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Alan Walowitz – Ars Poetica

Alan profile Dec 2020

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing, Volume Two, December 2020.

Alan Walowitz has been writing poetry for more than 50 years. He’s studied with many well-known poets who would probably not want their names mentioned with his. He earned the bulk of his fortune as a teacher of secondary English and also served as Coordinator of English Language Arts in White Plains, NY public schools from 1992 till 2004. Before his latest retirement, he taught at Pace University, St. John’s University, and at Manhattanville College. His poems can be found on the web and off.  He’s a Contributing Editor at Verse-Virtual, and his poems have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2017 and 2018. Alan’s chapbook, Exactly Like Love, is available from Osedax Press. His full-length book, from Truth Serum Press, isThe Story of the Milkman and Other Poems. His forthcoming chapbook, In the Muddle of the Night, co-written with poet Betsy Mars,  will be published by Arroyo Seco Press.


Ars Poetica

In the Age of Google
the poems are all finished
by the time we arrive at the end of the line.
The curséd machine—
or for all we know,
a child-savant in the Philippines,
toiling alone in his bamboo room–
spins them out unafraid,
the way we would if our brain worked right
and we weren’t invested in all this pain,
or what we’d sooner call our art.

Like the ungrateful child we
were told we were,
and now revel in our own telling,
a poem can’t be everything we fancy
when we roll it from our fingers like dice.
If we’d only forego the fondling,
the blowing for luck,
the insistent and maddening desire
that everything turn out right,
it will grow to be what it wants
in its colicky by and by.

The Dream of the Baby                

In my dream, I bring you the baby.

Mind you, this is a dream,
and there is no baby,
despite all the rooms we’ve prepared
and the silly notions we’ve acquired to fill them.

The dream itself is silly,
I remind myself sleeping,
the way these things happen in dreams.
There is no baby, and I would wake
but for the shadows of babies lost or forgotten
that have always lived in our dreams,
and made us ill with rumors
of their endless shitting and pissing
and ruining our sleep with their
carrying on long into the night.

I hand you the baby in my dream,
though you don’t know what to do with this baby,
or even what babies are for.
I’m tickled at your discomfort,
your absence of joy,
your hollow kitchykoo

for the baby who doesn’t exist,
and your perpetual disapproval
of the one who handed you this gift
you never asked for or required
even in our most vivid dream of our self.

In my most vivid dream,
I hand you the baby
and I say,
Hah!


Apnea Cure

Hook me up to any old machine,
threaten me with the early death,
I’ve already missed–
waking up forty-odd times an hour–this,
close to a record, the lab tech insists–
surely the cause of my heart trouble,
impending lung collapse,
not to mention long-term insomnia,
she’s dropped by aiming to cure.
But I’ll never get to sleep with this get-up on,
the neighborhood kids gathered round,
to take a selfie with me– disguised as a guy
from that newly trumpeted Space Force–
Nope, just a Lone Ranger, nearly out of time–
in the long and star-bereft night–
Who wants to live forever?
with no one left to hug and rub my back,
once the lights are out, in this new iron lung,
I worked so hard to avoid
when I was young and waited in line
maybe Jonas Salk, himself, would make an appearance
and I was told I shouldn’t sulk–or carry-on?
It would only hurt a minute,
and I had so much to live for.
But I swear, as the night is long,
and my heart beating like a metronome gone nuts,
not for what awaited me here.
Not for this. No, not for this.


© Alan Walowitz