November 7, 2010

Lewis Warsh & Alicia Cohen

Please note venue change

Sunday, November 7
7:30 pm

The Waypost
3120 N. Williams Ave.

$5 suggested donation

Lewis Warsh's most recent books are A Place in the Sun (Spuyten Duyvil, 2010) and Inseparable: Poems 1995-2005 (Granary, 2008). He is editor and publisher of United Artists Books and director of the MFA program in creative writing at Long Island University in Brooklyn.

Alicia Cohen is a poet and literary scholar who lives in Portland, Oregon. Her recent book Debts and Obligations was published by O Books; her first book Bear was published by Handwritten Press. She has taught at Portland State University and Reed College.


The satisfaction of human needs creates new needs
Marx said, just as a poem gives birth to another
Almost immediately after you finish the one before,
So there's no sense of completion and only an occasional
Word crossed out, deleted, "no completion" seems
To be the order of the day.

Something left out calls for its other,            
A warm bed is all one needs, and the new poem is calling
But the operator is asleep, and the words are lost
And found again, that's the other theme--the ghosts
Of the past enter stage center, the animals and the street
People line up on the boardwalk, the ocean looms,
Scatterbrained birds of a feather fly south for the winter,
The deletions add up--the Hotel De Ville burns to the ground--
One wing of the Louvre is gone--a mural by Delacroix turns to ash--
The poem needs some sustenance but no one can
Give enough, that's what I was like when I was younger,
Insatiable, in my own way, so that people thought me strange
For wanting more than I had, but the mystery is in the words
"Never enough"--I might have worn them on my sleeve--
So what do you say we get down on our knees and pray
For some god of forgiveness to man the barricades?
Or do we take it as it is, as it goes, while remaining cognizant
Of what happened down through time,
All the thens and theres mingling with all the I's and yous
Until a direct address is delivered to all of Paris
On the day that 100,000 Prussians did a victory lap
Down Les Champs-Elysées--and it all really happened,

Dear Communard.

Lewis Warsh

The Point
Let us ask ourselves: why do we feel a grammatical joke to be deep?
(And that is what the depth of philosophy is.)

--Ludwig Wittgenstein
poems rest
towers in misuses
seeds and words are like the same thing
purely political
planting green beans and kale and so forth
to the seas over all the earth
and the fish wandering
in my dreams you died in and in my dreams
my dead friends live
we know by looking at the world does not shut
the dead
wake us in birth
spring equinox at the bottom of the cliffs near my childhood
stones cover the beach
and roll with the waves singing
these tidepools are poor
sea cucumber and sea snail and anemone
it's a speck of nothing so small you can only see
the world we love is full of fishes going going into stars
full of seeds
amino acids
and puns and rhymes
are all bad desires good
airs' sweet smell
ocean breeze dead poets
poured full of animals peering out of your eyes

Alicia Cohen