The Prophecies of Paracelsus

By Nick Lantz Nick Lantz
That twig of light, that branch, that
                                                fork, that form.
                Beyond that, a city. A horse drowning in
        a river, and beyond that, a city. Wildfire, and beyond that,
a city. God, a slippery thing,
                                 an eel, is twined
                from our hands. That rainy hum is
       the wharf, is the light that etches a bridge
                                 between pronouns, the bottle
of amber formaldehyde, the infant
                                                orangutan, the wing
                of a gull stitched to its scapula. Here is a river
        drowning in a horse’s dark eye. Devitalized, humming, rainy,
the feather of this gull, this small
                                                spill of light,
                the written thing that glues each hill
        to the earth, that follows a pull with its wobbly needle. God is
a drowned horse fifty hands at the shoulder. To write what
                                                convinces with
                the impossible whisper. After that,
        a city. They call this floating thing an angel and hurry you out
                 of the tent. A bear eating its own paws, and after
                                                 this, a city. A window full
of smoke, and after this, a city. A meter to measure
                                                                          day and time
Adapted for that purpose by the God of our hands.

Nick Lantz, “The Prophecies of Paracelsus” from We Don’t Know We Don’t Know. Copyright © 2010 by Nick Lantz. Reprinted by permission of Graywolf Press,

Source: We Don't Know We Don't Know (Graywolf Press, 2010)

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Poet Nick Lantz

Subjects Nature, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, Animals, Religion, God & the Divine

Poetic Terms Free Verse


Nick Lantz was raised in California and earned his BA in Religious Studies from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon and an MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2005.
He is the author of We Don’t Know We Don’t Know (2010), which won the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference Bakeless Prize. Taking its title from a Donald Rumsfeld sound-bite, Lantz described his book to the Washington Post as “partly…salvaging poetry . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, Animals, Religion, God & the Divine

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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