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Waterways: Poetry in the Mainstream, July 2003

My fathers fears follow me like my own. I dont even know theyre not mine till, trying to move them, I discover inside me a small boy clinging to them with all the love and loyalty and desperation that only small boys seem able to muster.
Albert Huffstickler from My Fathers Fears Waterways, July 91

WATERWAYS: Poetry in the Mainstream

Volume 24 Number 7 Designed, Edited and Published by Richard Spiegel & Barbara Fisher Thomas Perry, Admirable Factotum

July, 2003

Waterways is published 11 times a year. Subscriptions -- $33 for 11 issues. Sample issues $3.50 (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 2003, Ten Penny Players Inc. (This magazine is published 7/03) http://www.tenpennyplayers.org

Joy Hewitt Mann 4-5 David Michael Nixon 6-8 Ida Fasel 9-11 Paul Grant 12-14 Geoff Stevens 15 Sheryl L. Nelms 16

c o n t e n t s

Felicia Mitchell Susanne Olson Hugo De Sarro Jon Petruschke Patricia Wellingham-Jones

17-18 19-20 21-22 23-25 26-27

That last day at the cottage, my father hands in lake water, forehead tied with a bright bandana, his cupped palms sailing into view toward another argument, always ready to contradict my every sound, down to meet the upswing, the conclusion broken into beads of water as he splashed me playfully. Within our house whatever he said was what it was. Hes right even when hes wrong written in my mothers hand

The Last Word Joy Hewitt Mann

It was his last word, this spray of water, my angry answer forgotten in the squeal of surprise.

every day. In adulthood I have examined our summer photographs and I squeal in surprise at the sudden cold splash of anger angry now after all these years.

but not the soft place under the ear; the roar of blood, the final argument won.

The camera shows his hand on my shoulder, my forced smile, the misleading signs of bright eyes and healthy skin, the rifle on the wall behind us,

Basketball Colors David Michael Nixon

Red is the color of my own fresh blood in the morning on the court; thats the cut your nails have raked.

January snow lies white outside the Arnett Y and dirty grey piled by the curb. On the court, I have no mercy for myself or my opponents, but lick the blood from my hand

and wipe my hand on my gym trunks, then go on running the court, fouling hard when someone beats me with a forearm or a good move to get open for a shot. Ive been threatened, but not badly hurt, and last week, no one

get back at Ernie and his buddies for a fight the week before. Ernie held him and the knife off till Todd

got shot when Ernie was attacked by a guy with a knife, who came back, with his father as backup, to

Freedom is the color of an old bruise fading from purple to yellow. Or of a good run without fear.

pulled a gun from the bag. Between arguments, fights and fouls, we play some ball week after hard week.

jumped up with his hand in a gym bag and said he had a gun; that got the guy with the knife to stop, though Todd never

Paths. Paths, paths! Chosen for him or by him: the Hague, London, Paris, England again, back to family and Holland again; failing as an art dealer, bookseller, theology student, missionary to coal miners on the French-Belgian border. At last the people of that impoverished region gave him subjects that brought out his drawing skills. Almost 30, he declared full-time commitment as an artist. His brother Theo bore the burden the rest of his life.

He Went Thataway Ida Fasel

He began his career with a rented room near his by now exasperated family. A visitor found it as untidy as he was

He met his needs of shelter, love, home with paintings of nests like still lifes arranged indoors. There are at least five, all done tenderly. They are of various sizes, exquisite in their precision, intricately simple, perfect as only the

filled with scraps collected on walks around the countryside grass, plants, driftwood, stuffed birds, old tools, old clothes, wooden shoes, and 30 different birds nests. His whole heart, he wrote Theo, was in la nichee et les nids the nested and the nests. Little havens like the peasant houses of La Borinage, tight, gritty, secure: a home of his own! He had twice failed as a suitor. Lowly Sien (Better a bad one than none at all) came with her brood of one to the room he had prepared, her stay short. Who could live with Vincent long?

This path held.

idealized is, yet just as in nature they actually are objects of beauty and use. The woodland tones are subdued. Bare branches let a subtle luster through. Delicate brushwork threads the borders with glints of red and green, yellow ochre, pale apricot. In the lining of leaf and moss lay the eggs.


His stepfather, permanent as jazz, will have to paint the floor again once his night patrols nails clicking the current coat of brown away chip by chip, steps sounding like mice foraging in the kitchens bags and tin bins empty as stepfathers heart is of light magic now that the current set of three deaths has sunk its tiny needles in his heart are done and hes again chasing and splitting his tennis ball open to let the bounce out. Daddy (the stepfathers name his real sires unknown, and this ones loved him always, needs him now more than ever) is thinking Tile Red for the new coat, except it looks a little too much like dried blood.

Black Dog Blue Paul Grant

So he guards the cabin while Daddys running the days off up and down the valley, pretending to be looking for work, but actually looking (the sentry knows, despite a constitutionally short attention span) for peace of some sort that doesnt even know it exists because till its found, it doesnt and when Daddy comes home, smiling sadly, having failed again, but with new clues, they go for their afternoon walk down the hill past all the brave, stupid things that bloomed this month and already are dropping their petals, to the gun club and back, to the scratched bare floors waiting to bleed and dry while dog and man are asleep.

Music makes mystery manageable. They listen to wind in the trees until it gets so they only notice it when it stops. And then the piano holds court on memories of nights Daddy thought would never end, though now he knows they did, and this is what is left of them. Dog brings Daddy his pen, and enough paper to write a thousand wills dispensing the ten thousand things to the friends wholl need them when this is over and goes back to sleep. His colors run after rabbits, and he whimpers with something like knowledge that no matter how well he does his sacred job, hell wake up alone.

My fathers fear was death, Geoff Stevens

and his fathers fear before him. Death was the end of it, the forever silence and I was made sure of that in the morgue, where they had tried to find out what had been wrong with him, a thing they never thought to do when he was alive, and could have told them.


Friendship Club Sheryl L. Nelms

closed their membership today the rules are the same and their club still belongs alive to the three left

thirty-seven years ago twelve of them didnt want change no new people

O-w-e-n, whose soldiers are doomed. What passing-bells for those who die as cattle? At the supper table he mouths the words, eyes wide with the holy glimmers of goodbyes.

My son is studying war. He scavenges our shelves for mementoes that he will never find, not one handwritten memoir or cold medal. Pulling his grandpas large-print anthology of the best-loved poems of the American people off the shelf, he looks at me and I spell Owen.

Dulce Felicia Mitchell

And we find another poem in my old Norton anthology a poem whose solders are bent double, knock-kneed, and clumsy. Quick, boys! Owen said to them, all but one strapping his helmet on in time.

In the other room, CNN reports a raid on a cell. A little farther north, a President prepares for war. Read the footnote, I say to my son, who in six years will be old enough to die a death obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud of vile. Sweet and fitting it is to die for the fatherland. And each slow dusk, a drawing-down of blinds.

Last visit in freedom unfettered by IVs dripping into reluctant veins not yet darkened by the cloud of final suffering. Sun-speckled forests shelter our walks a bejeweled lake carries us in glittering arms embrace, the placid shore holds meals for us to share fanned by shade-trees soothing breeze surrounded by fragrant meadows golden bloom. We stroll through the cobblestone streets of our ancient town, arm slung around affectionate arm, sip bitter-sweet espresso from tiny chocolate-colored cups, perched on narrow sidewalk-caf chairs.

Father Susanne Olson

These days are but a token a glimpse, a taste of what life should have been. His busy lonely years gone by and settled, he shows the love he no doubt always felt but kept inside, buried under the sorrow of a troubled life. Death, beckoning from the near future gives me the father I have longed for yet rarely known, and days of harmony joy to be forever treasured.

We savor the warm summer days last hours of bliss, like lovers given a respite before inevitable parting peaceful dream soon to be broken by ends dull ache.

Raccoons in their furry coats curled soft and unconcerned in peaceful slumber on the roadside. Opossum playing dead a final time; cuddly hares and pungent skunks scattered like childrens toys, and now and then a crimson splash, guarded by stately, red-beaked crows, to mark the spot of unwily fox and wandering deer.

Roadkill Hugo De Sarro

There isnt room enough for old and new. These furtive pawns of progress, no longer a needed link in the evolutionary chain, exist only when lifeless and littered on the barren shoulder of the highway, where past and present meet.


Fronters at the gym look like theyre struggling when theyre not, and nonchalant when they are. Fronting hides vulnerabilities. Fronting is a part of the chemical make-up of testosterone. Fronting is slang. Using the word fronting is fronting. Its still fronting when your front is to claim not to be fronting. Frontings as human as you can get.

Fronters Jon Petruscke

All psychological defense mechanisms are fronts. Animals front only when theyre frightened by a potential threat. Malls are good places to buy fronts. Humans are almost never not fronting. Front is a derivative of first, primary, initial. A lot of people who live in cities are fronters. A lot of people who live in the country do so because they dont want to become fronters. The opposite of fronting is authentic and direct communication. Im fronting by suggesting I know the solution to fronting. Sometimes a persons front is all we know about them.

Fronts thrive on others, less effective, fronts. Fronts squash intimacy. Flirting is fun fronting. Some believe frontings the result of Adam and Eves temptation. Im fine is usually fronting. Sex is the advertising businesses front. Politicians are huge fronters. The onset of chronic fronting usually coincides with adolescence. Sometimes fronts run so deep you cant find your way out.


Dust to Dust, Ashes to Ashes Patricia Wellingham-Jones

Its been that kind of dreadful week. Nothing, of course, compared to the blood soaking Iraqi sand, bodies tumbled from Twin Towers, the slaughter in our streets. Just an old poet who lived out her useful time. Still, the death of my friend diminishes me.

Bare-handed I grub in the garden, tuck zinnias in an empty space, remove spent blooms from the purple butterfly bush, prune, water and weed. Rubbing tears with earthstained fingers off cheeks red from too much sun I find comfort in dirt to dirt.