Bruce Bond

Guitar & Lantern
March 16, 2020 Bond Bruce




The boy with prosthetic limbs is the flame
in the lantern, the cricket in the cage,


the ghost in the machinery of those
who click his extremities on and off,


who spread the salve where the body ends
to fit the arms just so.  And in the moment


the metal of the implant finds its notch,
when the wires in their sleeve begin


to listen, we too are notched and listening.
As the artifice comes to life, life comes


to it, the way wind comes to the word wind,
and every soul who holds him now holds


the slightly colder parts, hands so small,
so abstract, they take the shape of mittens.


And sure, his arms bend just so far, always
reaching.  But when they move, he moves.


And when the sun is low on the horizon,
off they come.  A star here, a lantern there.


A boy lies down like trees in their shadows.
His arms so vast they nearly disappear.







for Mariano Tezanos



If you want to know what the masters
knew, what to leave, what to cut away,


where to tap the spruce to hear it blossom,
lungs fouled with the dust of ebony


and the slow sure toxins of your craft,
you must look everywhere you can


and cannot look, spill with flashlight
the amber of the hourglass, sweet-spot


of the breakable part, its tympanum
thin, ribbed, winter-stiff, bridge-work


slotted to steady the bone, for what
is music if not pressed, as children are


against a dark that has no child in it.
A tree falls and no one hears, but far


from summer’s harvest, it falls again,
in the style of sparrows felled in flight,


or leaves that storm the mirrors where they rise.
If you want to make a box of ghosts


revive, think fall, think falling.  Think,
what is music if not a little lost.


When a great maker dies, a guitar fills
an empty chapel.  An emptiness returns.


And it keeps happening that way.
Black coats find their places in the music.


Decay is half the beauty.  A tree falls.
A shadow tree lengthens to take the blow.

Bruce Bond is the author of thirty books including, most recently, Plurality and the Poetics of Self (Palgrave, 2019), Words Written Against the Walls of the City (LSU, 2019), Scar (Etruscan, 2020), Behemoth (New Criterion Prize, Criterion Books, 2021), The Calling (Parlor, 2021), Patmos (Juniper Prize, UMass, 2021), Liberation of Dissonance (Nicholas Shaffner Award for Literature in Music, Schaffner Press, 2022), and Invention of the Wilderness (LSU, 2022).