Bruce Bond

Oracle, Mallarmé & Stone
July 20, 2020 Bond Bruce

A broken rib could be the sign
that stabs a little when you breathe,
long after the boy who beat you
goes free, and still you keep him
near, in the breathing chamber,
the way a jilted lover keeps watch.
Every time you touch the bruise,
you hold a knife to your chest,
and as the bone mends, it closes
a coffin that might be tender,
years later. You bear the scar,
the way a mountain road bears
a cross. It will become you,
advise you, inflect your name
with an ember of suspicion.
As you grow large, it will grow
larger. It will be everywhere.
Like the moan of the foghorn
in a meadow of waves before
the aching of the mist goes clear.
Nothing to see here, an officer
says, binding the crime in tape,
and still you stare. Still as a candle
whose fire is your blessing now,
you who feel and do not feel,
as children might a bit of shame
for something dreamt, forgotten,
or misplaced. Just today, you felt
a change on the horizon. A smell
of metal or blood or something
burning, something in the wind,
a whispered name, gone nameless,
dragged across the windshields
of the wrecking yard, barbed
in wire, where a guard-dog sleeps,
beneath the lock and chain, he sleeps,
and the weather calls for rain.


When I closed my eyes, a book opened
the way a chest opens for the surgeon
to lay the organ in, and because I could
not feel the flesh where once I lived or see
the words, the book began to read itself.
And then, it said, an onyx vase appeared,
and the room, walled in mirrors, turned
to onyx, and the eye of the vase filled
with the ashes of rooms where once I lived.

How anyone could see this and never see
their bodies in the glass, I cannot say,
how the gods of eyes float their angels.
But if they make the death of all who look
a summons, who remains to call it pure,
as oxygen is, breathed from a machine.
Who will close the book that cannot close
completely, cannot blind the vestibule,
jeweled in blood, longing to be stitched.


A child returns to her childhood
as blue does to a sky. Always more
to nightmare that is new. I cannot say,
still, which rock came from which child
in the storm of rocks, when I was small.
In war, you find parts impaled on sticks
at the entrance of the village. I have worn
that look, the missing part. I deserved it.
I tell myself. I cannot tell you why.
Some days, when I am walking, a rock falls
out of nowhere, and then, it disappears.
A sob of wind surges through the branches,
a face so blue it enters paradise unseen.

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).