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Self-criticism; Reported Missing

by Lewis Warsh

Winter 2003

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

other men

"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.

Reported Missing

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


Lewis Warsh

Warsh is the author of numerous books of poetry, fiction and autobiography.


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