from "One Hundred and Fifteen Missing Days" (circa 1996)


Narcissus


I hate mirrors, yet cannot turn away:
I am the lover in this week’s romance,
the wronged child beneath the abusing
hand, the megalomaniac upon a cross
of my own devising, of my own fears,
of what I expect, and what is expected of me.


Like a funhouse, mirrors surround me,
distorting even themselves infinitely:
as seen from the street, the soft flicker
of the television washes the room in blue;
the building’s wall mirrors the splashing
feet dancing in the puddles of the street.


I listen to the jokes at work,
laugh or groan politely.  I am a bore,
a hypocrite lecturer whose eyes glaze
as others drone their tales of domesticity:
their traumas and triumphs so like
my own I tear my face in anguish.


I recognize my self in Plato and Paz,
in my father’s voice growling in memory,
in the despised, in the honored, in the mediocre,
and the sublime.  Not that I’m any Whitman
glomming onto everyone; I am, however,
as are you, a reflection of a mirror in a mirror.


I fight to keep from flinching at each glance
cast across the tops of newspapers, to keep 
from drowning in the current thought
rushing like a flash flood through
everything, leaving rotting cows and broken
trees to infect with their complacence. 


A bit of me here, a bit of me there,
but nothing which is truly mine, that is me:
an endless stream of non-essential parts.
Everything is just that:  shards of a shattered
mirror, each reflection the same confused,
yet deliberately constructed expanse;


each flattening the vision just a little
bit more, each demanding to be the center
of a universe without a the only an a: 
Several infinite points rapidly
fleeing from anything like themselves.
I watch myself in this receding flood.


No matter how I close my eyes, no matter
how I hold the pillow over my head
at night to smother the sounds echoing
throughout the day, I still can’t stop
being fascinated, being appalled, by the
glimpses I catch as I quickly turn.


It is there on the peripheral, like werewolves
along borders, where the change occurs.
All the shifting geological layers, all the mists
surrounding the duplicitous projections,
all are reflections of a distorted self-reflection
who is too afraid to admit to being me.

(Circa 1996)


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