Lewis Warsh

Stigmata

The man downstairs warns us about the bedbugs
     in his apartment & the next day I have big bumps
     on my arms

There are bugs in the soup among other places

It’s no coincidence that Gregor Samsa turned into a bug

Joy and sadness are like sweet & bitter food

The places you visited don’t exist when you’re not there

The world is a forest filled with wild beasts & poisonous insects

The anesthesia is just wearing off & a nurse is sitting at my
      bedside

Maybe when I’m old & blind you can read to me before
      I fall asleep

You were sleeping here a moment ago & now you’re gone

This is what used to be known as the meatpacking district

It’s not a problem (for me) if you want to burn everything you’ve
      written

I put some cortisone on my bites to relieve the itching

The hair stylist on the ground floor claims that the birds
      on the windowsill attract rats

I had the sense that someone was following me
      so I turned the corner

There’s a theory that only the beginning & the end
      are important

I skipped a few pages to find out what happens at the end

You may read a short summary of the book before you begin

I tried to throw the ball through the hoop, but it went astray

“The self-acknowledged suffering of the disintoxicated
      is the subject of this book”

Every word is a verb: to do, to be, to seem

The words are in italics because I’m saying them

My so-called doppelganger is not my friend

It’s a long way down from the roof to the street

Waiting on line at the bank we are simply nobodies

I run out into the snow / but there’s nowhere to go

My head is no longer part of my body

When I first started wearing glasses, people called me “Owl”

When I walked down the street people shouted “Hoot! Hoot!”

One word from you & my thoughts begin spiraling

It’s hard to know what to do next until you’re doing it

My private parts are glowing in the dark

There was a buzz in the audience at the sound of her name,
      but after her performance people looked downcast & filled
      with despair, as if the propensity to feel anything
      had vanished forever in her presence

It feels like there’s a nail sticking into the bottom of my foot

Darkness commensurate with discomfort–this style of writing

Self-discipline is necessary if you want to forget something

There’s a struggle, never ending, between clinging to something
      & letting go

A stream of water flowed out of my head

You can walk down Gun Hill Road in the Bronx & be anywhere

You can stand at the intersection of Gun Hill Road & Eastchester
      Road & remember the past

I can see the light of a taxi in the distance, coming through
      the snow to take me home

You can walk down Lydig Avenue in the Bronx & remember
      your childhood

I cursed at the doctor who wanted to give me a shot

In those days, when you were sick, the doctors visited you
      in your apartment

There’s the intersection where I waited for a bus — it’s after midnight

Once I took speech lessons to correct my lisp

It’s time to leave the party but I can’t find my coat

I omitted the sentence you asked me to erase without fear of rain

Long shot of an empty downtown street — coffin-like, unreadable

“We’re walking on sunshine — ooh, ooh”

Side effects might include drowsiness or diarrhea

It’s important to clean the sink before going to sleep

Sometimes the bugs come out when you’re sleeping

The sky is overwhelming but so is the vastness of the sea

We buy a magnifying glass so we can identify the bodies
      of the dead bugs

The dead bugs leave a trail of blood along the sheets

It’s hard to touch someone who isn’t here

The dermatologist touches the welts on my skin

The ferry is late & we won’t be home

Lewis Warsh’s most recent books are One Foot Out the Door: Collected Stories (Spuyten Duyvil, 2014), A Place in the Sun (Spuyten Duyvil, 2010) and Inseparable: Poems 1995-2005 (Granary, 2008). He teaches in the MFA program in creative writing at Long Island University (Brooklyn). He is editor and publisher of United Artists Books. A new book of poems, Alien Abduction, is forthcoming from Ugly Duckling Presse.

 

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About Posit Editor

Susan Lewis (susanlewis.net) is the editor of Posit (positjournal.com) and the author of eight books and chapbooks, including This Visit (Blazevox, 2015), How to be Another (Cervena Barva Press, 2014), and State of the Union (Spuyten Duyvil Press, 2014). Her ninth book, Heisenberg’s Salon, is available now for pre-order from Blazevox. Her poetry has appeared in such places as The Awl, Berkeley Poetry Review, Boston Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Cimarron, Gargoyle, The Journal, The New Orleans Review, Prelude, Raritan, Seneca Review, So to Speak, Verse, and Verse Daily.