Marc Vincenz

An Underpass

I wonder if on several occasions I was met by a Sondergeist who Talked to me about you, invited me To dine in San Georgio, take cognac Against the wall of climbing vines— Or, as I suspected, her letters Of credentials were clandestine. Call me infallible, passpartout, Call me imprinted, fading in a circle- Dance reading proofs, improbable, An escutcheon proper with time— I am Helvetiae, after all, and we don’t Understand why good luck is smooth And unobtrusive, we barely believe A single exuberance, and yet, We’re obliged and obligé, a long-range Goal but a syncopated music. Only now summer knows who contracted The disease. Another reign begins Soon, says Mister X. Hopefully we’ll be Out by then, and the world, without Knowing it will be someone like us. Not one of the best, but better, still. Observe the crows and the infinite Pleasures, absorb the past times— There’s no magic; we’re simply with- Drawn in the dark, feeling our hands And our hair, trusting that honor and Its pivot and its shade of sub- Stance—“Take no notice,” the winged Celestial says. “Nobody’s ever seen it. Existence is possible deep in the knees. Even the sound of trees can be Enlightening. Scrub the floor. Clear the woods of all intruders.” How many bipeds does it take to make a planet?


The ferryboat smells of something approximating
Sulfur and crude oil. We stand on the jetty.
There’s a gentle knocking as if the earth
Were trying to hold still. Frayed plastic bags
Float in the dockyards. I can read a few:
Bonus, Max Best, Indran’s Dollar Emporium,
Cash Corner, Sanigore’s Choicest Cheapest.
The stones have faces here—each of them
Minor gods cemented in, observing the mess
Of foam, spill, vegetable stalks and plastic.
The skipper draws back his mouth in an uneven
Smile, a crate of small fish in his lumbering
Hands. A red snapper stares straight through us.
On a day like this, everything keeps moving,
Everything piled under a watchful eye.

At dusk, the garbagemen pick up the remains,
Living or dead, wrapped in newsprint or cell-
Ophane, in a sheen of grease or a quiet dust

Of air.

Strangely, there’s no defiant struggle, not
Even an sound. You’d expect the swell
Of angry voices, you expect the ground
To break beneath your soles, but the weight rolls
Effortlessly into larger plastic containers
Where they become the food of the future.

There’s no precedence to buy and buy things
To throw into the mouth of empty space.
Someone’s always dreaming of fast profits—
From the mineshafts of the Transvaal
To the sandstone quarries of the Szechuan—
Each of them digging deeper into forgetfulness.

Later, up in the mountains, the blue sea
Catches up with the night sky.

Here's Something Totally Unexpected

The heels of the gods, the giddy-
Gabby sprites—No! They’re not
Allowed to disobey orders—.Such topics, eh?
Almost to tears in a bathrobe
On the edge of a tub,—No! No hunting
In the marshes! Two tributaries, think two.
Memory is wearing thin. Oh to dissolve
Into scores of five ***** hotels. Cabbies
Would like that!—Hmm, to be continued …
To serve would mean to live again,
Not in the bulrushes among the toads
And the kingfisher—. Just a few spots of blood.
Space stations maintain tranquil surveillance.
Good weather—. Massacres less imminent.
Looking for saints among the dogs.
Will we become obsolete words?

Marc Vincenz is a poet, fiction writer, translator, editor, artist and musician. He has published 17 collections of poetry, including more recently, Einstein Fledermaus, The Little Book of Earthly Delights and A Brief Conversation with Consciousness. He is publisher and editor of MadHat Press and publisher of New American Writing. He lives on a farm in rural Western Massachusetts with his wife, Miriam, and their Australian Cobberdog, Emily Dickinson.