
the Chevalier who fought his superior
to save a simple country girl's honor;
the fallen woman relegated to time's waste; the despicable villain getting his due?
Gestures were broad and teUing; language lofty, plays plentiful; seats cheap and spellbinding. Desire yearning for fulfillment the dateless, durable theme.
For happy ever-afters the audience disguised themselves as Arab boys, like Matilde de Marique
prevailing with sword over her guard;
relatives demanding the child;
fled fires, fought duels, dodged bullets; suffered frostbite, shipwrecks,
abusive and vengeful husbands; imminent death under train wheels; breathed with relief
all righted at curtain fall.
They knew lines by heart and inflected them after their favorite Thespians.
They never missed an on-stage double bed.
Note: the book browsed is Stanley Applebaum's Old-Time Woodcuts (Dover, 1977)
All the World Joan Payne Kincaid
You can be strong
stronger than some one weak weakly lying in a white void
. of italic italics in a foreign scenario such as Italy or
an Amazon in a moon-decked beret and tulip pants
whipping some innocent slave perpetuating the concept
of weak and strong
with sadistic tools
and theatrical posturing
like women Marines, who
after grueling weekend maneuvers eventually work an office
willing to kill for the sake of it.
Story Deochand Sanichar
Today I will tell you a story pages long, decades old. Today, still, the story unfolds. Why am I deprived of life, held down by these chains?
You know what I'm talking about. Go into a store looking for
Pick something up.
Man behind the counter stares. But, when the hippie comes in the man doesn't care.
Or driving in a nice car,
they tell my brother to pull over. They know it's 'cause of his color. Try to put on cuffs,
'cause they say he was talking rough. Or in another chapter,
shoot a brother,
say it was a mistake! F or Goodness sake!
We know that story's fake.
Shot rum 'cause he wanted to know why they told him, "Come over here!" They say he looked like a
Say it looked like he was
gonna pull out a gun.
But, after the search, he didn't have one. We know, when they shot him,
brother didn't try to run.
Why, so many times, must they pass by when we're hanging on the block, when we're just chillin',
talking about rhymes?
Search us one by one,
hoping they find a gun?
Or maybe some weed or a knife? Something so they can arrest. They want to ruin our lives.
Or when I I m walking in a
they follow me. If only I could get away I would.
Ask me where I'm headed. I wish they would dead it! Or when you go for a job they want to work you
like a hog for low pay.
And, when you have a say, fire your ass!
But see the whites.
N ow they have rights.
Never seen a white kid get searched shot, bothered or
get pulled over by a c-o-p.
N ever seen a whi te mother cry 'cause her baby boy died, killed by the police.
Crying a sea of tears,
it's a colored mom's greatest fear. They want to keep us below,
try to use our women as "ho's." But now, white man, you stop. My temper just popped.
I will not be a herb,
get kicked to the curb.
Let me ask questions.
Let me start to mention that
you have done nothing for my culture. You did not put me here, white man.
You I do not fear.
You will see my mother's joyful tears when I become that politician, that doctor, that writer or singer;
when my people fully rise above you. You don't have a clue
what we're about to do.
'Cause up in the stars I can see it was written for my children to be happy, to be free,
to be the leaders they want to be, to drive a nice car, to live
in a nice house. No more will they crawl in the shadows like a mouse, In the stars I also see
people of color were always meant to be free,
meant to dream, meant to be seen. Now, my story is not yet done Now new chapters have begun. My paper, the world,
my pen, my culture,
and the ink is my dreams for the future
sisters and brothers.
from ~ , [997. New York City High School Student Writing
A Courteous Death Johanna Herrick
She died as deliberately as she had lived, controlled, fastidious, let's not bother anyone,
"shh", someone might notice, Uncle might get angry. But someone IS noticing, Aunt. I am,
and I am bothered by the very manners of your dying, the long, slow passage, the courteous, lengthy expiration of breath, the getting to
the final vaporous wisp that marks the crossing.
The nurses give "comfort measures" of
oxygen and sponges; the pacemaker ticks reliably, On and 00, the only sound.
And then, finally, 99 years of life gone in a gentle puff, snuffed out, requiring no more time at the end than the firefly's spark, the sun's dying green flash,
a candle's extinction; your passing merely a part of the earth's polite exhalations.
Universals Albert Huffstickler
I think mothers must all work
from the same script. I have met few women
in my time whose mothers had not warned them at some time to be sure and wear clean underpants in case they were in an accident and
had to go to the hospital. You get this picture of the girl being rushed into the emergency room, the blood pouring out of her and what's the first thing the nurse does? Does she apply
a tourniquet to stop the bleeding? Does she start giving the patient blood? No, the first thing she does is pull the patient's panties
off and sniff them to see if they're clean. Then, if there's still time, she takes action to save the girl's life. That's assuming, of course, that the girl's panties are clean.
If the panties aren't clean, then she just
lets her die. At least, that's how the average mother will have you believe the scene plays. Kind of makes you wonder, doesn't it? But
then, what do I know? I've never been a mother.
Dec. 4,1996 Z.Z Z Zine Arcadia, FL
Invocation Albert Huffstickler
sitting besides me on the porch at Ruta May
reading over my shoulder as I write, nestling her breasts against me.
She purses her lips and frowns. "Is that how it was?" she asks, "how it really was?"
"Well, almost," I say.
"I took a few liberties."
She shakes a tiny finger in my face.
"You should never take liberties." But art is taking
liberties," I tell her.
"Yes," she admonishes
"but you should never say it." She smiles.
"Yes, that's it. Lie!"
Fearless Lancaster, PA. 1997
Christo Albert Huffstickler
(New Mexican Santos Exhibit, Santa Fe, 1969)
That anguish so black, The wood speaks,
could cast so white a shadow carved of the same stuff
we're left to surmise. No quarter given
in this blood-streaked eftlgy.
What brown anonymous saint of New Mexico desert burrowed so deep
into the earth of self
rooting for truth like
some starving desert creature?
his anguish spent itself on. I remember how dark
that room felt.
There were creatures crying out from every comer,
but his anguish was mute; twisted silence of dead wood burnt dark by desert sun.
Patchwork Poems San Antonio, TX.
Derderian Albert Huff'stickler
I think of] erry Derderian, a sad little Armenian guy
who never had any confidence, who never had a girlfriend, who haunted the theatre
at Southwest Texas State
where I went to school in the Fifties, a lost soul whom everyone liked
but no one knew what to do 'With, Derderian who played hi troles
until the director, inspired,
cast him as Willie Loman
in Death of a Salesman and it was type casting
and it broke your heart to watch and you never knew
(I don't know to this day)
if you were crying for Willie or crying for Jerry bu t
you knew somewhere that you were crying for humanity, for aU the lost souls
in this sad world making their sad, lonely journey across this desolate planet. Derderian was hit by a car
walking home along the highway one night and I didn't even blink when they told me.
It was like something that had already happened.
Time passes. It's forty years later and suddenly he appears
with his bent-headed walk
and apologetic smile
and I want suddenly to ask God's blessing on all the Jerry Derderians of this world but hesitate knowing that
Jerry would think it presumptuous and God -- well, I wonder if
he even knows the] erry Derderians of this world are alive.
One Trick POD, Banshee Press, Louis McKee, ed.
No. I, Spring '97