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Glen Vecchione poetry

I Dream About My Dead Dogs

By Glen Vecchione

I don’t see them.
They wrap themselves around my head
in a kind of turban, their balls dropping
down over my ears in satchels of parfum de chien.

My dogs: four or five of them—none
of whom have ever met the others.

I know they’re excited to see me
because I’m scoured by a swooshing of tails.
It’s like I’ve stuck my head in a car wash,
my face scrubbed by the rotary brushes.

What a comedy, this dream: invisible dogs.
And yet I feel sad when I awaken
and have to record my thoughts about life
on my smartphone.

I never dream about cats, although I owned one.
It took a nap under the hood of my car
because the engine was warm.
That was that for that cat.
Why dream of cats, anyway? They never show up.

After lunch, I check the notes to myself
and have a revelation: the dogs are my helmet.
They protect my head. My thoughts. My hurts.
Although they loll about, they’re alert and ready

to attack, to warn whatever else is out there
Leave him alone.
They are my personal Fu dogs, even though
I flunked Asian Studies at U.C.L.A.

or maybe my wardens, set there by Sigmund
to lock the chaos in my head and not let it
loose upon the world.
That means I’m stuck with it, with them

and it’s too late for therapy.
That means it’s too late for therapy.

Trinkzeit am Abend

(Evening Drink Time)

Here in Basel, the evening swans
nibble the ears of Rhine bathers
and the beaconed derricks
                                    swing their cargos.

A tram hums beneath its catenary.
The moon shreds, nicked by a tower.

Three penciled women in the bar. One
takes the cap from my head and reads the stitch.
San Francisco, she says, Was ist mit Amerika los?
Big question, I reply.

Tips her cigarette towards my groin.
I can supply pleasures behind your belt, says she.
I could be your grandfather, say I.
Ja, she says, blowing sideways. We do it draußen.

I wonder if she’ll wear my cap when we do it draußen,
but once outside, turns her back and grabs her E-bike.
The trouble with America is that you are all thieves!
she says, tipping her trophy from across the street.

In Basel, people cycle to work humming ditties
but never yield the street to foreigners.
In a neighborhood where hanging laundry is verboten
I pass a worker with a flashlight scrubbing bricks.

In the window above, a shirtless man screams in Italian
and from what I can make of it, says,
Stop me before I break the law!

Brain Scan

I’m apprised by the neurologist
of a frayed connection between what’s there
and what arrives, so many shorts possible
along the circuitry. Still, the jumping letters,
clown-colored, wriggle across the newspaper
and that unrecognized thing suddenly becomes
a daffodil; the word for it too, once rooted,
now unmoored and prone to slip away

until I snare it back.
You’ve seen this before, doc, holding
my scan to the fluorescent. Now
how do I drop anchor to keep this skiff from drifting,
the lights flickering On more than Off;
or is this the true way home—the stars
confounding, compass wonked, the sea breaking
the moon’s soiled plate into shards, teeth,
a black maw that shreds before it swallows?


because there are glaciers here
                  striations of merchandise
cataracts of cardboard amphorae with crushed corners
                  in a crazed ascension to fluorescent nirvana
because it is pure-plumbed
                  has aisles with vanishing points

and the people   or the men mostly
                  they move with their broods about them
like a boat in an oil slick
                  the hull pushing through here and there

where the sound is that of some underground place
                  without the dripping   a squeak and
clatter of split rubber bearings
                  swathe-cut wiggly through the crushed

spangles and cacophony of fabrics
                  because it resembles an airplane hangar    contains a city
of appliance boulevards   the clacking and swishing
                  of strapped feet and greasy billfolds   everywhere
the plenary stink of America.


Glen Vecchione is the author and illustrator of 28 science books for young adults as well as a fiction writer and poet. His science titles have been translated into seven languages and are distributed worldwide. His poetry has appeared in Missouri Review, ZYZZYZA, Comstock Review, Southern Poetry Review, Adirondack Review, Indiana University Press, and Tar River Poetry. His short story “The Rose Light” appears in The Main Street Rag. Glen also composes music for television, film, and theatre. He currently divides his time between Palm Desert, California and New York City.