Self-criticism; Reported Missing
by Lewis Warsh
I shouted & said things I didn’t mean.
I lied to people I loved.
I didn’t pay taxes for 20 years.
I told my mother that my problems were
all her fault.
I stole money from my father’s wallet.
I slept with women who were living with
"If the father is a hero, the son is a brave
man; if the father is a reactionary,
the son is a bastard."
Struggle with the waves in the middle
of the current.
Chase the exhausted enemy.
by Lewis Warsh
Wake from your dream, for a moment, & stare at your
arm, asleep, an appendage, void of function, was it always
there? Open a door & a stranger says: "Meet me at 9 at
the end of the platform." My knees are trembling, like the
first time we met, a VW camper navigating the curves of
Mount Tam. Someone more sadistic than you turns to stone
at the slightest touch. A drive-by shooting was reported to
the local precinct & we arrived like eye witnesses to identify
a suspect through a one-way mirror. Some kids standing on
a street corner held their breath as we walked by. All I ever
wanted was your attention, but I’m not going to beg for it
this time around. I want to remember you, happy one minute,
teary-eyed the next, "requiring maintenance," as you might
say. I have something to give but it’s never enough, something
ineffable that won’t disappear when no one’s looking. It’s
time to trace your name on the icy window, to bend the prong
of the fork until it snaps to attention like an ensign at the
Naval Academy in the presence of a senior officer, one with
a war wound whose own son died at sea. From the window,
there’s an empty lot with a few scrawny trees— children circling
bonfires like mechanical dolls of both sexes. Someone must
invent a new way of longing that stretches from the Bronx into
the outer boroughs, down streets with names like Metropolitan
& Bedford, a different route, past a park lit up at night, &
subway lines, the G, J & L, that go nowhere
Warsh is the author of numerous books of poetry, fiction and autobiography.
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