Poetry in the Mainstream


Waterways: Poetry in the Mainstream October 2001
The orchestra whirls me wider than Uranus flies, It wrenches such ardors from me I did not know I possess'd them, It sails me, I dab with bared feet, they are lick'd by the indolent waves
— Walt Whitman "Song of Myself"

WATERWAYS: Poetry in the Mainstream
Volume 22 Number 9 Designed, Edited and Published by Richard Spiegel & Barbara Fisher Thomas Perry, Admirable Factotum October, 2001

James Penha Joy Hewitt Mann M. M. Nichols Ida Fasel

4-5 6 7-8 9-10

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

Waterways is published 11 times a year.

Fred Ostrander Geoff Stevens Will Inman John Grey

c o n t e n t s
11-12 13 14-15 16-17

Joanne Seltzer 18-20 Lyn Lifshin 21-22 Albert Huffstickler 23-24

I feel the pull of dreams spun on Corfu: we'd live by the sea, dine nightly at Nick's taverna on the beach under colored lights and stars with a bottle of Domestica cold at our table of course and vine leaves.

Seaview - James Penha

But this South China Sea swells Asia and under the blue stars garoupa in crab sauce gets to me with a lonely pair of chopsticks.

Here all the same I watch the couple sleeping on the sand: will they wake suddenly to take each other in the sea? I should warn them but have forgotten the words. I am left to scream for all the wrong reasons.


From the sedimentary layers of Murchison Gorge, I hear cameras whirring, clicking 'til filled.

Buzzin' Australia - James Penha

And when the percussive breeze rests a measure, voices speak of shots clearly to compete with the files in virtuosity and persistent intimacy.

And even the pages of this book that slaps my wrist crescendo as the scratch of pen and paper provides melody a-borning.

We used to walk to the city, four miles to window-shop at the Billings Mall. In Loblaws, we'd buy salami, chunks of cheese, small French sticks and milk in waxed cartons to wash it down.

Out of Water - Joy Hewitt Mann

I only think of that now.

Standing in the parking lot, your hair as long as mine, both in beads, our feet sandaled even in the chill of late October, we must have drawn attention.

Then, we were two lovers on a bridge, gazing into the strange waters of each other's eyes, seeing our thoughts swimming like gold fish like gilded carp.

Ungulate, slow dancer in the river bed : smooth, hillocky sun-patched skin of the river . . . The greygreen water even this windless day teases the embankment where we sit

The Invisible Elephant - M. M. Nichols

Where we sit approached by fringes curled white in the wake of faster, farther-going creatures That cruiser : passengers crowding the deck to peer at shore birds and wave . . . O, deep Elephant, stay near

I still own two Marimekko twin size sheets— whitely meadow-flowered, faded to far-off blue and lavender, a hundred times softer than the starchy, no-print fresh fitted bottoms they suffer through the wash with.

Spin - M. M. Nichols

In the dryer, they're faster, they spin tents around their whippersnapper tumblemates which when time's up have become damp cocoons, protected if not squelched by the thousand tiny wildflowers in Marimekko's rinsed lavender, Marimekko's blue.


There was talk she had won an international first prize, had played with symphony orchestras in the great capitals of the world. She sat beside me year after year and never touched the keys except to let her right hand phrase a passage or brighten my fingering. In some ways I fancied I could play better than she. I read easily at first sight, had perfect pitch, advanced hating to practice. My last lesson before we moved away, my fingers ran the keys of a Liszt cadenza like a cart in a downhill spill. She sat as usual, listening intensely, hearing me out, left hand in her lap.

Piano Lesson

- Ida Fasel

My third or fourth disastrous hazard of the notes, the reckless flip-flop of my hand hitting all the wrong keys, suddenly, her left hand, mute so long, leaped across my shoulder and linked with the right, fingers flying free, touch light and even, keys sure. Then quickly drew back.

I never heard her play again, or heard myself produce anything like that waterfall cascading from pool to pool down a terraced hillside but did at least with her improved fingering better group the notes to shine true as they fell.

In the museums I return to that massive, dark, over-framed painting of the biblical flood that howls across the rooms, a wind, a demolition— it is a fury, like a prophet, a loud half-idiot jeremiad, a damnation of souls— like that at the streetcorner, finger pointed as in the posterit is the verb left out of the language. Souls-that cling with small hands, with fingers, to badly painted rocks, beneath the terrible God speaking with repeated brilliance out of the sky— of they float, mere swimmers, with ineffective strokes in the chaos of lifting or utterly disintegrating waves— or floating among the chains— souls staring with round eyes out of the comical deluge, calling to rescuers (and will until the paint crumbles upon the canvas)— to rescuers who themselves, small swimmers, have been pulled into the vast, insatiate, twisting spiral of sea.

Deluge - Fred Ostrander

Together with mast, spars, all, the handpainted half-clothed smiling figurehead, the little rodents, and the great vanquished statue of Bel, the emaciated carriers of the stones, the particular colors of fallen gardens, the terrified horses of Babylon (detail of an eye reflecting light) and the armies unable to swim, helplessly lifted upon the flood— On the right, and distant upon the waves, and growing smaller, Noah floats with his animals. This dark, overpopulated deluge.

Punishment. One erratic bird beneath the lightning and the electricities. It is a painting without a miracle. There is little sky.


The planet Uranus was discovered by Sir William Herschel, the astronomer and composer, using a telescope he constructed in Slough, England, and was at first called the Planet Herschel

Geoff Stevens

Orbiting the town of Slough, the children of Herschel now, indolent in their motor cars, their music insolent from open windows, blaring out an orchestration of alien sounds, sit smugly in their songs of self, content to be insular, no longer searching for planets.


smoke slows the tap-sprung music woman with hands on keyboard the black and the white, angry loving, eyes averted horn takes sight to sound, i watch you with my moving fingers you hear how i reach into you, not only down your ears

Will Inman


24 November 2000

where in us do we live deeper than argument. where is it we know as wind knows blowing and knowing indivisible through and around over and under and beyond. where do we know sooner than stopping to consider. no, i would not have us stop stopping: surviving taught us to mull. but I would have us also remember where in us is never forgotten how to look and see and know and do in one fell motion

(listening to Beethoven's Emperor Concerto)

Naked Knowing - Will Inman

yet to know at once when we do know and when we need first to mull before knowing we know but most of all to know when we do not and may not ever know and then to know the ecstatic humility of nakedness


28 January 1998

The Future As Promised - John Grey

A warm day, I walked out into the public garden, the five green acres in which the city sought to disguise itself with a fresh carpet of wind— whipped grass, a maze of lilac and dandelion, and some broad oaks whispering anecdotes to each other in pale shafts of between sky-scraper light. For a while I followed the pay, dodging women pushing baby carriages, invalids hunting the cure, couples scouring out inspiration to love from the shrubs that lined the track as if the stalks, the petals, were poets.

In the distance, I could see the factories jamming the sky with smoke, a flotilla of trucks rolling out of warehouse back doors onto an octopus of highway. To the left of me, the right of me, the city rose like an all-seeing glass and steel eyed giant. I wondered what it must have been like when everything was forest but for a few lumber camps, farm houses, some small villages held hostage by the walls of forever that surround them, and especially how it was for the travelers who roamed the dark woods anxious to find these oases of civilization, to get away from the wilds of nature.

I stopped to rest beneath a tree, closed my eyes, felt the wind, smelt the flowers, listened to the rustle of the quiet, and then I knew what it was like.


I marveled at Bill the barefoot owner and his chorus-girl wife, thinking this is what genuine hillbillies look like until the waitress feather in her headband finally took my order. His ragged overalls about to pop Bill danced with his wife then whirled a few

Saturday Night at Bill's Café Macks Creek, Missouri Joanne Seltzer hillbilly ladies along the aisles between communal tables.

The wife passed a cup for local talent that made the music alcove jump: banjo strummer, pair of guitars, Hank Williams imitation, old man drumming a set of dry cow bones.

Cowboys were there and colonial women and a hand-holding pair of bright crayolas— even Minnie Mouse wearing a polka-dot dress cool for a late October night.

I see young men with narrow hips, sleek black hair, burning eyes, ruffled shirts, and shiny boots— but I don't see the woman this piece was written for.

Bolero - Joanne Seltzer

where, from C to G, the throbbing of a solitary snare drum progresses toward crescendo. I see the man I used to love pretending he's a dancer who can couple without sex and three suggestive saxophones engaged in lively rhythm. I see God sight-reading a score that has no music, I see angels blowing eternal silver flutes, I see the Devil raising his sweet, persistent horn— but I don't see Ravel.

Though born a klutz I see myself upon the platform joining vibrations deep inside me to the male energy that clicks in time to castanets, again and again, denying the separation of classic from jazz. I see the mind's accomplishments forgotten in our dim café

tonight I fox-trot slow to the music without stepping on partner's feet and do a mean polka and waltz like once I saw skater Sonja Henie aglow as if the joy of poetry on ice would radiate always from each pore of her skin and I rumba samba tango for the last time in Paris with Brando

Wisewoman's Dancing Song Joanne Seltzer

and do a mean hora punctuated with kicks no need to say sorry tonight I won't kick you because I'm a feather in your arms a chorus girl yeah I got rhythm yeah I'm my mother's daughter tonight I'm not a klutz tonight I want to lead the life that will follow

We had dresses in every shade of blue, blue for the nightmares. Emily and I had our wild times, picking roses in blankets that some how never were full, dreaming by the fire. We both hated the snow, unfair to be born in New England, we'd have been better in the tropics. But we liked to bitch and whine a little Neither of us was as dour as those writing articles love to dream but we had our blues and we had blue clothes for them. Blue velvet for me, sky muslin for Emily. Navy when we dug outside, scooping

The Blues, The Blue Dresses - Lyn Lifshin

earth for new peas. Cobalt, azure, sapphire cotton. I turned away from wool. Emily gave me her topaz silk. Our fingers were always blue stained from ink. When

I went back to VT we wrote letters endlessly. I played blues on guitar and violin. Emily put blue in the bread,

as a joke but her father didn't find it funny. He found little funny. We both bruised easily. Somehow we thought chamomile tea or rose hip would help camouflage that darkness from leaking up to our skin, a blue dark as plum violet Orpheus saw close behind him. Blue was a

coating of frost sun licked. Emily's white dresses were blue once, blue as Ophelia's ribbons. Her father sneered when we both wore blue, said it made our hair look too bright, too brazen and flung them in the yard as if the cloth was us, our spirits and he was determined he could bleach that of all offending impurity and color


Beethoven Attend the First Performance of the Ninth Symphony Albert Huffstickler I see him standing in a loft looking down on the stage, shaggy head bowed as though listening— but not listening: feeling the sounds through his feet, pulsing up to him through the floor as he wonders if they are hearing now what he thought he heard in those crystalling moments when, deaf, he was deaf no longer to those beings of light who swarmed around him like so many luminous moths, their voices

flooding his consciousness til he lifted that shaggy head and strange, horrific sounds gushed from the writhing mouth as his hand flew across the pages, scurried and scribbled and scratched out and went back and, head tilted, listening, scrawled again til, with a shudder, he turned the last page and flung it from him in a rage—or in ecstasy: it was difficult to say. But done it was and someone else's now to shape and gild and give while he stood apart looking now

like nothing so much as a wolf at bay, his old feet trembling on the trembling floor and it seemed for a moment that light itself streamed upward from that worn wood as it streamed simultaneously down on that bent form, face twisted in rage while the tears poured down the ravaged cheeks to course like comets the incandescent, living air, alive as air had never been alive before.


From First Class, Milwaukee WI, Issue 14, 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