Search results for: "Walowitz"

Walowitz (job)
Button Trends—Summer, 1959
by Alan Walowitz

I was 10 and ready for work:
lunch order in my fist, a ten in one pocket
mail stuffed in the other —
But never down the mail chute,
my father said as I headed to the elevator,
something might get stuck
and there goes the business — though business
was never much up on 8, at 1181 Bway,
and I used to hear him on the phone
— Doll, doncha know the check is in the mail —
with that confidential laugh that got him so far, no farther.
You got to take the mail and get it right in the box;
Aloysius, this ain’t horseshoes. Though Hubert,
the black delivery boy who had signed on
to learn this dying business,
would mumble Horseshit in its place,
though I wasn’t supposed to hear.
So I’d head out on the street,
to listen to the Jamaican guy
who hunkered near the entrance
banging away on his homemade pan;
and the old Jews — Commies, anarchists,
artists-schmartists — as they made their way
toward Parnes Dairy across the street,
always in the middle of some tzimmis
and now ready to kvetch about the size of the dollop
that came in their borscht.
And the old Irish jocks, no place to go,
Belmont closed for repairs, Jamaica shut for good,
and how the hell d’ya get to Aqueduct anyhow.
And in all that whirl to find my way back to 28th St.
seemed like plenty to do,
turned around and dizzy among the dress racks,
carrying two corned beef, one pastrami, one tongue,
a cream, ginger ale, and Celray to share,
sides of slaw, packed in cardboard, and leaking through the bag.
Except when the elevator got back to 8,
I still had the envelopes in my pocket
and had to drop them down the chute —
the checks never to arrive, the invoices not to be paid,
statements of accounts ignored, bills of lading denied,
the aroma never to be delivered, but all over the mail.

AUTHOR PHOTO CAPTION: Me, age 11, advertisement for D.C. Comics, another early job that didn’t pay much!

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Like many of us, my first job was with and for my father, who took me with him to work long before there was ever a “Take Your Kids to Work Day.”  On special days during the summer, my dad would take me with him to “The City” — Manhattan — where I would make myself fairly useless in the office where he sold  buttons to manufacturers of women’s clothes.  The location — 1181 Broadway — was the heart of the garment district, an exciting and bustling place then.  Occasionally, my dad would give me a really important job like getting the mail in the mailbox and getting lunch for everyone.  Though I was only 10, and almost always screwed something up, this was special, one of the best jobs I’ve had.

Alan Cornelia Street 3-7-17

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alan Walowitz has been published in various places on the web — and off. He’s a Contributing Editor at Verse-Virtual, an online Community Journal of Poetry, and teaches at Manhattanville College in Purchase, New York, and St. John’s University in Queens.  Alan’s chapbook, Exactly Like Love, was published by Osedax Press in 2016 and is now in its second printing.  His website is

On May 9, 2015, Alan Walowitz’s poem “The Story of the Milkman” was featured in our ME, AS A CHILD Series. The poem — written specifically for our series — tells the story of Nicholas Lucivero, the Walowitz family’s milkman in Queens, New York, who was killed when his truck was hit by a train on January 31, 1957.  Alan’s poem sparked an incredible series of events that culminated in an article in the New York Times (April 16, 2017). Read this awe-inspiring story below.

phillip capper
by Alan Walowitz

A history buff, I chose the spot on Mayflower, which I was certain I’d
but probably would never be able to find again
the way the streets wind around each other and stop dead at the Hutch,
then you gotta walk under the el on Westchester
where the streets on the other side tend to have new names;
or you make a wrong turn, walk a while, and get mesmerized
by the Thai bodegas that sell exotic flowers outside,
and Ecuadorian skin treatment joints offering lava facials,
and the China Criolla with the combination plate of chicken wings and
     fried rice
and platanos for $4.95 which could get anyone through dinner,
and soon you find yourself at 95, which you can’t get on anyway without
     a car,
but why would you want to when you’re looking for where you parked?
This part of the Bronx, Tremont, ought to be a wonderland
of hills and rills and rocky outcrops and kids climbing trees
but it’s where Robert Moses bulldozed right through people’s kitchens
to create the promised land, mobile f-ing America;
he’d make sure there were plenty of ways—north, or west, or south–
for a guy with a car to get his ass out of the Bronx.
But now it’s just a beautiful dream—half the people only got the wheels
     on the bus,
which take you round and round and no farther than the city line,
and the other half can’t even find where the hell they parked.

SOURCE: “Tremont” originally appeared in Autumn Sky Poetry Daily.

PHOTO: “Subway at 173rd Street, The Bronx, New York City” (2/12/2008) by Phillip Capper, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I work with first-year teachers who are trying to make their way in the world of education in some of the most challenging schools in New York City.  The English teacher I was watching gave the students the assignment to write, vividly, about their neighborhood.  I did the assignment too, but I wrote about the part of the Bronx I was in, which I got to study very closely the previous time I was there when I couldn’t remember where I had parked my car.  Most of her students did a better job than I did, but they’ll have to send their own writing to Silver Birch Press!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alan Walowitz has been published various places on the web and off.  He’s a Contributing Editor at Verse-Virtual, an Online Community Journal of Poetry, and teaches at Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY and St. John’s University in Queens.  His chapbook, Exactly Like Love, is in its second printing and is available from Osedax Press. His second chapbook is seeking a publisher and is currently called What Happiness Looked Like, but, as his tailor once told him, will alter to suit.

by Alan Walowitz

Small change always burned a hole in my pocket:
had just enough to eat, or to smoke,
or could blow it all on pinball in the lounge—
had to find something to do with these hands,
restless from loneliness with hours to kill before my next class—
studying useless as usual, the library a morgue
with nothing to do but turn pages and steal looks at the studious girls
I pretended I didn’t want. Though in the library lobby
I found one free spirit who read palms for free,
as close as I’d get to hold anyone’s hand
for quite some time. Your love line is jagged,
she told me not confidentially—she liked the audience that had gathered.
You’ll be married many times, and each will end unhappy.
My face must’ve fallen as I realized she, who held onto my wrist
more like a vise than a soft word,
would be another I’d never have,
given the long odds against our long-term happiness.
And then she amended some comfort: No need to worry;
I see by your lifeline you’re bound to die young—
this a sure sign I should buy a pack of smokes,
skip Physics again, and contemplate the half-life,
which I happened to be already living—
and whatever of it might still be to come.

PHOTO: The author’s New York City Department of Parks Tennis Permit, 1967.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I started college when I was just short of 17, turned 17 during my first semester. God knows what my rush was to enter adult life, but the first years of college turned out to be a lonely, friendless place.  Here’s a poem about that time—and it’s mostly true.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alan Walowitz has been published various places on the web and off.  He’s a Contributing Editor at Verse-Virtual, an Online Community Journal of Poetry, and teaches at Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY and St. John’s University in Queens.  His chapbook, Exactly Like Love, is in its second printing and is available from Osedax Press.  His second chapbook is seeking a publisher and is currently called What Happiness Looked Like, but, as his tailor once told him, will alter to suit.

If I hadn’t kept the death papers—
by Alan Walowitz

If I hadn’t kept the death papers —
cemetery map, proposal for perpetual care,
most frequently asked questions of the bereaved —
tucked inside a manila envelope next to me
on the seat of the car;
if you hadn’t, damn you, asked me
to hold them while she was dying —
it’s what friends do, you insisted, when I balked —
then what unfolded would have surely unfolded
exactly the same, despite frantic last-minute negotiations:
If only you had done this or said that;
If only you had fought harder with the doctor;
or treated the hospital clerics,
who so kindly offered to stop by, with better faith.

But after she was gone what was I to do?
I couldn’t give them back to you —
I had carried them so long.
I could have dumped them in a basket
at the side of the road — and no one would ever know,
though I told myself I would have memorized them first.
Or maybe even as late as today,
I could stash them in the trunk
and they’d be out of sight, but close enough at hand.
Who knows what any of us might need one day?
Though these will forever be of little use,
I will keep them just as you asked;
no matter what I do, still they bear her name.

                                                  for Arnie Eliezer

PHOTO: Arnie and Wendy Lane Eliezer .

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Wendy Eliezer died after a long and valiant—no one was ever tougher than Wendy—battle with cancer in early 2015. Her husband, Arnie, has been my close friend for fifty years. He doesn’t remember asking me to hold the death papers, but they’re still in my car, in case you ever want to see them.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alan Walowitz has been writing poetry, sometimes successfully and sometimes un-, for more than 50 years. He has a small portion of an MFA degree in Writing from Goddard College, and has entire degrees from Eastern Connecticut State University and from Queens College. He’s studied with poets Estha Weiner, Fred Marchant, C.K. Williams, Carol Muske, Colette Inez, and Stephen Stepanchev, among others who probably would not want their names mentioned with his. Though writing poems can be quite lucrative, he earned the bulk of his fortune as a teacher and supervisor of secondary English for 34 years. His poems can be found lots of places on the web and off. He’s a contributing editor at Verse-Virtual, an Online Community Journal of Poetry, and teaches at Manhattanville College in Purchase, New York, and St. John’s University in Queens, New York. Alan’s chapbook, Exactly Like Love, is available from Osedax Press.  His new chapbook is seeking a publisher. It’s currently titled Against the Science of Sharp Edges, but will alter to suit.

The Seven Santini Brothers Moving  Storage Brooklyn, NY

My poems were lost in moving
by Alan Walowitz

The Seven Santinis’ Moving and Storage,
but better known for their trapeze daring,
impaled the TV on the trellis.
The leather La Z Boy leaned out
what the truckers laughingly call “the runaway door,”
and hasn’t been back home since.
I trust the descendants of Bruno, “the Mauler,”
will ruin their backs on the faulty recline.
My poems were lost in moving.

I’ve declined the Santinis’ kind invitation
to enter a claim.
Dealing with artists like these
in any business way
is bound to be a frustrating business —
like an itch you can’t reach.

I might as well start from scratch.

IMAGE: Vintage postcard of Santini Brothers Moving & Storage truck.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: A little history of this poem: There was a time in the mid-1970s when I was moving frequently, and I was frequently losing the scraps of papers on which I wrote my poems, or I was misplacing the journal I sometimes would write them in. I figured I’d join my moving experiences and my attempts at poem-making into one poem. I hated to blame the Seven Santinis; they never did me any harm. But it was too rich to resist their imagined double life as trapeze artists!

Alan Walowitz 7-2016

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alan Walowitz has been published various places on the web and off. He’s a Contributing Editor at Verse-Virtual, an Online Community Journal of Poetry, and teaches at Manhattanville College in Purchase, New York, and St. John’s University in Queens, New York. His chapbook, Exactly Like Love, is available from Osedax Press.

Walowitz (beach)
Beware: Dangerous Riptides
by Alan Walowitz

Beware: Dangerous Riptides, the sign warned,
but there was the lovely Alice in her two-piece,
charging out against churning surf and good sense
and finally away from her gaggle of pals, arriving
way beyond where the rollers formed into pile drivers
to create, I suppose, those riptides. But what did I care?
I would get her alone beyond all the crashing
and tell her something to make her laugh,
always my only hope. And as the pull of ocean carried me out
way beyond where a swimmer like me had any right to be,
and her strong crawl and athletic form brought her easily back to shore,
I could have sworn I heard her laugh as she passed
and say between strokes: Careful out there, kiddo,
no lifeguard today. Alice of my Daunted Dreams,
I would die in the drink and never see her again—
but she’d talked to me, though, for all I knew,
she didn’t know my name.

                                                            Fire Island, 1970

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: At the Beach. Some time in the 1980s. Too calm to be Fire Island.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I started to think about this poem soon after the event happened — my visit to Fire Island as a camp counselor — in 1970. But to write this version of it, I didn’t bother to look at those old drafts. They hadn’t been working anyhow, otherwise they would have turned into a poem already. It was great to start again; this time I didn’t feel as if I had to be too wedded to the “facts.” As if those should ever matter to a poet.   Now there were no more camp kids I was supposed to be watching closely from the shore. Now it was only the lovely Alice and me, just the way I might have dreamed it.

Alan Walowitz facebook photo

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alan Walowitz has been published various places on the web and off. He’s a Contributing Editor at Verse-Virtual, an Online Community Journal of Poetry, and teaches at Manhattanville College in Purchase, New York, and St. John’s University in Queens, New York. Alan’s chapbook, Exactly Like Love, is available from Osedax Press.

alan w
Summer Cut
by Alan Walowitz

Four weeks into camp, every barber,
licensed or not, in western Mass,
east of Becket, south of Adams,
north of the Connecticut line,
was rounded up to serve a greater good.
Visiting Day was near
and after all that rigorous camping—
pushing the slop they fed us
from one side of the plate to the other—
we had to look good,
so they lined up chairs from the mess hall beside the nature shack,
with wooden crates for us little guys to perch up on.
A dozen barbers, armed only with scissors and comb—
this wouldn’t take long.
My barber seemed a peaceable man,
but his attention had flagged three kids ago.
He didn’t mean to jam the scissor
into the meat of my quite ample ear.
The kid moved! he bellowed,
this not a profile in tonsorial-courage,
as he heard me cry out
and spotted the blood that would ruin his cape,
but probably not his entire day.
The counselor put down his cigarette and came,
swooped me up, then down, band-aid at the ready—
I guess I wasn’t the first to be wounded—
and made me promise to tell my folks I ran into a tree,
which, the way I paid attention then—and now,
was a possibility even my wise and wary mother
might believe.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I’ve always wanted to write about this incident, but never had the occasion till this “mane” prompt came my way from Silver Birch. The haircut described in the poem either did or didn’t happen exactly the way I tell it. It was many years ago, maybe in 1957, when I would have been eight years old. Don’t get me started talking—or writing—about sleepaway camp; lots of worse stuff than this happened to me there.  I won’t mention the name of the camp, for fear of the lawsuits that might ensue. This camp’s still in business and I understand, given the way everyone but me claims they loved camp, there might be more than a 60-year statute of limitations on this kind of camp-slander!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alan Walowitz is a poet and teacher who lives in Long Island, New York. His poems have appeared in places on and off the web. His chapbook, Exactly Like Love, will be published soon by Osedax Press. He teaches at Manhattanville College and St. John’s University.

The Great Gatsby Anthology Comes to 6 Gateway Drive

PHOTOGRAPH: Poet Alan Walowitz with his copy of The Great Gatsby Anthology in front of 6 Gateway Drive in Great Neck, New York, where where F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald lived from 1922 to 1924 — and where, according to a recent book, Fitzgerald wrote much of The Great Gatsby.

AUTHOR’S NOTES ON THE PHOTOGRAPH: Interestingly, and probably to the relief of the current owners, there’s no historical marker in front of this Long Island house to indicate its literary and historical importance. But now there’s a picture of a proud contributor, holding his copy The Great Gatsby Anthology, which I’d gladly give to the current owners of the property if they’d like to display it.

6gatewaydrive older photo

The photo above — courtesy of the Great Neck Public Library — was probably taken at a time closer to when the Fitzgeralds lived there. The photo below — by Joshua Bright for The New York Times — shows the house in all its reconfigured and updated grandeur. It’s quite a lovely house, not quite fitting the Buchanans, but probably grander than the house Fitzgerald imagined for Nick Carraway.

6 Gateway Drive today

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My poem “Great Neck Record” appears in the The Great Gatsby Anthology — and other poems of mine can be found in journals and on ezines and blogs (including Silver Birch Press) many of which can be easily googled. I do live in Great Neck but, not in Fitzgerald’s part of town. I teach some days at Manhattanville College in Purchase, New York, and other days at St. John’s University, on the other side of the Nassau-Queens border.

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.