a taste of ‘The Story of the Milkman and Other Poems’

from the collection by Alan Walowitz, published May 2019

 

ISBN (paperback)  978-1-925536-76-8

ISBN (eBook)  978-1-925536-77-5

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When I was a kid our milkman was killed

right before dawn at a railroad crossing

one low whistle away from where we lived.

~ from The Story of the Milkman

 

I have heard you promise, the wretched week will fade to the past

but only until I hear the footsteps in the distance

~ from Lekah Dodi (Come, My Beloved)

 

They have no internet; they don’ t know what a sex toy is,

comes the solemn report from Jakarta, . . .

~ from Fallen Angel

 

I’ll take up with the breeze

and throw my hands in the air.

Not the madman next door . . .

~ from A Kind Breeze

 

Buff and bored, the long Latino Stanley Kowalski of the “F”

leans back in the hard seat as if he’s in a hammock,

his legs stretched halfway across the car

~ from Brooklyn Bound

 

When the sun came up next,

the volunteers had all gone home

and the way the light bounced off the smolder and char

made it look lonely and lovely and ours—

~ from Sunrise Fire

 

but it’s where Robert Moses bulldozed his way

right through people’s kitchens

to create the promised land, mobile eff-ing America;

~ from Tremont

 

Once, someone leaves the line

with a shrug that says, Fuck it , and the rest shake their heads

in awe at the homesick G.I. gone mad

~ from Waiting for Flowers

 

Roadkill on road ahead, she sings,

and there you are, looking for the corpse, . . .

~ from Roadkill

 

A shapely lady in heels,

tucks her legs modestly under,

but still enough akimbo to evoke faint possibility.

~ from 1938 Philco 4XX

 

But you’ve seen so many who are less

get to round the bases,

their arms making soaring motions

~ from The Infield Fly Rule

 

and they bring the big green truck

to clean up most everything—

fire, flood, petroleum spills—

but not this botched goodbye, . . .

~ from Endings Set Us Free

 

This is a great land with so many choices

of who to believe and why, and infinite possibilities of what to buy,

~ from “Lordy, I Hope There are Tapes”

 

It felt faraway this damage I inflicted

till the morning Clifford Glover, age 10, was shot by a cop

~ from Guys like us

 

They’re black and brown and grey and young

and the doctor—who hurries by from time to time

gives me a look that signifies, I know, I know, it’s crazy —

~ from Don’t Get Sick in America

 

But you know dreams; you can’t remember

what they were by the time you wake—

~ from No Heat

 

You’d be surprised

who’ll watch a guy muck about in quicksand

when he hardly gives a shit at all.

~ from The Sequel

 

My wife says J’accuse partly in jest.

She means: You get lost on the golf course —

or was it a woman?

~ from The Golf Poem

 

The rages of recent days settle upon us,

grow into practical comforts:

those we’d trusted to allay the silence are silent;

~ from Hailstorm

 

This is not exactly what you’d hoped

starting out, and certainly not here in Staten Island,

the cheap malls where no one ever goes

~ from Night Drive with My Daughter

 

Oh, meta God of Metta,

I paid my fifteen bucks,

to spend this tremulous hour,

in the vicinity of your presence—

~ from Metta Prayer

 

Them, staring out from between the slats and barbed wire,

of a train bound to nowhere.

~ from Some Day

 

The year my father turned 68

he began to cross at corners,

wait for the light, even

~ from My Father Stops at Corners

 

We could never figure out how long

Grandma had been lying on the floor.

~ from Für Die Kinder

 

Then from his pocket he takes a Bic—

and lights an oak leaf, then a maple, then another still

~ from Raking

 

You got to take the mail and get it right in the box;

Aloysius, this ain’t horseshoes . . .

~ from Button Trends–Summer, 1959

 

Till we looked at the glacier

that had formed in the freezer:

Interred there like a twelfth century mountaineer

~ from Downsizing

 

My mother kept books her whole life—

in her head and with a careful hand—

~ from The Cost of Bread

 

Second thoughts sometimes detract

from who you figured you might be

~ from Offerings for the Dead

 

when I was a kid, I was sure

I killed a bunch of strangers in a car, quite by accident,

~ from My History in Valhalla