Unequivocally yours, Molly—in her last note, she signs off.
It rings in-finite. Toxicity level 4: What we fear but never conceive.
War you tolerate as an acquaintance turned, matter rings in your ears,
crumbled stuff. The virus claims the head, devours the soul,
mal de los rastrojos, breakbone fever, Ebola, hanta, Lassa, mutating variola.
Things are left standing. In the end we know all their God-fearing names
like very bad men from the Gestapo, the Stasi. Molly pins them on a fridge,
beneath magnetized pineapples and smiley faces, beneath Max’s crayoned skyline,
to-do lists, tax return form curling at the corners, takeout menu
from Wang’s Golden Wok. They secrete through taps, drizzle dams, slipstream—
like hurricanes we baptize them Alma and Boris, Katrina and Yolanda
to make them more innocuous for Max. Within a week,
the surgical masks on every street corner, blue and white, then
Gucci pink and Hermes polka-dot, splutters contained behind high fashion.
And the water we drink is Antarctic ice, eons old—once swilled by dinosaurs,
an inside joke. Carrier rats bear the brunt, followed by ticks, fleas, lice,
the effervescent tsetse, and we don’t swat and shoo—but never the monkeys,
our harmless swing-in-the-trees ancestors separated by a single strand of amino acid
who’ve learn to uphold themselves and eat bananas. I say it was the dogs,
the Labradors, Alsatians, those ratty Chihuahuas, cuddled, coddled and Tickle Tickle.
Still, none of it explains away the quakes, the freak storms and tsunamis,
none of it justifies the plummeting price of gold, the vanishing of the beggars
and the birds, the vacant beehives, none of it. In my mind Molly still nags
about that damn tax return. Isn’t it strange how you prioritize?
previously published in The Green Door
Weighing the Broken Heart
Blessed the wind. Cantankerous, asthmatic priest
in swollen robes & feathered headgear—
once oceanblue & redgold—now charcoaled
darkening to soot. Waterfed & corn-bred, sun-
worshipping, sun-cursed, a ruinous disseminating
soul, gilded & guilt-ridden, heavy-handed &
lightly-touched—exhales in exhausted prayer
through empty lanes & alleys, prods rooftops,
rattles broken panes, half-open doors, hinges
groaning upon buckling frames, fingers
familiar faces of dying trees, thumbs anemic
birds’ nests, rubs eggs to awaken life within,
kicks empty bottles & tins into blank squares,
crumpled things under porticos & steps, blows
ancient news into coppery osprey, kites, puffed up
eagles with giant wings, tears leatherbound
psalms from the palms of pews & aisles,
whispers names of long-forgotten gods, leftover
vowels as if in pidgin, as if in a burning
foreign tongue &, as he gathers himself
from his four corners, draws upon the strings,
he recalls what it was like to breathe
life into sun-filled stuff, how oxygen was
a litany & how every rain was an Amen,
he remembers cragged prayers, fragments
in leaves scattering within his own tree, roots
sinking to search for belief, limbs stretching out
over a flock—the tremulous keys of a Portuguese
accordion wheezing a simple song into his lungs,
the exhumation of a thousand jagged sins.
& now, on his last legs, he must remind himself
once & again, he is neither woman nor is he man,
he is nothing, nothing at all. Blessed the wind.
previously published in The Canary
On a Day Like This
Let me open
let me tell tale
of the drowned
stopped on a day
like this a day
for fruiting trees
You know with each
of your touches
my flesh burns
with curious meaning.
So tell me
is it really breath
that makes the day
it truly is?
Or is there something
else you’re just not
telling me about?
© Marc Vincenz