The editor/publisher, Mr. Feinberg, always encourages me to write shorter poems. Let me assure you, Firestone, "Last Dream of Morning" is an anomaly and you should not get used to it. "Dream of the Rag Man" is a very old poem which I resuscitated from my youth, and, as you might be able to tell, my much more limited understanding of the world. It's still not much good, but at least it's not as short. I've also included some white space in it because the editor/publisher, that same Mr. Feinberg, wisely encourages me to use white space. (You'll find some very impressive white space in my new book, The Story of the Milkman and other poems, soon to be published by Truth Serum Press.)
Last Dream of Morning
The god who’ll wake with a stretch and yawn
watches fully detached
as the boat tumbles over the falls.
No start, nor thrum of the coming to
in the striped light of day,
shivering off the shock of the gurgling river—
Now washed ashore, naked,
nearly drowned, he finds himself
late for work, unable to utter a sound.
How painful to be saved this way:
though awake, and finally abroad,
still not taken for alive.
originally published in Postcard Poems and Prose
Dream of the Rag Man
When I rolled up to the light on 96th and the River,
the old man waited, rag in hand,
and bent hard over the windshield.
Did my father ever treat my ass
with the care this stranger bestows?
He blows a kiss on it
and strokes it with the corner of his shirt.
I lean on the horn and holler:
I have places to go--with reservations,
in fancy restaurants, with women
and brooding alone
at corner tables in local dives.
But it’s dangerous around the dead.
He pounds on the hood, demands I pull over
and calls me Bastard to my fast disappearing face.
Here’s a guy who never married my mother—
How dare he pretend to know who I am?
We spend all our time making a name
yet anything outside ourselves might just as soon stay unknown:
too many fucking stars, the moon still only the moon,
the newfound earth light years away and unreachable—
we even refuse to recognize our father
when we happen on him in a dream.
The dead’ll holler, Halt! in the early morning light.
They’d gladly tell a thing or two
we claim we’d like to know,
but who are we to listen?
Better we lie dead awake each night
performing another autopsy upon ourselves.
originally published in The Moon Magazine
© 2019 Alan Walowitz
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