The Narcissist’s Martyr

I remember your budding, strange            strange love while in high school   & the red hum of my face’s cheek   one night of your drinking & candid speech.            your mechanical hand slapped       my face cracking the porcelain calm.                        meat below me on a plate               grilled, yellow caramelized onions                butter coating the steak        your words filling the air.      stumbling. straggling. loosening to hug me that was really a noose.     lashes & whippings.                           christened       skin.

& then a night when I was in my 20s             you told me: you’re too ugly, and will be too poor for marriage.                       teachers don’t make enough.             no woman will want you. & the stars were drowning.       a few fish eggs tucked in the stomach             of a predator. breath prying for space.           & I didn’t talk back, but cried like a screen door opening & closing.      & hungered for a normal kind of love.          A righteous love. “Love” love.

later as morning pushed night, before blackness was bucked by light, I stretched my face over the pool & looked at my reflection & saw my wooly long hair & could’ve sworn my face had the chops not of a man but a ram, coated as black, and my horns were ground down,                  shorn, to the skin            dust to dust

mother, your love was fickle & cruel & Old Testament

but I still raised my voice & bleated to the sky, cheering thy name, crying for

more! more! more!



Colin James Sturdevant is an ELA high school teacher and received his BA in English – Creative Writing, Fiction – at the University of Houston. His work has appeared in Rufous City Review, Banango Street., Glass Mountain, Zaum – Sonoma State University’s Litrerary Magazine. He hopes to start an indie lit mag to publish middle school and high school poetry from the nation and beyond someday.


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