"A Sense of Narrative," "In Praise of Flaky Pastry," and "Commencement"

A Sense of Narrative

And the red thread snakes
            through the fable
of a poignant princess upon-

a-time, once
upon a persuasive afternoon
            between the salt

and supposition
            of a lesser-known
god.
And Mother Dear

            folding bath towels,
scrubbing mildewed tiles
            and Father in boots

wielding his axe
            among the woodpiles
behind the drainpipe

            wavering over
the chicken’s scrawny neck.

O solemn vow

beyond the pulpit
            of a slow lifetime
of rows and rows and blows

to an indecisive head
and the throbbing drum
            of a heart

in its late mourning
            as a life emerges
from beneath the cold bed

where she was once born
where she was finally laid
to rest.

 


 

In Praise of Flaky Pastry

                        The water of the river seemed to be smiling that day …
                        —official Chinese news agency, 1966

 

To cross the river Yangtze
like Mao, cigarette
in one hand, fame

in the other—barely
looking for solid ground,
furiously paddling,

but poised to blindly astound.
A strange courage
shining like sunrise, where

for an instant,
no part of humanity
suffers, but applauds a fat man

stirring in little lapping waters
to the theme of a sonata
once written

in a tiny Austrian village
in celebration
of edelweiss blooming

on sloping alpine meadows,
or nimble mountain goats
careening sheer rock faces,

or a hot strudel heavily
panting on the windowpane
just like the lone wolf himself.

 


 

Commencement

                        after Wallace Stevens

The thought grew back,
another still more bellicose,
full of caprice, a trans-
luscent design of ex-
cursions into experience.
Hapless words that belie
the serene and the sly, that ex-
hume a blue sky turning
purple. And those who pass
beneath, believing sun-
shine grows the bones,
anoint their dreams
with jazz quartets, pro-
nounce pronouns in 4-4
yime. Should we merely call
them dead musicians?
Pronounce amen to this and that.
What truly survives
in the same form?

 

 

Marc Vincenz

Marc Vincenz is a poet, translator and novelist. He is the author of twelve books of poetry; his latest are Leaning into the Infinite, The Syndicate of Water & Light and the forthcoming Here Comes the Nightdust. His latest work of translation is Unexpected Development (White Pine Press, 2018) by the prize-winning Swiss novelist, poet and playwright Klaus Merz. 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.

 

Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Monday, July 2, 2018 - 11:25