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), Frankenstein’s Children (Lost Horse Press), and Dear Reader (Free Verse Editions). Presently he is Regents Professor at University of North Texas.