Here's an old poem--in the spirit of the theme for December; also in honor of my friend Michael Minassian's series of photos "Going Postal"--and a newer poem. The old poem is from the mid-1970s--oh, let's say 1975--and is called "The History of the Postal Service." The new poem, "Sweet Slumber" is based on a watercolor of the same name by my friend, artist Tim Savage. Tim's a teacher, a web-designer, a graphic designer, and a fine artist. He can be found at http://timsavageteacher.com and I can be found at alanwalowitz.com
Here I am in my 20s -- about the time I wrote this first poem.
The History of the Postal Service
In the beginning was in
—as a concept—
and they ran that right up the flagpole.
(Before the beginning
let’s suppose there were flags.)
But no one saluted. Everyone
went about their business, minding
their own, the store, their p s and q s
were the letters they minded—
nobody had to remind us.
Everyone kept their own counsel.
Lawyers were consequently few
and they carried themselves with
—How do you say?—dignity.
Everyone wanted some of that
and no one knew how to get it.
Coupons were issued.
Offers were made that no one would refuse.
Then everyone wanted to write.
And in the end
we just couldn’t stand to be alone anymore.
"Sweet Slumber" - watercolor by Tim Savage
Been a tough day down here, God knows:
this one all knees and chest and feet
and now folded in half on the hard subway bench
to make way for the guy in boxers
who dangles an unlit cigarette from his lips.
Though the “E” never did encourage such sprawling—
just read the car-cards or the faces of the rest—
as it heads for Jamaica Yards all the way east
where all trains go to spend the wee hours
and get half-cleaned and aired-out, or if not
the skeleton crew might at least kick back
and light up a smoke of their own.
But at 3 am, the graveyard cop
has passed with nary a nudge from the nightstick
he’s twirled so all might take proper note—
with only an imperceptible shrug at the one in boxers.
This guy’s seen it all and some fights
are just worth less this time of night
now when all might get to where they’re going
with just a baby-dose of live-and-let-live,
an accompanying sigh that says life’s too damn short
and who the hell would disagree,
least of all the guy with the sketchpad,
him making like he’s found a higher purpose
when he’s pretty much the same as us,
riding the “E” the middle of the night,
finding another way of murdering time.
Also published at The Ekphrastic Review.
© 2017 Alan Walowitz
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