• Marc Vincenz
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Unlearning the Ropes


‘The Republic,’ they say, ‘must be upheld at all costs.’ Thousands of fates are at stake, but almost no advice. ‘What are your demands?’ they say. ‘Know we are prepared to serve any loss as long as you stay six feet away.’ Her apathy is reflected in her face as she doles out soup and buttered bread. ‘Which cloud?’ she says scattering a handful of Parmesan. The old man sighs, remembering last summer when the bamboo reeds were green, remembering the abundance of bees. ‘All of their prophecies come true,’ he says blowing on his spoon.





Evidence of Impropriety


Via the Via Canale, near the Orpietto, at the shore, an elephant passes by; on her head, ripe oranges in a golden bowl. A grandmother crosses the road as herself. ‘Receive or transmit me,’ she says. ‘How can an elephant live in Italy without being lonely?’ she says.





Household Speak


The language she spoke was soft and uniform but unlike anything I had heard before. She called to mind my Great Aunt Lorelei; she who wore those soft summer roses everywhere. I wished I could decipher each nuance and phrase, each of her tongue movements and the air in her mouth. Truth be told, as I later learned, what she said, although seemingly from another galaxy, some strange star constellation where every planet had two stars of its own, and to whom one hundred years was a thousand of our own. The twinned suns of the Holileese; and no, they had no laser guns or free speech. They lived in hollow chambers beneath the surface of their planet and they counted stars and sheep, just like us. Still, she spoke, uninterrupted, and her voice cast a shadow or a shade—whichever way one might look at it—‘Water is always level,’ I heard she had said, or I heard speak of such things. On the other hand, someone said, over another glass of cognac and a cigarette, ‘These things are often overblown. I hear she was a grass grower.’ ‘That would explain the tone,’ I said.





First Astronaut on Jupiter


The glisten, listen,

globular collusion,

that crackle. In awe


at the waves of peroxide

frothing, snorting

across the shore.


A ring of stones

immersed in a spiral

of silence on fields of ice.


To be the very first stone.


and the sunlight faintly

steals like a fox

behind another ring of stones.


Your heart is torn

as a fleeting moment

of fire burns the atmosphere


from this Milky Way of young souls.

But where, you ask, is the driftwood

picking up on the shore?


and the surge of the sluggish

river winds down,

slowing vapors, shadows … Listen,


you can hear the years

sifting through the bedrock,

falling into the bottom


of ourselves

while the earth

thrusts quietly ahead.


and the murmur

of her forest at night

and the hollow walls of air,


the calls of the drunken dove,

the ticking of ants

moving their cities

halfway across the world.


And, still as dragon clouds,

these dawn waters, this land

of untouched snows.