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The Prophecies of Paracelsus

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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, www.graywolfpress.org
Source: We Don't Know We Don't Know (Graywolf Press, 2010)
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The Prophecies of Paracelsus

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  • 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 out of politically degraded language.”
    In 2010, former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky selected Lantz’s second book of poetry, The Lightning That Strikes the Neighbors’ House (2010), for the Felix Pollack Prize in Poetry. Poet Rachel Richardson, in a review for The Rumpus, commented on Lantz’s writing style: “In this form of tight contrasts and strangely intimate images, Lantz lets us look sideways at our world.”
    Lanz was the 2007-2008 Jay C. and Ruth...

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