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Narcissism

Every night, from closing time until
morning's drugged-out yawn, I'd
comb the 24-hour diners looking
for my heroin-damsel, glaring
into the eyes of pimps and escorts
counting their green in shadowy booths.

I'd find her in forsaken Bronx neighborhoods,
ramshackle Brooklyn brownstones,
her ebony skin pitted pink by the needle,
drool trickling down her bruised neck, battered limbs.
Like Gabriel himself, I'd whisk her home
amidst a storm of accusations. She'd sleep
like a vampire long past noon's impatient stare.

A few months later, when she got clean,
I realized I missed those desultory nights,
pumping adrenaline, the sirens of crisis,
how alive I felt with a barrel pressed
against my temple. She left me for a
Cuban evangelist with a day-time talk show.
They moved to Los Angeles and wooed a loyal flock.

I took on a litany of candidates, women
who begged me to save them and cursed
the marrow in my bones. I finally crashed
in a clinic outside Baton Rouge, spent
six months in a white suit, staring at my
broken love line. It's strange how lifetimes
have flowed like water in a bong, how I still
curse the hungry stillness, this agonizing calm,
what seems like the sleep of atoms,
the universe itself droopy-eyed and comatic.

What happened to those days
when God seemed like my personal dispatcher,
when I'd make rounds, fixing lives like a master repairman?
What happened to the possessed and dying?
Was I forsaken for some other right-hand man,
some amateur Iago who caressed the great boss's ego
precisely when his divine doubt
swarmed like sickness before the fix?