We were flush that month. The fish had returned to the fishermen and Trudy made fishcakes and fish pies for the laborers at the docks. We ate mackerel, sole, and haddock, and we had lemons; thousands of lemons arrived in containers from warmed climes, carrying not only lemons, but spiders, insects, rodents, and bats; the giant fruit bats had slept all the way from the Philippines; and when the containers were unloaded, they were all set free into the ash and soot and coal dust. A mouse is a mouse is a mouse, you say. Not so. Imagine the Flatflesh mice with their giant incisors and furless chests: what scores of fleas have crisscrossed the ocean with them? Theirs are eyes that defeated empires. They ran amok and made their new homes in the trees, in the gutters, along the boardwalks, in flower pots and empty barbecues, all along the railroad, then struck out into the last remaining forests to fight the fox and the toad, and when the population settled here it spread across the valleys and the plains of this great nation, where more can be taken with a little, where fireflies live and die in the oceans of the meadows. Yes, we were flush that month, and we savored it.


Marc Vincenz photoMarc Vincenz a poet, fiction writer, translator and editor. He has published over 30 books of poetry, fiction and translation. His work has been published in The Nation, Ploughshares, Raritan, and The Los Angeles Review of Books. He is publisher and editor of MadHat Press and publisher of New American Writing.