Self-Portrait as Missing Person by Justin Boening

Winner of the 2012 PSA Chapbook Fellowship

Self-Portrait as Missing Person
by Justin Boening, selected and introduced by Dara Wier.

Edition: 500 Copies of the winning books were printed by Westcan Printing Group and designed by Gabriele Wilson.


Evident all through Self-Portrait as Missing Person, respect for poetry and respect for us makes for true new thoughts and feelings about thought. In these poems we’re in this world, but this world is in another world...

—Dara Wier

To Be A God

Starting now, I'll do everything
                                                 as if I were a god.
I'll walk from a dark room
                                         as a god walks from a dark room,

I'll speak to strangers
                                  as a god speaks to strangers.
When it's time to say something important,

I'll rise from my chair like a god would
and speak in my
                          celestial certitudes.

There will be no more
                                   lap-sitting, no more stories
about when I was a barback or a ferryman

or a farrier. There will be
                                       fewer hours spent
tuning my piano
                           and patting my hunting dogs,

or remembering
                          my youth. When I need you to hurt

I'll put you to sleep as a god puts you to sleep,

I'll play my discordant harp as a god plays a harp,
and the effects will be the same.

The noise of the bramble
                                        never leaves me.
I bless the cedar. The months go by. I bless your saw.

When you need
                          me to hurt, I'll dim in the linden leaves,
I'll hide in the fire-scarred hills,
                                                  and the great guards

of my gilded name
                              will circle around to protect me.
And you'll be there.
                                And I'll know your name

as a god knows your name,
                                            as a father knows your name,
but you won't recognize me.

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