Along with River Road, The Light off Cape Lookout contains some of Robert Bense’s best work. His ninth book, it uses a leit-motif effect present to a lesser extent in all the books after—and including—River Road. The recurrence of phrases drawn from experience unconsciously commenting on itself builds to a consciousness breaking through the common place of things in their daily moment. This consciousness already rises in the first three poems of the book, and from this early foundation informs every poem after.
Bense also considers the parallel roles of time and space in the forming of experience—experiences in fact, whether in a jazz bar, at a farm in the Dakotas, or from the ascent of decline of nearly everything in time. The merging of time and space, as at Cape Lookout, hurricane center at the sea lanes, leads to a recurring dimension of reality. What was once thought has to be rethought. What was once believed may become a belief no longer held.