Two Poems

The Absurd Self Looking Both Ways at Once



Plato said the world is divided into a world

of being and a world of becoming.


Ecclesiastes, pessimist as he was,

said there was nothing new under the sun.


Hume started a revolution, declaring:

“When I enter most intimately


into what I call my self, I always stumble upon

some intimate perception or other.”


Sartre stated that man has no self.

What he thinks about himself is created


from the gaze of others. Jung’s unconscious

has been haunting us as long as we remember.


Where are the hidden powers? And how

do you penetrate reality in the manner of X-rays?


In 1600 Jacob Boeheme thought he looked onto

the deepest foundations of matter …


Who ignores everything but

moving shadows—like the frog?


Wire the mind to rejoin the Othermind

and live in two worlds at once,


embalmed in thought forms and words:

a cup of consciousness, a flood of light,


a sense of one-ment where the new world has no sides,

no up or down—it is necessary to describe


it all at once, or not at all—it is impossible

to illuminate one side and then another,


for in moments, the other side

will become some other and thus the world


can never be fully measured (yet in the bell

there is a word that sings through the life of time).


Is this the world of complicated mathematical

relations where the objective and subjective


change positions indeterminately?

In such a vision of infinite meaning


can each ‘I’ raise a multitude of insights, rendering

its intention—.Where is all the adventure in this indecision?


To awaken in the creaky, wooden, soundless,

soulless world. Reality dribbling through fingers,


a cupped handful of wine. Should not a line

take an infinite amount of time to draw?


And how long does twelve o’clock last for?

Just ask the people inside my head


where Yeats’ old mill of the mind

consumes its rag and bone—


or like the Buddha, untie the knots

inside the mind energizing the perceptions,


reaching for the banana outside the cage, enlarging

reality pulse by pulse. Is it then the other self


materializes? When a soul is a spirit in abeyance

of tongues never muttered.


Understand this is an astral double-ensemble,

a doppelganger, where élans’ vital fires trickle


into an energy of delight, or the feedback loop

of a vicious circle where primal perception simply ignites.



Inventing Nightlife



To realize you are

the metaphor, just as

the world is the image,


and the soul, submerged,

the other side of Nature.


To realize that every surface

contains the potential

for a glimpse into the past,


or that ghost of your own

potential as you move back


into the rock. That is,

to enter the cave

of the mind and seek


oneself before birth, to scour

the earth for the seeds


of the narrative

and to find that great

second chance.





Marc Vincenz was born in Hong Kong, is Swiss-British and has published eight collections of poetry; his latest are This Wasted Land and its Chymical Illuminations and Becoming the Sound of Bees. A book-length poem, Sibylline, is forthcoming with Ampersand Books. He is also the translator of many German-language poets, including the Herman Hesse Prize winner, Klaus Merz. His most recent books of translation are Erika Burkart’s A Late Recognition of the Signsand Klaus Merz’s Out of the Dust. His own work has been translated into German, Russian, Romanian, French, Icelandic and Chinese.


Issue #66 January 2017
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