Lewis Warsh


There are movies that come back
to haunt you at the end
and you can hear the music building
to a crescendo like Hollywood
so you in the audience and you in the
starring role are almost the same
good looking clean cut uptight all of
the above and none
I wouldn’t recognize you on a bus
if you paid me
to get on and off
and you wouldn’t remember my name
for all the nights in the world
we crawled into bed
with the lights on
and the radio playing
soft and low
we might as well have been blind-
sided by a two-ton truck
for all it matters
because there’s only the present
like a movie played backwards
with a cast of thousands
hanging on for dear life.


Backwards, up or down,
straight forward: these

are the ways to go. Don’t
cash in your dividends

before the market crashes.
Toss your laundry into the

hamper and carry it down
the hall. I’m not talking

about myself necessarily
but someone I used to know.

Maybe it was a car door
that slammed in the night?

It’s not a good idea to back
yourself into a corner

office without so much as
a window facing the murky

waters of the Gowanus. The
night is young, but the slumber

party is almost over. I’m
just writing to let you know

your subscription has perspired.


As a teenager
I liked to eat

off my own plate
and scrape the leftovers

into the latrine
and before you noticed

I had slipped away
even though the party

went on all night
and the last guests

stumbled out the door
and slept in the rain

with no one to blame
but myself, and a few others

and when I woke up
you were really there

like the Odalisque
by Manet

drinking a Bloody Mary
and braiding your hair.

Lewis Warsh’s most recent books are A Free Man (Spuyten Duyvil, 2019), Out of the Question: Selected Poems (Station Hill Press, 2017), Alien Abduction (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2015) and One Foot Out the Door: Collected Stories (Spuyten Duyvil, 2014). He is editor and publisher of United Artists Books and teaches at Long Island University (Brooklyn).