Bruce Bond

2019, Poetry


One toxin turns to another, one apple
to the seeds that bite the earth.

A vague distemper casts its shadow
over last years’ leaves, and I am listening

to a friend. All that anger over this
and that and the lunch we are having,

the smell of beer on him stronger earlier
and often, his voice scarred and ever lower.

Some fires eat their fire and still they burn.
Still the hand feels the suicide capsule

in its wallet, and the death that comes not
by guilt or grief, not even rage. But shame.

It’s what we cannot talk of, my friend and I,
what cannot be absolved. Today, I said,

some CEO received the kind of indictment
that drives a poor man’s limo into a wall.

A place like that has no other side,
no ghost to stumble from the wreck of brick.

No name to take down, child to console.
When a car hits, the body just keeps moving.

And that’s the part that kills, the body moving
beyond whatever last humiliation.

Beyond the rancor and the glass and core
disgrace. The coming stillness of the world.

Bruce Bond is the author of twenty-three books including, most recently, Immanent Distance: Poetry and the Metaphysics of the Near at Hand (U of MI, 2015), 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), and Frankenstein’s Children (Lost Horse, 2018). Presently he is a Regents Professor at the University of North Texas.

Bruce Bond

2018, Poetry


after Picasso

From a studio apartment, downtown,
across the rise and fall of monuments

and fortune, you just might see a ball
come crashing through an old façade

and think, what better place to hang
a portrait, and what better art than this:

this girl and her mandolin, her abstract
flesh pulling at the manhole, her hand

gloved in the hand from another point
of view, her figure, as the painter saw her,

heard her, broke her into orphaned
bolts and pieces, a girl exhumed, plotted,

diagramed, scored to the ashen drone
of trucks that feed the warehouse district,

where painters pitch their lofts and work
among the toxins.  Eyesores of the new

dark age, they need us to redeem them,
as desire needs its dissonance to fade

and fading needs its music and mallets
need a good job to beat their fractured

measures through the alley. Call them
instrumental then, each deafening ping

a world apart, a world, and thus, a part,
so when the past collapses at your door,

you will not turn away. You will hear
the chime of random metal in the drawer

you closed long ago, when you were small
and progress was a glorious colossus,

when every blackened engine was an angel,
and with a little care, it hummed. It sang.

Bruce Bond is the author of twenty books including, most recently, Sacrum (Four Way Books, 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), and Dear Reader (Free Verse Editions, 2018). Three books are forthcoming: Frankenstein’s Children (Lost Horse Press), Scar (Etruscan Press), and Words Written Against the Walls of the City (LSU.) Presently he is a Regents Professor of English at University of North Texas.

Bruce Bond

2016, Poetry


So when the cross begins to tell its story
to the dreamer, it starts with the tree
it was, the axe that broke its trunk in two,
how it yielded to death as each new
child yields to life. And the whole glade
felt a little of that birth, that blade,
the drops of sap against the crossbeam,
albeit rubied in wonder now, in dreams
gone deaf to the real cries in the room.
But a child is in there somewhere hidden
beneath sleep’s images, inside the ear.
In the real wind now, come to listen
for a listener. Wake up, it says, I’m here.
And the live sound of leaves in the air.


The child is the father of the man
who is, in turn, the master of the earth
mover, this god at war with its burden,
gorged and gorgeous. Consider the behemoth,
the Lord told Job, as if the master race
of monsters, earthly and divine, might be
enough, not to reason the cruelty of fate,
but to bury one man’s cry in the beast
of another. Consider the bulldozer,
says the heart of the boy who longs to test
a patch of dirt, to strike indifferent nature
with his spade, consoled, empowered, helpless
to explain. Earth moves. It is no center
but falls in beauty through the still black air.


Bruce Bond is the author of fifteen books including, most recently, For the Lost Cathedral (LSU, 2015), The Other Sky (Etruscan, 2015), and Immanent Distance: Poetry and the Metaphysics of the Near at Hand (University of Michigan Press, 2015). Four of his books are forthcoming: Black Anthem (Tampa Review Prize, University of Tampa Press), Gold Bee (Crab Orchard Open Competition Award, Southern Illinois University Press), Sacrum (Four Way Books), and Blackout Starlight: New and Selected Poems (LSU). Presently he is Regents Professor at University of North Texas.

Bruce Bond

January 2012, Poetry



We all walk on water, now and then,
though it takes the eyes of wells to see it.
When a man’s sleep breaks in half, he steps
drunkenly across the blackened surface.
Father, are you there.  Can you answer.
Forever a depth that sings beneath our feet.


Not that he expected a reply, not yet.
But something in the spirit of the question
as it dug its oracle, its grave, its worldly
passage, saw the art of it, not in the hole,
but in the earth that flew upon the surface.


Then he cast aside his shovel and asked
the pit, if each instant is a still place,
and the day ahead is made of them,
how is it the heart’s arrow ever moves.
And the hole said nothing.  He waited,
it waited, and in the silent space
he smelled something of the earth going
through him, without mercy, malice, or end.


And so it came, the water, and as it rose
and the man leaned a little closer
to see what night had left there,
his stare became a hole in the surface,
as if that were what a man is, what
a world is not, so says the hole, the ice
of the mirror he shatters as he drinks.


Bruce Bond’s most recent and forthcoming collections of poetry include Choir of the Wells (A tetralogy of newbooks; Etruscan Press, 2013), The Visible (LSU, 2012), Peal (Etruscan, 2009), and Blind Rain (Finalist, The Poet’s Prize, LSU, 2008). Presently he is a Regents Professor of English at the University of North Texas and Poetry Editor for American Literary Review.