Poetry in the Mainstream


Waterways: Poetry in the Mainstream September 2001
Winds of autumn, as I walk'd the woods at dusk I heard your long-stretch'd sighs up above so mournful.
— Walt Whitman "Children of Adam"

WATERWAYS: Poetry in the Mainstream
Volume 22 Number 8 Designed, Edited and Published by Richard Spiegel & Barbara Fisher Thomas Perry, Admirable Factotum September, 2001

Will Inman

Fredrick Zydek James Penha Lyn Lifshin Geoff Stevens

4-6 7 8 10-11 9

Herman Slotkin John Grey Ida Fasel

Charles Pierre

c o n t e n t s
12 13 17 18 14-16

Susanne Olson Kit Knight

Arthur Winfield Knight Albert Huffstickler

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

Joanne Seltzer





Feinberg-Whitman Collection Library of Congress).

Walt Whitman (1881)

sometimes a breath — will inman sometimes a breath of wind can reach dark to winter or down a million years to the end of earth.

or a postman can look up and know

sometimes a poet

down his spine what wind foretells:

being told doesn't always take words


the brown electric blanket i sleep under napping a sleeping bear, snout extended toward my pillow, she

what's known in me i cannot prove — will inman

or, deeper, at night — when flung aside, becomes sleeps soundless. when i return to bed,

i pull her stretched skin over me, her dugs trembling with original warmth, which i suck through my pores like mother-milk. she does not growl nor threaten.

our old enmity turns close and calm when i lie under her wrapped in brief recall of her winter sleep, snowed in and cubs-companioned.

towel takes on features of an old shaman, with hooded eyes, wide mouth skin drawn high over cheekbones. shaman watches with father-keen eyes, harkens with cautions me about tricky eyes, that i see with a dark growing from in. but i earlier days accompany my ancestral memories what's known in me i cannot prove. know what i seem to see: mother ears. she does not warn me of the bear, but he

a casually folded

that lurk in me where i remain wary of denying

First published in The Lucid Stone #26, summer 2001 6

It's been raining since early autumn. The slate tiles on the roof glisten like polished ebony, have endured, too long, the dark pursuits of rain that chills the bones. There are bloated earthworms in every puddle and pond, pink testaments to what drowns when the rain keeps talking until it has no more secrets.

A Chill to the Bones Fredrick Zydek

I stare into the fire, wait for shadows to warm my bones, to sluff off the pose of another long wet winter. There were no leaves to shuffle through this year. The rain turned them to pus - slick dangers for anyone dumb enough to be out walking. Odd how a single drop of rain makes the same noise as the backdoor when it clicks shut for the night.

Without you I expect the worst: loss of contact, abduction, car wreck, plane crash, heart attack, (yours then mine), a reheated frankfurter on white toast at suppertime. Later an abundance of microwave popcorn for a Shakespeare video when I keep missing the dialogue and so stop at web sites tangling with other liars avoiding dreams that come to bed.

Without You

I — James Penha

Even this poem had to wait until you returned. I am not myself without you.


Hark No More — Geoff Stevens Hark, no more the mournful sighs of autumnal winds above the woods, but the continuous hissing of rain. Through global warming, the crisp, dry breezes are no more and Whitman's children of Adam once more wait the Ark.


Missing Blues Panic — Lyn Lifshin 'breaking' up a woman with raven hair writes her from the west coast. She says living alone is terror, shaking as I'm dazed in but the dark wood holding me, exchanging it for a flesh cove

the east, terrified too but not of living alone, of leaving not arms

without the blue stain of mulberries, the musk of darkness that drifts up, braids the house's skin to my skin

Flu — Lyn Lifshin

sneaks in like in thru the smallest chink. You never notice the moment it starts to next in your blood, tears bits of energy into its own quilt, steals any grain of oomph. I couldn't run, it

paws sprinted over my face, rubbed my throat and skin to roses. The colder outside, the deeper in me he burrowed, kissing my forehead,

skittered faster. I was half dead. When I tried to sleep,

rumpling the pillow. When I pretend to sleep it sits on my nose, spreads a tent of Kleenex as if, confined with each other I could love this

The attic is emptied of past attachments, even of dust that lent a smoothness to the touch. Nothing now but naked space: unplaned rafters slanting downward, splintered planking underfoot, the rooms below completely stripped of anything to lean upon, my family gone beneath the waves— beyond the touch of any hand. I stand alone in the cellar, amid the beams and cinder blocks, looking about without a plan, my eyes alive to the vacant air.

House — Charles Pierre

I am an old album of remembrances in which are pictures of Eleanor and Franklin, and Aunt Ada offering me half an apple, the sight of Mama sitting doll-dead, the feel of forced separation from wife and life, the prides and wounds of work, births, maturations, marriages. But I am the last of my family. When I forget, there is no one to ask. When I die, who will remember?

Remembrances — Herman Slotkin


Our First Version — John Grey

Watching from the bedroom window, we saw the distant funeral stumbling toward the cemetery, coffin in hand. My mother later related how she knew the man, reduced his life to a few passive-verbed sentences. She attended with my father, remarked on the beauty of the flowers, and how good it was to see people she hadn't seen in years.

From our telescope, the ribbon of cars swaying slowly west was not about lives or beauty or even human contact. Death was something more to plot, to trace to the horizon where it disappeared through Oak Hill's rusty gates. Did dying seem less cruel from that distance? Or was it light relief for small boys weaned on the potential to amuse of all strange and moving things?

I only know it did not look sad or terrifying, more like the spoor of some strange animal whose food supply ran out here and that had gone searching for succor in those far-off shreds of cloud, the soft red rooftops, the string of purple mountains doused in pale, restrained light.


It was a brand new development, named for what was here before it. It was the third house on the fourth street, both house and street so new you could still smell the razed forest. He was reading an article

Pine Grove — John Grey

the trap, flapping pointlessly into their own dark drowning. It was some three weeks after his wife said, they would both be very happy here, the day before he had to

about dolphins caught in tuna nets, could imagine mammals, struggling against

drag his son in from the front yard where the kid was staring at all the other lightless houses. "Soon you'll have neighbors," he'll say warmly, like that's a good thing.

Morning air begins to have a bite to it. Trees widen their arms to let in sky. We turn lights on earlier, earlier. Where is the line that precisely marks off the changing season? Who saw the first leaf fall? Nomads roam the flagstones, herd together under the locust, cove with cones round rampart evergreens. A few marigolds resist going under for shelter, blaze Van Gogh bright yellows and oranges in the cold.

Circling the Seasons — Ida Fasel

Winter slides softly on stage, dimly visible, fumbling props in place like an apprentice between scenes of theater-in-the-round. Air is flaked with tentative snow. Six green leaves still hang on a branch, late, vital, lingering like me: never the garden over and done with, always the glimpse of violet stipends in the wings.


Voices — Joanne Seltzer

After I am dead you will walk along the street and feel a sudden gust of wind against your face and sighs will stir the trees on that quietest of days and you will hear me say, "I love you Ed."

There are voices of the throat and voices of the heart and voices in the heads of those who are obsessed, there are voices on the page that do not age.

Two red-tailed hawks draw in majestic flight effortless arcs around Bee Rock. They soar, one with the gentle wind, float as part of the sky. A few strong strokes of their wide wings, and they glide endlessly above the mortal land. Their flight paths cross but do not touch. In double motion separate and free they weave their lives in one design but trace each circle on their own.

Hawks — Susanne Olson

Unreachable and lofty, weightless yet of indomitable strength, the hawks are my own silent yearning for boundless liberty, freedom from life's heavy burden, serene eternity.


I watched her go. She was wearing high heels and a pleated Pendleton skirt and her burnished hair hung down over her shoulders. It was just before the coming of complete night. I watched her step down from the curb and get into the Buick that seemed too big for her. Watched her light a cigarette while the car idled, her hand shaking. The tip of the cigarette glowed when she inhaled. I wondered if she was still crying. She'd told me her mother wanted her to date someone respectable. Someone Italian. Someone Catholic. A nice boy, like Frankie Sinatra. Or Vic Damone. Someone she could have bambinos with. I hated crooners. Pier's voice had been carried away by the wind as we stood on the porch in front of my apartment. The sky over the Hollywood Hills was red, but there were always fires during the summer. Pier had said, “I hate my mother, but I can't disobey her. It's the way I was raised, Jimmy. Things are different in Italy. You have to understand.” We were living in the freest place on earth, but we might as well have been in the Old Country. I waited for her to wave, but she didn't look back as she drove away beneath the burning sky.

James Dean: The Old Country — Arthur Winfield Knight

Not True at All, 1919 — Kit Knight I'm 90 and not the least bit silly. The fool was right when he wrote that Lincoln as a young lawyer rented a room in our house. Of course Abe knew my sister; he knew me, our dad, the neighbors, and he knew Ann's fiance. And everyone mourned when Ann died. But, there was no romance —ever—between Abe and my sister. I remember Abe calling steps

for a barn dance. “Now swing your pardner, skin the coon and turn him wrong side out!” And he never even danced with Ann. Years passed; he was elected President. Steadily, Lincoln led this country through four of the worst years in history; over 600,000 men died in The Civil War. They wore blue and gray and blood. Lincoln was shot in 1865 and several books


were rushed into print defining the leader who said, "I shall do nothing in malice; what I deal with is too vast for malice." Lincoln's old law partner was the fool who insisted Lincoln had been in love with Ann and remained heart broken. The fool told the world Lincoln's mournful face was because of my sister's death. It's not true. It's not true at all.

Woman in Long Dress — Albert Huffstickler I imagine my head the warmth beneath her skirt, the briney sweetness of her smell.

First published in Twisted Savage, issues 3&4 Tampa FL 1996 23

The Passing of Our Days — Albert Huffstickler The day Jack, my younger brother, came to tell me he was leaving I was living on Singer Island in Florida in a motel room writing a dirty book. At the time I was still hoping that something would happen with JoAnn but it never did. I was drawing a lot then too. My mother lived across the peninsular in Ft. Myers. Jack, who lived in Alabama, had had a cerebral hemorrhage and was lying in the hospital while the doctors decided whether to risk an operation or not.

I'd called the day before and they thought he was doing better. Then that day about noon with the huge high Florida sun above and the palm trees swaying just the way they should and everything doing exactly what it was supposed to be doing, I came out of the Ranch House café where I had had a hamburger and was going back to my motel room to type my daily 15 pages and I had just opened the car door when I felt him. It was like when you sense someone standing behind you and you know who it


is before you turn around. He was there. And he said "Well, I'm leaving. You'll have to take care of Pearl." Pearl was my mother. And he lingered another moment or two and then he was gone and I stood there shaken. It was like someone had reached through all my walls and touched my living heart. Later, I’d remember how much love there was around me at that moment but only later. At the time, it was all I could do to pull myself together and drive back

to my room and, for want of anything better to do, type my fifteen pages. You see, it was too nebulous to follow up on. And what could I do — call home, and freak everyone out by asking if he's died? No, there was nothing to do so I typed my fifteen pages and drew some and later went out to supper and came home and went to bed. I wasn't sure what I was doing on Singer Island in the first place besides waiting for JoAnn who wasn't coming and writing a dirty book which


was how I made my living then. So I went to bed and drifted off to sleep wondering what to do next. It seemed that a great deal of my life had been spent like that — wondering what to do next. And then about three in the morning, just as I knew it would, the phone rang and it was my brother-in-law telling me that Jack had died in the night. So the next day, I got up, packed everything and moved back across the island to my mother's and stayed with her while my sister and brother-

in-law drove up to Alabama for the funeral. And so I stayed there at my mother's for a couple of months till I was sure she was O.K., finished the dirty book I was working on and then one day, for no apparent reason except that I never could handle Ft. Myers for very long, I packed my car and moved back to Austin where I met a new bunch of people and a whole lot of things happened that are not germaine to this particular narrative. And it was only years later that

I saw JoAnn again and by then everything had cooled down. She was mostly fantasy anyway, kind of a dream that had risen there in Florida sunlight backed by swaying palms and a medley of those Hawaiian-type songs that you don't remember long enough to learn the words except that all of them have Aloha in them somewhere, usually several times.
First published in Parting Gifts Greensboro NC, V.9 No. 1, Summer '96


January, 2002 (deadline December 1, 2001):

For 2002’s monthly themes, we look at lines excerpted from poems which appeared in Waterways, February, 1983 (vol. 4, no. 2) when we published a celebration of Greenwich Village.

I, for one (and others probably) didn’t even know that I was there, having gone to the Cedar Street at different times of day for talks with charlatan poets and editors, late breakfasts with a crazy and bizarre Australian pornographer, beers with fellow NYU mediævalists; and we were all unaware of action-painting, spilling and swirling around. — John Burnett Payne, Sometimes a Name

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