The Patent Lawyer Had it Wrong
Francesca, Georg’s sister, had the following to say
In her somewhat sinister way. They were all forgeries,
She said, then turned to the balcony that looked
Out on an empty dock—the swishing of the waves
Was a dead giveaway, it was her inclement way
Of saying, This doesn’t have what it takes.
And I said, Vendetta will get the better of you, my
Sweet Rabbit. Even when you purse your lips
Into a colon, there’s little at the end of it.
No hyphen, simply a word: convention.
It that was really the end of it, I should have
Been surprised, I shouldn’t mention the honors
I am now conferred, the laurel leaves abound my
Ears as if we still had a Senate majority,
Or a judiciary; as if we still had those shrunken
Heads Pa brought back from the Philippines,
And those old souls might convey—withholding
All their pink slips—a modicum of fantasy-come-
Factdom. Who cares? It’s all made up anyway.
Listen to the Drums
The glances that survive are these: a fluid
Motion really, clearly one that says this geographic frenzy
Stops the slightest flickering of lashes.
I know you to be the belle of the ball.
You know, of course, the body of the state
Is tied up in you. Nothing can be given away.
Show me your barcode and the secrets it keeps.
All the Stops
Those erroneous myths of the sheep and the man, the
Man and the cow, the cow and the cowl; forget the
Man, move to the sea, over mountain, dale and
Creek, move to the graduations, to the geographic
Tongue or the archipelago of mind-time, space,
The mythological frontier of civilization and
The stars; or the cow leaping over the moon,
Or the stork on her way to the newborn,
Or the man in the moon who is a rabbit or a hare,
Who passed messages to those of us who care
To hear. And yet, here I stand, not enormous,
But small, living in the longing.
Shifting Planktons of Later Joy
Who hasn’t drunk from the upland fountains
Where fresh hazel is cut each night, or deep
In the brook, long past migration time, a cloud
Of steel wool crosses the landscape; the butterflies
Have gone, the wolf dwells in his lair, the bear,
Unafraid of anything except chocolate, licks
Her paws. Are there any shepherds left here?
Back in town, Latin is spoken in the tavernas
And the underground chambers where light
Plumbing coughs and sneezes, where the scaffolding
Holds the mirror image, left-right-hand-left,
Of the State. Here’s Mildred in her pajamas
Twisting her legs into a state of rest, there’s
Jonathan in his slippers shuffling through the day;
And here’s Jennifer all made out in pink and red,
A rose petal presenting her fair share of newspaper
Clippings—engorged in the cover of People
Or Life, in the paraphyletic of the Daily News—
All speed variance accounted for, held in deep
Esteem and sway, converged this way,
Up the down scale, unfettered, fitting and free,
Making history on her own scale, up means down;
Gravity is like pleurisy, a shriek from the future
We expected and interjected, inserted
And squirted into the melee, our spirits slashing
For the first audience with the anointed one;
Oh the drama, the preposterous proposition
When a grapnel clutches your car dripping
From the river, and the wind-up creature
In your sights swerves to the right; discursive
This whole affair. Poetry, of course,
Is an attack on violent forces.
I was Always on an Aeroplane
So was my old man. He loved the Caipirinhas in Rio
On a Friday night, the pork fried dumplings in Lanzhou,
Roller skating on friendly piers in Brighton and Folkstone,
That sitting on the hood of a Jaguar somewhere in the south of France,
And the girls, the girls. He sought an alliance in his red wine glass,
Over Brissagos or Davidoffs, across the bar from Gina Lollobrigida
Making eyes. And the hard wind from the Gobi desert poured in
At the Jianguo Hotel in Peking in the gardens and the fountains
Refurbished by a corporation from the Surrey Hills. And he loved
To wander in the crags and gullies and outcrops, even later
When much had been seen; he loved feeling the mud on his boot,
Hiding behind cows to dodge bulls, leaping fences no matter
How tall; ah, and the glory in the fall or the rattle of the 747
At 10,000 feet. He was vulgar and noble, wanted to boldly go,
But the mythical kingdom was out of his reach. To him,
A Griffin was a cocktail in the bar at the Waldorf Astoria
Before it was bought by the Chinese. In every family’s bed
There might be a moon or a dog; or in the inkwell on that old desk
In the basement, atoms from that incident at Chamonix,
A savage debasement on the edge of the known world, or
The fireflies at Place de la Concorde. The daily papers
Say what they say, but in the darkness of the barracks
Somewhere in Heilongjiang as you sip on your Pabst Blue Ribbon,
Thanking the soldiers for their indecision and for their inquisition
On the nature of pubic hair. Was the hair on your head the same?
Or the housefly buzzing on the windowpane? Or the crowds
Converging in the light outside, gathered here concerning
A certain dictator with his perpetuum mobile, and the five-star
General on Easter with his marches and parades, and all those
Love letters carelessly tossed from the balconies.
Marc Vincenz has published fourteen books of poetry, including more recently, Becoming the Sound of Bees, Leaning into the Infinite, The Syndicate of Water & Light, and Here Comes the Nightdust. Vincenz' novella set in ancient China, Three Taos of Tao, is forthcoming from Spuyten Duyvil Press. Vincenz is also a prolific translator and has translated from German, Romanian and French. He has published ten books of translations, most recently Unexpected Development by award-winning Swiss poet and novelist Klaus Merz (White Pine, 2018) which was a finalist for the 2016 Cliff Becker Book Prize in Translation. His poems have been published in many journals, including The Nation, Ploughshares, The Los Angeles Review, World Literature Today, Raritan and Plume. His work has received fellowships and grants from the Swiss Arts Council, the Literary Colloquium Berlin, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Witter Bynner Foundation for Poetry. Vincenz is editor and publisher of MadHat Press, and publisher of New American Writing.