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 will be available momentarily for those holding their breath.
for Victor (Zeke) Zonana (1924-2016)
Sure is disquieting the way the late summer dark
comes down early and with so little prior notice.
We know the light's been leaving ever since the solstice,
but being human we haven’t believed it,
just as we don’t believe the old man who’s been asleep on the couch all day
won’t wake, get on his tennis gear as he always did,
and head for the court and then cards with his pals.
Till right now when the clouds gathered red and in layers in the western sky,
we’d gawk like travelers passing through a strange and lovely land,
and even tried to move toward it, as if we might find some pyramids below,
perhaps, shutting down for the night, but just in time
to pay homage to the justly famous and ancient dead.
But now we’d rather turn away and to the east
to wait for what we’d always counted on to be inevitable,
and now are not so sure—
break of day and the crossbills and finches
fleeing the blue spruce out front for whatever lies in front of them,
probably the need to survive though we do take great pleasure
mistaking their escape for the joy of being free.
Now the nights will become endless as the days used to be.
Should a lone vesper-sparrow take some time out to sing,
we’re done for for sure and will be left forever at a loss.
Who could stand this way at the eastern window
and expect to tolerate such loneliness so long?
A history buff, I took the spot on Mayflower, which I was certain I’d recall,
but would probably never be able to find again
the way the streets wind around each other and stop dead at the Hutch,
then you have to walk under the el on Westchester
where the streets tend to have new names when you get to the other side;
or you make a wrong turn and get mesmerized
by the Thai bodegas that sell exotic flowers outside,
and Ecuadorian skin treatment joints offering lava facials,
and the China Criolla with the combination plate of chicken wings and fried rice
and platanos for $4.95 which would like to keep you company while you’re walking,
and soon you find yourself at I 95, which you can’t get on anyway without a car,
but why would you want to when you’re looking for where you parked?
This part of the Bronx, Tremont, ought to be a wonderland
of hills and rills and rocky outcrops and kids climbing trees
but it’s where Moses bulldozed right through people’s kitchens
to create the promised land, mobile eff-ing America;
he’d make sure there were plenty of ways—north, or west, or south—
for a guy with a car to get his ass out of the Bronx.
But now it’s just a beautiful dream--half the people only have the wheels on the bus,
which go round and round and take you no farther than the city line,
and the other half can’t even find where the hell they parked.
Originally appeared in Autumn Sky Poetry Daily
© 2016 Alan Walowitz
Editor's Note: If this poem(s) moves you please consider writing to the author (email address above) to tell him or her. You might say what it is about the poem that moves you. Writing to the author is the beginning of community at Verse Virtual. It is very important. -FF