Lewis Warsh

Second Chance

Let me offer you a plate
of bowtie cookies but be careful
not to drop any crumbs on the
rug for fear the mice might
come out at night when we’re
gone

Eat slowly and sit up straight
this time tomorrow we’ll meet
again, like strangers in street
clothes, at the restaurant on
the corner

Do you want some more salsa
with your chips one might
say as a way of breaking the ice
after so many years of fighting our
way out of a paper bag

And it’s only in the here and
now that we can make up
for lost time while the meter
is running and everything
is on hold

Just so we can sit across a table
and peel a grape and stare into
the space between each other’s
eyes and write the definitive version
of what never happened
and never will

Drop a tincture of snake oil on
the scar tissue and pay off
your debts two at a time
while all the buildings where we spent
the night crumble into dust

And old friends greet us with
a standing ovation as I eat
the cherry at the bottom of the glass
in one bite and ask the waitress
with green eye shadow for a dry martini
straight up

On Johnson Road

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.

Night Sky

Night-life in the country,
beyond the sighting
of a raccoon,

and the headlights
of a pick-up returning from the
dump

night-life in the treetops. The
3-legged dog next door
doesn’t bite. Do I hold

on for a moment or do
I slip over the edge?

Night-time in the
parking lot outside
Arizona Pizza, the Metro

North train
arrives in Wassaic, I get
off at the last stop.

Tuesday matinees
at the Triplex. The forklift
operator’s wife at the end
of the bar.

Night-life in the Bronx.
A dead carnation
in your lapel.

My mother knots my tie
before I walk out the door.

Night-life on the Pacific
Rim. I wear a bullet-proof vest
in Coconut Grove.

Night-life anywhere filled
with stars in the night sky.

Night-life in the baggage
claim area with no where
to go.

Lewis Warsh’s most recent books are Piece of Cake (written in collaboration with Bernadette Mayer, Station Hill, 2020), A Free Man (Spuyten Duyvil, 2019), Out of the Question: Selected Poems 1963-2003 (Station Hill, 2017), Alien Abduction (Ugly Duckling, 2015), and A Place in the Sun (Spuyten Duyvil, 2010). He is editor and publisher of United Artists Books and founding director of the MFA program at Long Island University (Brooklyn).

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About Posit Editor

Susan Lewis (susanlewis.net) is the editor of Posit (positjournal.com) and the author of ten books and chapbooks, including Zoom, winner of the 2017 Washington Prize, Heisenberg's Salon, This Visit, and State of the Union. Her poetry has appeared in such places as The Awl, Berkeley Poetry Review, Boston Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Cimarron, Gargoyle, The Journal, New American Writing, The New Orleans Review, Prelude, Raritan, Seneca Review, So to Speak, Verse, Verse Daily, and VOLT.