Bruce Bond

Guitar & Lantern
March 16, 2020 Bond Bruce

Lantern

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Guitar

 

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 twenty-five books including, most recently, Black Anthem (Tampa Review Prize, U of Tampa, 2016), Gold Bee (Helen C. Smith Award, Crab Orchard Award, SIU Press, 2016), Sacrum (Four Way, 2017), Blackout Starlight: New and Selected Poems 1997-2015 (L.E. Phillabaum Award, LSU, 2017), Rise and Fall of the Lesser Sun Gods (Elixir Book Prize, Elixir Press, 2018), Dear Reader (Free Verse Editions, 2018), Frankenstein’s Children (Lost Horse, 2018), Plurality and the Poetics of Self (Palgrave, 2019), and Words Written Against the Walls of the City (LSU, 2019).  Presently he is a Regents Professor of English at the University of North Texas.