LEAH MUELLER – “Requiem for a Narcissist”


Imagine what we might have done
if you had been born with
actual emotions. I wonder if you
sprang from a pod with others of your kind,
your B-movie eyes on my intestines.
Words like “collapsed” and “supply” take on
new meaning as I fill the spaces
in my head with facts, spaces that once
overflowed with conversation.

On the way to Mount Baker,
I imagine you riding phantom in my car.
We listen to the sound of radio static,
music fading and resurfacing
as I navigate the curves in the road.
After twenty minutes of conversation,
I remind myself we no longer talk.
You’ll never see the evergreens or
ghost buildings on Highway 9.
I remember your earlier dream: me
in the back seat, laughing while you drove.
You kept your eyes on the road.

The sound of my voice is no different
from the other voices on your set.
You have an actor’s memory:
listen for cadence, repeat by rote.
Keep the props backstage:
your wooden bed, its soft mattress
collapsing in the center like rotten fruit.
Carefully arranged photos of kids you
never see, though they live nearby.
Your broken turntable. Spices labeled
and unopened. CDs arranged by alphabet.
Instruments hidden in the closet.
Ex-wife’s chair, where you enact revenge
every time a woman opens her legs.

The internet says I should never speak
to you again, for fear you’ll attack me
with a psychic vacuum cleaner, and I’ll
be unable to resist.  I picture myself trembling
on the other side of a nozzle, your suction
harder than ever. Pop psychology
has reduced the two of us
to clichés: you the cartoon villain,
me in perpetual distress. I got
what I deserved, that punishment
you wanted all along. Each day, your
voice takes longer to reach my ears.
My words have already vanished.


Leah Mueller is an indie writer from Tacoma, Washington. She is the author of two chapbooks, “Queen of Dorksville” (Crisis Chronicles Press) and “Political Apnea” (Locofo Chaps) and three books, “Allergic to Everything”, (Writing Knights Press) “Beach Dweller Manifesto” (Writing Knights) and “The Underside of the Snake” (Red Ferret Press). Her work appears in Blunderbuss, Summerset Review, Outlook Springs, Crack the Spine, Atticus Review, Your Impossible Voice, and other publications. She was a featured poet at the 2015 New York Poetry Festival, and a runner-up in the 2012 Wergle Flomp humor poetry contest. Find her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/leahmuellerwriter/

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