PF detail from Pierre-Auguste Renoir - Beach Scene, Guernsey (Children by the Sea in Guernsey) - 1883;


Copyright © 2011 Pirene's Fountain.


All Rights Reserved.

Marc Vincenz was born in Hong Kong during the height of the Cultural Revolution. He currently lives in Iceland where he works as a journalist, poet, translator and editor.  He is Poetry and Non-fiction Editor of Mad Hatters’ Review, Managing Editor of MadHat Press, and is a member of the editorial board of Open Letters Monthly. Recent poems and translations have appeared in or are forthcoming in Asypmtote, Spillway Review, Poetry Salzburg Review, Rufous City Review, and Lantern Review. Recent books include: Upholding Half the Sky (GOSS183: Casa Menendez 2010) and The Propaganda Factory which is forthcoming later this year.

Black Skies | Crushed Dragon Bones


Black Skies

The sun bottoms out
and they rise again, 

air-tumbling whorls,
screaming four-letter words.

When our backs are turned
they go straight for the warm blood,

dying their beaks
in our carbon dioxide,

clicking their beaks
like mad scissors.

Joseph says their magic is in the feathers,
he calls them quills that ink the skies.

I say, strange they bleed cold.
But, Ah—respite,

he with the bow and arrow,
he with the eyes

in the back of his head,
he with the illusion of time.


Crushed Dragon Bones
Tiger Claw Apothecary, Shanghai, 1999

Quan leads me through an array of popping scents,
this lingering whiff of Bombay spice bazaar,

medicine healing scars, prehensile fungi, blooming
rhino horn, white deer antler, mandible of stag beetle,

snapping tail of scorpion, turtle snout, all crushed to steep
in clear hot liquids bubbling right into the very centre

of the maze where a woman in a nightdress waits patiently.
Here he goes whispering in the corner.

Lady behind the counter turns flushed-cheek red,
titters under her breath, holds her hand to cover her teeth.

Eyes him apprehensively. Eyebrows arch-raised,
coughs in syncopated answer. Fiddles with her stethoscope.

Another woman looks me up and down: Hey you, big nose?
Want me check your pulse? I sit down across the counter.

She applies the leather-puffing contraption to my left bicep.
Pumps until I feel my left side is ready to explode.

Aha, take this. She fiddles a powder, rattling grains from
that drawer, granules from another. All marked in red.

Grinds the mixture in mortar humming some old love tune.
Flips the dust into a paper bag. Hand palm out:

Fifty yuan. Releases the catch and Ssssss spins down.
Quan’s smiling ear to ear and we’re out the door

through the hedgerows and into haze of open space.
Quan rumbles something about bones old bones.

Crushed dragon bones for the little man inside.
No problem like you, he says. This will keep me going all night.