Analyze This - Short Fiction about Narcissists - Death of the Poet - Week 8


My name is Sam Vaknin and I am a narcissist. I wrote 15 stories (short
fiction) about narcissists.

The owners and moderators of this great support group will post one of my
stories each week and ask you, the members, to comment on it.

The best way to go about it is to read the text of the story and then click
on the links to additional relevant resources.

Having done that, scroll down to the reading guide. It contains questions to
ponder, issues that the story raises, and commentary.

Feel free to react, argue, agree, and disagree.

At the end of the week, I will respond to your comments and wrap up the

Death of the Poet

By Sam Vaknin

The poet succumbed at eight o’clock AM.
Five minutes prior to his death, he made use of a stained rotary dial phone,
its duct-taped parts precariously clinging to each other. His speech was
slurred but his interlocutor - a fan - thought it nothing extraordinary.
Sighing ostentatiously, she reluctantly agreed to come to him, volubly
replacing her receiver in its cradle.
She was not surprised to be met by others he had called, nor was she
astounded to learn that he had died all by himself, wrapped in two dusty
khaki blankets, sprawled on a tattered mattress, flung on an iron frame that
served as both bed and escritoire. It was so like him, to die like that.
Removing the rigored cadaver through the narrow doorway was tricky. The
medics rolled it down the claustrophobic and penumbral staircase (there was
no lift). His ink-tainted right hand kept striking the peeling yarns of
greenery that hung, flayed, from crumbling concrete walls.
Panting, they laid him on the bottom stair, an outsized embryo with jet
black hair and eagled nose. His nostrils quivered.
The radio reported his passing and lengthy obituaries adorned tomorrow’s
press. The critics cloaked with affected objectivity the overpowering
disdain they held the man, his lifestyle, and his work in. They claimed to
have been his closest friends and recounted some futile anecdotes.
The ceremony held by the municipality in the Writers Hall was open to the
I said to Nomi:
"Why don’t you approach the organizers? Tell them that you have composed
music to some of his poems and that you are willing to perform them.‘
They were thrilled and Nomi settled on two songs - one that I liked and one
that was her preference. She had a fortnight to rehearse them ceaselessly.
Then Dani phoned me. Years ago, still adolescent, he costarred with the poet
in a television show. They spent the night discoursing, which rendered them
inseparable thereafter, the apprentice and his mentor. Because Dani is what
he is - he turned into the poet’s fan. And because he is what he is - he
abruptly brought it to a halt. They never met again. Dani never thinks of
himself in terms of extremism but his relationship with the dead poet was
And now he enquired:
"You heard? He is dead."
But he did not pause for a response. He went on to recount the by now
familiar story of how they met, and how he admired the poet’s ingenuity,
inventiveness, aplomb, the love he made to the Hebrew language. And how it
was all over.
“I am not attending this fallacious wake.” - Dani is soft-spoken even when
his words are not.
That evening, Nomi and I went to the Writers’ Hall. A woman with anorectic
eyes compared our invitation to a clammy list. We slumped into some wooden
deck chairs, attired steamily in our discomfiture. People climbed onto a
squeaky stage and then retreated, having recited the poet’s work in a
post-mortem elocution. They argued with venomous scholarship some fine
The poet’s raisiny and birdlike mother was all aflutter in the front raw,
flanked by the agitated organizers. She flung herself at the poet’s ex
spouse and at her son, protesting creakily and waving a hefty purse:
“Away with you!” - she screamed - "You killed my boy!"
The divorcee approached, her black dress rustling, hand soothingly extended,
but midway changed her mind and climbed the podium.
She promised anodynely to preserve the poet’s heritage by issuing a
definitive edition of his writings, both published and in manuscript. Her
voice was steady, her gestures assured, her son clung to her dress eyeing us
and the scenery indifferently. He dismounted as he climbed, obediently and
On cue, Nomi sang two bits, her voice a luscious blond. She looked so
lonesome onstage, a battered playback cassette-recorder, a wireless
microphone, her quaking palms. When the last note died I discovered that I
am not breathing and that I turned her notepad into pulp.
On her odyssey from stage to seat, Nomi glanced coyly at the poet’s still
roiled mother, who hastened to hug and compliment her warmly.
The night was over and the mob dispersed.
The poet’s mother stood forlorn, tugging at the impatient sleeves of the
departing as she demanded: “How shall I get back?” - but she wouldn’t say
whereto. Roundly ignored by the pulsating throngs of well-wishers, she
watched them comparing impressions, exchanging phone numbers, mourning the
poet and, through his agency, themselves.
“I knew your son” - I said.
I really did - perhaps not as intimately as a friend, but probably more than
did most of those present. Once I visited that warehouse of weathered books
he called his home, sat on his monkish bed, played the effaced keys of his
battered typewriter.
I offered her a ride and she accepted, sighing with childish relief.
Nomi drove and I listened to the poet’s mother. Like him she wept in words.
“He used to visit me every week” - with pride. Invited us for a drink in her
room at the seniors’ home. The evening chilled, she observed. How about a
warm libation (“I have even hot chocolate”). When we declined politely, she
tempted us with exclusive access to letters the poet wrote to her.
We took a rain check and made a heartening spectacle out of noting down her
address and her phone number.
The night guard at the entrance, besieged by a polished wooden counter and
facing banks of noiseless television screens, winked at us.
"Thank you for bringing her back. A wonderful woman but lousy kids. No one
ever visits."
He turned to face the poet’s mother, raising his voice unnecessarily:
"And how are you tonight?"
Ignoring him, she eyed us inquisitively:
“You have children? No? What are you waiting for?” - her shriveled finger
spiraling - "Make a few children and hurry about it. Believe me, nothing in
life is more important. Nothing if not …"
The swooshing elevator doors, an amputated sentence, and she was gone.
At home, we lay on our backs, each in its corner of our bed, trying to
pierce the darkness blindly.
We never mentioned that evening, neither have we returned to visit the
poet’s mother. We came close to doing so, though. One Saturday we mutely
decided to climb the hill and drop by the seniors’ home. Instead, we
ventured further, to Jaffa, and bought Sambusak pastry, filled with boiled
eggs and acrid cheese.
Side by side we lived, my Nomi and I.
And then she divorced me and so many things transpired that the poet and his
mother and this story were all but forgotten.

The Narcissist’s Mother
The Delusional Way Out
Narcissists and Women
Narcissists - Stable or Unstable?
To Age with Grace
The Two Loves of the Narcissist
Studying my Death
Physique Dysmorphique
Why do I Write Poetry?
Poetry of Healing and Abuse: My Poems
The Narcissist’s Addiction to Fame and Celebrity
Acquired Situational Narcissism
Narcissistic Parents
The Narcissist’s Dead Parent
The Narcissist and His Family

This part is meant only to provoke thoughts. It is not a substitute to
independent thinking, criticism, and analysis.
Both the poet and his mother in the story are narcissists - but of two
different types. How come one variety of narcissist gives rise to another?
Do you feel the emotional incest between the poet and his mother? Do you
think it played any part in the formation of his narcissism? Do you think
this is the reason he refuses to visit her?
The mother denies the reality of her estrangement from her son. Is strong
denial an integral part of narcissism and how does one facilitate the other?
Would you regard the mother as abusive? Are smothering and doting forms of
The poet dies lonely and desolate. Is this the way narcissists typically end
their lives (no wishful thinking, please …:o))
Read these:
The Narcissist’s Confabulated Life