Marc Vincenz

World Turtle, Cosmic Elephant, Mother Goose

Where We Commence

And the planet wobbles
on the world turtle’s hard-
won carapace, and 

the eight cosmic elephants,
guardians of the edges 
of tomorrow, with a penchant 

for gumdrops, 
licorice and marzipan,
raise up our world turtle, 

that the Earth, 
in a brief 
elephantine whisper,

may freely turn 
to face the other side 
of the universe.

Seen With an Icy View Across an Icy Horizon

And in that narrow band 
between beginning and end, 
she is only the beginning, and

she shuffles on until her very end, 
or so she says, then asks rhetorically: 
“Weren’t you the first warm-blooded soul 

who tasted the instinct in your own blood group?”
Her glary-eyed stare under-
scores the distaste that flashes 

across his compound eyes: “All those tannins 
protecting the heart,” she says, 
“all those core cells confounding 

their plasmatic plans to win 
your immortality. Gladiators you 
are born with the trident 

and fashionable net in 
your flexible fingers, that you might 
ensnare the next barnacle, entrap 

the evil minister in his early ministrations—
at least, so it felt, we imagine, 
to those first gentle folk, 

whose hands pushed against the soil
as they stool upright 
and faced all those tattle-tales.” 

The Icebergs Break Off

“And we shouldn’t have to tell you, but 
we always imagined population control 
would be your demise; after all, we gave you 

rabbits and flies, flesh-boring worms, and
the pregnant sunrise, the weeping tales
of old wives and their avatars;

you gave yourselves sandmen 
and merbrides, the Kraken, 
the Medusa and the Minotaur,

gods of sea and sand, 
gods of trees and sky,
gods of everywhere-all-the-time—any-

thing to herd yourselves gently into 
that forbidden chamber of immunity—
and then, twenty thousand years later,

flowers open, conch shells scatter 
the shores, trees gather coconuts, 
crabs gather under coconut trees,

and, turtles lay eggs on warm beaches 
under palm trees, singing 
to their own illimitable moon god.”

Spring Arises

And each and every hatchling sprints 
across the cool sand; yet,
only one will become 

the next world turtle; only one
will possess the shoulders 
to burden the ever-growing. 

“Perhaps we should have been 
born a mother goose
and stuffed the world 

under our wing, and
carried her further into 
the farthest reaches of the universe;

released more of you children
on the chimneys and hearths 
of another planet?

See! Now we are finally 
building hard-
spun mythology.”

In Each and Every Flower

And believe it or not, there’s 
a violin playing here 
on this rainy day in Port Emily, 

in those slicked cobbled alleys
by the docks that lead down dead ends 
into courtyards of cracked homes, 

through dying gardens 
of hydrangeas, across drying lawns 
and drier soil, and through that sparse, 

thorny underbrush—and, everything 
seems to be fine in black and white,
until we stumble across the carcass 

of a whale and three of her offspring
groaning in the streets with
their blood and blubber wail, 

with their sigh and foam,
with eyes that stare from far below— 
as the man hacks, the camera pans, 

to the soft underbelly 
of a mythical creature—another 
of these fancy-footed with a heavy debt 

to pay; or so they say dribbling 
their sob stories over whiskey and rye; 
Jack Daniels will work at a pinch,

but, be certain, there’s nothing 
much more certain than this ...
even though there’s more to be said.

Believe Me

And it takes 12,000 murex snails 
to color the hem of a single
emperor’s toga.

It takes more than 
a rubber tree to make 
a single ball bounce.

And how many whales
does it take to fill a soap container,
or old nags to fill a cup with gelatin?

You know the piles of bones
are mounting up, as are
their plastic wrappings.

Imagine, when you have long gone,
what will you have deposited
in the growing pile of guano?

Hungry Again

And why do black holes even exist?

Look deep into the quantum
and let us know when 

you have your decimal point
or that faint integer 

responding to your missive.

Never Hungry Enough

And you know, the story goes on, 
and the world has come to an end 

a hundred-thousand times before.
“Don’t fret,” says our world turtle, 

“everything can be used and re- / used, 
re- / purposed and re- / cycled and re- / imagined.”

They glassy-eyed stare as their 
fading ghosts fade on. 

Marc Vincenz is a poet, fiction writer, translator, editor, musician, and artist. He has published over thirty books of poetry, fiction, and translation. He is publisher and editor of MadHat Press and publisher of New American Writing. His latest collections are The Pearl Diver of Irunmani (White Pine Press, 2023) and The King of Prussia is Drunk on Stars (Lavender Ink, 2024).

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