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.
Tags: Alan Walowitz, e-zine, ezine, hyperbole, longing, melancholy, melancholy hyperbole, new, No Heat, poem, poet, poets, submit, writing
Alan… I am so impressed As I read your poem to Barry, and I reached the last three lines …. I wept… For every little thing that is gone and shouldn’t mean so much! Please tell me when your book is published. Take care… You are a precious soul!
This was a beautiful tribute to a man who perhaps would never get one and perhaps never did. He would be proud of your acknowledgement of him as a man that mattered in your life.
Thank you for taking the time to pay tribute to a special group of people in our lives. I searched my mind to think about what to call the people who help with repairs, cut our hair, or drive us to our destinations. We often know their names, share our stories, and ask about their family. When we no longer see them, they are mostly forgotten. Thank you for remembering!
Although your poems don’t end with rhyming words, I find your memories of friends and places enchanting nevertheless. I imagine your sleep is often interrupted by your thoughts of your past, which seems filled with family, friends and life’s adventures. Keep the dreams alive.
Alan! Congratulations! Delighted to see the work I have been admiring so long.
What more could I possibly say except
Leo lives! In your closet, in your linking pipe and in your poetic heart!
Alan, nice piece.. I keep rereading the last line.. not sure I really understand it literally but understand it indirectly and really like it. So interesting to write about someone who you knew just to some extent.. but clearly appreciated.