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Jennifer Bullis

Landscape with Selfobjects (1)

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The narcissistically disordered individual “will often attempt to counteract the subjectively painful feeling of self fragmentation by a variety of forced actions, ranging from physical stimulation and athletic activities to excessive work in their profession or business.”
—Heinz Kohut, Analysis of the Self

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, Thoughts on Narcissism and Narcissistic Rage

Narcissus rarely sleeps.
At night he watches, fumes, and tweets.
The television is a mirror that frequently displeases.

What it reflects to him, he doesn’t want to own:
low poll numbers, talk of obstruction, negative critiques.
So he picks up his phone

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

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

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

Each Cycle Delivers Its New Bad News

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Narcissus aims his executive pen
twitches his twittering thumb
and fires

now Echo sits up all night
listening for him

all the forest creatures listen for Echo
for her to repeat the report of him
for her to repeat the report of his harm

all the forest creatures attuned to him     to her
by the harsh logic of no-going-back

the forest creatures indebted to Echo
her hearing sharp     her voice clear

but Echo can report only
what she hears

the creatures of the forest still must use
their keen vision               acute sense of smell

keep your whiskers twitching
all you badgers and muskrats

you wolves and rabbits
you ferrets and moles

How to Summon Diana to Your Aid

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Picture her crown: the crescent moon,
two horns tipped up.

Envision her taut bow, the muscles of one arm strong to brace it,
the muscles of her other arm flexed to nock the arrow
and draw it back.

Strapped to her robust back, the stash of arrows.
Strapped there too, her spears.

Conjure her powerful legs, braced to launch them,
or to pursue.
Speak aloud of her purity, her feral rule:
her justice swift, retributive.

As you move through her forest temple,
pick up fallen branches and test their weight,
their potential as weapons in your grasp.

Birch and alder are prone to rot
and may crumble if you strike with them.

Big-leaf maple is stronger, but its sap will scald your hands.
Cedar is sturdy and resilient but rarer,
may embed splinters. The best branch is fir,
more abundant, and sacred to her.

Strip its needles and rub pitch into your palms, for grip.
Wield it as a spear, a staff, or a club.

Hoist it above your head to strengthen
the muscle and sinew in your middle.
As you slice the branch side to side, forward and back,
summon her power into your body.

In her temple of the forest, pour out the water
in your canteen at the feet of any three trees
and make an offering of your fear.

Receive as yours the gift of her buzzard-hawk eyes:
their wide seeing, and their pierce.

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