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His Illusions (A Cento), and His Narcissism (A Cento), and Vigil

From: New England Review
Volume 33, Number 4, 2013
pp. 187-189 | 10.1353/ner.2013.0005

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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

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

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


    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.

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.

Copyright © 2013 Middlebury College Publications
Project MUSE® - View Citation
Larry Bradley. "His Illusions (A Cento), and His Narcissism (A Cento), and Vigil." New England Review 33.4 (2013): 187-189. Project MUSE. Web. 15 Apr. 2013. <http://muse.jhu.edu/>.
Bradley, L.(2013). His Illusions (A Cento), and His Narcissism (A Cento), and Vigil. New England Review 33(4), 187-189. Middlebury College. Retrieved April 15, 2013, from Project MUSE database.
Larry Bradley. "His Illusions (A Cento), and His Narcissism (A Cento), and Vigil." New England Review 33, no. 4 (2013): 187-189. http://muse.jhu.edu/ (accessed April 15, 2013).
T1 - His Illusions (A Cento), and His Narcissism (A Cento), and Vigil
A1 - Larry Bradley
JF - New England Review
VL - 33
IS - 4
SP - 187
EP - 189
PY - 2013
PB - Middlebury College
SN - 2161-9131
UR - http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/new_england_review/v033/33.4.bradley.html
N1 - Volume 33, Number 4, 2013
ER -


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