Author's Note: This "My Best Poem" theme is, at best, a set-up, a trap, a self-inflicted wound just waiting to happen. Who's not going to say, my next poem will be my best poem? Then, I think: The publisher's out to get me; he's trying to thin the herd. If I send him another crappy poem, he'll put me on probation, or Fire'll fire me completely.
Well, this is my birthday month, so I'm gonna send him anything I damn well please. I turn 70 in March and all my poems lately have been about turning 70 and getting old. At least this one is about learning something new in my declining years. But to satisfy the, perhaps, Machiavellian publisher, this is my best recent poem about getting old. By the way, this will also appear in my book, The Story of the Milkman and other poems, to be published soon by Truth Serum Press. In the meantime, if you'd like more doddering, self-pitying poetry, just go to alanwalowitz.com.
Publisher's Note: Alan, I meant to fire you, but I forgot. I'm in a sympathetic mood now, so I'll keep you on probation. Please behave yourself and stop whining.
The layers of late autumn: red, pale blue,
red again, then black begins to ride up the horizon--
you might mistake for a flag of an invading army
that’ll have you by the throat and won’t let go
till another equinox appears and you can breathe again,
this time, perhaps, beneath a more forgiving sky.
Like when you finally--and against your better judgment--say, I love you
to one so dear you’d even be willing to bear the silence
such a proclamation might inspire.
Then the voice of the lady from Waze, seductive as a Siren,
wakes you soft and sweet, and without the heavy breathing
you’d counted on any time you used to be lashed to the mast,
and finds a new way to make you listen:
Roadkill on road ahead, she sings,
and there you are, looking for the corpse,
not feeling a bit like travelling through the dark, but for you
the hope of a chill down your front, the same as you get when
she tosses the word love at you, almost as if it were allowed.
There’s expense in this, too, I suppose,
this figuring which lane the porcupine, slow, but determined
in his desire to cross all those lanes to meet his end,
then how to get close enough to avert your eyes from the mess--
the old push-pull, this fear of being so damn human
as to speak aloud the words you wish you’d learned to say easy.
But life’s a bitch--even at 70--when you should know so much better.
So, you press the gas to the floor, what you used to call passing gear,
though damned if you want the road that remains
to pass you by quite so fast
© 2019 Alan Walowitz
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