Vivian Wagner, Where Narcissists Come From

Not a Cliché

I could swear you said
you had butterflies in
your hammock, and
I thought of them there,
swinging, transformed,
looking up through the leaves
they once would have eaten
but now, simply, with
new eyes, admire.

Grounded

A cat sits
on my desk
like it’s the best
jump-seat in
the world.
I’m kicking
the tires and
lighting the fires
and getting ready to
clear myself
for take-off,
but my feet
are dry, and
I wonder if I’m
actually part of a
deadhead crew,
longing, simply,
to fly home.

Migration

The geese form their V,
hopeful always in pointing,
going away or toward,
both the same good-bye,
both backlit by sky.

To TS Eliot

I loved reading
you in England,
where the sky in
fact spread out
like a sick patient on
grey silk bedsheets,
always with a
damp mix of
cold despair and
heady promise.

Where Narcissists Come From

They grow, sometimes, on trees—the fine small green fruit of your desires, or their own. Sometimes, they raft down rivers onto your doorstep and wade inside, laughing, shaking water onto your carpet. Sometimes they’re your father. And other times they’re a small child within you, asking to go play outside when it’s clearly too dark, too late, too dangerous. Sometimes you’ll find them at the bottom of a coffee cup or a brandy snifter, swimming around in the dregs, or you’ll catch a glimpse of them in the heartbreaking halo around a full moon. You’ll know them, and you’ll take them in, and you’ll be sorry. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Vivian Wagner lives in New Concord, Ohio, where she’s an associate professor of English at Muskingum University. Her work has appeared in Slice Magazine, Muse/A Journal, Forage Poetry Journal, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Gone Lawn, The Atlantic, Narratively, The Ilanot Review, Silk Road Review, Zone 3, Bending Genres, and other publications. She’s the author of a memoir Fiddle: One Woman, Four Strings and 8,000 Miles of Music (Citadel-Kensington); a poetry collection Raising (Clare Songbirds Publishing House); and three poetry chapbooks: The Village (Aldrich Press-Kelsay Books), Making (Origami Poems Project), and Curiosities (Unsolicited Press).

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