Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsFall 2022  Vol. 21  No. 2
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Self-Portrait Without a Mirror

It reached a point where I no longer needed
a mirror. I was tired of looking at myself, and I
already knew all of the flaws. Instead of my face,

I just paint a branch of the Japanese plum
in my front yard. My arms now generic
garden hoses. It seems right. I have exhausted

myself. My chest is the state of Maine, and my waist,
a cincture from a Catholic priest. I add that for the pure
irony of it. I choose for my left leg the torched arm

of the Statue of Liberty, my right, a Chinese scroll.
I am sure someone will determine some meaning in this,
but I mean to mean absolutely nothing. With age comes

the realization everything departs. My mother once
referred to her particular time in life as the departure
lounge, and I imagined a luxurious airport lounge serving

champagne and carved meats, chocolates, and cheeses.
I can’t even bother painting just one of these now.
I paint them in sets of twelve, twelve portraits of me

in which there is nothing of me. You want me to give
an explanation. I have none. I have done what I came
to do, and now, it is time for me to depart in what

can only be seen as an elegant manner, one devoid
of representation. I will not go to a monastery and sit
still while contemplating nothingness. I took a head start.

Here, my face is that of a lake, and there, a cinnamon bun.
People will have many things to say but, in the end,
let them say I was at least a little bit interesting.  

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