I'm a retired teacher and school administrator and I've written poetry, seriously and less than seriously, since I was a teenager. It's only recently that I've taken seriously the idea of sharing my poems beyond these four walls—where they're met with great acclaim by my wife and sometimes by my daughter—and my poems have appeared in journals, e-zines, and anthologies. My chapbook, Exactly Like Love, is published by Osedax Press, and a second printing is now available.
She woke with the Yiddish opgetn on her lips,
a word she hadn’t heard since she was small
when spoken late at night in the hushed kitchen
of a railroad flat on the Lower East Side
as she pretended to be asleep in the next room—
it was always better to listen,
better to know.
When I got home late that night our bed was gone,
taken apart slat by slat, rail by rail,
and shipped into the future which,
though often unremarkable, is always unknown.
Ordinarily, she didn’t trust in dreams,
but to be taken by surprise
she would never allow.
Originally published in Jewish Literary Journal September, 2016
When I was a kid I was chased by dogs
down every unfamiliar path,
past tracts that once were woods
and now had houses sprung like milkweed
on the far edge of the life I knew,
and knowing, wanted so to be gone.
No treats in my pocket, only dog-eared dreams,
not fit to be told, nor bayed at the moon.
Here I could run in place and go nowhere
or run like hell and get there quick—
no way’s out when all ways look the same.
But the dogs swaddled and hummed and taught me to obey
with their slimy muzzles and yellow teeth and bloody gums.
Who was I to choose, much less say, bad dog, no?
Sonnet from Late in the Middle Ages
Since your whereabouts are a mystery,
your whens and whats now lost to me,
I’m left to guess how you do it--and with whom.
Thoughts so vivid when seasoned with time
fail me now as I hurtle toward day,
so I remain blissfully unafraid.
What is it cries, All is possible!
when the mirror decries--To be full
of hope, in face of the map of your face,
is surely a sign of the dotage that awaits?
And even an early, and frankly less
unwelcome end, might offer little rest.
God, keep me spinning lines just like these,
full of such bullshit, the survivor’s disease.
© 2017 Alan Walowitz
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