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Monday, June 04, 2018


by Alan Walowitz

'Palestinian Volunteer Medic Killed, Dozens Wounded' in Latest Protests on Israel-Gaza Border —Haaretz, June 1, 2018. Photo: Palestinian protesters flee from incoming tear gas canisters during clashes following a demonstration along the border with Israel east of Khan Yunis, Gaza, June 1, 2018. Credit: SAID KHATIB/AFP via Haaretz.

You must change your life, Rilke said.
But what did he know about moving toward a fence
in such ragged order, armed with rocks and kites,
where live arms will greet you,
their 19-year-old bearers trained in this same theater
and are in receipt of their rules of engagement
and memorized the battle plan
like lines in a drama where the outcome is certain,
which will only make the ending more rich, more real?
Yet, how can you tell what these supernumeraries will feel
once the curtain comes down, and the dead are not mannequins
and are moved instead to the theater of the ground?

Much like this nation where I’m told,
—even if I’m the son unable to ask—
I can return any time I’d like,
I’ve been on this earth the allotted three score and ten.
I assure you, from vast experience,
to change a life requires more than one’s full portion.
But to revise, to see yourself again,
that can be an everyday miracle, if only we’d try.
Some of our fathers tell us we’re not quite chosen,
but just to be certain, we had better be better
and a light unto the nations.
This is hard work, the toughest there is,
but, didn’t I hear God say, in some unrecorded verse,
Hey, pal, isn’t this what you signed up for?

Alan Walowitz is a Contributing Editor at Verse-Virtual, an Online Community Journal of Poetry. He teaches at Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY and St. John’s University in Queens. Alan’s poetry chapbook Exactly Like Love is in its second printing available from Osedax Press.