Bruce Bond

The Dead Zoo

The peaceable kingdom is a stone room
filled with corpses, a menagerie of jars,
large eels swallowing the lives that killed them.
And bones, pinned and wired, everywhere

the posturing of those who would lie down,
if not for us, for the skeletal glory
we give the bat, the monkey, the mastodon
who lifts his ivory burden to the sky.

We know, of course, his burden is illusion.
But in a corridor of dead birds, dead songs
do what dead songs do. They pull us in.
They lure us through the underworld of no one

in particular, where grief is dead grief,
where marvels are impersonal. Imagine
the human specimen, posed with his rifle,
Homo erectus, seen here on vacation.

Are we better than that, or too familiar,
our beloved exiled, embalmed in spirits
and last rites. Do we seal our final letters
in blood, sent to a place that no one visits.

If history has a heaven, a second wind,
is it this: a museum full of laughter,
a boy posed with his head in the open
casket. The jaw, the camera, the silent roar.

Bruce Bond is the author of nine published books of poetry, most recently Choir of the Wells: A Tetralogy (Etruscan, 2013), The Visible (LSU, 2012), Peal (Etruscan, 2009), and Blind Rain (LSU, 2008). His books The Other Sky (poems in collaboration with the painter Aron Wiesenfeld, Etruscan), For the Lost Cathedral (LSU), and Immanent Distance: Poetry and the Metaphysics of the Near at Hand (University of Michigan) are forthcoming. He is a Regents Professor of English at the University of North Texas and Poetry Editor for American Literary Review.
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