This Once, Poems 1976-1996 by Nick Bozanic


Nick Bozanic has found a way back into the realm of the natural world in his new book, no easy task for poets this late in the century. Mr. Bozanic has managed a remarkable balance. The result is a luminous world that emerges naturally from the drama these poems yearn to share with us.

None of this would have been possible if the proper music were not also always present. Mr. Bozanic has the ear of an angel, and understands prosody as a range of musical options that will allow him to guide the reader through his poems in a way that enables us to feel . Form never feels forced or strained. These poems are seamless that way, and seamless too in the way the telling is so powerfully akin to the feeling and the doing, and perhaps most importantly, they are unflinchingly faithful to what the poet himself calls that "urge/that weds all things to all things other." -- Bruce Weigl


I went out because there was no fire in my head
To where I knew black horses grazed and had seen
In summer a red fox flare like sunrise in the field.

The cold air stunned my face. I felt my age,
Leaning against a weathered post
And clenching with one gloved hand

A strand of barbed-wire fence. The horses 
Shook their manes and bent long necks
To browse the winter grass. Gray

Clouds clustered overhead. The field
Fluttered like a blanket in the wind,
A billowing of soft, worn hills. Snow

Nuzzled into crevices. Wan light came and went.
I lit a cigarette. The largest horse struck down 
With one front hoof upon the hard earth hard

Three times. And that was that. No fox
To lend its matchless spark to that drab scene.
No crows to weight it with their gravity

Like fistfuls of leaden gravel flung
Against an ashen sky. No storm.
No taut suspense of imminent arrival.

A few (i counted five) black horses grazing.
And one man staring out at them, for all the world
Like some lost traveler stopped to ask his way.

And after a while the horses edged off. I drove
The lake road back. Through barren trees i saw
Waves whipped to froth by the wind that had stung

My eyes when i had stood beside that fence,
The wire humming like a harp, and had hoped -- for what?
Some sign? Some signal wild as that absent fox.

A flame, however small, to follow out
Across the widening marshlands of our losses.
A beckoning fire, a target moving forward

Through the night. The horse's great hoof striking
Down upon the frozen ground three times: love this,
Love this, love this. The stars appeared

In spaces between clouds, their constellated order
Fragmented, dimmed: wreckage adrift on the milky way.
Though the evening deepened around me, i drove

Without lights, my eyes adapting to the darkness,
To the world as it was, i thought, and will be: blind.
No guides, no signs, no beacon fires.

The horse's hoof struck down three times.
The barbed-wire whined. The fox stayed out of sight.
I drove along the lake, the stars above in disarray.

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