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Poetry in the Mainstream
Waterways: Poetry in the Mainstream July 1999
Answer motion with motion, be birds flying be the enormous movements of the snows, be rain, be love, remain equilibrated
The Structure of the Plane THEORY OF FLIGHT (1935) Muriel Rukeyser
WATERWAYS: Poetry in the Mainstream
Volume 20 Number 7
Rich Spiegel Lyn Lifshin Ida Fasel
Designed, Edited and Published by Richard Spiegel & Barbara Fisher Thomas Perry, Assistant
4 6-7 5
Geoff Stevens Joan Payne Kincaid Joanne Seltzer
Marguerite Maria Rivas 18-21 Joy Hewitt Mann Herman Slotkin
David Michael Nixon
R. Yurman will inman
Waterways is published 11 times a year. Subscriptions -- $25 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 © 1999, Ten Penny Players Inc.
In Lieu of Hubris - Rich Spiegel Mist clothes his waiting. His tongue’s trapped in a riddle. The craft to Ifland taxis forward; This journey makes a separate Motion over his absence from it all.
The moon is bedded in An anxious cup of coffee. He looks to prepare his Bargain with inexperience For a conscious spark in the sea.
The plane rages against An aggravation of sky; And once his lament collides With events, he drops A moment into memory.
Until its equilibrium is broken. my head is a dovecote with thoughts flying in and out.
I feed as ancients fed, on pigeons, their messages eaten with humble pie, to be unwrapped and read like mottoes in Christmas crackers.
I pull both ways, until it all goes bang, and then I wear a funny hat, and sing “Good King Wensleslas”.
The Mourning Doves - Lyn Lifshin for a week they shuffle twig after stick, pulling a bit of twine into the hanging purple Fuchsia, cling to the plastic edge weaving pale branches. There seems no place to stand. The birds beat their wings balancing on the edge, hovering like huge humming birds while frantically trying to
place the twig in the right spot, make some thing simple as a Shaker chair. Their cool olive grey coats punctuated by iridescent guava, solid black smoldering eyes. The male dove watches by day, on the roof of the deck even at 2 AM, neither leave the nest. Pale white eggs, the size of Milk Duds. I could lie on the deck and watch the mother
in the deep Fuchsia petals, her eyes like a doe. Then, she wasn’t there. The purple petals, a camouflage for the eggs. It must have been a crow, perching on the fence, watching, swooping, the black of shadows or edges around somebody dead. Even in the wild rain the dove hadn’t moved, was deep in the flowers. It must have been those dark wings, the dove pulling into herself, closer over the
eggs she might have already felt the hearts beating, the eggs already moving. And then, nothing. In myth, the crow is a bearer of bad news, misfortune, a messenger of death. It feeds on carrion, the rotting corpses of what’s gone wrong. A marauder, pillager, flying black spike. A dove carcass someone says near the pines, half the pond away. The crow, a splash of cold water.
After Watching Nova on Public TV - Ida Fasel
Bones hunted, hacked, exploded from rock -long bones, connecting bones, a jawbone perhaps, gently gently scraped and brushed desired objects laid out lovingly on a scale of hundreds of millions of years toward a name those creatures never knew they had -next year or the next with luck fetal bones the phantom in the fossil for me the robin I time-share my backyard with. We illustrate ourselves to each other courteously distanced, I in my weathered sailcloth chair locked in Gobi desert mind for a line,
he fast-frisking earth jab jab jab his beak a thunderclap to the squirmer secured on ancient muscles, upborne, dangling a miniature banner floated from a miniature blimp advertising protein for supper diminishing on hold fieldwork, far as he goes, far as I.
Lessons Learned from a Hawk - Joan Payne Kincaid
You should not be here near too much need and absent love observing the harrier hawk’s old wild ways sipping Lapsang Souchong in a dead vocal teacher’s memory of a life so bright you thought its murmuring would never crash like a false PC... the virus of discontent and manipulation snuck in unobserved eroding warmth and tender lips became bellowing mouthfuls and men like Guston could maintain as always sacred belief in being, being male
a sacred foolishness (for which they put women in sanitariums, rest homes or marriages that last too long in company of purveyors of cruelty); rather click yourself into some quiz show or holodeck that replicates delight being careful not to be dragged and dropped in cyberspace where your little PC (personal castle) sinks beyond redemption; scream like the hawk with his mottled feathers and hooked lips his glassy eyes searching vanished prey.
Bagels and Burgundy for Breakfast - David Michael Nixon This morning the lantern was still burning, hung from the crossbeam in the kitchen, when the sun first began to grey the world’s rim beyond the pond outside the window. I sat at the redwood table and ate the last of the garlic bagels, toasted and soaked with salted butter, washing them down with a tankard of Burgundy. The sun slowly altered the horizon, staining it burgundy as my mug drained. Dimly the lantern and the sunlight shone on the painting on the side wall,
beginning to bring out the iridescent shapes which shifted across that seascape: sails and water, triangles, rectangles of sunlight shining with sea and sailing colors, Feininger floating in the kitchen.
The sun was beating on the water, turning the pond to fine gold plate. I switched the lantern off and stepped out into the slowly aging morning, Feininger dead and Donne long undone, everything turning toward the evening.
first published in Blue Water Line Blues, Mott Calligraphy, 1988 13
The Street of Constant Birdsong - David Michael Nixon
This is the street of constant birdsong, a high chatter matched by the white and fruit stains under the corner bird trees. Only the desperate or oblivious park their cars beneath those swarming branches. This is the temperate, feathered jungle, here in Kew Gardens, Queens, the New York City where poets and air-line workers huddle in white rooms, as the grey birds throng.
1 Flying to Persia in the morning, she passed my pillow, a soft breeze, her wings sapphire, manganese, and emerald in new light.
(Variations on a Theme from LaVilla-Havelin)
Love Before Breakfast David Michael Nixon
3 Flying to Canada at sunrise, her long neck passionate black in red air, she called and called, a raptured honking that woke us in our warm down bed.
2 Flying to Mexico this morning, her grey wings filled the patch of sky which had been beating on our window. It softened to a blur of feathers, brushing a light-remembered song.
4 The sea was bright at early morning. We heard the waves lap, felt the shimmer. The shadow of a bird was passing over the water far from land: dark boat which sped her to Calcutta, as we rocked in our dry bed, hand in hand.
appeared in ‘Poetpourri’ and in the David Michael Nixon’s book, Season of the Totem, Linear Arts, 1997
First Bird - Joanne Seltzer
Flying into the future violates our concept of reality scoffed the other dinosaurs.
Summer scorch, winter frost, sandstorm, hail, hurricane, unforgiving hostile air warned the other dinosaurs.
First Bird stretched, grew her soul, trembled compulsively, imagined rising toward the sun.
Where will you lay your eggs? In the clouds? And when they crash you won’t unscramble yolks from shells taunted the other dinosaurs. First Bird’s mouth, hardset, trilled the song praising trees that angels try to imitate.
First Bird hopped, felt feathers pop, renamed her arms wings, tried to visualize God’s face.
God gave us everything we need: food, water, love, community nurseries whined the other dinosaurs.
First Bird knew velocity depends on aerodynamics and soared and glided home.
June Song at Allison Pond Park - Summer Solstice, 1998 Marguerite Maria Rivas No more shall I splay myself, the old equation -- self = sacrifice or ride the wind like cinders dissolving Shall I fold myself into what springs from the earth? Garland of ivy fairy ring of clover?
Study the dragonfly’s flight, skimming and unpredictable?
Crawl into the petals of spotted touch-me-nots, rest on a bed of violets, bare my breasts to dewy moss, lean bareback against a beech tree in the woods honeysuckle drenching the air, mate in the moonlight like some she-creature whose blood ebbs at full moon -a tide inside me fold myself into the wave fold myself into the moonlight laughing naked.
Speaking of Mating Ritual Marguerite Maria Rivas
There are barn swallows singing lustily on barge moorings at the esplanade. With blue-black heads and rusty breasts, they summon love from the depths of abandoned buildings.
mica schist dusted. They dive-bomb edgy and full of desire.
Their wings are boomerang; they return in springtime migration to cull sweetness from oily tarred pylons.
They sing sex; it echoes through the courtyard, bounces off red granite, rose quartz hardened,
Metallic blue lovers sail on currents above NY harbor, mouths open wide, consuming unsuspecting insects and an occasional lone dreamer.
Spiderweb at Silver Lake, July 1997 - Marguerite Maria Rivas Shaken from the realms of possibility to the reality of the spiderweb in the streetlamp, love lives in a place of no surety, unmappable yet not unnavigable. Love spins like a spider tossing filament from streetlamp to tree where it will remain until the winds of autumn churn, or a small child throws a rock, or too many insect carcasses litter the trap.
The Barn - Joy Hewitt Mann
Above the broken wall of weathered pine day escapes as pigeons rise with the sound of clapping hands; dust and feathers float down upon my upturned face like a benediction. We listen to only ourselves, the birds say. Wings like assuasive voices can heal the smothered scream. I fling off my work-hot hands, breaking silence as they soar up to the light.
She’d carefully fingered her coins and walked six miles to the store filled with women in silk dresses women with red lipstick, sweet smelling women whom she parted with her frail body and dry, cracked lips. Walking home with the print hidden, folded, into her shoe she thought of sheets drying in the wind, muslin curtains floating from half open windows white cranes flying like miracles under her sole.
The Print - Joy Hewitt Mann
Music - Herman Slotkin
Music talks to me. I answer with a tapping of my toes, a trembling of my lips a turning of my mind.
What is it saying? What am I answering? Why do I feel enriched?
before the sun squalling cats climb the porch challenge battle-scramble overturn a chair raven circles in the icy air and caws calling the brightness down
Dawn - R. Yurman
enter the steep organ - will inman
not just to fly, not only to span distances no. not merely reach. to wake at live cores of mountains, to rise with their liftings, to swim great waves of rock and rocking. to range with weathers, spread wide arms of winds, grow feathers of storms, beat down, twist, swoop, surge, high ascending, circling sheaths of breath and breathing, laughter: rage in the wild dance of ocean come inland, swell pulsing, shrill through tree-limbs,
shrink to buds of flowers, fold into zinnias drink down sky readying bloom spin and burr with bees be all in little . . . immanent in all . . . throttle godsong, temper wingbeat, shake strut and wing-flap, enter the steep organ sounding, surf wide shoulders, speak into ears of furies, listen how they curse you, bless you, damn you who you are
11 October 1998 Tucson
My brother and I sang and sang growing up, sang love songs from operettas, sang pop, sang country western. We didn’t think about it, we just sang because we liked the way the sound came out of us, didn’t think about the words, just sang because it felt good to have music come out of your body and we tied our feelings to the music and let it all go like a kite sailing up, out of sight. No use asking us why, we just did it, just sang and sang. And
The Song - Albert Huffstickler
sang our way then into another time where music was scarce and it was harder to find the music to tie the feelings to. I don’t remember when I stopped singing. Jack stopped when he died, not forty yet, still a young man,. Tonight I sit and think about time and music and where people’s lives go and it’s night and there’s a small breeze and I think about people like Pavarotti and Louis Armstrong and Ray Charles, singers who can put people’s joy and sorrow into music and sing it for them and I believe to my soul
that there is no more wonderful thing to do in this world than to sing and that of all the things in the world a man can do, there is no more honorable occupation.
first published in Heeltap, No. 5, 1999, St. Paul MN 28
published 11 times a year since 1979 very limited printing by Ten Penny Players, Inc.
(a 501c3 not for profit corporation)
$2.50 an issue
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