The Real Alan Walowitz with Fake Friend
The Other Alan Walowitz
by Alan Walowitz

lives in New Jersey,
but can’t remember how he got there,
the confusing way the highways are marked
on the far side of the bridge;
has been to the Drive-In Movie
more times than he can remember,
and even dreamed, in his youth,
of joining the Mile High Club—
but settled instead for the top of a VW van
while the fog was rolling in.
He likes small spaces—sleeping bags, cocoons, a seat at the opera.
I’ve seen his picture at all the premieres
and would swear it’s not me
the way he travels comfortably in those tony circles,
and only sometimes seems he’s got something to hide
and doesn’t know what to do with it–
like the half-finished martini placed surreptitiously
on the table with the canapés,
that’s the kind of guy he seems to be.
Once I saw his name in The Times
and worried a month it was really me
and waited for the late-night knock at my door.
For all the pretensions we share,
he will always acknowledge who’s real around here–
when someone’s got a hand out
or needs a ride home at an ungodly hour,
or the dishwasher needs to be filled.
In fact, he might owe me money, if not the time of day.
Now I hear he’s embarrassed about these poems,
though by now a few Facebook friends
might wonder what he does in all those lost hours
and what it all means.
Still, we manage to stay out of each other’s way.
Tough enough being a Walowitz
and getting taken for that TV dolt,
but he likes all the attention,
though he knows little of science
and is hardly ever amused
by the little he knows.
I prefer to slink through my day
unremarked upon and unnamed.
In fact, forget I ever said this.
If anyone asks, you never heard of me.

PHOTOGRAPH: The real Alan Walowitz with fake friend.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My old friend Marvin tried to contact me by phone after we had spent many years only emailing one another. He reached an Alan Walowitz—both first and last name spelled exactly the same as mine—who lives in New Jersey. I hadn’t been aware of this other—he’s not related to me, as far as I know—but I thought, judging by his excellent and unusual name, that he must be of very fine character. The double has always fascinated me, as it does many writers. In attempting to invent a life for Alan Walowitz of New Jersey—a life, by the way, much more interesting than my own—I end up saying much more about the “real” Alan Walowitz of New York. I hope neither of us is offended (or litigious) now that this poem has seen the light of day.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alan 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, New York, and other days at St. John’s University in Jamaica, New York.