Leo didn’t want much for the work,
but offered the keyboard
that lay doused in cellar dust—
same shit had wrecked his lungs a lifetime
and now caused this clogged,
syncopated samba to come from the place
his voice box should be—he packed it up,
wheezed, Good Night, Ahl,
and was gone for good.
I call him every day to finish the work,
mend the pipe still leaking—no answer,
till one night he turned up in a dream.
But you know dreams; you can’t remember
what they were by the time you wake—
though Leo liked to say
you could dream an answer to anything:
string theory, No problame;
nuclear fusion, Here is how you do;
the way to re-rout the pipe
that’s in the way of the life you really want.
Now when I open the closet
Leo built tight as a casket,
I swear I hear the rhythm of old Porto Alegre,
picked out by two fingers
pulsing back and forth on the keys,
puk shhhu, puk shhhu, puk shhhhu:
the drip of hot water on frozen floor,
and the steam that comes.
The sound could drive you nuts,
unless you choose to shut the door
or close your eyes and dream it gone—
along with every little thing you tell yourself
shouldn’t mean this much to you.
Alan Walowitz lives in Great Neck, NY within sight of the New York City border. Some days he teaches at Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY and other days at St. John’s University in Queens. His chapbook, Exactly Like Love, will be published next year by Osedax Press.