austin reece


Poetry, like philosophy, begins in wonder:

An astonishment of words.


In the myth of Narcissus, the boy’s twin sister

Dies.  Later, when he catches sight


Of his image in the river, he looks lovingly

At himself thinking it is her.


He forgets his own face. He forgets

His own voice thinking it is her voice.


He approaches her open face, while his own

Is thin skin stretched over a vacancy.


He takes her image inside himself

So they both can live again.


She speaks: my death is all your fault, Narcissus.

Stop writing now. Stop everything. You owe me this.


Philosophy, like poetry, pays attention

To language: thinking itself to death.


Every word is a drowned lung

That makes no sound.


He puts his face underwater

To hear her better.

The body sobs, water seeps into his dreams,

The future is neatly guillotined.


When the I is finally gone, so is the image

That kept her from vanishing.


Philosophy knows not what it does.

Poetry is yet another flawed act of love.





Austin M. Reece is Director of Survivor Empowerment at LOTUS Legal Clinic ( and Lecturer in Philosophy at Mount Mary University. He edits Untold Stories, a literary art magazine for survivors of sexual violence and human trafficking. His poems and essays have recently appeared in Bramble, Crannóg, and the Milwaukee Independent.