Lewis Warsh

Watch on the Rind

You fall asleep with eyes wide open. You
learn how to be present when you’re not
even there. Miles away, thinking about
something else, but acting like you have
both feet planted on the ground.

Sometimes you have to test the waters
before you go in. That means nothing. You
can float back to earth or step off the carousel
when it’s spinning. Either way, you
luck out, and walk away, as if nothing

happened. There’s a three month
guarantee for parts before breakfast
but by noon the story changes
and you have to get on your knees
if you want anything. Just sign on the
dotted line until Xmas.

A lopsided score gets the attention of the
pundits, all the usual suspects and their families
and friends gather around the barbecue
pit for Sunday brunch. Don’t set off
the alarm just because you smell smoke.
It could be anything. Inflammable pajamas.



Excuse me–you say “excuse me”–and then
it’s time to go. You say: “I have to leave”–and you
close the door behind you. (You don’t have
to say anything–I can tell you want to go.) No
one notices that you’re gone until it’s too late
to do anything. Once you were sleeping in this bed
and now you’re not. (The woman turns to the place
where the man was sleeping.) There are too many
moments in the day–“Is this seat taken?” We
make our excuses and leave the way we came.

There was a movie about the executive and the
secretary, they’re working late. You can spell
out the obvious, it’s all happening behind closed
doors. The office building has been demolished,
I have it on tape. The building was detonated,
we can all go home.

Analyze resistances, say the opposite of what
you mean. The last thing you’ll ever do is admit
that you were wrong. It’s too risky to say
what you mean, so you say the opposite, you
don’t say anything. I read three books at the same
time with two eyes. I stare at a photograph
of Georgia O’Keeffe in the nude.

I came up for the weekend and stayed forever.
It’s a buyer’s market, meaning it’s a bad time
to sell. But I’ve never owned anything,
nor wanted to. My needs are modest,
by most standards, as far as I can see.
A screened porch where you can read late at night.
A barn with some chickens, maybe.
A couple of sheep.

Every Passing Stranger

Sometimes you have to twist someone’s
arm to get them to do your bidding. Even
basic understanding of a situation depends
on brute force. Pay attention to the details:
“She sipped her tea like a pigeon,” and so
forth. The aim is to blame others for everything
that went wrong. Wait till your subscription
runs out and see what you missed. Things
got interesting as soon as you left the room.
Aviator glasses. Dead flowers in a carafe.
Perhaps she was playing at being in love.
All my cards are/were on the table. No point
in pushing the panic button before time runs out.
No reason to pull the plug or hedge your bets.
The Homecoming Queen is taking a breather
on the verandah. There’s a jack in the trunk
if you get a flat. You can always show up
at the last minute like the flim-flam man
and make your excuses. It’s time to remove
your crinoline, shake off the cobwebs, and bask
in the sun. The radar gun is on the blink: how fast
were you going? It’s important to step on
the gas when you pass through the intersection.
The demons retreat into their hovels,
shouting bloody murder, and life dwindles
down to a few precious minutes, enough
time for a double espresso at the No-Name
Bar, if that’s your want.

When You Wore a Tulip

Lazybones perked up at the sight of her

Homer & Jethro pushed the panic button
without thinking.

There was a gimmick
about being two different people

attached at the hip

to two other people
who were born
under the wrong sign.

My skinned knee
was bothering me

so I flagged a taxi
and went to Florida.

Outside influences. Fin
de siècle sturm und drang.

I have an ace up my sleeve for when
the bottom drops out. Gas
prices skyrocketing from Carbondale

to Podunk. A soothsayer in your
backyard? Call the body shop

and ask for Fred.