Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
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SHJ Issue 12
Spring 2015

Dinners To-Go

by Brandon Cesmat

for Steve Kowit

First, I read “Last Will” aloud, then 
halfway through “Notice,” I heard 
loud voices upstairs so I set down the glass of whiskey 
poured to mourn the passing of Steve Kowit and 
went to see what was the matter. 

Steve would’ve made the interruption into a poem, 
a funny one. Something like “Carpe Interruptus” with 
an opening line about how the moment seizes us, 
jealous as hell of all other moments,
their winking possibilities strutting by. 

It’s true, diems don’t hang out on street corners, 
waiting for our come-on. 
They run by and don’t care if we can keep up. 
So we can run the other way, high-fiving as many as traffic allows,
or we can find our vantage points—carpe locale—and 
trade knucks as the parade passes because 
all our moments are looking for us; 
they’ll find us in the desert, feeding apple to a coyote or 
lying on low tide’s hard-packed sand so we can stretch our backs. 
In San Diego’s Gaslamp, Steve ordered three dinners to-go because 
“we might need them” on our walk across downtown
where, sure enough, the homeless, more visible than accessible poems, 
found us. People, coyotes, moments, poems.

Blossoms interrupted, so many rosebuds gathered 
and gone to waste, Steve might say, unless  
their dropping petals gather our notice,
moment after moment in this seasonal strip tease.


SHJ Issue 12
Spring 2015

Brandon Cesmat

On the afternoon Brandon met Steve at the Napa Valley Writers Conference, they talked about differences & similarities between poems and stories. When Brandon mentioned he played guitar, Steve asked him to play behind him that night, a performance they repeated several times, including for the 10-Year Anniversary of The Sunset Poets in Oceanside, California.

Brandon’s books include two collections of poetry, Driven into the Shade (winner of a San Diego Book Award) and Light in All Directions, and a collection of short stories, When Pigs Fall in Love.

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury