Landscape with Selfobjects & On the Twelfth Day of My Faith Crisis

Landscape with Selfobjects

The narcissistically disordered individual who “looks into the mirror for hours and days attempts to unite his fragmenting body-self with the aid of his gaze.”
—Heinz Kohut

When he ruled the forest, Narcissus rarely slept.
             Late at night he watched, fumed, and tweeted
                          about the television, a mirror that frequently displeased.

What it reflected to him, he didn’t want to own:
             low poll numbers, impeachment testimony, blistering critiques.
                          So he picked up his phone

to gaze into a different mirror,
             in which he generated a flattering reflection
                          by firing up his followers.

A flare of hearts and retweets was like a frenzied crowd
             at a campaign rally, chanting his slogans and waving signs
                          that showed him his logo in big block letters.

Posed on his electronic podium,
             Narcissus saw again his words and name in lights
                          and directed the crowd’s attacks against dissenters.

On the Twelfth Day of My Faith Crisis

Love, it’s true I give too little credit
to the subtle drummer drumming in my head—
the pulse that sets a tempo for the mind,

pipes inspiration’s tune straight to my ear
and down-arm to my pen, making me, when I pay attention,
love the piper. The eleventh thing you’ll love about

is how easily I conflate lord and word.
Some days I’m good at words and some days I’m just good
and most days I’m neither. But on roughly one out of ten,

the words veritably leap out of my head, if you can forgive
for a moment that I’m comparing Zeus to my own noggin.
Maybe the myth meant Athena was an idea Zeus had,

and that’s what was truly going on when she sprang
fully formed from the deity’s frontal lobe. O Love,
allow me to dance nine days at the feet of Athena,

Our Lady of Overthinking; let me milk eight more days
hand-maiding her, Divine Daughter of Overthought.
Then, wouldn’t I love the seventh-day rest a good swim

gives the cerebrum! But even swans (lo, there’s Zeus again)
and geese must paddle like ducks just to remain in place
amidst logic’s compelling current. Creeds

are merely propositions laid out as truths.
Still, my sixth sense says I should attempt once more
to pray for peace, or golden handcuffs for you-know-who,

or sustenance for the one-fifth of American children
living in poverty, or whatever other good rings true
to the heart. The heart: conflating it with the mind

is like calling birds dinosaurs, with the catch
that they truly are facing extinction. I realize, Love,
I just gave you four true tragedies in three lines.

It’s a lot, parsing the hen in French—more than enough
for today. Love, my sweet, my turtle dove:
this second, I turn to you. Let us celebrate the trees

that yet remain, and among them the odd surviving
sage grouse and ptarmigan and partridge.
Love, let’s imagine today is Christmas.

Let’s give one another gifts of pears
and speak devotions into each other’s ears.
They could come true.

Jennifer Bullis is the author of Impossible Lessons (MoonPath Press). An Artsmith Residency Fellow, she has received honorable mention in the Gulf Coast Prize and Pushcart, Best New Poets, and Best of the Net nominations. She lives in Bellingham, where she writes about foot travel, horse-keeping, faith trouble, motherhood, deforestation, repurposing myth, and women in the courtroom.

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“Landscape with Selfobjects” was originally published in Menacing Hedge.

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