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WATERWAYS; Poetry in the Mainstream July, 1997

~.A. 'FER..""'.A -VS:Poetryin the Mainstream

Volume 18 Number 7 July, 1997

Designed, Edited and Published by Barbara Fisher ~ Rich Spiegel

Thomas Perry. Assistant

C:::::OX1teI1ts
Will Inman 4-9 H. Edgar Hix 25 ]. McMedow 40
Fredrick Zydek 10 Geoff Stevens z6 Gertrude Morris 4I
Johanna Herrick II-I3 Karen Kirby 27-29 Susan Snowden 42-43
Ida Fasel 14 Billie Lou Cantwell 30 Arthur Winfield Knight 44
Kit Knight 15-20 David Michael Nixon 31-33 Sylvia Manning 45
Joan Payne Kincaid 2I Lyn Lifshin 34-38 Mary Winters 46
Terry Thomas 22-24- James Penha 39 Albert Huffstickler 47-52 Waterways is published II times a year. Subscriptions - 520 a year. Sample issues -52.60 (includes postage). Submissions will be returned only if accompanied by a scamped. self addressed envelope. Waterways, 393 St. Pauls Avenue, Staten Island. New York 10304-2[27

© 1997, Ten Penny Players Inc.

2

3

least and most Will Inman

at the screened open window, a fly's buzz for an instant is a boy's excited talk. with another boy down the alley half a block away. that was this afternoon.

tonight radio sounds Heinrich Shtltz chorus from long time since. i see a bush come radiant orange with azalea blooms: a clump of stumpy cactus transformed with incandescent bluewhire flowers. so sound changes

sounds, so sound comes sight. cathedral window mandalas through human skulls.

least and most in most and least.

Tucson, II August I989

from Thirteen Magazine ,January 1990

4

The Garden Will Inman

I'm walking through the Garden. I'd thought it had been overgrown. Lost. I was wrong. It was I who'd gone overgrown with thickets

and with streets. I've lived in a world that prefers

to alternate between brag and self-pity. Between

the two, no room for the Garden. Yes, there are gardens, kempt and unkempt, with small miracles

and unaccountable disasters. Now I call them

'practice gardens.' But the original Garden had not been created as ornament for a house. The City of God has taken its place and is corrupt with piety

and guilt. Bliss happens among a few individuals, but it took me awhile to learn they have discovered

5

the Garden alive in themselves. Only two or three know how to share the Garden, have found ways to awaken sight in others to what yet blooms radiant and unblemished in them.

In this Garden, I meet with more than one serpent, but not one tempts me with anything I am not. No fruit is forbidden, for every tree has its roots in my soul and, it took me time to learn, in souls of others with kin vision and even, secret and waiting, in souls of those who yet remain blind to their

original innocence. There is no Fall of Humankind. in this original Garden. Our Fall came elsewhere when we lugged the ancestral bones of an Old Patriarch who taught us to be jealous and to compete for power over.

In this original Garden, I can be 6

friends with creatures I've never known before now.

I can respect their space and be steward of mine. Here, my fellow humans are not drawn apart by skin color, nor by walled territories, nor by pious pewwarmers, nor by those who would sell me what cannot be bought and what was never not already everyone's.

Here, I can see behind their fear and meanness and deep into their original reservoirs of respect and trust and

even into the scared blossoms of their love. It can be! I hear myself murmuring. In my solitude, I can reach into that precious Now where all things are possible.

Tucson, Arizona, 2 May 1996

The :\1avedck press November 1996

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no room for how the nest Will Inman

all things grow from a commo~ center. center common does not hold geographic or sidereal place. center of genesis opens a whorl of shaping:

the whorl moves under all things seen and unseen. the whorl knows, resonates through, every being, wakes every form unique. variations reveal

infinite differences down kin shapings, we are each other, yet each is other to each: how that ribbon turns on itself, every stretch a start,

every start an original reiteration, the way

a flower sucks the bee, how rainbows ride lightning and the red owl swallows a night of hummingbird

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stars, acorns presume to draw time-flesh

to oak shapes, and waves kneel whole oceans shoreward in rhythms of tide. i speak till words feather me with insights. i have no room for how the nest crowds singing, but all those birds, all those irises and turtles wear new

paths through my thicket beard, what spied with sealed orders on a trek to get lost on, the only way to create being found naked and wailing.

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Bullbead Mag;uioe, 1996

The Beautiful Spinner Fredrick Zydek

The spider, busy securing ferns to the bark of a tree, dances

on her silver thread like a tiny light on a distant sea.

She twists new forms among leaves, hems a nest for the ghosts

of them that fly slight and airy to her transparencies.

Three dragonflies, maddened

by the sun, wait laced like roasting quail on a slender plate.

At dawn she will suck their sweet

and yellowed porridge dry.

This avaricious spinner will weave wind-blown hieroglyphics

into the cocoons of the minute souls

for whom she weaves the world.

She will show me the secret of her straw-like stare until even these lines want to become strands in her web ..

10

Rebutting "Erat Hora" Johanna Herrick

"Nay, whatever comes

one hour was sunlit and the most high gods may not make boast of any better thing

than to have watched that hour as it passed"

Ezra Pound, Erat Hor«

If only the good stuff lasted forever, things like ice cream cones, orgasms, luminous moons, Brahms symphonies,

those Emersonian interviews with souls who let us be what we inlyare.

II

And if only, long ago, I could have kept the shining light of the fireflies

I tried to capture forever

on sultry Midwest summer nights,

my child's body sweating in a frenzy of anticipation.

This is how I tried to do it, the recipe for eternal light, I thought:

Kill the firefly at the exact moment of immolation (does it die to the splendor of an orgasm?)

remove the light organ of the insect; attach it with grass to my finger as the gold ring of the most

magnificent princess; admire it unceasingly.

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But always, always, it lost its luminescence, and I'd grow bored ...

I mean, what happened to the real light, the momentary spark, the zest that

for an instant also lit my desert child's heart? Hope and light turned to paltry insect body parts, Still the story of my more down days.

Old Ezra Pound was satisfied with one sunlit hour; not me, not then, not now.

I want eternal and everlasting joy;

I quest after the ultimate sensation. Perhaps the firefly was the lucky one.

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Glow-Worm Ida Fasel

All because

a glow-worm one moment in the dark field

rouses me to a light greater than 22 xenon lamps

with 4,220,000,000 candlepower intensity illuminating

Niagara Falls for the tourist's sight,

like a private music,

an issue of mind takes form from nature, carries me through

to the full nature of all being, to pure delight.

14

from Amphora full of Light

Rachel Cooke, 1861:

Honor Beyond Calculation Kit Knight

For 29 years I've followed a man, who, like me,

is proud

to be a Virginian. We met at one fort and got married at another. Like my father, Philip is also married

to the U.S. army. Our children were born and raised

in forts all through

the west. My Flora married

the finest calvary officer in the South;]eb Stuart

is also from Virginia and also married to the army. But he didn't hesitate a second when Virginia left

the union. Nor did my son. They were going to fight for Southern rights.

High command knew

its Southern officers

would need something

. greater than courage

to lead troops to invade their homes and shoot

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their brothers, so

the army offered rebels commands in California-far from the sounds

of battle. We'd only hear

the whisperings and tuggings of our hearts. I followed Philip to Utah and listened to my husband--wrapped

in his overcoat and grief-

say, "It's easy to know

what to think but so hard

to know what to do."

His family, my family, and the four children I birthed

will feel betrayed if Philip doesn't "go South." And others will call rum a traitor. With honor beyond calculation,

I pray Flora will hear my heart.

r6

Flora Stuart, 1862:

Blood & Passion Kit Knight

All the South calls my husband "a plumed knight. II General Lee calls my husband "the eyes

of the Confederate Army." ]eb led 1200 men on horseback and circled the entire Union Army in three days. The raid embarrassed federal command and brought Lee valuable information. My father,

at one point during the assault,

1

'Was only four miles behind leading Yankees in pursuit of]eb's raiders. It's cruel that my husband's glory was also

my father's defeat. Only

a few Southern officers remained loyal to the union when the War began. My dad, who is dying of grief and

a broken heart, kept his word to the U.S. Army. For 29 years Philip has kept his word

and even the passions

of a divided country

I7

and the passions

of his divided family

can't force him. Everyone--

but me--was shocked and angry when Philip didn't

"go South. II Years ago,

Jeb named our son Philip because there is much to admire in my dad. Now-in a voice fierce enough to break a fistJeb swears, "No son of mine

will ever carry the name ofatraitor." ThisWar

makes me bleed. There were other raids, other glories. My brother

rides withJeb. As a wife I'm proud. As a daughter I'm a rebel. As a sister

I'm still a rebel. And as a mother I must change my baby's name.

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Mary Ann Booth, 1865 The Murderer's Mother Kit Knight

Whenever I'm in town people point at me

and shout, "There she is, the murderer's mother." I can almost touch

the hatred flaring at me from every corner.

My youngest son

shot PresidentLincoln. John said he did it

for the South and shouted,

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in Latin, "Thus to tyrants," as he jumped onto the stage and surged forward

with a bowie knife. John slashed two men

who tried to stop him. My favorite child broke a lower leg bone

in that 12 foot leap. Drama runs in the fainily; five

of my six children .

make their living--as does their father-in the theater. My husband's middle name is Brutus. Many historians

consider Caesar to have been a tyrant and Brutus

a hero. Another of my sons really is a hero, but

my neighbors won't believe a Booth actually saved

a Lincoln. Several months before the assassination my Edwin pulled

Robert lincoln to safety before the train moved.

The President's son attended his father's funeral

only because

a Booth saved his life.

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Signals

Joan Payne Kincaid

J r is good to have Delphiniums on the mind again

and Portulaca and all the plants you taught me to name though your signal is missing

and there is no way to return you,

Mother it is good to have them back, the flowers, birds and insects

that left with the last frost;

Crickets will be starting, and Katydids and by June, the most exciting ones you called LIGHTNING BUGS

will silver-shoot the night

and always as each taught being reappears I am signaled to the early days,

to your gifts of awareness.

21

Crystal, pistol bright on right days,

playing sprays, bullets into black corners. Mourners may yearn for midnight

mass,

but I pass my light in solar flares;

don't care for eclipses, sunspots or clouds-crowd to windows

Sun Catcher Terry Thomas

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like a frantic flyer, buying time

till the glow fades

in the growing dark.

Cupid in the Potting Shed Terry Thomas

Found an arrow through my peat moss -

little one, phallic, pinned into old mulch. And these tiny tracks -like some baby midget running amuck

(schmuck silly, if you ask me). Oh, and I did see these

little hearts strewn

about like pesky dandelions, except they were only

sprouting old snail poop. I stooped, peeked under the herb bench -nope, nothing but rabbit turds and bits

of colored shells (eggs). I straightened, then felt something hit my 1eg -- like a pin

prick (made me a little sick), but then I decided

to look up Milly,

-my neighbor,

and discuss my green thumb.

23

Maybe Poetry Terry Thomas

Maybe if I widened my sighs, wet my sound Thesaurus tongue,

fingered the watch fob sheath, I could .. , (insert something here).

Maybe if I promised payment, bet my sound-alike soul,

lingered over flower beds, beneath, I could, .. (insert something here).

Maybe jf Grace faced me, let me sound my coy chord,

tinkered with my inspiration, aU teeth, I could .. (insert something here).

And maybe if! siphoned my whys, set my wound Taurus tongue,

sheathed the watch fob finger, I could, .. (insert something here).

The Beekeeper H. EdgarHix

"Eat local honey and

you'll never get hay fever." He's not allergic to anything. His eyes never water.

Whoever he cannot touch he stores in his apiary, feeding her his pollen and stealing her honey.

In the afternoon,

he puts on his protective suit and stands among the hives, his smoke in his hand,

He loves fresh honey in the morning

on a hot roll

with cut flowers in a bud vase.

or else he's on his knees among his flowers, weeding, . wearing yellow gloves

and swatting away the occasional bee.

FireFly Geoff Stevens

Stars of the night pinpoint distances in the black expanse of universe,

map out the awesome extent of space.

Ideas are similar, fire-flying in thought's infinity, minute sparks of light in a dark land of opportunity.

Logic Karen Kirby

Her nerve pills they called them

in hushed tones when we kids were present .. Grandma was always so fragile and frail

not quite sick but never really well.

A tiny timid doll-like woman

her pale skin papery as a delicate flower when we kissed her powdery cheek. We tip toed around her sensitive edges our childish enthusiasms put on hold.

Nervous breakdown Mom clucked,

folding protective wings around her mother-child.

rJ

Grandpa took over all the chores shopping, meals, even laundry fussing as if she were still

his blushing helpless bride:

Then Grandma got cancer. A year to live Mom sobbed.

We must all pray for her very hard.

We'd not been asked to pray before beyond the old standbys

now I lay me down and our father who art so I prayed with all my childish heart

dear God please don't let my Grandma die. For months I prayed then a miracle happened even her doctors couldn't explain.

28

The cancer was gone and my Grandma lived on and on.

But that very same year

my Grandpa died suddenly.

So I figured God had made a deal.

I never quite forgave God or Grandma. I didn't pray again after that.

Firm Moments in Flight Billie Lou Cantwell

Black dots

on a green field fade--

for an instant vertigo

confuses the patch of lake with the patch of sky

like love

can spin reason

until certain constants confirm direction

like the black angus in that field though the plane climbs

and the cattle vanish

we will remember a moment that adds to a past

that shapes a life,

and enriches a soul.

30

Fireflies Remember Me David Michael Nixon

Fireflies remember me: I

am the dense being just beyond the flickering, fevered, hot light.

31

Feel the Song Vibrate David Michael Nixon

Too far from the fire to feel the warmth spreading throughout your body, you sit back

on your haunches as though the flames were right in your face and feel the song vibrate in

the air of the circle, your ear, your mind,

your body; finally you join the chorus

and the song throbs from your mouth, beats with its other voices, making one being in the air.

Picking With Aunt] anet David Michael Nixon

When I was a boy, AuntJanet was Harry Truman and I was Margaret

as we picked raspberries in the back patch.

Now Harry is dead and Margaret writes murder mysteries. The berries are gone; the house an office for lawyers.

Aunt Janet became the librarian.

She brought home books by Margaret Truman and ordered poetry books f.or me.

Now Aunt Janet is dead; I'm still writing these poems; and allover Lockport,

people are reading books she helped them pick.

33

Amtrak to Schenectady Lyn Lifshfn

Is this seat taken? a slight accent, honey skin, tho I wanted to stretch out, with the car filling up, I smile No and she moved, dancer-easy to the fawn velvet, I'm Therese, I'm travelling with my busband. Isn't it chiUy,

isn't it cold? She grins, 25 maybe, pretty, wanting to please unlike the man in front with a boom box slithering out even

with plugs, or the woman stinking of garlic. She was like a tulip, yellow petals, not the red that might attack. I watch mallards on the Hudson as she curls into her slimness. We're going north, maybe Niagara Falls she says, I forgot. My husband has my ticket. Rochester. Ok. I picture a man who, like her,

could have stepped out of that early film about young women and

men in Bali, water spirits with jet sleek hair, a lei of plumeria 34

and orchids when an elderly man, balding, plump, maybe 65 or 70 saunters up the aisle and Therese says proudly, My husband. And I'm suddenly wrapped in his smile, wondering if this is a mail order

bride, imagine ads of young beauties with cherry blossoms in their hair begging to be imported, swaying in a grass skirt under a blood papaya

moon as the buyer sips Tequila Sunrises on a balcony, flips a wad

of bills. We're not the same age you can see he laughs and I have my clue, ask how they met. A long story. I retired from psycbology and after a few yeors of golf and sitting in the country club, I got bored, Therese

is watching his mouth move, as if trying to catch the exact words.So I went to Beijing, the islands. I think. of tropical spots with the geishas like

swaying girls, the balmy winds, gauze. Her breasts are gauze, her nipples are

plums thru and he says, The Pbiiippines. I'm not surprised, see Therese in a take out drive thru. He's ordering pineapple drinks six times a day and then he asks her, wraps her in silk, pulls her back after 2 trips to San Diego and I'rn wishing Albany didn't come up so soon, that I'd hear more of this novel than I'll be

35

Albany didn't come up so soon, that I'd hear more of this novel than I'll be getting. John, get me a drink, she grins, kitten-like, wriggling from sleep and he pulls out some bills for her to go but she doesn't seem to want to leave him near me. We'll hoth go he nods and by the time they're back, I only know she doesn't

miss Manilla, she's happy they're moving to a place where it's easier to shop. She loves it warm. Washington was ok but too much walking. I wonder if he's 70,

if they'll have a child she'll never teach the Filipino language to who'll get into Stanford or UCLA on a football scholarship, paler than Therese; but with her enormous black lake eyes, dark as the goddess Pele's. Goodby, it was and I get

off in downtown Schenectady, still hours later sure I can smell the flowers I've seen in books, the ginger torch fire, pikake, camellia and spicy rose ginger on my black velvet in cold mist.

The Mad Girl Thinks of the Eleven Years Ago J anuary Lyn Lifshin

When sleet and wet snow started pines and branches snapping and pulling wires down and even in sun the rooms were already cold, she put the jogging shirt, after shovelling the stairs, from a most unlikely lover near the fireplace to dry, smelled the scorch of it

burning as some of his words had when she began to find him too difficult and dull. Wrapping in a quilt with

the burning cherry, enough wood for weeks and with no

electricity, no way to type, she took the last of the hot water for hot chocolate and curled up to read as if she was camping in the trees. In the wild light, junipers

37

and maples and walnuts pressing glass, bringing the outside inside, made it seem she was winter camping, half dreaming

in leaves until the radio jolted her back with the knife

of a special bulletin, a we are at Cape Kennedy exploding,

the lift off smooth and then the hush, the replay of the

moments after on battery radio, numbing like the cold. Over and over as she read the mail, waited for someone to bring hot tea in a thermos, a flashlight like a beacon to glow into the night as she curled under 7 quilts with the cat, the radio like breath, the all night talk jock moving into her ear

as less than 4 months later he actually would

Eve JamesPenha

I put the disk

on the pyramid's point and play it

lightly

for the evening's eyes: millions

on the street stop to see tongues of fire spit:

a theater

for the night.

39

Tinkerbell

J.McMedow

She draws her mechanical smile, a row of dents, "Come here lover boy.

I am the night's fangs, the light's impostor, the only leader till dawn."

Fire dictates the darkness, flames her evil spectacle wings.

Some call her lightning bug; some whisper firefly; so the world divides.

The glowing conclusion arrives.

I rip her apart and throw her in my collection KA-BOOM

Eyes and ears and wings and things ... an exploding fly.

She illuminates the corridors of my mind my body.

"Now can your Fire fly?"

Old Love's Sweet Song Gertrude Morris

The first time they were naked,

by lamplight she was ivory-white, he was brown as buckwheat honey.

That night they did the good hard work; they were acrobats of a small circus, daring stunts no one had before.

They were naked in their skin under a sun that clothed them in heat that stopped time.

Once they lay in a dry culvert smelling of snails and graves; they danced in a soft rain

• 1

In a grove s neon green.

(bulls bobbing on the river saw them.) In old movies a sudden wind

. riffles the pages of a calendar; old lovers are silvered over, but wise old hands remember.

Twilight Palette Susan Snowden

Two silver slips of cloud meet,

then part to make way for the celestial deposit: a giant, Chinese-red token of sun,

dropped in the slot,

Nature's pay-off for a trip to the pier.

Granny's Zebco clicks;

she jerks the old rod,

clucks at her failure to snag the elusive bream, whose yellow eyes glint

beneath the murky surface.

An orange cat licks hungrily at fish blood

and shrimp shells on gray weathered dock planks.

42

Beyond the estuary

black skimmers and gulls dip and plunge into glassy Topsail Sound,

while twenty miles out

the tourmaline Gulf Stream band flashes neon in fading light.

43

Richard Brautigan at Narsi's Hofbrau Arthur Winfield Knight

I saw you, Richard Brautigan, standing in line at Narsi's Hofbrau at the Coddingtown Mall.

You were wearing a baseball cap from the Bodega Bay

Volunteer Fire Department,

and you ordered a meat loaf sandwich with coffee and Lay's potato chips. You were wearing dark glasses

as if you were Elvis incognito

in Upper Michigan,

but I recognized you instantly, your thinning hair

tied in a ponytail.

You didn't seem much older than you did on the cover

of The Tokyo-Montana Express, but your shoulders were slumped.

I noticed you had a tattered copy

of The Abortion in your back pocket when I walked by your table.

I said, "Nice book," and you smiled.

December 27. 1993

44

Will who is lucid Sylvia Manning

(for Will Inman, Arizona poet)

Will who is lucid with Love's light in spite of all and whatever

in our world today deserves not even Darkness as grand noun for its ubiquitous ugliness

Writes poetry to shade us from bright poverty.

Cognizant of old and odd brave struggles against misuse of might (as we used to put it: "having fought the good fight,")

He writes now with his arms around

the tree-inside-self. Ear to bark, listening to wooden

rings of concentricity,

he transcribes.

Jack Rabbit, a literary review (Eagle Pass, TX); Vol. 9.

The Maverick Press, April 1996.

45

I'd Like to Banish Every

Mary Winters

bit of plastic from my life . _ ..

exchange it for old-fashioned stuff life would be mellow

an arcadia

all lovely big trees

a low stone vine-covered cottage no light but firelight

Without any plastic I'd be

full of good humor

never in a hurry

gracious and calm

a friend to my foes

I'd scour the flea market

for lace before it became acetate leather before it became vinyl

I'd replace and replace and replace

... sometimes the antique gives me the creeps

the bonnet a ghost wants back if it's broken, abandoned could I be infected?

the old silvered mirror

fit for a corpse

temptation Albert Huffstickler

she keeps buzzing

around me, flitting toward me then backing off. i'm flower to

her bee. or say,

i'm a grain of sand

inside her shell and she can't decide

if i'm the makings of a pearl

or just another raw spot.

CrimSQn Leer jrd Issue 1996 Fabius, NY

47

By The Cigarette's Glow or W'hy Crazy People Sllloke Albert Huffstickler

Down here where there's no time and it's always dark we light cigarettes and the glow warms

us and we see each other as through a glass darkly and watch the ash grow and suck time

into our lungs. I t warms us. Down here where no one knows us, we have to know ourselves

and to do that we have to have something other. That other

is the cigarette patiently

48

making its way down the length of the tube, glowing softly

till it's all ash (as we are

all ash) and we know each other in our most basic state while ash glow fades and vanishes as we have faded and vanished from our rightful place. Down here where time is of the essence because it's so very scarce. If we had time, we would walk out into it and take jobs and fall in love and have children. We would talk and talk about the

49

things that matter. But there is no time. There is only

the lightless dark and a dread deeper than bone. And so we light another cigarette and

for a moment feel the glow around us and are safe in time and warm with the knowledge that we can almost function. And then slowly the ash creeps toward the filter and the

light dims and finally then we're extinguished, cast off and there's no time, none at all here in the lightless dark. Or

50

if there is time, there's time only to be crazy.

from f.e;ukss Lancaster, PA.

. ' .'~

"

II' II

'I

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