Marc Vincenz



Factory undermen.
Solid as brickwork.

And a plume of foreign lettering
choking the immense breath
of the sky as ovens burn
within an inner-city peopled
with little lies.

How tricky,
how tricky the world is.


In these iced streets, children
mimic winter crows, trample
hedgerows, and the damp
of late winter underfoot, becoming
sodden spring.

And, in the early morning, that trace
of louvered light guttering down,
catching upon the sky’s tattered rags
in a sun that refuses to snuff out.

Life is not a word,
life is ice-silent.


Here’s the thorned bush,
the flammable shrub
that enflamed mankind,
a sacrificial vegetable
for matter’s

In the starlight, a cobweb
sits upon the mountains.
And it moves through
the antique shop
with its stock of carved briar
and whittled olive branch,
and in the dark,
the live glimmer
of curious eyes.

Shrugging away the ironies,
Grandpa’s white coat
smells of salt and sand
and sundried fish.


Once again, evening curtains
and the characters dematerialize
into their wings.

Somewhere someone
is crunching numbers.


Figments of a Primordial Mind

Real seems, when,
          in these dissolving hours,
you feed me supernatural food,

food like insight & foresight &
tongue-twisting epiphanies.

I need to stop and catch my breath, but—
pretty little things—

                    you don’t
let me pick them by the wayside.

In these slowest hours I feel I sit
at one of the first fires trembling
in excitement at the sparks flying,
          and you,

you are a magus who finds
a god in their dreams.


In these dissolving hours I know you
wish me to live life symbolically,

for you have drawn me upon your walls
with the bison & the auroch &
                    the prairie lions—

a world of beautiful bestial things.
You’ve said before: everything has a voice.

And, when you look at me you see
something I simply can’t.

So I ask you:
                    Do I possess you
or you possess me?

“I am neither the spirit of wheat nor
the spirit of wind,” you say.

“I have been digging streams
all my life, but where is my goddamn ocean?”—

And in these dissolving hours,
                    once again I come
to the drawbridge of your mind,
                    heavily cloaked
in sweet simple words like please &
thank you & don’t fly away.


Bring me your poison and I shall drink
the thick sweet milk straight from your heart.


Marc Vincenz has published eight collections of poetry; his latest is Becoming the Sound of Bees (Ampersand Books, 2015). A ninth, Sibylline, is forthcoming with Ampersand Books. He is the translator of many German-language poets, including the Herman Hesse Prize winner, Klaus Merz, Werner Lutz, Erica Burkart and Jürg Amman and has published seven collections of translations—the latest is A Late Recognition of the Signs by Erica Burkart. His translation of Klaus Merz' collection, Unexpected Development was a finalist for the 2015 Cliff Becker Book Translation Prize and is forthcoming from White Pine Press. He has received several grants from the Swiss Arts Council and a fellowship from the Literarisches Colloquium Berlin. His own work has been translated into German, Russian, Romanian, French, Icelandic and Chinese. He is International Editor of Plume Poetry Journal, Executive Editor of MadHat Press and Plume Editions and lives in Massachusetts. Recent and forthcoming publications include The Nation, Ploughshares, The Common, Washington Square Review, Fourteen Hills, The Manhattan Review and World Literature Today.