Melancholy Hyperbole

Poetry about longing.

My History in Valhalla

I once fell for a woman who liked to say,
There are no accidents–
Her way of assuring me
I’d live and be well
without waiting around
for her to stumble into my arms.
But now the governor, surely wise,
— and of a practical bent–
assures the public:
Sometimes there will be accidents at railroad crossings,
and with them will come death and great loss.
Hence, we need no wasteful speculation.
But sometimes life just hands us such purposelessness
even in a place named Valhalla,–
what ought to be this little slice of heaven,
but with schools and hospitals and cemeteries and railroad crossings,
so many signals we should have heeded of impending misery,
and of gods meddling willy-nilly in men’s affairs.
This was the same Valhalla where,
when I was a kid, I was sure
I killed a bunch of strangers in a car, quite by accident,
at the very moment I learned I was in love–
and my life would be over,
just as it was readying to start.
Then the other day, it was here in Valhalla
I picked up a shovel,
dug into the mountain of cold winter dirt, assembled with such care,
to bury a friend: this, a kindness, I was assured.
O, praise be a life that can bear the weight
of one sad intention after another.

AlanwAlan Walowitz is a poet who lives in Nassau County, where he keeps his eye on New York City proper from his doorstep. He teaches some days at Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY, and other days at St. John’s University in Jamaica, NY.


Categories: Poetry

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7 replies

  1. I found this poem a touching commentary on life! It echoed many of my own thoughts.

    • Alan Walowitz eloquently reminds us of the struggles inherent in living. Although I was hoping for a Hollywood ending, the final message of strength was perfectly placed.

  2. The poet muses about the certainty of uncertainty in life using a lyric tone that is almost reassuring. The challenge for the reader is NOT accepting tragedy but walking away from the grave with a renewed commitment to life.

    I have followed Mr. Walowitz’s poetry for many years and this poem is well worth the wait.

  3. Quite a lovely poem. Thanks.

  4. Some guy I once knew wore his philosophy on a button to work. It said: “Life’s a bitch, and then you die.” I like Mr. Walowitz’s poem, and Mr. Eliezer’s life-affirming reaction to it, much, much better.

  5. I like it even better this time. It’s edged with the real & actual pain of living and the saddest reality of impermanence that we spend our waking moments turning a blind eye to.

    Last line is a killer..


  6. A pinch of politics, a measure of mythology, a bit of personal history mixed in are the ingredients for a tasty poem. And this is a tasty poem. Thank you.

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