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Echo of Narcissus
Plastic tone-deaf toddler turned neon jukebox teen
Turned gemstone karaoke queen of glass and emerald cities
Crystal crack-rock and roll goddess of hymns and hims
Owner of give
Giver of got
Liposucker of fatcats
Buzzcutter of bigwigs
Confucius confusion diffuser of losers, users and abusers
Palm reader of psalms who transfuses her being into bleeding wounds
Blood mother of a thousand blood brothers and others
Who’d heed sweet sound waves and echo them away to anyone tuned in
Who’d climb twisted metal trellis towers and howl at the moon for hours until it lay castrated and cowering or bitten and devoured by the foggy night sky
Or just hidden by lights and smog nearby
Who’d cry to some particular Atlantis or oh so great El Dorado where gold runs red and the dead run wild while bile blocks the street so they take off their shoes, leave them by the door then bare feet stomp the trash into the floor and through and say “Forget tomorrow until yesterday!”
But what about today?
Today there is no Atlantis or El Dorado
Except in dreams
They seem to the whole world to lie cold and dead
Buried beneath earth and sea
To everyone everywhere but in her underwear and head
In her nods and sighs
Winks and lies
Laughs and wings and guys
Spring and fall and rise
She sings the works of warrior women
She sings the words of Sylvia Plath and Annie Sexton
She sings the lives of Edie and Marilyn
And in doing so, she becomes them:
When she sighs she breaks a thousand hearts
When she struts her stuff she flies
When she shuts her eyes and ears she fears the whole world dies
So like rust she clings to the notion of some golden thing
And like dust she’s blown to the notion of a world of stone
And yet she sings:
She sings of places hidden in the smudges, holes, and gaps of time yellowed treasure maps
Hidden between sleep and wake
Between want and act
Between thought and speech
Dusty cobweb corners, lock-and-key filing cabinets
A shelf too high to reach
Poles pointed to by busted compass blades
Buried treasure never found
Times told by unwound clocks
Places found by aimless walks
Places long forgotten by a world in the rotting collapse of time lapse photography
Places written between the lines of fine inkblot calligraphy
Places like Atlantis or El Dorado where no man may go
Places lost to all of us
But she can find them for us in her world of rhyme
So just sit back and listen to her song
It will only cost a minute of your time
Let her transmute her crystal voice through you many chatting mute
Lend the deaf an ear to hear angelic tears
Sit back and listen to her song
For it runs not loud or long
And speaks of left and right and wrong
I once had windpipes that could outplay Pan,
Hypnotize the Pied Piper,
Turn a heater to a fan.
I bewitched legs to dance ecstatic
Even until they snapped.
I found the fountain of eternal youth
And lapped up all its crystal clear vermouth.
My intoxicating breath swept Don Juan off his feet
Made Casanova bow so low he fell over
Made Marilyn and Edie take a seat.
This femme fatale’s fatal blow were kisses blown
Right on target, without misses
This pop-cult tart pierced every heart that beats
I outdid Cupid and Aphrodite
I thought metaphoric heartbreak would be bloodless
And therefore tidy
But I drowned in the rising tide of red
Swallowed up by orgiastic moaning sounds
By others’ early morning unmade beds
By parts played
By words unsaid.
So my own words got caught in my throat
My pen dried up with what I wrote
I left my parts unplayed
I stayed awake to keep the beds made.
No more orgiastic moaning sounds for me
So I could keep from being drowned.
But to breathe, I had to gargle through the floods of blood
I could not sing, I could not speak
I could only follow others
No more than an echo
No more than a defeat.
So I left Marilyn and Edie to dance around
Tango and rumba with Don Juan and Casanova
But I had barely left them before I found
Greek god of heathenism
Hedonism’s water color poster boy
Bodily temple of otherworldly ecstasies on earth
Birthed by Mother Nature and Father Night
Soothsayer of mystic mistruths
Diamond bright marble chiseled by Michelangelo
Nose to nose with the water of the fountain of youth
Enraptured with the image of perfection the reflective spring had captured
And as I was insanely drawn unto him
He was drawn up to the brim
With the same insanity
And down into the spring
Drowning in his vanity.
I tried to save him
Tried to pull him from the fount
Tried to give him mouth-to-mouth
But he pushed away every try
Intent on being with his beloved
On bestowing his likeness with a poisoned kiss
So he could die in bliss
And every time I was drawn back
Hypnotized by his crystalline eyes
His silent lies
Until he pushed me one last time
And I cried
“I can tell you’re an empty shell
And I’m an open yolk
Poke either of us and we’ll bust
Unless we join together.
We’ll be strong
We’ll be safe
A soul without a body
A body without a soul
Such fragments fit together to make a whole!”
He shrugged and said “What a load of bull”
Then went back to drinking in his reflection.
I tried one last time
I cried, “Narcissus
Though I was like you not long ago
Don’t suffer the same punishment I had to undergo
Don’t gargle in the blood of bleeding hearts or reflections
Don’t ruin your heaven sent inflections
Drink it up! Drink up your afflictions!
When it’s done you’ll have no one to look at but others
Or the bottom of an empty basin.
When you have nothing perfect to reflect on
You’ll be free to see it all!
You’ll be free to look around!”
But even as I said my speech
He drank it all in
And he drowned.
So I boxed him up and put him in a dusty cobweb corner
A lock-and-key cabinet
Or a shelf just out of reach.
So we who have perfection in us
Or in our grasps
Should consider me and Narcissus
And how quickly we both passed.
But the crowd doesn’t consider Echo or Narcissus
Or themselves or us
Or dusty cobweb corners, lock-and-key filing cabinets
Or out of reach shelves
They consider half-washed glasses of half-drunk miseries
Warm, flat beers, cold coffees
Half-assed cheers to half-baked glories and ideas
I alone consider Echo
I bask alone in her rejection
I bathe alone in her inflection
I soak in her perfection
And I wonder what she could have had before
What could have outdone her crystalline roar?
What could have topped the crack-rock goddess,
The gemstone hewn queen,
The blood mother of a thousand endorphin fiends
The confusion diffuser of all of us?
Was it curiosity that bade me buy a drink for her
Or vanity that made me?
All she said while downing booze was
“He who stands to win, stands to lose.”
What was I expecting to hear?
Sweet nothings purred into my ear?
Or the sound of just one of her angelic tears?
All I heard of her once heavenly inflection
Were the glugs and farts and gargles
As she chugged her drink til drunk
And drowned in the blood of my broken heart
Warm, flat beer
And her reflection.
So I say to you who listen
You who hold perfection in you
Or in your hands
Consider me and Echo
And how quickly it all goes.
You who listen, read my poem
It speaks of faraway places
And of home
Lend the blind your eyes to read it
Sing it out so the deaf may hear it
For it runs not loud or long
And speaks of left and right and wrong.