When a nail pins to the capitol door
its grievances and capital demands,
it makes the sound of a carpenter,
one eye on the head, the other the hand.
What good is a nail that does not wound,
what good a wound that does not tell you
when to stop. There is a better world,
a better bore at the rendezvous
that gets louder as his subject turns
to power. When a nail’s vision squints,
it drags a nail-shaped shadow farther in,
until there is no shadow. Only a coin
of steel laid against its good intentions.
The will to listen is not the listening.
To enter a stone you will need the force
of stone to visit you. To find your strength.
You will need to hold the stone in place
as stone holds a number, a number a birth,
a dash the arrow that splits the living eye.
To enter a stone you will need a door
inside each iris. You need the gravity
of things that do not move any more
and so the mind to move them. And the art.
The sculptor’s lily, the lion, the broken sword;
you need to push them into the difficult
the way that flowers push into the blood.
To enter a stone you need a bloom to lay there
where you, in stillness, follow, not knowing where.
The oldest natural systems of wind
feel the earth beneath them, the dizzy spell
of everything we call our solid ground
curving the finer element into cells
like clocks. Or the stare that mirrors them.
Spirit then is a bent and bending thing
that has more lung in it than we can fathom.
The air in the animal turns its wing
floating through the vein and out again,
and still this solitude, this need to return
to some world, to couple, to argue, to plead,
to grant our charities their flesh and blood.
The strongest eyes blow against and through.
And still the lovers turn. Still they argue.
Even if true, if the mass assassins
hit some stripper bar the night before,
if they tucked a final dollar in the G-string
of a fallen culture, who am I here,
among the uninformed, to relish that.
Who is the man in me that lays shadow
over shadow, invisibly stripped,
in the small dark room of what I know.
If I alone am the voyeur now,
does my excitement see what it must,
as myths do when just as curious
as fear and retribution will allow.
If heaven’s virgins are a part of me,
do they peel the cloth that makes them holy.
You with the transparent eye are no one,
you say, and yet an eye I love, your sun
drawn to the horizon of all things now.
You my snowfall blowing into snow.
No bully neighbor pounding on the door
to remind you, yes, you, what walls are for.
You take us further in to meet the world.
Such is your gift. Every heart a field
of common moths and blossoms the wind blows through.
But then what. What of the avenues
of Boston, the many of the homeless district.
A man in need is one thing, but in this traffic,
does your heart select. Does he. He
who knows a thing about transparency.
Bruce Bond is the author of fifteen books including, most recently, For the Lost Cathedral (LSU Press, 2015) and The Other Sky (Etruscan Press, 2015). Four of his books are forthcoming: Immanent Distance: Poetry and the Metaphysics of the Near at Hand (University of Michigan Press), Black Anthem (Tampa Review Prize, University of Tampa Press), Gold Bee (Crab Orchard Open Competition Award, Southern Illinois University Press), and Sacrum (Four Way Books). He has received numerous honors including the Allen Tate Award, the New South Award, the Knightville Poetry Award, the Richard Peterson Prize, and fellowships from the NEA and the Texas Commission on the Arts. Presently he is Regents Professor at University of North Texas and Poetry Editor fo American Literary Review.