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His Illusions (A Cento)

Shadow & act, shadow & act

—John Berryman, Dream Song #119

Now Apollo Now Narcissus

But neither, and yet both

Re-forming Both gods and men

For the same purpose and effect

Now Bacchus Now Telémakhos

Forever at war within a single body

All things are in his power The undying, the ever-new

And now Zeus

Now veteran Of being immortal [End Page 187]

His Narcissism (A Cento)

Also I love him: me he’s done no wrong

—John Berryman, Dream Song #145

He chose to cherish water

On hearing this, the river Filled and filled again

Pure, without taint of earth

And with his words, the music Of his infatuation Enwrapped him

Pleased by each purling note

And shining like a god He lacked nothing at all

And facing sunrise No less amazed The earth could say no more

Except his name [End Page 188]


    The last watch begins. The watch on your wrist        begins to check breaths,   once in, then once out,     each end and beginning seems new. Your wrist-         watch marks his slow breaths—   this time gasps seep out—      then, once you begin to check his slim wrists,         their width with their breadth—   flesh: our last means out—      where IVs begin their slow track, his wrists         marked like those last breaths   and gasps time seeps out,      your remorse begins, for his slim scars, wrist-         timed—one tap one breath—   for flesh, through code, out-      ranking you, beginning IV’d with wrists         and lasting to breath which Morse code tapped out. [End Page 189]

Larry Bradley

Larry Bradley’s work has appeared in the New Republic, New York Times, Paris Review, Poetry, Southwest Review, and previously in New England Review. He has received the Morton Marr Prize, the Reginald Shepherd Memorial Prize, and scholarships to both the Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers’ Conferences.



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