C Bain BW.jpg

C. Bain

The poem originates with a crush/admiration/desire (ugh I know, so easy, so preDICtable.) So we are already in that weird space of artist/”muse”— objectifying a person as part of a desire or act of courtship. I have a lot of ambivalence about that, but anyway. This person, in the real world, has been working on a treatment of the Narcissus myth, so in addition to stealing their likeness, I stole that bit of their vocabulary, that mythological space where they were already locating themselves. As to revision, that is really not a strength of mine, honestly. I am pretty good at generating work, but revising it is much harder. People’s self-loathing/self-doubt kicks up at different junctures in the process, and I get through the first door, the generative door, pretty easily, but have much more trouble getting through to completion, tolerating that intimacy of remaining with my own thoughts. All of that said, some concrete things which I tried to do: make it less self-indulgent/self-deprecating and do SOMEthing about the punctuation/lineation that created more space, that was less about constructing the reader’s experience.

< draft >

1/30 narcissus i.

[parking lot/cut lines]

You’re so you’re so you’re so you’re so you’re so fucking hot.
You’re so you’re so you’re so you’re so you’re so fucking hot.
You’re so you’re so you’re so you’re so you’re so fucking hot.

//

like wanting to marry the wind crying past the opening of my cave, like wanting to marry the moon

 

How can I ever stop
looking at you.
We agree. The mirror.
The camera’s eye. I want
And want. Each phalange
brushing at your lips
like some insect is bothering you.
There is. Me. The white gaze
buzzing at the form of your
mouth, inescapable, replicated
across my compound eyes. Stamen.
Pistil. Drown me in you. Honey.
A seeding blossom, I am. A rotten fruit. Can I
borrow some sugar?
I already have. I’ve already
eaten it.

That’s the riddle, how to get your heart back
once it’s been consumed.
The world is dead again, covered in brown leaves
water that freezes as it tries to run.
Under the ice-cover whispering to itself, your name, your name,
the other world, me larval
under the ice and me watching myself crawl.

I know why you can’t love me.

You watching yourself in the clear melted pool,
you melting, meaning you aren’t you anymore either.
You are not you when you want me. You see
what I’ve done. Mirrored ceilings. A drowning pool
where you can love yourself. Through me. That’s all
I’ll try to do. Your perfect mouth repeated. Your hundred
fingers, each with a sharp and gleaming edge.
We both keep saying we’re alive.
Hundreds of sad boys have written you poetry,
haven’t they? Haven’t they? I’ll drown them all.
Here’s the panic. It doesn’t matter how much I want
something good to happen to you. The water stilled.
It’s still me doing the wanting.
A boatman who won’t take you back.
A mirror that’s more real than me.

< REVISION >

Narcissus

How can I ever stop              looking
            at you

We agree                                The mirror
The camera’s eye                              I want
and want
Each phalange brushing at your     lips
like some insect is bothering you
There is          Me                  White gaze
buzzing at the form of your
mouth             replicated
across my compound eyes

You’re watching yourself in the melted pool
you’re melting           meaning you aren’t you
anymore either         You see what I’ve done

Mirrored ceilings                   A drowning pool
where you can                                   love     yourself
through me                            Your hundred
fingers            each with a sharp and gleaming edge

We both keep saying we’re alive

Hundreds of sad boys have written you poetry

haven’t they              Haven’t they
             I’ll drown them all

ice caps melting         the flooded earth
Stamen           Pistil    Drown me in you     Honey
A seeding blossom    I am               A rotten fruit

Can I borrow some sugar
             I already have           I’ve already
eaten it                                 I know
                why you can’t love me
The water stilled
A boatman who won’t          take you back
            A mirror         that’s more real than me