Narcissus in the Bardo

Benjamin Newland

Like a cheap steakhouse or a topless joint, the walls 

in my heart are a wine-dark red.  


On Sunday, Ocean and Glück wander by, 

On Monday, Feist comes when she wraps up a show.  

Just to chill or smoke a blunt.


Not really. I don’t know. Doors are closed. I’m lying. 

The truth is, the heart is a lonely shadowed room.  There is silence 

and the silent water, staring up at me.


Maybe some mirrors and a recliner set? Some pinball,

some slot machines wrapped in golden foil? Or, go the other way:

chintz curtains, trombones, a jade holder for my cigarette?


The truth is, the wallpaper bulges, aortic.

No one could sell this shithole, Maggie.  No one.  


My Tinder cancels; my codpiece shrinks;

I check on eBay for reflecting pools.


My old friends Lust and Sloth will visit.  They sit at the bar with Pride, 

eating peanuts, riffing on musicians and drugs they groove to:

The Cramps; Love Tractor; Ecstasy; H; 

Cocaine; Quaaludes; The Swimming Pool Q’s.  


Across the countertop I roll brass coins, each one 

stamped with my regret.  Each coin coiling in

on itself.  Each coin a bitter apple;

each coin the size of a bruise.  


And I just want to say: Lust is really underrated.  I mean 

without Lust who would ever finish a sonnet? 


On Tuesday I listen to Lust and Pride talk 

while I empty out the closets, the chest of drawers, the vanity.  

I will give it all away, I think.  

Sweet Charity!  


I will clean out these dark corners,

filled with pie pans, panties and old rolling papers,

and Justice will roll down like a velvet drapery.

Benjamin R. Newland was raised in Athens, Georgia, where he played in the alternative rock band, Die Monster Die. He received his BA in comparative literature from Columbia University and a law degree for the University of Chicago Law School. He currently resides in Seville, Spain, with his wife, three children, two turtles and a dog.


Check out Benjamin's poem Five Figurations on a Bird's Egg from Issue II!