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



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—



Desert dust collects

at our feet.



The mirror is.


Voices call

across the dormant air.



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



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?





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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