Poetry in the Mainstream


Waterways: Poetry in the Mainstream July 2001
Let the picture be complete, with all of its fixings: The jigs, the singing, and the ceaseless play, The perpetual wide-mouthed smiles.
-- Sterling Brown "All Are Gay"

WATERWAYS: Poetry in the Mainstream
Volume 22 Number 7 Designed, Edited and Published by Richard Spiegel & Barbara Fisher Thomas Perry, Admirable Factotum July, 2001

Geoff Stevens James Penha Will Inman Lyn Lifshin Gerald Zipper


5-8 12 11


Fredrick Zydek Joanne Seltzer Mary Bass Bill Roberts

David Michael Nixon 16-17 18 20-21 19

c o n t e n t s

Susanne Olson Paul Grant

Arthur Winfield Knight Tara Arlene Innmon Albert Huffstickler


26-27 28



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 ©2001, Ten Penny Players Inc. http://www.tenpennyplayers.org

William Blake Oberon, Titania and Puck with Fairies Dancing circa 1785

Not All Are Gay - Geoff Stevens Not all are gay in the asylum, and out of it, not all are glum. But perpetual wide-mouthed smiles are not miles and miles away from being dumb.


Because Few Morning Gales Fly Through - James Penha

Because few morning gales fly through our island villa wants birds to take the cue from the frogs who fill the night with croaks and the fishpond with yarns of fecundity to wake us with life born somehow of the lives we have conceived of why chromosomes. We tried an open house-a doorless cage barred only for rigidity hung from the jackfruit branch and bated with rice leaves.

The bars cracked; the rice browned; still we sang our own songs.

When the trees grew wide enough to shade a corner all day, the grass decided against the struggle. There we erected a great birdhouse of stones and woods and wires to bury the bare ground but an empty cage bared more than bare dirt. At the bird market we sang our songs and saw who harmonized as we had put our fingers in the kennels to find the pup who'd lick.

Two knew the verse and we were told they'd sing each to each if together separated in our yard.

And so from opposing cages like soccer goals the home fans whistled and cheered the score, one to one, and during timesout sang as well to our duets of Sondheim, Porter and Gershwin. They're writing songs of love but not for me.

We danced round the garden, the birds a gypsy chorus

of virtuosos singing as long as we embraced as long as they did not.

Were I an encaged bird I would not sing, and they too deserved their silences. We sprang them and we we kept on singing.


The whumping and thumping slamming into the pulp of my brain Monday through Friday on a dismal string toneless notes erupting at daylight retreating in the ache of evening until wonderful Friday when the gates of our captivity fling open Richie waits for me in front of the chemical factory where I once worked until the pungent bubble burst in its vat splashing my face with red-hot Richie's old car swerves below the DeKalb El Lantern Bar blinking its red and green

Fridays - Gerald Zipper

ice-bound drinks and hoarse laughs dancing breath to breath in the dim blue light steamy girls with jiggly breasts trading wet kisses in the back seat of the car their smooth limbs turning soon to leather their sweet skin about to dry their faces to flatten and I'll be sailing off leaving my caste-off trail of reckless Friday nights.


a watermelon grin is blest double generous hunger for good things and joy in eating that red flesh on black skin reminds us of cruel voices with bloody shouts who turn those smiles to terror and sculptures faces with grief turn angel teeth rabid. no one more sacred than the dancers in whose feet a magic comes alive old men, old women in whose bones generations of joy wait to share love to shuffle-jump and happy-creak that feast kept them kin and whole down lean decades and hearty skimp

a watermelon grin - will inman

May West - Lyn Lifshin comes on, a blast in a feather boa, Tabu, humming yes, humming baby. She's got her bank book balanced, she oozes 'satisfy.' Her hips twitch pleasure,

her lips a braille she keeps you moving toward. The blind smell 'Big Boy' She swings her hair, has you lassoed, pulls you in but not so close you shipwreck in the cove she knows how to

keep as mirage, holy vision that gets better the longer you long


Naming Our Growls - Fredrick Zydek The river of Eros runs through the growls. Even a turn of phrase can ignite them. Some think we could sing long before we invented language. They are wrong of course, the first thing we learned was how to growl properly. The original was gleaned at mother's breast — its only name was pleasure. The growl that rumbles and groans was born in hunger and a dampness that reached to its toes. Soon these rumbles of wind and air learned to spell truth

without the crutches of adjectives and verbs and the peculiarity of nouns. They learned to flirt and woo, argue and snap back, delight, tease, fumble,

covet, and name mysteries Webster could neither spell nor find life enough to define. One day soon I will growl in your direction. If we are to survive,

you must growl back like an equal animal. We will lick each others wounds, learn the fragile and sinewy secrets those deep-throated growls

give up when ecstasy pulls them from the seedbed where all grunts and groans wait for their moment to rush into the world shouting.


A Cat Sleeping in the Window Fredrick Zydek I've been an observer here all my life. I know forty-seven thousand reasons for falling in love with the universe. I've seen tracks I'm sure lead to heaven. Why is it the dead get away with everything? Do angels pick their toes?

Why do some questions wrap themselves in such glorious content — all I can do is memorize better ways to pose them?

That is the nature of things here. We must learn to say yes to the body, yes to the id. Only then dare we cash in our chips and die to what


keeps the spirit dancing into bright and forbidden places. Remember that great calico cat We came upon sleeping In the shop window? He knew.

Round Dance David Michael Nixon sing and the trees whistle a tune above your head. light dances with shadow— that old round. the ground gives up its dead,

who join the round dance mixer, partners changing through the circle. the song, the dance— that old elixir keeps us ranging through familiar twists, each

variation flirting, floating, as the old calls sing and sing.

Appeared October 1, 1992 in Southern Tierjerkers Newsletter

Folk Festival Snapshot - David Michael Nixon The tall white geese poised in the grass of the lawn before the red barn, the dog ready to flee yellow beaks, an array of pale blankets beneath a scattering of people, bonnets in their sun-bright colors, the flash of clear rays of music in the summer air, reflections of solar splendor from a blond guitar, and the tumble of hot breath on the open flow of country breeze.


The Big Band Sound - Joanne Seltzer Slow and easy I flash my dance program at the stag line, hope to pass pimples off as beauty marks.

He returns me to the wall, cuts in on a cute couple.

At last I'm rescued by a frog who'll never turn into a prince. Sex organ to sex organ we fight for the lead. I spear him with my heels, admit I can't jitterbug.

I clap my fingers, tap my toes, wait for my life to happen.

Fun Feet

Fun Feet - Mary Bass

bounce heel to toe with all toes wiggling then standing on

their tips, the arch stretched as if to grow taller,

coming down with a thud they dance a jig, drifting

into susurration on the sandy floor and sliding to a stop at the door — but only for a moment — and into a skater's glide, using the grains of sand for momentum to twirl and twirl once more before departing.


Grandma Played for the Yankees - Bill Roberts Mickey Mantle she wasn't, but she ended up playing for the same team, the Yankees. The damned Yankees. I was a dedicated Red Sox fan and Ted Williams devotee, no matter that he'd stashed away his bats. She sat there in her wheelchair wearing a Yankee uniform, white with pinstripes, the big NY emblazoned on her left breast. She was Number 7, Mickey's number. She wore old, faded blue socks and no spikes, for she could no longer chase down a fly ball or dig in at the plate to take a hefty swing.

Her broken hip several years before had rendered her thus: confined either to her lumpy bed or the rickety, antique wheelchair, only once again to leave her second floor scouting post, where she'd survey the surrounding trees and tell the seasons by what was on their branches: buds, leaves, a few brown leaves, then snow.

Published in George & Mertie's Place, Vol. 3, Issue 11, Dec. 1997 (as Bartlett Boswell) 21

She was carried out in her visiting team uniform, the drab gray the Yankees wore on the road, still with the big NY over her left breast and the famous Number 7 on the back. I don't know where Dad found those pajamas, but they suited her in that last year, though her mind was never much in the game.

While I inch my way to work in heavy traffic withdrawn into a somber, brooding mood, my straying eye catches a glimpse of surreal catlike creatures: mysterious lemon green mouths, huge bright red grins baring ferocious purple teeth. Vicious orange eyes, yellow surrounding enigmatic black, elliptical, immovably staring.

River Cats - Susanne Olson

Hairy tufts atop the spear-like ears, shaggy paws extending into deadly scythes. Enchanted realm of freakish monsters, fairyland of feline sorcerers. Floodgates, technical inventions, mechanical means of draining water from the fields into the river, saving homes and barns from rainy seasons' devastation. Ugly iron doors, practical and purposeful, not designed to please the eye. Yet, transfigured by the artist's genius,

they surprise my dreary, struggling mind, transform ill humor into wonderment, the surly mien into an unbelieving smile. Thankful to the kind magician, I face the day with joy, instead of anger.


I hitchhiked to Reno the first time I came west, then I caught a ride on a slow freight. It was spring and the aspens were turning yellow as we crossed the SierraNevada Mountains. Everything was bursting into bloom and I knew my life was going to be different, that I was going to open up to experience in new ways. There was something magical waiting for me in the Golden Land, and I waved at people wearing red and green lumberjack shirts as I passed through little towns like Truckee and Emigrant Gap and they waved back madly. I sat there in that boxcar, my legs dangling over the side like a dipsy doodle as the train swooped down into the Great Central Valley. We crossed a huge elevated trestle west of Sacramento. Down below, the rice paddies were flooded, and you could see the clouds reflected in the water like great finger paintings. It was dusk when the train pulled into San Francisco. Neon signs winked on across the city as if they were welcoming me, and I did a little dance, jumping up into the air and clicking my heels together like a beat Charlie Chaplin, as I skipped across the railroad yard in the purple twilight. I knew I was finally home.

The Hitchhiker - Arthur Winfield Knight

Pictures of a Pretty Baby Boy - Tara Arlene Innmon The mother stands shivering at the entrance Greeting each with a hug I shake the young father's hand Parents for five days The casket white closed Small like a bread box Priest incense singing about a little child The mother shows off pictures of her pretty baby boy Tubes through his nose, arms, chest Smiling she says She will go home Shut the door Between herself And the empty nursery.

I'm given a way to duplicate, though to an unknown scale, the scene in some forgotten movie where the sticks-in-the-mud untangle the paper streamers from their hair and turn enviously away from the derisive horn of the liner their venturesome friends are bound for The Continent on to trudge more bravely than they will ever be able to imagine themselves home. I'm guessing the whole thing would be in, say, 1937. My version's set on a levee, me hunkered down in the mud while a honeysuckle heaven hanging on a barbed-wire fence scrubs with an old rag of next-to-no breeze the dirt from the river's squirming undertow.

Farewell to Blues - Paul Grant

One of the last of the old ones is paddling by, and some antiquated player with an antique horn is building the bridge in the Tin Roof Blues the length of the trench down the middle of the black

fuse sparkling its way south to the deep brown sea. Nobody knows the trouble it’s seen, or careless love would still be doing the same sweet nasty to just about everyone. But hey, nobody's going anyplace but over Jordan, and that not yet. Just give us a pig's foot and a bottle of beer apiece, and let's us listen to the frog-town shuffle that keeps the full moon full.


As Simple As That - Albert Huffstickler Some plants root from cuttings But sometimes when you take a cutting and put it in the ground, it will suddenly start to bloom and will sprout few if any roots. And sometimes after it blooms, it will die because it has no roots to feed it: everything it had was spent in bringing that flower to life. And this is a metaphor that not everyone will understand: the bloomers will probably understand it, and the rooters will probably not.

From Bad News Bingo, Garden Issue 2001

ISSN 0197-4777

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