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Poetry in the Mainstream
Waterways: Poetry in the Mainstream,
He haunts the shadowy night spots of Greenwich Village. He is from Morocco. Less than five feet tall, he carries a hump on his back that thrusts his head slightly forward. And what a head! The head of a sixteenth century Hidalgo, large, imposing; one visualized the white ruff, the plumed hat. Margot de Silva, "Gil Amador"
WATERWAYS: Poetry in the Mainstream
Volume 23 Number 5 Designed, Edited and Published by Richard Spiegel & Barbara Fisher Thomas Perry, Admirable Factotum Mayl, 2002
Terry Thomas M. M. Nichols
c o n t e n t s
5-8 10 4 Lyn Lifshin R. Yurman
David Michael Nixon Fredrick Zydek
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 ©2002, Ten Penny Players Inc. http://www.tenpennyplayers.org
Albert Huffstickler 20-24
Margot de Silva on W. 12th Street
hadn’t been able for years. Old now. whisper promise: if willing with the shadow one, could do one last time, then . . . want to, but what a cost, late last arms sudden turn bones. beautiful fetcher, arms brothering pull close mothering, naked chest to chest, raw thighs feathering each to each, loins wrapped lapped rapt, arms circling warm holding to late sweat now flesh paring bones glisten soul gone, self dragged by bone fingers on bone wrist, no memory of late last lust, dust only, grist for wind. grist for stars.
late promise - will inman
Roaming Shantytown at Midnight – Terry Thomas
I always wait till the wind’s just right. Every third house has a dog—some mutt mixed as much as the people living here, but each one is a Baskerville hybrid and would run down and eat anything on four legs or two. Lights glow dimly from some structures, someone staring at a kerosene lantern— the TVA never made it past Coon Creek— probably nursing a baby or a bottle of hooch, counting pennies, coupons, food stamps or mistakes. Even moon and starlight seems diffused, filtered by the high mix of ice crystals or something oozing up from the dismal dirt. There! One of my favorite shapes in the gloom:
a rusted bedspring with various broken tools stuck through the coils. How many passions boiled on that when it was workable?— how many mothers writhed in torment denting shanty population with one more, how many daughters or sons cowered underneath from thunder words in the hallway? Each shack has its stack of discarded dreams, history, mystery of dead ends. Then, finally, I’m to the last—barely standing, dark, stark in dejection, leaning left, held together by years of greasy food, grime and time tempting nails. A broken fence hints that it was picketed once, a home. Roam’s over. I go inside and hit my own rusty springs.
My Indian Blood Rises Like Hair on a Scalp – Terry Thomas
When I was ornery at eight Nana would say it was just the meanness coming out—but then she would smile and talk about her father, a full-blooded Cherokee. Mom never knew her grandfather, so she didn’t know if her mother was weaving tales like smoke from a campfire. But I’d seen photos of great grandpa— black and white slices of time and you could see the dark, fixed eyes, hawk nose . . . and the stare of a bird of prey, fixed on a rabbit. Besides, sometimes, when the meanness was really surging, Mom would send me outside
to “whoop it up”. And when Dad got angry with me he’d say he was gonna snatch me baldheaded. So I had to believe in that little red blend. Now I’m a village elder—take walks through white-eyes yuppie camps, treading softly with the wind, past brown, black and tan vans crouching like dead buffaloes, and the blood surges. I haven’t buried the hatchet, haven’t smoked the peace pipe— my tongue is my hatchet and I broke the peace moons ago with the AMA and SSDI settlers, taking my hide in little pieces. The meanness, the meaning in the blood, isn’t just coming out, it’s here: painted, feathered, notched, on horse and ready to ride.
Northern Dispensary 9
I rise from my nest, dry grasses, greying—old bird is flying! flying!
David Michael Nixon
Our faces give it away. Frown, smoke-puff, the gracefully down mouth, the muttered oath, a browned-out cave the eyes peer from. We elbow-jog neighbors in crowds, pass by florists’ futile daffodils standing attentively in jars of water. But here! This stopped me today. Self and two strangers, just changing direction to cross the street. Here comes a boy, not older than seven, on one rollerblade. A neat black cane in each hand, the left leg of black trousers tied and hanging below the groin.
Metropolitan Handicap - M. M. Nichols
Ahead of him flew his dark bright eyes and wide-open smile. Black hair streaming and shining. You could see his joy: nimble smooth weaving on one sure-bladed foot, betwixt mighty, high pedestrians.
White-haired man, tall, weathered, strode at angles of deft pursuit, caught up, hovered till the boy stopped short. Then pulled out a white handkerchief and held it to the boy’s nosedrip. Whose canes were steady, the small arms confident of everything.
Suddenly we had no sadness. Three smiles, gut-surprised. Wishing we could live long enough to see him be President, at least Ambassador to a dark bright-eyed country where the wealth is not stuff but spirit. Long enough to see it happen here.
Trapped within its silvery depths, an overweight and balding thing, gone gray in the bones stands behind his white beard watching my every move.
Mirror – Fredrick Zydek
He gives me fits at the bottom of my soul. Ask anyone. I cannot survive this place alone. What I need is plain and ordinary, the soft spinning of an easy day,
fields of calico where blossoms sway. In the mirror such things are central. I must call the gray thing by name. Being present to him is the only cure. Tonight, I think, we see no more changes.
The ghost of Robert Lowell wandering its ‘chewed-up streets’? James Baldwin waiting on table at some dim dive? Who will you meet? Look up from Crosby Street and can you see six terra cotta angels on top of the Bayard Building, or have you had one drink too many in the Chinese Chance, been looking at too many paintings on the walls there, by the likes of Rivers and Dekooning?
Les Deux Gamins at Sheridan Square 16
The Village Cowboy - Lyn Lifshin in New England, where nobody had a Stetson, or spurs. His sister was ok they said, a bank job. New lace curtains. No one still remembers Frank, not the way they do the vegetable boy who couldn’t talk, staggered with a wheel barrow of broccoli carrots, strawberries up North Pleasant. Frank stood out at the
Corner that was once a First National and when he could, painted a front of a building or hauled away a load of bricks. He tipped his hat to all ladies, was wild eyed some afternoons by 4 when you could see the bulge of Jack Daniels or Boone Farm even thru a loose pocket, talking to dogs and trees. You’d see him in the shade of the Episcopal Church, stretched out, whistling to robins, staring
past the railroad tracks that ran fewer and fewer hours. Children aimed b b guns, called out “we’re coming.” Frank threw a few stones and grinned, waved his Stetson back or lumbered from the park down Main Street. Even if there’d been garbage bins, he’d have been too proud. He strutted as if he was John Wayne and expected to be applauded. Some say he died on the toilet holding a stray cat in his arms
not somebody but a physical ache up under the skull plates reminding me not to set my face in one direction tight vertebrae that want to move and crack to shift relieving the pull beneath the flanges of the skull
A Pain in the Neck - R Yurman
so many different hands have tried to ease this constant strain tried to find the exact pressure angle quick snap that pops the caught bones loose in this neck tender and unready to bear the weight of eyes and brain
“Things die” she said shaking her golden head. Her hair caught fire in the sunlight. “You know how it is. After a while, you don’t care — or care too much.” Her name, she said, was Sorrow-of-TheAges. Her hair
Before the Beginning Albert Huffstickler
turned grey at 25. She said it was in mourning for all the dead flowers. Cloudy all day. No rain. The sky has broken another promise. That man there standing in his own shadow, feet immersed in a dry puddle.
Afternoon traffic: people hurrying, eager to arrive before they have to leave again.
If we could just listen to the stars, she said. If we could just sleep with the moon for a pillow.
It’s been said that Death rides a green tricycle but I’m not sure if that’s true or not.
From Fire no. 14, Oxfordshire, England
My doppelganger, the old bum downtown who is almost me, the one I give money to every time I see him—my ransom to fate— is looking shabbier and tireder and more hopeless these days. I wonder if he’ll die. I wonder what this will do to me. I think I should pray for him. To what God?
Litany - Albert Huffstickler
To the God of Alleys and Midnight Sorrows. Or is it Goddess? Yes, it’s a Goddess: Lady of the Alleys and Midnight Sorrows, bless him, keep him by you till his journey’s done. Peace.
From Poetry Depth Quarterly, Oct. - Dec. 2000 North Highlands CA
That One Face - Albert Huffstickler Well, I didn’t see that one face today. You know the one I mean—that one face you’re always looking for without ever thinking about it, sitting in a café over coffee, walking through a crowd, alone in your room, that one face you recognize instantly,
that face that resonates through you back to the beginning and on out across the universe and back, that face that tells you you won’t be lonely for a while, that alpha-omega face that tells you your whole world’s about to end—but only to start all over, new, again.
From Nerve Cowboy, No. 4, Fall 1997, Nerve Cowboy
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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