Horror Vacuii

Horse after horse emblazon the clay
          of a bowl from ancient Greece,

each with its rider, its imbroglio
          of dogs and rabbits underfoot,

the sky a puzzle of diamonds, signs
          that signify nothing save

the love of making, the horror of not. 
          However tall I make myself,

I cannot see the interior bowl,
          whatever anxiety of shapes

or lack thereof that drifted once, 
          out of the cradle, into the eye,

as the ancient vessel drained.
         In other words, I pour a ghost

of wine so like blood it surges
         through the veins of a body.

I pour into the older stranger
         I have each night become. 

If I wake to the breath of horses at my neck,
         my chest a meadow pinned

in mist, if I hear winds among the alders
         turn to nothing as they pass,

I could be one among the friends
         I know who drank themselves to death.

Some days the word death is so
         dusty under glass in a small

museum, I take it out and say,  
         I do not love you, not as a friend

said he did, although I loved him.
         Those long months when I was sick,

I said the word nothing in my head,
         over and over, across the well

where words begin and after echo,
         and nothing was my answer.

Just today I called my brother,
         and he tells me he is better, or was,

the cancer is still invisibly there,
         so I say drink this, not that, I say

and things that just keep running
         through my head when I hang up. 

When I look down, my mind looks back,
         my notepad a fury of strikes

and arrows, eyes whose emptiness
         I never knew.  Until I filled it.    


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), For the Lost Cathedral (LSU, 2015), The Other Sky (Etruscan, 2015), Black Anthem (Tampa Review Prize, U of Tampa, 2016), Gold Bee (Helen C. Smith Award, Crab Orchard Award, Southern Illinois University Press, 2016), and Sacrum (Four Way Books, 2017).  Four of his books are forthcoming:  Blackout Starlight: New and Selected Poems 1997-2015 (E. Phillabaum Award, LSU), Rise and Fall of the Lesser Sun Gods(Elixir Book Prize, Elixir Press), Frankensteinā€™s Children (Lost Horse Press), and Dear Reader (Free Verse Editions).  Presently he is Regents Professor at University of North Texas.