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Waterways: Poetry in the Mainstream, October 1997

"VV .A_ TER"'V\T .A.. -Y-S: Poetry in the Mainstream

Volume 18 Number 9 October, 1997

Designed, Edited and Published by Richard Spiegel & Barbara Fisher

Thomas Perry, Assistant

Ida Fasel

Joy Hewitt Mann l\lM. Nichols Anne Wilson

4~6 7~12 13~lS 16

contents

Johanna Herrick 17~18 Joan Payne Kincaid 19

. Will Inman 20-24

R. Yurman 2S~26

Sylvia Manning 27-28

Albert H uffstickler 29~31 .

Waterways is published 11 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.

Waterways, 393 St. Pauls Avenue, Staten Island, New York 10304-2127 © 1997, Ten Penny Players Inc.

Creator Speaking - Ida F asel

Yes, I goofed on the Princess. The nose was wrong for the face. I looked and saw it was good. Cleopatra was another.

They both did all right, didn't they? And you of your own free will

keeping your high bone from the trendy surgery for your own style,

were you thinking

how many times I am taken

by the eyes, the expression of total pleasantness, the light through the skin?

Pardon's the Word to All. Ida Fasel

Tired after giving voice to tragic characters, he began to ask to his own

"Is there anyone that can tell me fIlt'ho I am?" Began to ask how life could be answered for and lived beyond the burden of its errors,

its haunting sense of loss and regret

Tired in city rooms, he looked back

to Stratford, came back, bought New Place, the finest house in town. Came back

at first periodically, then permanently

to more land purchases, a coat of arms,

a day in court, a loving look at flowers,

a wife saved over the years

who approached him without reproach wrinkled, speaking stone.

Therein a mythical Bohemia, a mythical Queen, daughter of the Emperor of Russia, wrongly accused of adultery, imprisoned, her infant child exposed to death,

after many years, both restored

to the husband and father King; by-then true-repentance-redeemed:

all aborn again out of the dark occasions that cruelly informed against them,

the lost daughter, brought up

by common folk, having lost nothing of the manner to which she was born, the all-forgiving wife

bearing the pain that happiness

keeps in its "totting up,"

the wife saved over the years

who approached him without reproach, wrinkled, speaking stone.

In The Winter's Tale the voice is the poet's, speaking lyrically, but the man is there, matured. his serenity hard-earned,

the comic and the realistic balanced against the possibilities of separation and reunion,

patience and ongoing acceptance practiced beyond the discontents of the day.

So in his own life, the final word

was the voice in the will that left Anne the bed they had slept in.

The best bed was for company, perhaps a pair more suited to it.

Where love was lacking, love as he could a wife saved over the years

who approached him without reproach, wrinkled, speaking stone.

Alice - Joy Hewitt Mann

She did not recognize the sound of traffic or my VOice,

so intent on chasing caterpillar authority,

her perfect hair flying to a concrete summer we were pushed into -

"Three months in the city is all I ask," he had said.

No matter what they try to tell me, I know she doesn't breathe -only-

because I hold her so tight.

Burning Brush ~ Joy Hewitt Mann

In a burning field

only the voices of the insects hit a high key-

grasshoppers fiddle while their Rome burns and bushes speak no covenants

as they burst into flame.

I watch two small trees

fall toward each other

then rest like twO sleeping heads

while around their roots the ants vacate almost invisible as the blackened grass writhes like waves in the sea.

I am lucky.

JUSt seconds before the fence might catch the seared ocean throws its voice upward and rain begins to fall.

I go home early,

walking among the burrs that reach out clinging to my c1othes.

I will burn them tomorrow.

, .• , /. ". ~ L~~,. ,~"'r"~ _~ ~' •• _-._ ~,_" ~ :_:

The Motion of Sleep. Joy Hewitt Mann

The voices that lulled me to sleep when I was young came from the sub-world of the TV:

muffled musicals; the steady rhythm of laugh-tracks.

The motion of sleep was even, like Tonto's rising smoke words. But now,

the knowledge in my mind screams at me with the unsteady voices of the media and falling asleep is really like falling:

into the lion's mouth and vomited next morning.

Rondelay - Joy Hewitt Mann

There was a kind of song we used to sing in school round

we called it, meaning

one person threw it out others caught the line circling back to where it all began.

It has dwindled down to two now, you

taking up my lines before spun out

and me

circling round

trying to catch the tail of my own thought.

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A Song Not Programmed For Karaoke

Joy Hewitt Mann

When the old woman sang talk ceased

eyes turned as she drew notes husky-voiced in the air.

Men's veins strummed toward her hearts pumping childhood into their throats

fish leapt

fathers retied shoes kites flew for miles every hit a run

Like drops of blood

memories transfused the room and men tasted yesterday

in their too salty

beer.

11

On My Daughter's Pregnancy Joy Hewitt Mann

I pass the skin of motherhood to her, stroking the familiar weave,

pulling it to fit around two heartbeatsjealous that it fits so well

this maternal cloth.

Threads scream

too young I too young and yet ...

I was as young when her father's skin layered mine

and stretched the surface of my youth to womanhood.

I past the skin beyond her teenage years to metamorphose

myself.

12

Who's Dummy - M. M. Nichols

Steve had me fooled. Harry would

come on day after day like gang-

busters. They made me laugh out loud. For a month I didn't suspect it wasn't a pair of live guys there. I must have been out the times they discussed their relationship.

One day an inflection of Steve's caught

my ear: so like Harry they could have been twins. One of those fast-draws, hot stichomythieswild schemes, objections; whining, scolding; Steve trying not to let Harry drown

the transmitter or blow up the studio

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with his harebrained inventions. Termite-brain? Hairs stiffened on my head. A paradigm

shift was breathing down my neck. Is Harry

a dummy? Did Steve can him a dummy not just to honor his idiotic ideas?

Is Steve really alone? in charge of everything?

I didn't want to know! Such a good

time I was having with the two of them. Outrageous Harry. stick-in-the-mud Steve. The kid I wanted

to be. the parent I wanted. Silliest self.

sensible squelcher and occasional dysfunctional

ogre. Loud loud Mouth. Fond Teacher.

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I understand now. The two are one.

For Steve, it's usual business. For me, nondual dueling's a grave new world, though I still

tune in and laugh out loud. Medicine, siesta.

And in the name of the show! What a dummy I was, not to catch on right away: "Knock on Wood". •

·DroodcosttJPeeidoys 1:30 p.m. 011 WNYE radio 9iSjm

15

No Dummies M Anne Wilson

The toy chest

is full of doll heads, unclaimed babies spilling out of

the trunks

in the attic.

Old musty clothes, unworn and moldering, greasepaint

and gaslight,

small mannequins watching

in silence,

like the women of the century, forbidden

to speak

for themselves.

In the attic,

there are these immortal voices, insistent and clamoring, all of them speaki ng out at once,

but no-onenot even 1-·

can read their lips.

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Speak Ventriloquist - Johanna Herrick

Premier ventriloquist,

first in dissembling, camouflaging your heart, not speaking your own truth,

but telling your dummy's story

until you become the dummy.

I want to know,

What is the disposition of your heart? Please, come alive, can you?

Plumb your own depths, go to

your own wild and desolate places where the coyote roams, the trickster hero who skulks through your wilderness, sniffing both dark and light as he goes.

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Touch my heart and I'll respond, Talk to me through your friend, and you become wooden like him, and

I am petrified as well.

Unfold your own myth, ventriloquist,

Let your own coyote bring fire, scatter stars. Come alive yourself, wrap me

in the blanket of your own story, and save us both.

(0 COIlf)Cf'SotiOTl flPit" myself)

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Ventriloquist -Joan Payne Kincaid

The voice must come from another source ...

something to be practiced; the manipulation of another not necessarily wooden; stand-up and throw it

out a window

or off a stage

monologued epicurean epigrams wise crack schizophrenic projections or some insipid something

on a hand or lap

a prisoner

of body placement speaking from the brain or the belly

tossing lines of illusion for an audience to catch similar to certain sports operas and marriage.

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dream-catcher - Will Inman (jor MidlOtl Curry)

he stood in shadow. then he stepped

out from behind the beech tree and handed me the dream-catcher. he told me to hang it over the chair I sit in when i'm

writing. it's hung there now for several years since his visit, along with the other shaman. Mike died last year of AIDS. he

lay in his lover's arms and slept for . many hours before he stoppedbreathing. some

of the dreams i'm given are cruel. somesing, rhapsodic. some dreamsare

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streaked with blood. others soundof creekwaters and wood thrushes and small boys wading.

haven't yet dreamt of Mike. but he visits me waking. his laugh is agreat hug from hisbrown bear body. hestill counts eagles overhead. and red-tail hawks. coyotes chant his medicine.

often now, he stands watching from behind my eyes, crowding the day with his steady witness. he beckons dreams frornin me, where they abound, longknowing how to hide.

21

like everything in the universe, they belong to me, and i own none of them.

like clouds and blue sky, like rivers and winds

and coils of stars, they flow in their own time. they flow through me,

for I, like them, am a wave.

we cross each other, and our

wisdoms flow with us and cannot

ever be held onto.

now I catch my dreams only to let them go.

from F ulil1f(S. Slimmer 1996

22

the littleness of words - Will Inman

it is not enough to measure the littleness of words against the ranges and reaches of galaxies.

the distances are as far inside us.

but what other creatures do we have to ride on so far and so long. telescopes are mechanisms and do not

grow from our marrow.

words - known words, used words, words that give us back m ourselveswords have no limits but seize on images and visions and faster, than the speed of sound, fast as light, create all chat-out-there in a size

true enough to spread out in our skulls and still leave room enough

for questions to ride in on elephants

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but. no,

words are not the thing, words

can never be the thing, but words can serve as waves on which processes of becoming

can wake and work and move. on words we can remember meanings of images and high litanies

down which to dive for what cannot otherwise be held long enough to burn our fingers on.

words

can be rainbows in mud,

shades of meanings and

possibilities can arch

between minds and gur-listenings,

god

is not a word but can" ride words backward down prayers Of perch on your hoping bruised lips

a hummingbird full of sky and the rustle of syllables before they are more than wind

25 Deamber 1996 TIICSOfl

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Mothers & Daughters - R. Y urman (0 tiIk 011 1M 71 bus)

The second lady

hair in huge pink plastic curlers

small white arrows shot through them cheap scarf pulling it all down

hangs her arm over the seatback

The first lady

overflowing her half of the seat

shuffles her running shoes across the floor

"Used to be a nice city to live in" she announces "Used to be you could take the street car

down town

it'd be a pleasant ride."

The second lady turns away from the jammed aisle almost lowers her voice

"It's all them Chinese

they fill up the place

Talk all the time, God knows what Shrill and they're so loud

it's a wonder

they can even understand each other ....

Thins almost - the one a larger older version of the other - mother and daughter kerchiefs leaning together, moving apart "And rude, that's what

Rude. Never a smile

never a sensible word."

On the next seat

parallel to the aisle

an Asian schoolgirl

uniform bright with checks above her knees

The woman beside her neat .

thin, expressionless - mother and daughter

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"Don't speak no English." "Don't understand none either." Kerchiefs nod, "Chinese

that's an they know. Talking

it loud like [hey own the place." The schoolgirl doesn't shift her eyes Her mother watches the aisle

"Used to be a lovely city"

the older lady

stares out the window

"but these come and take it over Makes it so's we can't

even go down town anymore. Not like we used to."

"Powell Street, cable cars, Emporium" sings the driver

The Chinese

mother and daughter rise, start to the exit

The lumbering pair follow - the younger reaching the bottom step as the Chinese woman lets the bus door slap back into place

curlers wag indignantly "Rude, just like I said, just

plain rude." She pushes the doors wide as they'll go

and ushers her mother onto Market Street,

Son Francisco, 1988

26

The Truth Where It Lies - Sylvia Manning

"He was carrying all the trees in the world,

which was one tree." from her poem, Jesus Walking, Antle Sexton

Today I cannot tell a story. As a child I would have meant by this, "I cannot lie." (We were not to utter even the word itself).

Here where I've lived more than a decade with language not euphemistic but simplistic (for needs of borderland patois) schoolchildren say fiction has synonym, "lie." Ask any average student in the jr. high.

And so the folk are folk. We cannot tell a story. Twice within two days I've surprised good men

27

by confessing that I'm Christian. After all this time and truth has passed us by? What kept me from escaping folkish creed?

They need not worry for my intelligence. It's their own new mythology, the same, that I claim.

But as she said before passing over into her black forest without Time, our poet sister, we are all the one tree. We are all carried forth. It is just one story. All truth, that is to say fiction, that is to say lies, exists in it.

That's all.

from Dirigible (New Haven, Conner/iml); No.5, Ftbntory, 1996.

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Friends from the Past - Albert Huffstiekler

i feel like the head of john the baptist brought in upon the platter of the sixties. "but i'rn not that way now," I tell them. "of course you are," they say.

they kiss my lips and wait for prophecies. i was a prophet then.

now i don't know anything.

"i can't even predict the present." "who needs it?"

"i do," i tell them and turn and flee, the beatles baying at my heels,

bob dylan running ahead of the pack brandishing a broken tambourine like excalibar.

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i fall.

they swarm over me.

bob dylan beheads me with the broken tambourine which they then set my head on.

they kiss my dead lips and wait expectantly. resigned, I open my mouth and prophecies emerge, urgent messages bearing yesterday's headlines.

from Crimson Len; 3rd issue, 1996, Fo/Jius NV

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Very Important.- Albert Huffstickler

I think I first learned it from Steinbeck - that the voice can come off the page.

hlO) 20,1996 from Workin~ Papers, November 1996, Number 19 . PO Box 940, Scotsdale, Arizona

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