Pandering to the Audience | Marc Vincenz

for Marilyn

The crow pecks wildly. He’s scarred by last night’s tar and feather. “Apparently so,” says the raccoon, “in crow culture the rites of adulthood are cast early.” “Only the old-fashioned believe such stories,” the crow mutters to the shrike, handing him a furry caterpillar quite casually. “Everything is in a title,” says the snail passing by at his eager pace. “Don’t you see he pecks wildly,” says the June bug. An alligator raises her head over the water’s surface, her eyes emerald green with envy. “Everything in a day’s work,” she bubbles.

“Who is the Buddha of the birds?” the crow asks the fungi. “Why the chanterelle!” they sing in unison. “Yes, they’re mighty fine tasters,” says the crow. Meanwhile, the raccoon edges in with a mole in his mouth, hanging there like yesteryear’s laundry. “Dead?” someone says. I think it’s the flat-footed mouse who taps the crow on the beak, and says, “The Buddha of the birds is the heron, loner he is, poser he may be, and yet, he has that gait (even when his feathers are ruffled), not too eager across the pond; strident, yet haltingly aloof; as if all the knowledge in the water has seeped into his toes.”

Two worms appear from nowhere—one longer than the other. The long one says, “In every dictum is a promise.” The short one smiles, turns a blind eye, then finds the most malicious earth and burrows. “What a poser,” says the long one.

Marc Vincenz is a poet, fiction writer, translator, editor and artist. He has published over thirty books of poetry, fiction and translation.