Two Poems by Lewis Warsh

These two poems by Lewis Warsh are meditations on the old saying that “birth is the beginning of death”, as, unlike in our fictions, the denouement of our lives isn’t a given –we have to weave the threads of experience and memory together ourselves, or as Warsh puts it: “There were little things that mattered/ Like a gate into the great unknown,” because “…each/ hour a little more light vanishes/ from the sky.”


by: Lewis Warsh


I took a walk down Johnson
Hill Road to see the beaver
build her dam. But she wasn’t
there, only a few ripples
on the surface of the pond.
A few flies alighted on my shoulder,
and in my hair. Then I sat
out for awhile and read a book
about Jean-Paul Sartre and
Simone de Beauvoir. I haven’t
come to the good part yet,
sex in the grass. Then a few
raindrops fell on my head.
There’s the path into the woods
behind the house, lost in shadow.
That’s where I’m going, just give
me time. It seems to get late
early, or earlier, each day, which
isn’t exactly news to anyone,
but something to say, as each
hour a little more light vanishes
from the sky and the barred owl
sounds its cry from the uppermost
branch, and the leaves begin to
sway, and turn color, over night.
Soon it will be autumn and all
the fall colors and a few deer will
dare to walk across the road without
fear of hunters or people in fast
cars. Soon the seasons will change,
the grass turn brown, the leaves
purple, like old wine, and the prosecutor
will present inadmissible evidence
to the jury of one’s peers, whoever
they might be, old, young, blind,
aging, embittered, dissolute,
and dumb.



One time I turned the radio up loud in my head
I changed the station until someone was saying my name

There were things that needed more attention
+++++than others
Like people, but we shifted gears just in time

Taking Route 1 and then sleeping on the side
Of the road, the broken windshield, the flat tire,
+++++bugs in the engine,

The way everything goes wrong
When you first start out

“You can bet on it” they say
And then look the other way

As if one had all the time in the world to dissemble
The things that mattered most, “hailstones

The size of golfballs” the weather lady said
I’d like a tankard of porridge, if you don’t mind

Next time I was singing a song in my head
It was “Strawberry Fields Forever”
+++++when a cloud passed in front of the sun

Everyone celebrates the first day of the new year
+++++in a different way
I mean every person once removed resembles
+++++someone else in due time

There were little things that mattered
Like a gate into the great unknown

Someone took my hand and led me out of the
+++++burning building
Someone left the light on in the hall–I was frightened
+++++(but not of the dark)


Lewis Warsh is the author of over thirty volumes of poetry, fiction and autobiography, including Alien Abduction (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2015), One Foot Out the Door: Collected Stories (Spuyten Duyvil, 2014), A Place in the Sun (Spuyten Duyvil, 2014) and Inseparable: Poems 1995-2005 (Granary Books, 2008). He is co-editor of The Angel Hair Anthology (Granary Books, 2001) and editor and publisher of United Artists Books. Mimeo Mimeo #7 (2012) was devoted to his poetry, fiction and collages, and to a bibliography of his work as a writer and publisher. He has taught at Naropa University, The Poetry Project, SUNY Albany and Long Island University (Brooklyn), where he was director of the MFA program in creative writing from 2007-2013 and where he currently teaches.

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