The Brooklyn Rail

MARCH 2021

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MARCH 2021 Issue
Poetry A Tribute to Lewis Warsh

Fragments for Lewis Warsh

       I met you at the perfect time. I was ready to start working on my writing in a
more serious way. I was ready to pull together who I was to be who I am and you were
there to encourage me to not leave any of my unruly parts behind. You noticed my
fragments –

  Sometimes when I’m caught / between night and morning / I sit by the window and watch /
the braking car lights glow stop…

       You said I should share more as a way to be whole. So, I sat in your office and
talked about everything, all the things that came to mind. There aren’t many people I
could talk to about how Haitian dream translation, dead boyfriends, my family, living
lovers, line breaks and my coffee addiction all intersect in my work.

  Somewhere while writing, this I got lost / between talking to myself and my 2nd coffee /
days being measured by the last time I washed my hands / a pattern of wash rinse repeat wait
did I wash my hands?

       You chuckled at my quirks and didn’t make me feel weird about them. You
shared your own stories about your kids and their kids, movies and your travels.
You never judged me and gave me advice about things I couldn’t imagine discussing
with my parents. You were my professor and mentor but also my friend.

  I find glitter on my face / so it must be Tuesday / I pray a bagel is in my forecast
and I beg my heart / my head and blood to get along / instead my blood bubbles and spits /
it never plays nice

       When I moved to Minnesota, we stayed in contact and you sent me care
packages books like I was away at camp. It let me know that even though I left New
York, based on your encouragement, I wasn’t forgotten. In Kreyol, I would say, ou pat
lagay’m, you didn’t lose sight of me, and for that I’m thankful. You are the teacher that I
try to be in the classroom: funny, encouraging, humble and kind. I even bought a ring,
to mirror your ring, with its own haunting green glow to remind me of what you would


Valérie Déus

is a poet, film programmer and local radio show host whose most recent works are found in A Garden of Black Joy Anthology and Under Purple Skies: A Minneapolis Anthology.


The Brooklyn Rail

MARCH 2021

All Issues