Seems not quite right to trouble a little girl
with that stately-lady name.
But, sure enough, someone did,
in hopes, maybe, she’d grow into a willowy tree
or the gentlest rain.
But it’s Gracie-- for now,--two long vowels make for
a name she can wrap her mouth around.
Though the preacher says,
There’s nothing Now about Grace--
It’s like the rain that cometh--or doesn’t--
from nothing said, or done or, even, prayed.
We’ve just gotta wait on the Lord.
But what if it takes more than the time we’ve set aside,
or the time He’s alloted--,
or ends up being, as promised, but like the rain
the time we didn’t want it,
rumbling against our arrival at the beach,
a short stay we’d long planned
against life’s frequent confusion,
bikes and chairs strapped to the roof,
with no promise of surcease up ahead
and, the way we’ve packed the back of the car,
no hope of seeing what’s coming from behind?
Or we get none out west where we need it most,
while the almond-growers are squeezing the last ounce
from the ground like a mop wrung dry.
Whatever it is, He’ll give it to us anyway,
but in His own good time.
Still, How sweet the sound, the President sings,
and despite any doubts I keep to myself,
I’m sure that makes little Gracie happy--
She saw him once on Sesame Street.
*First appeared in The Story of the Milkman and Other Poems, published by Truth Serum Press
I tell them, Write about an activity you enjoy,
and the eager young woman in front asks,
Can it be anything? Sure, I say, so long as it’s doing--
and I suggest, for suggesting’s sake,
playing cards with friends,
or frisbee in the park with your dog,
or sitting in the shade and reading a book.
That’s what you do, one anonymous wag offers
from the middle of the room.
And, write nothing you wouldn’t want your mother to read,
I respond to the wise guy in the back,
who’s more than happy to share with the class
what he likes to do with his beneficent friend.
Next day, she submits a piece
about a friend she made named Jesus,
and how he’s with her all the time.
This is lovely, I tell her, and it’s writing from the heart,
and I’m happy that you’re happy,
and I cock my head in that way I do
when I want to be sure to seem sincere.
But, it’s not an activity. Not about some doing--
or perhaps you didn’t understand the assignment.
But it is a doing, she insists.
I meet him in church-- We talk.
And he’s a very good listener.
In a Corner of the Camargue
Before the call of home becomes too insistent,
or before she heeds the call of here--
where, she tells herself, she might truly belong--
she folds herself into a corner one final time,
a nook, she calls it, to make it seem cozy--
in what’s hardly a bed at all, this foam mat
a few fingers thick and covered in blue marine-vinyl
that seems to hug the humidity.
Though more subject than many to the lure of gravity,
she’s alone and has chosen the upper,
closer to what passes for a window on this tub
meant only to take on the locks of the canals
and the wakes and waves of the other passing tourists.
In the humid night-heat of the Camargue in summer
up here she might breathe, or catch a small breeze
when night finally takes hold.
Still the mosquitoes will have at her--
the bargain she’s willingly made
though she knows come morning her legs and arms
will look like the odd speckled flamingo she saw today
and made her laugh in recognition as kin.
She’s weary from the wine, too many toasts to sailing success,
and friends, but turns to the window a final time,
to watch the spider, her bedfellow,
who’s found his own nook in the window and spun out his silk
in a magus’s pattern she can barely follow
through the dim light of the moon off the water
and reflection from the faraway town.
She tells him he’s welcome here
and should feel free to have a hearty snack
to spare her more bites she’d gladly do without.
When she was a girl, in fact, she would talk to the spiders when lonely.
Now, she’s come to know there are no lonely nights in the Camargue--
the frogs will talk, and crickets, cicadas,
and even the late mating flamingos will call to each other.
There are only those who refuse to find sleep
amid all the night-clatter, and cowbells, and busyness.
She turns again in her nook and this night,
more than any other, a celebration of what it’s like to become,
she promises herself from now on,
she’ll be neither lonely, nor alone.
Alan Walowitz has been writing poetry, sometimes successfully and sometimes un-, for more than 50 years. He has a small portion of an MFA in Writing from Goddard College, and has an entire degree from Eastern Connecticut State University and several from Queens College of the City University of NY. He’s studied with poets Estha Weiner, Fred Marchant, C.K. Williams, Carol Muske, Colette Inez, and Stephen Stepanchev, among others who probably would not want their names mentioned with his. Though writing poems can be quite lucrative, he’s earned the bulk of his fortune as a teacher and supervisor of secondary English for 34 years. His poems can be found lots of places on the web and off. He’s a Contributing Editor at Verse-Virtual, an Online Community Journal of Poetry, and teaches at Manhattanville College in Purchase. Alan’s chapbook, Exactly Like Love, is in its second printing and is available from Osedax Press. His book The Story of the Milkman and other poems will be published in May, 2019 by Truth Serum Press.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.