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WATERWAYS: Poetry in the Mainstream June, 1997

rElR._~.A -VS: Poetry in the Mainstream

Number 6 June, 1997

ted and Published by Barbara Fisher & Rich Spiegel

" Assistant

4-9 Phyllis Braun 25
k IO-II R. Yurrnan 26-27
no 12-15 Joan Payne Kincaid 28-34
16-17 Gertrude Morris 35-36
Nixon 18-19 Mary Ann Henn 37-38
20-24 Ida Fasel 39-40 Karen Kirby 41-42

Billie Lou Cantwell 43

Lyn Lifshin 44-46

James Penha 47

Carole M. Cohen 48-50

Albert Huffstickler 51-56

published II times a year. Subscriptions - $;10 a year. Sample issues -$2.60 (includes .ssions will be returned only if accompanied by a stamped. self addressed envelope. St. Pauls Avenue, Staten Island. New York 10304-2127

'enny Players Inc.

2

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v- .~

Garden of Dark SlUlS Will Inman

seeds of flowers that bloom only in fog

wrap themselves in shadows till time to sprout. their pistils are pollinated by strobes of moonlight. the seeds shape into tight sharp curls.

they germinate in lichens and in green mosses. their leaves grow thick with silky hairs.

they bloom white petals, silver undersides.

the petals coil to sound fogwinds.

they catch voices with v vitching words, with spellsounds and secret sacred odors.

they repeat what ... vind knows of cruel gods and humans. they speak in lost tongues forgotten ways of healing.

4

anyone who touches a fog flower grows a blister. in that place, the blister morphoses into an eye. an arm or a hand may grow a dozen eyes: the one blistered - can see into fog world, into hidden things, with the blister eyes: that one sees

aU the injustices of gods and humans.

that one's visions are cursed: the eyes, once having seen, will drop off the arm, will take root

in lichens or green mosses, will bloom fogflowers that see into hidden things. whoever walks barefoot and steps on fogflowers will grow visions

down pores of feet and ankles. destinations beyond possibles wake in those foorsoles. the walkers

will know all the ways for humans to liberate themselves. the barefoot one will wake into

5

fogland: once in fogland, there is no release. the only sun in fog rises dark in blistered eyes which wake in pores of the great serpent who crawls into that grey sky under the surface

of all things, that dark serpent tongue

that coils and uncoils at centers of black suns. and, yes, your heart is the darkest sun of all,

your heart where all is known that can be knOWTI, where you can discover how to map a way through

17 February 1996

6

inIhe Red Owl 3 August-September, 1996.

Mopping Up Will Jnrnan

he's mopped his share of floors cafeteria kitchens meat markets

fish market kitchens in homes for retarded his own kitchens in apartment and houses

in Chapel Hill \'\'inston-Salem New York City Washington, D.C.

but fifteen years ago, he

stopped cleaning his kitchen in Tucson: it looks like a back yard. he hates mopping floors;

fish scales entrails dust .mud pinto beans feathers tracked-in bits and scatterings

from the garden. now his place outside Tucson

7

looks like a devil's lab ... where things are created or destroyed: traces of beginnings, leftovers of endings.

look at his hands, you

might expect things to springalive from between his fingers. well, they do: words visions perspectives rainbows with worn handles

moons with skystraps to waves skulls

from future incarnations letters dating back fifty and sixty years memories that keep growing new roots and vines smooth stones in his back pocket

now he expects someday

the sheriff looking through his books for illegal photos futures with Republicans and other

8

roaches poking antennae into his freezer unit mail delivered open angry telephone

all those but also: hearth of heaven

with ashes for roasting sweet potatoes

and com on cob spider webs longlegs

and narrow weavers tissues for the garden scored with phlegm, shit, and semen birds on the porches scavenging angel lice

and crotch dandruff of daemons

moving air

Silent Treatment # ro Fall, 1996

Tucson. rj.july, 1995

9

Returning Home Empty-Handed Frederick Zydek

blake what you will of the journey. Remember how yellow the Platte seemed on those nights the harvest moon

told the land its secrets?

Surely real magic brews in that

kind of light. Remember how downright charmed we were by those dappled leaves insisting they would dance until dead?

10

Red-breasted birds with bright yellow eyes watched as we waded knee-deep to that small sand bar where

even our souls seemed other earthly.

Remember the year we caught giant frogs and planned to cook their legs for dinner - only to feel so much shame we

let them go and returned home empty-handed?

Ours was a sacred victory that night, reasoning, as we did, that bullfrogs

and men have more in common than even God and restaurateurs d-are admit.

IC

Since You've Been Gone

Joy .Hew'itt Mann

There is a difference in the sameness now.

The antique chair that once moved with our moves had a stroke I think

" paralyzed in its limbs b~odc~tonthebr~n?

The clock that timed our ins and outs visits her

sits by her bed

measures minutes in hours

and poor table's starving since you've been gone refusing soup and stale crackers.

Four-legged anorexic wood prefers

cold tea. published in light (Guemesville, CA) '92

12

Sister Architects Joy Hewitt Mann

It's the block plague, our mother laughed, as we refused cookies, so intent on building castles, squabbling

over heights of towers, casements, whether doors should open out or in, tearing

down as often as we built them up.

'q e married young, building houses rom "Seventeen" and sad

.iovies, rebuilding when huffing

nd puffing blew them down. Now re build our castles solitaire: hers

is concrete, no windows, and one door that opens out; mine sinks

into.a cloud - window-filled, archways for doors - lets me see the distances, but it's a long way down to fall.

t3

-- - - .. - - - _ .. _._ ...... _" ~.- ........ -" .... -;- .. ~.:.::-~~

The Phoenix And The Eagle

Joy Hewitt Mann

The heavy silence of machines steals me away drags on my limbs, breathes this wounded indee in by slow degrees until I'm dro~ed

in TV's blue haze ... blue reeds ...

The past was woven from four-color beads and suns rose for me everyday.

I always felt ... perhaps, one tomorrow ... dawn would surprise me, and all the stiff white plains would run with eagles' cries. \VhHe he lived with me

I sometimes thought I heard an eagle cry faintly, as through a wind, but now there is

14

no wind and trees are still. The sun never seems to rise or set, it's always here in Phoenix,

And I when small age knew that ghosts deceive; life with him may not have been

as bright as I believed.

Do I remember when the phoenix and the eagle wed? I remember summer on my face and sadness

in my mother's eyes the day I cast •

two shadows. I remember eagles in my hair.

And sometimes in the wind that doesn't blow

I hear the jingles

on my buckskin blouse.

15

Cold Comfort? Mary Winters

Of course it's wretched being a grown-up people lie and swear it wasn't always so

that once you had perks and prerogatives that kids spoke admiringly as you passed by that you had something to show for it

The kind of thing you do as a grown-up: buy a purebred cat

not because it'll make you happy because you'll be slightly less miserable

Of course the cat gets hit by a car

but once again you're grateful for being slightly less miserable

16

the murderer drags its limp bloody body to yo ill door

the kind of consolation you treasure as an adult: you don't bave to wonder what happened to it!

Unlike your friends whose child was kidnapped they're imagining him forced to shoot heroin chained in a sex fiend's basement

in other words, worse than dead ...

The kind of consolation you treasure as an adult: when some jerk's mattress flew off his pickup thumping into Sis's windshield

causing her to jump the divider

and swerve into the oncoming tractor-trailer truck she died instantly

17

Builders and Wreckers David Michael Nixon

\YJ ell, there's not much to say constructive. Y all build a relationship, walls and bedrooms

and bathrooms, and the cats on the kitchen table, and all of it raised on the new foundation,

and maybe you leave out the ceiling beams,

the floor beams, the cupola,

because you're in a hurry,

and overlook some details.

And then one day you come home

and find the floors gone, the ceilings crumbled, the whole edifice in ruins,

with even the ruins threatening to topple,

18

-.

and you wonder who could have razed your home like that. And you try to deny the crane that's in your pocket,

the steam shovel in her purse.

first published in "Illuminations" Austin, Texas (r9i3)

19

Some Day Soon M.M. Nichols

I'm divorcing my life.

But not you, 0 cherry trees!

No matter the long wait for a brief coming. You still feed the wind confetti for another wedding. You still

bend to me; each anniversary the bloom fresh as when we met. Your infinitely variable motions jog the set of my mind.

You weigh those dense pink tassels and swing them. They stun me. Like words of haiku, the space between them weighs even more.

20

, 1

Invariably, after the outburst, the green & quietly pointed leaves. Clean breathing, and shelter from rain or from burning shine. Yearly you settle sheaves of abundance on me! Yes I will desert my musty digs, as you are my witness and ten t of meeting.

You make no demand but the walking humbled, and the sitting beside; and listening, alert for your lighthearted rush hours

when petals career and suddenly bob like tumbleweed, singly bounce then swarm, unconcealing the wind's low winding trails.

You let ground ivy be dark and dappled under you. No I will never divorce you.

You let squirrels lean on you in sickness and health, or climb dance and arch to a still point. You let

21

a crow pass through, questions pop and drift,

the poor borrow and nothing's due, confident poets carry off souvenirs .... ' .

On a bench in the pink & white room two daughters are storytelling. Laughter rolls around like choked moaning.

What they reveal you embellish, and scatter it

by available wind with your wise petals-millions of them.

From the shoulder of the sari-wrapt woman her child's

face in the middle of short dark curls follows the unfolding behind them of your carpet magic: the sift of loose, light dots

over chip-flecked asphalt where the woman's sandals, her fawn silk billowing. make no sound. Distant the man strolling and slowing,

22

, 1

red tie flapping 'wide about irresolute grey

suit,. the sun shining the top of his head-but he's come to a stop in your shade, his feet planted, his spectacles useless!

... I'm divorcing the lie of my life. We eloped early, into a state

of wedded war. The lie dallied with me, then kept me on the beaten path of daily news and promised the world.

I t gives me anything but love.

I t knows one song: Rose)" are false, Cankers are true, Robots are pretty enougb=so are Y0lt.

I t abused the children until every last one ran away.

23

Now I've found them at home here, they say

you'll invite me too and I may loafe. Dreaming up into your canopy, in the lie of your land I shall come true. Any day now,

a final decree will rid me of the habit

of these delaying deceits and I will travel in your company

the steady route from green fullness through fruit, and out of green to delicate falling tints and nakedness, seen through

by the whole round sky, the dusky, satined limbs embraceable by rain.

In December, snow will be

lightness and sweet in the snapshot of your May Day. A vow of indivisibility

will bind my whitening hair, your darkening boughs.

r ,

First Love

Phyllis Braun

\'('hen I was in love, one time, my windy head was filled

with the smell and feel of you. I lived high in the sky.

My feet brushed treetops when I ran to class, our class.

I sat beside you, heart pounding, cheeks hot, hands cold.

I glanced at you: your pulse was beating at your temple.

I looked at your bony boy's hands holding the Lawrence poems.

I knew,

if our eyes met, I would faint.

2;

I Know Her in l\-ly Sleep R.Yurman

she visits me

in the early morning hours

this time dressed as a taxi driver she calls me 'abogado'

wants to help me win the case

we sit on the bumper of her cab "will we sleep together" I ask "don't be silly" she say'S

"I am here as your helper

I will go into the restaurant

and tell them the abogado needs a table for himself and a party of nine"

they are crowding the sidewalk v v aiting for dinner and wanting to know who this woman is

in her plaid silk shirt and stiff black pants certain there is more

between us than I will admit

"but we used to sleep together"

I say trying not to sound like a beggar "that was only a dream" she answers and smiles so warmly I know

she does not want me to believe her

z6

everyone is hungry now impatient the men mill on the sidewalk talking without energy

tomorrow morning

just before I begin to wake she may return

or she may not

I never know until the first light

though I hear her footsteps in my sleep and the slap of her sandals dropping to the

floor as she prepares to enter my bed

she walks quickly down

the three steps into the lounge not turning to glance back

her shoulders straight

her clark hair cut very short revealing her neck

watching from a small distance 'the women settle into a circle

pulling their wraps closer about them

27

l\larriage Manual Joan Payne Kincaid

Anxiety was the predominant scenario like life with constant commercials announcing what should predominate what should govern their goals

their disconnected somehow smashed life styles ... derailed and smoldering permanently off-track;

marriage is the great dispossessor

of individuality, destroyed by concepts ofsharing not well understood and even if it were

everyone is willing to try it ...

52 percent of attempts fail

28

for lack of listening, or any good intent or an abundance of narcissism!

the happy couple is incapable

of rendering love or even focusing attention on other than self

like entering a house that's programmed to become a prison, leaving the inmates to accept or flee for their lives!

Caught in a \Vheel of Discontent Joan Payne Kincaid

She had grovm tired of their arguments from the day she was born

she knew how tired she was of the way

they didn't relate positively /

to each other and every day

she knew what would be

would color all activities darkly

the camping trips, meals, only when she could leave them and go away could she forget for awhile

rhe ominous predatory attacks of their discontent ... always it was a time of their discontent

except when they were painting or perpetrating music

at which times they were able to forget

what they felt compelled to remember.

30

Plans

Joan Payne Kincaid

She had such dreams of being a homemaker gifted artist she thought she could do it ali

and she seemed so sweet in public

so charming in public

and then the you can't do tbats started; she tried to work secretly

to earn money to buy the children's clothes but he beat her to make her stop;

31

gradually she knew she could not live

as a slave, could not give up all self-respect and she would try to leave;

ah, but he had gone behind her back

and gotten friends to say she was incompetent; an unfit mother; that she had nursed the boy too long. and didn't keep the baby clean

and took her to court to have the boy removed from her custody if she tried to leave ...

(he said she could have the girl);

she left several times and tried the shelter route but it was so brutal, and she felt only her O\VIl imagined failure ... and she kept going back when he would repent;

of course it didn't work ... and now she has disappeared

\v1 th the children, leaving no address;

her mother's therapist says "She is in mourning give her time, and maybe she mil call you."

No one knows what the husband's plans are

but when anyone calls, he teUs them, "Gena doesn't live here anymore. It

33

In The Spirit House Joan Payne Kincaid

Smoke and mirrors, monks and 1\:1erganzers there but no sign of the Osprey in a snow shower mayhem and the crickets stopped at the museum

to Oceanic Religion and cult contemplation

the s\vaying owl-like masks moved messages along their advice often invoked murder

or verbal abuse and abandonment

in a darkened room of influential wooden faces and women with mutilated wooden sexual organs under glass ceiling of dismembered gender where wild dogs ran amok a small girl

in a too long gown mis steps

lies crumpled down below without a sound. 34

lHontefiori* Gertrude Morr-is

The first time mother was there, hearses were lined up at the curb like taxis wai ting for fares.

Another time a nurse phoned:

"Hello, Can you come up please? \\' e have a large gentleman here

An old woman in the next bed

called me Fiona. \Vhere was her dinner. \Vhen would Father come.

waiting to go to the Morgue." They stashed him in an alcove under an exit sign,

a shapeless mound on a gurney

Later a nervous young priest came to give her Communion.

Some days after she died Dei Gratia.

disguised to look Like laundry; two orderlies in green coats wheeled rum to Layaway.

• a hospital

35

The next time she was there, the instinct to escape

got her up and running without her cane.

It took two of them to get her back to bed.

"She's very strong." the nurse said. She was shouting when I came:

"Set the table! Serve the food!

Where is Pauline?" Before they wheeled her away, her last kiss brushed my cheek,

she whispered "yes." Under a cold

fluorescent sun, they emptied her

. and left a shell. To live a single night would be a miracle. For five days

Mother miraculous lived on wires. Her heartbeat zigzagged on a screen. Her .breath played a silent accordion,

rising and falling, rising and falling. There was hope, the augurs said. And what did she do with her days?

Her body mourned itself and wept away. The last time I saw her in that well of earth; a soft February rain fell into it.

Trying to Escape Mary Ann Henn

She thinks of

happy things

but they become boring. Some flit through

like summer lightningsome pause then fly on before becoming words. She tries to unravel it

to think of happy things only to bore herself again. Back and forth -

she keeps reaching as far as she's able. "Learn from it all" .

she tells herself.

37

It Started IHary Arm Herin

one dark night .. with delightful light in a bar

He thought it would might last forever He caught her eye on a weekend night They'd clicked at once so they tried it The marriage lasted two years

one child then gradually the light faded out of sight "I don't love

you any more" she said in spite of all he'd done for her She left him with their child The bite of that pain

like a lightning strike

fast and never over

Coming Apart Ida Fasel

Turn after turn

I had first choice of the inventory box grace of a bright penny

and I whooped it up

getting the Jasper Johns

I'm looking at

\When did we start to break union of states of mind and heart

At what crossroads did we separate What highway sign took us to that table where we divided loot from days

when we agreed even to that day

all we owned between us was superb

we overpriced ourselves all the way down the line

and came out as even as could be expected, dappled Pollock, red Rauschenberg,

values left to time

His and hers

You chose the Giamcometti dog - when we bid for him his melancholy

was delicious -and I

the gray map of the United States, grayer now, ineloquent,

on the darker level

of equal exchange.

39

A meadow of candles on the cake. I cover them with my breath.

My wish takes.

r share with friends

the usual ice-cream-slabbed cake and my baby-new, full-grown birthday body,

more and more staging for them the jaunty me

at the overdue edge of dark.

Another Year Ida Fasel

Years ago r sent a wish

by dandelion seedheads. Only a child puts her trust in such wayward feathers.

Year after year

a meadow of candles on the cake. I circle them with my breath.

My wish takes.

A good wish is good enough to keep on making.

Woman to Woman --- His Suicide Karen Kirby

"That son of a bitch---

how could he do that to me?" "That poor sweet troubled man--how could he do that to himselft" "Why didn't I see?"

IIWhat (ould I have dOTter

The sorrow will flood you. Grief, a high tide dragging you under,

but as it recedes

don't let your anger

slip away unattended

to fester for years

behind polite smiles.

Women do that.

The guilt and blame the shame-carrying it yourself .. a personal failure ...

Women do that.

Honor the rage

or it will consume you.

Curse and thunder as long as it takes

for your storm to pass. You will survive-outlasting adversity.

Women do that.

Rise to challenge the myth of unity--> NO as one.

For didn't he prove every one of us

is alone and separate at our very core?

Don't allow his darkness to extinguish your light.

\X1omen do that.

With the grace of time you will come to see that alone is not lonely and one is a whole--not a half of anything.

Inching out of the dark abyss your shroud will lift

birthing transformation. Changed but intact

like a snake shedding skin. Regeneration through strength and courage.

raindrops Billie Lou Cantwell

slink down the pane narrow the view

of your going

like raindrops on the ledge

they puddle along the sill into a quivering shimmer

tomorrow

the whole thing will be a hazy outline

my reflection

bears wobbly rain tracks

magnifies sorrow

a smudge of love in my past.

43

The Mad Girl Thinks Of Things She's Slammed Away From Like An

Lyn Lifshin

opera singer who at 35 has a tantrum and

never sings again but can't think of much

she left and didn't hold on to, feels like someone getting rope burn from what's yanked away like Janis Joplin grabbing the calves

and ankles of a lover jerking way so her own

knees are rubbed to blood. She thinks of

the Ph.D exam she ran out of, stifled for air, wanting to be near water and trees, escape -

how she slammed out of, her coat a banner behind her, Most of the time tho she stayed, pinned to men she hardly wanted, waiting for them to drop out

44

of school, join the army, find someone else. She drifted into arms like a boat in fog grounded

on sharp edges. And even when sinking, held on, still sends birthday cards to a sister who

won't talk, has always stayed with lovers who

called her ass hole, frigid,JAP even tho, in her

head, she was Puerto Bella, Odessa or Sicily.

She can't give old sweaters from college way, letters, photographs of people she never knew, holds on to letters, esp the ones that sting

as if glued like fingers zapped by electricity,

half fusing 'with what burns deep thru-

is quick to fall for those who can pull

jacks out of the wall in the middle of an s.o.s.

45

conversation, can pack one sui tease and leaves a 'Wife and baby for 7 years and would,

if she can't leave any of the houses she's

lived in, a piano in one, clothes in another,

would, if she was leaving Europe, needed to escape, never would have tied ribbon or paper streams to those on shore, but would have used hard, un-cutable wire, a rope of stretchable steel, nothing that would have floated

like smoke on the water or air but dragged

what was part of her once w .. i.th her,

like a tooth yanked from a bloody jaw

After all she decided on another apparatus and love.

Always arguing selfulness

I was cornered into hypocrisy

or understanding. I felt the one, acted another. Out

of vision, I sat,

stared, sweat,

and took advantage of the trauma until the edge of the blade burned. I moved half a world, and

it's colder.

Time freezes as the fire fades

. ,

though tomorrow I'm older

j\lid

JamesPenha

with no name for a child,

only 'v-ise by degrees

:lropping in centigrade. The drift IS clear and blindinz

This is it. then:

a decision on boots or bare feet; to walk' the dog or let rum go on the terrace

or ski do .... llhill.

By spring

may I look up.

47

Ivory Towers Carole M. Cohen

I wore my blue sui t

I save it for special occasions And it seemed the proper garb To meet with the judge in court.

I wondered how I'd feel

I was a little shaky and a little queasy

And looked away when I saw someone I knew \Vhat would I say I was doing here if she asked

(I could say I'm meeting a client.)

In court I was asked to state my name, and so on And asked if the marriage could be repaired

I said I didn't think so

But that we'd still be friends.

She asked if there was a property settlement I said we didn't own anything together.

It was quickly over

And as I sat outside the courtroom

Awaiting a copy of the FINALJlTDGNIENT

I heard myself singing, "Come dmVTI, come down

from your ivory tower."

And asked myself why I chose those words Until I looked carefully arou-nd and

Noticed I was surrounded by tall ivory columns.

49

Now each time I hear myself humming that tune I know I'm thinking of that sad day

And that there are no words-to express my sentiments No words to describe my feelings

I wonder and worry what kind of repercussions There will be.

50

The lVIan In Front Of The hlirror Albert HuffstickIer

One clay he froze

in front of the mirror, froze standing there

face contorted as though asking the ultimate question. Finally, they came and

got him, took him away.

He lay quiescent in his

room till they removed

the restraints, then disappeared. They found him in the bathroom

51

in front of the mirror, frozen. This happened again and again. Drugs, shock treatment, psychotherapy failed to alter .

his behavior one jot. He might have stayed there forever had not one therapist. in a burst

of insight, gotten him

a job acting on TV.

He was good, did whatever they told him, achieved instant fame. Everyone was proud of him. And

he, of course, was content. \'Vhen he wasn't acting,

he could be found seated in front of the tube, replaying himself over

and over

53

Ruta Maya Coffee House Austin, Texas

~lay 20, [996

from Z-Z-Z-Zinc Arcadia, FL

Love

Albert Huffstickler

You bore me a child made of wind lying against the earth moaning biting the blood

from your lips and tearing at

your wild hair while lighting flashed behind your eyes.

54

The child was named Spring and it left us

trailing like a green mist off across the horizon. I t was a girl child.

Sometimes I hear her laughter in the night.

She said that she would wait for us

in the place where the spring snows melted

and that she'd send

a ghost to guide us when the time came.

55

Lately the days stretch out and I wonder if

she's forgotten.

How much can

a wind so small who left so soon remember?

Talus and Scree #2 Waldport, OR

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