- Kind: Perfectbound
- Pages: 54
- Language: English
- Date Published: September, 2015
- ISBN: 978-1-939929-35-8
“In this powerful sequence of poems, Owen Lewis bravely revisits the death of his younger brother in 1980, trying to make what sense he can of inexplicable loss. He summons his brother by “taking every memory that [comes] to me like a hand in the dark,” by listening attentively to what his brother’s spirit might be saying from beyond the grave, and by speaking back to him and offering him a troubled but loving place in the poet’s current life. Like the dune fences that make up one of the sequence’s motifs, these poems are stays against confusion that, paradoxically, do not attempt to fully wall out that confusion but, instead, let it in: “Enough slats / to keep things together, but still / some sand pours through.” The result is a poetry that is deeper and more moving, open both to pain and vision.” —Jeffrey Harrison
Owen Lewis’s Best Man is a bold and gritty elegy for a long departed brother whose short life – only 23 years – took an early wrong turning into addiction. In 23 moving, beautifully imaged, excruciatingly and closely-observed poems that form a collage of a complicated life and the family members who tried to sustain it, Lewis – writing from the vantage point of 30 years – comes to terms with the tragedy of his lost brother. The book is also a poetic treatise on aspects of addiction and the systemic effects of one member’s illness on an entire family: the addict’s “disquieted soul”; the chaos of late night phone calls announcing overdoses and ER admits; the jailhouse visits; the gradual fading and wasting away of a loved one’s familiarity that so ravages those who love him; the gnawing, unceasing anxiety of loving an addict (“a termite in the wood / of your brain”). Best Man makes a contribution not only to contemporary poetry, but to the field of recovery studies. —Kate Daniels
I am still mad at you.
Every week another call
from a pharmacy, a burnt-out Bronx
neighborhood, or Brooklyn.
Percocet, Dexedrine, shopping lists.
Benzo’s. That last visit you took
my prescription pad, sold it.
I refused your calls.
From Florida. From the ICU.
Frantic, your girlfriend overdosed.
Our grandmother told me you were ok.
She cooked you a pair of fried eggs.
I’ve never known how to think
about your end, so, often I just don’t.
Owen Lewis’s poetry has appeared in The Mississippi Review, The Connecticut River Review, The Adirondack Review, The Four Way Review, The Cumberland Review and other publications and received awards from The Mississippi Review, The Connecticut River Review, The Amherst Writers and Artists press, and The London School of Jewish Studies. He is the author of two collections of poetry, March in San Miguel and Sometimes Full of Daylight. He is also the co-author of the multi-media work New Pictures at an Exhibition, which received numerous concert performances. A physician and professor at Columbia University, he has also published widely in the professional literature. He currently teaches with the narrative medicine group at Columbia University and lectures on this work.