One Poem by Bruce Bond

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The Blue Marble, II 

Dear Earth,
             When I think of you, I see you

                                     in the patio of the New York Deli,
             Boulder, Colorado, 1976.

             A cup of coffee, a book of Dream Songs,

             the lifting of your head an awakening,
                                     the closing of your book a song.

For so long, I saw each friend as a figure in a landscape.
             Less and less as a feature
                                                      of the land.
             When I dream, I am
                                                      every person in a dream.
             Their lives unread until they leave us.
             Who is that child with my name,

                                     digging for all I cannot know.
 

                         ~

 
The world wants you, I tell a ghost,
                                       and my own ghost answers.

It must be contagious, the desire to be here
             and not,
             to share blankets, needles, fears that make us
                                                     followers.

             Regret is dread whose tomorrow is forsaken.
             But a friend, never.

We could have taken him in, I say,
                         and earth below turns back to earth.

Sometimes still, I talk to it.
             When I think of him, I think of earth.

I think of how he hung above it,
                         how neighbor children spied his rope
             and head

                         behind the leaves, above the fence.
                        

                        ~

 
Those who float their song an inch from Earth
                         no sooner feel a summons to return.

             All heaven needs is an inch,
                         a breath to lay a loved one in the pasture.

             Praise these bells, the chorister sings,
                                                     how they come to rest
                         inside a music.
             Tomorrow’s willows dip their dragnets
                                                     each day a little deeper.

Any wonder the scent of briars lingers on our shirts.

             Our hands were there all afternoon.
             These little wounds bear witness.

When I am closest to the earth, I am closest to the lost

             home of song.
 

                        ~

 
If kindness is beautiful, so too the field it writes on.

            When I was wounded and lost
            what I called, back then, my calling,
                                                     I lived not far from a lake

            the city set aside for those like me
            to feed the geese and try on their indifference.

How beauty raises the wave it mollifies and mends,
            I do not know.
                                                     Only that a lake
            is more than I ask for now.
            This field
            with its shallows of needles and patch of shade
                        could be our villa by the sea.

                                                     Seen as is,

            the lake is a city
                                    the way an arm,
                                    touched, is the person inside.
 

                        ~

 
When gratitude is final,

                        it sinks like a quarter and blurs
                        into less particular silver.

It forgets, as wishes forget the disbelief that made them
            float.

            My father told me his body was a broken object.
            A clock.
            Silent, still, with a lion on the crest.

            Beautiful and useless.
I have read the nothing of things is their non-essential nature.
                                                                   But it is more.

At the end, my father and I sat and talked for hours
                                                                   a broken English.
            Nothing is always more.
 

                        ~

 
A body leaves the body it was, its lust, luster,
            its misdemeanors,
            the deeper colors of the scars,
                                        and still we call our features
            ours, the way a river calls
                                        the chase that is an ocean now.

I turn to the photographs and say, There I am,

            beside the marquis of the Crown Theater
            that later turned to a brothel,

            then an office, then,
                                        the smell of oceans in the breeze.

            Movies freed us,
our share in the crisis vanquished as the credits rolled
            and our souls
                        fluttered back into the armature.

How little I understood, my head full of nothing
            I recall, thinking

                                        it would never change.
 

                        ~

 
A child wakes in the dark a mother leaves behind.

            Out of nothing, nothing.
            Out of no one thing, a mother tongue.

            How odd to speak of none and wonder
                        who in there is listening.

            When did nothing get so serious
                                    it kept its silence at the party.

            But now and then you hear it

            when laughter dies and a grave in air awaits a word.

Out of mouths of friends, a need
                                                    to be original and so
            remembered and so, again,
            a stranger.

I too wake in the dark.
            I keep a journal by my bed.

            Every ghost forgotten, every word
            a ghost.
 

                        ~

 
Those days that leave you in a basket of black fabric,
            take heart.

            There is always more.

Ever a trace of anger taken for love we keep on losing.

A friend drives his shame
                        into a wall, and the shame drives on.

The rubric on forgiveness
            trails from a door into the wilderness.

But on the far side of the body is a meadow with stones.

And if I kneel to read,
                        I can put my finger in the letters,
            where stone, however fatally inscribed,
            is stone,
            its host
                                    the absolution of the flies.
 

                        ~

 
Take this boy,
            the casualty of a mother.
            Calm as a doll, she held his head,

            opened his mouth,
            then stabbed his tongue with a dinner knife.

What cannot die
                                                    longs to survive.
            After all the white powders

                                       passing through his eyes,
            to just sit here, look through the cold
            glass of the summer air,

                                       have a burger, and think,
            this is good, this is good enough,

                                                   how great is that,
            pain in a box with pain written on it.

And because the moment is good enough, no one says.
            No angel falls through a hole in the tongue.

                        The love of place is silence.
 

                        ~

 
If I knew what death is, why would I say so,
            over and over, in the anthems of my tribe.

Why wander in tears into paradise and kiss the ground.

            A failure to align binds us like magnets.
            Of which the earth is one,
            the word for earth another.

To the ants who raise a silent roar
                                       like a dome of light above a city,

            I say, Today’s lesson is in tenacity.
            Thoreau taught me.

                                       From the Latin tenere.
            And to think I named things to hold them,

                                       but I do not hold them.
                                       I thank them,

                                       as if to say goodbye.

 

  

 

Bruce BondBruce Bond is the author of 30 books including, most recently, Scar (Etruscan, 2020), Behemoth (New Criterion Prize, Criterion Books), The Calling (Parlor, 2021), Patmos (Juniper Prize, UMass, 2021), Liberation of Dissonance (Nicholas Schaffner Award for Literature in Music, Schaffner Press, 2022), Choreomania (MadHat, 2022), and Invention of the Wilderness (LSU Press, 2022).

Header image by Belltobias Apc, courtesy Pixabay.

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