Pamplemousse

The Student Literary Journal of Vermont State University

Mister D’Funkd’s Last Days

The place needles go
before speakers blow
out, your face in the
final glow of a
digital detonation, Devil
sweat on your upper
lip, as tart and sweet as
grenadine. You were
something volcanic,
veneered in smoke and
ash, heat mirage o
swift-moving rage, a
sulfurous river
underground. We treated
you as a third-degree
burn, our care, palliative,
as effective against death
as aspirin crushed in
the Black-eyed Susans
you ripped from the road-
side. You wore your skin
like fire wears a house-
dress, once as virulent
as flames, spreading
destruction slow and
senseless as a cross-
country trip in a
fire engine. Your
heat, once strong enough
to blush steel, now
little more than sun-
burn. You lie awake
in post-flattery
heartburn; people ask
to see you, less frequently
than they do the elevator
license, filed some-
where in your office,
you, the putty-colored
phone, flashing an urgent
message no one remembers
how to retrieve.

 

Narc Anon

Hi, my name is _________, and I am
a recovering narcissist. Yes, I drink,
but only to see my face as it appears

grinning, again and again at the bottom
of my glass. I eat, yes, but only to check
my image, however small, smiling

in the curve of the spoon. Yes, I sleep,
but only to impress the mattress. It has been hard,
always being the smartest person in the room,

evading boredom by sketching
my portrait, dreaming up pennames
under which to publish my biography.

Yes, I talk to myself with a parrot’s shame,
which is to say with none at all,
peck affectionately at my own reflection.

Yes, I have killed my father,
with too much love and acupuncture,
and my mother when she tried to force me

back into her body. My child self has spoken
to the adult. I have learned the names
of my ancestors. Yes, Jesus loves me.

Here’s to shooting the wounded and sucking
all the air from the room. To thinning the pack,
and to isolating the weak from the herd.

Here’s to the tears in my lashes
that make them shine like black vinyl
and play to my audience like a sentimental

recording. Here’s to my heart, limping
on crutches, rattling like the cup
of a beggar. To the fact that I’m afraid
if I stop talking, I may forget to breathe.

Here’s to when I tried to kill myself,
to no one stopping me, to all the would-be
suicides who leap from second-story windows.

 
 

CINDY E. KING‘s work appears or is forthcoming in Callaloo, North American Review, River Styx, Black Warrior Review, American Literary Review, jubilat, Barrow Street, African American Review, and elsewhere. Her poems can also be heard at weekendamerica.publicradio.org, rhinopoetry.org, and bhreview.org. In 2014, she was awarded a Tennessee Williams Scholarship to attend the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Her book-length poetry manuscript was a finalist for the Crab Orchard Review and Permafrost first book prizes last year. She has also received scholarships and fellowships to the New York Summer Writers Institute, Wesleyan University Writers Conference, the Colgate Writers workshop, and others. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, she currently lives in Texas, where she is an Assistant Professor at the University of North Texas at Dallas.