Nick Lantz, “Lacuna, Triptych of the Battle”


First Panel

A confusion of soldiers—the guide counts
for us ten helmeted heads but twenty-five
boots—cramped below the castle wall.
Are they mustering for a surge or balking
just beyond the archers’ reach?

Second Panel

Ripped away, only a skirt of paint hemming
top and bottom, forty-seven boots kissing,
toe-to-toe. At the top, a ribbon of sky, a broken
spearhead hangs loose in the air, like an iron
falcon folded to drop. So rare, says the guide,
for motion to be conveyed this way.

Third Panel

An army victorious, but high on the flagpole
its standard has been pried away for its gold
enamel, so who can say which army
it is, invader or defender? The guide smiles,
points to the missing triangle. This theft
too, he says, is hundreds of years
old. This theft too is part of history.

Nick Lantz‘s debut collection of poems, We Don’t Know We Don’t Know, won the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference Bakeless Prize; the University of Wisconsin Press will be publishing a second collection, The Lightning That Strikes the Nieghbors’ House, in April. You may recognize the title of this first book as the tail end of a famous statement by then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld about known knowns and unknown unknowns; the collection also includes poems like “Of the Parrat and other birds that can speake.”

Lantz was also a finalist for the Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize. And he’s on Twitter, posting a new original poem every day—as he explains, “140 characters… makes for a nice formal restriction.”

7 February 2010 | poetry |