March 27, 2023

Narcissus Distracted

by Barry Wallenstein


Passing by a mirror,
he pays no attention
and gazes in the other direction.
He pushes forward without looking back.
It’s enough to know it’s there he thinks;
placing one small thought behind another,
he banishes envy, spite, rancor
and courts a breeze on its way
across a field of heather.

Well below the field,
beyond an opening in the fence,
the stream is damned,
the water is pooled
cold and clear enough
to see down to the pebbles.
He breaks the surface
and counts the stones.


Barry Wallenstein is the author of ten collections of poetry, the most recent being It’s About Time [New York Quarterly Books, 2022].  His poetry has appeared in over 100 journals, including Ploughshares, The Nation, and American Poetry Review.  

A special interest is his presentation of poetry readings in collaboration with jazz.  He has made twelve recordings of his poetry with jazz, the most recent being Lisbon Sunset (2018) and Lisbon Sunrise (2022).

 Barry is Emeritus Professor of Literature and Creative Writing at the City University of New York and an editor of the journal, American Book Review and advisory editor of BigCityLit.