by Lisa Rogal

Dear Lewis,
The one nice thing about dead people is you can tell them anything.

Dear Lewis,
I feel I should tell you a story. My dad said you’ve got to have a story. Is that true? I don’t ever feel I have one. I have the opposite of a story – what’s that? I think you know what I mean though. Exhausting a place. I want to go to Greenlight and linger like I used to. Now you can only enter for 15 minutes. Plus I have the baby. He’s fun Lewis, you’d like him. Very friendly. He likes life. He wants to be part of it. I try to keep up. I always wanted to be part of life but also to be separate. I like feeling life nearby me – hearing it – but having a bit of distance. When it’s right on top of me I get confused, my senses firing wildly. I need something numbing to handle it – or just a quiet room. Noise cancelling, eye mask, dark, still. Powering up. Winding down. I miss the endless afternoons, somewhere on a porch in the warm air, nothing happening, nowhere to be.
What can I tell you to keep your interest? How little can I get away with? I find the trick is leaving it all out, almost all of it, just a glimpse of ankle, square of sunlight, laughter from another room. It’s all there in your head anyway. Just how you like.

Dear Lewis,
I hate that you won’t read these. Read these okay? I know you can’t. I know you would. I’m sad Lewis. I’m very very sad.

Dear Lewis,
How is it there? What’s there? Do you miss writing? Do you miss anything? Is it all filled in and satisfied. Desires gone. Is it peace? I can’t imagine you there. I can’t imagine it. When I hold my son sleeping I can’t consume enough of it. I can’t hold it inside me completely. My mind keeps slipping. What do you do about that? How do you let it enter you and seep into your muscles and bones so that it can never leave? How do you stay open? How do you keep from missing something that isn’t gone yet. I can believe that time doesn’t exist. That it’s all happening at once. Is that right? I guess there’s a reason we shouldn’t know everything yet. Like finding out about your therapist’s personal life. Of course you’d be too curious, wanting to know everything. I need to keep my distance from the person. No person can contain it all. People are awful weak. You liked people more than me. You followed your curiosity. & do you know everything now Lewis? & what’s that like?

About the poet:

Lisa Rogal is a poet and teacher living in Brooklyn. She is the author of la belle indifference (Cuneiform Press, 2020), Feed Me Weird Things (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2017), Morning Ritual (United Artists Books, 2015), and The New Realities (Third Floor Apartment Press, 2013), and a graduate of the MFA program at LIU.




Homage to Lewis Warsh, who was a poet, a prose writer, and one of the founding professors of the MFA program in Creative Writing at Long Island University, Brooklyn Campus. Professor Warsh passed away on November 15, 2020. His students and friends honored his memory…writing.