Marc Vincenz

Born in Hong Kong, Marc Vincenz is British-Swiss and is the author of ten books of poetry; his latest are Becoming the Sound of Bees (Ampersand Books, 2015), Sibylline (Ampersand Books, 2016) and The Syndicate of Water & Light (Station Hill, 2018). His novella, Three Taos of T’ao, or How to Catch a White Elephant is to be released by Spuyten Duyvil early 2018. He is the translator of many German-, French-, and Romanian-language poets.  His latest book of translations, Unexpected Development, by the prize-winning Swiss novelist and poet, Klaus Merz (White Pine Press, 2018) was a finalist for the 2105 Cliff Becker Book Prize in Translation. Vincenz‘s work has received fellowships and grants from the Swiss Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Witter Bynner Foundation for Poetry and the Literary Colloquium Berlin. His own recent publications include The Nation, Ploughshares, The Common, Solstice, Raritan, Notre Dame ReviewNew American Writingand World Literature Today. He is Co-Editor of Fulcrum, International Editor of Plume, publisher and editor of MadHat Press and Plume Editions, and lives and writes in Western Massachusetts.

 

 

 

Legend in the Mud

 

Nothing is

to be believed.

 

A great shame

holds my breath.

 

I’m waiting.

Those words

 

that flew off

downstairs

 

when the heart

was a lamp

 

and the night pressed in

and the earth held still.

 

It was then someone sighed

and the sound of a car passed.

 

Mother’s light

and gentle luster

 

in the cards—

Morning.

 

Desert dust collects

at our feet.

 

Elevation.

The mirror is.

 

Voices call

across the dormant air.

 

Umbrage.

Now it’s behind the roof

 

and in his footsteps

in that last square

 

of westerly light.

No gesture.

 

Will you make them leave?

In the distance

 

at the bridge

there is a chuckling

 

brook of clear water.

Eyes close.

 

Clouds pass.

The sun fades

 

in a quiet surge

of wind.

 

And there, at the corner

where he turns around,

 

heads fall—

and the minutes

 

drive the flock.

You too see

 

that browning

of deep foliage

 

in the nests

when some-time-ago

 

snatches

of old songs

 

shook out

their feathers.

 

The program is full

in the fermenting city,

 

in the sea of sleep,

when once again

 

the curve of night

follows me, oblique,

 

never having its fill—

the sight tacked

 

on strange folds

of waxed paper.

 

How can time

be repaired?

 

Squinting, I say

that nick on the horizon

 

may be civilization.

Will she lift the curtain

 

if only to go

inside the sky for a moment?

 

 

Sunset

 

Has the world

been spared?

 

The rotten teeth—

simplicity, objects fixed

 

on false privileges,

reality like stones,

 

memories like sea,

the secret key

 

that may have been

written, a barren

 

terrain, where light

draws streaks

 

in clouds, long-

suffering alleyways,

 

cardboard feet,

the puddles, loud-

 

mouthed assault

of the multitude.

 

Shimmering smoke.

Toxic time, the city’s

 

edge, a burden—

beyond the horizon,

 

behind a barbed-wire

fence, some-

 

thing useless, some-

thing tossed away.

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