i met lewis I think, in 2005-6 ish, at the poetry project, or if not the poetry project, then something that had spilled over from the poetry project that I cannot remember, unlike those remembrances that people always start with “I know exactly when I met…”, i don’t have a tidy gold medal way to say it, which is to say that lewis was so everywhere, that I can’t pinpoint it, that my memories of so many outside-this-venue-or-that venue-sidewalk or after this reading bar hang or this home’s wine gathering, that lewis was always there and the generosity of his kind of clique with open arms, every year just kept expanding and modifying. you kept seeing new people in the group you met through lewis, and now maybe you don’t see lewis so much, but the “friendily-splintered” group he cultivated kept reaching out until you all learned you were introduced by lewis in some way…
i think i met him before i realized i was meeting lewis, the lewis I had read about in the other towns i lived in. those of us in this city who know of our before and after NYC time, know that often who we read about in NYC and its people in that way, we get here and see that person week in and week out going to readings, almost like a cheerful trudging to and fro --- readings tiny and large, hanging out in cramped back patios and alleyways after, spaces skinny and wide.
lewis had a way of enveloping all in his classes and conversations to the point where you thought, how did I get here again? (I mean that in a good way)… the times he said in my liu classes with him and on my work where he advised me for 3 years…..WHAT DO WE THINK OF THIS…?. (question mark and period) with a look on his face that you will know if you knew lewis, if you think of that line, you can just imagine. WHAT DO WE THINK OF THIS?. both a question and statement and either with an arched eyebrow or a subtle squint of the eyes or a pursed lip and you knew exactly what he was getting at, without him being any way that would not be a nice way but he knew how to call attention to things with those facial expressions and everyone still felt okay even if it was the most subtle, gentle type of constructive critique. no one realized while it was happening (well, i didn’t) but after it happened you realized he was trying to show you things without making you realize you were “getting shown” but shown you were.
the joke i had with him, but not really a joke, because we were serious about it, but maybe we didn’t want to admit it, was that we both were afraid to change our first email addresses that we ever got and hung onto and clung to, worried we’d lose things if we changed them and it would be bad luck or too much trouble and all our email folders and organization messed up. with me still on hotmail and him still on mindspring here in 2020 – why the last email I got from lewis was in late sept. – a one liner bcc’ed group email with the subject header Angel Hair and body message: Thought thus would interest you and an attachment with the Angel Hair Book Collection. i didn’t even realize until I just typed that, that the “thus” likely meant “this”. I actually pieced together a kind of stream of consciousness speaking style i at times associated with lewis, but that was also crystal clear, as in, I thought this and THUS thought it would interest you….
WHAT DO WE THINK OF THIS?.
we will miss you greatly lewis and i will miss your oxymoronic friendly scowls