Tag Archives: Bruce Bond

Bruce Bond

Bruce Bond is the author of eighteen books including, most recently, Immanent Distance: Poetry and the Metaphysics of the Near at Hand (U of MI, 2015), Black Anthem (Tampa Review Prize, U of Tampa, 2016), Gold Bee (Helen C. Smith Award, Crab Orchard Award, Southern Illinois University Press, 2016), Sacrum (Four Way Books, 2017), and Blackout Starlight: New and Selected Poems 1997-2015 (E. Phillabaum Award, LSU, 2017).  Presently he is a Regents Professor of English at the University of North Texas.


Consolation of Shadows

Memory says it begins the moment
we stand at one end, walk toward the other,

walk a little more and make no progress,
and who can blame it, how it withdraws from us

the image we call ours, the space we beat
with shoes and reasons to abuse them.

Why condemn the leash if it stretches
in pursuit of something beyond our eyes.

Who can blame it if it inks in secret
the affidavit of a more conscious life,

if the flame we stamp gets longer, blacker.
Memory says let me tell you a story:

how Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty
mourned the death of a lover so deeply

his loyals made a shadow puppet, the first,
or the first we know, stitched the body

out of mule hide draped in lucid silks.
And the likeness of the silhouette

was neither anesthesia nor affliction,
but a kind of black flame to the moth

of the eye, come to join, again, the others.
The wings of theaters know a dawning

music cues the dimming of the house.
And yes, the stories that survive are kings

among the peasant eulogies that fade.
The lover was a concubine, I should mention.

The untold exchanges, be they currency
or vows, what are they now if not blank

pages shadowed by those who read them.
In the backlit panels of the royal boathouse,

a woman’s body emerges from a waver
of silk.  And from that body steps a man.

From the man an emperor, a wolf,
a flock of crows, a moral outrage, a more

seductive wolf, whose next self might be
selfless, when the beast offers to share

his slaughter.  And we walk to the end of our
shadows and kneel.  And the room goes dark.

Bruce Bond

bruce-bondBruce Bond is the author of sixteen books including, most recently, For the Lost Cathedral (LSU Press, 2015), The Other Sky (Etruscan Press, 2015), Immanent Distance: Poetry and the Metaphysics of the Near at Hand (University of Michigan Press, 2015), Black Anthem (Tampa Review Prize, University of Tampa Press, 2016), and Gold Bee (Crab Orchard Open Competition Award, Southern Illinois University Press, 2016), Three of his books are forthcoming:  Blackout Starlight: New and Selected Poems 1997-2015 (E. Phillabaum Award, LSU Press), Sacrum (Four Way Books), and Dear Reader (Free Verse Editions, Parlor Press).  Presently he is Regents Professor at University of North Texas.


New Moon

Then my teacher told me to close my eyes
and observe the observer of the observer

and so on, down the long path of seeing,
the chiaroscuro of thought in the distance

like a field of starlight when the power goes.
See the seer, she said, and as I breathed

in waves against the dark, I saw my teacher.
I saw her porch lit with prayer flags

from Tibet: a light wind in the word flag,
a lighter word in the wind departing.

How it all fit in there, I will never know:
the flags, the words, the black canvas starred

in needles.  And her, or my idea of her,
descending the stairs on her mechanical

chair devised for those who suffer daily
steps and thresholds beyond my understanding.

She told me once, you hear a note a suffering
in the higher resonance of laughter.

I confess.  I do not hear the better half
of what I hear, though I feel the pull there

of missing things, of earth and its burden
beneath the pale lamentation of waves.

She is gone now.  And shows up every time
I see a chair like this.  I hear her curse

her feet of stone, not knowing I am there.
God, she says softly to herself.

They say the new moon can be traced in
the faint deflected sunrays of the planet.

That the sky we see is always bigger
than how we see it.  Stars and mirrors.

Stars and dead stars.  Tell me, teacher
in your field on fire.  What else is there.