It Is the Hour of a Helpless Horse

by Bill Neumire

beaten near death
by a carriage driver
in the Turin streets,
& of Nietzsche
in his last sane moment
hurling his body
around the horse’s neck
before surrender
to the sanitarium.
Out of the fog
rolls the storm.
It builds for weeks
over the sea as lightning authors
fulgurites for our illiterate urge
to know; how few
languages we speak.
In estrus & bat-song the dark animals talk
through their emptiness;
how many languages we forget.
Like the story Scheherazade tells
of a horse so wild
it gallops across the ocean
Translators & engines
start hard in the sunrise
as the horse rears up,
its eyes, like early drafts of earth,
its black musculature like the moment
before there was a story.

Bill Neumire’s poems appear, most recently, in American Poetry Journal, Laurel Review, and Burnt District. He currently serves as an assistant editor for Brickhouse Books and Verdad.

You wrote about compressed poetry that the reader can feel it before you understand it. What are some ways to make that happen for readers?

    I think the most important strategy is to rely on image. When you rely on images, you implicitly trust the reader’s intelligence and intuition to move with the lines. The opposite of this is to hand the reader language that spells out a meaning for him or her, which essentially treats the reader like he or she is incapable of reading your poem without overt assistance. No educated reader likes that.
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