• Patmos IV

    Bruce Bond

    Fall 2020

    John of Patmos lived on an island, and who in the age

    of broken trust does not.  Moonlight beats the shattered

    beach, and it must have been lonely, waiting for God,

    for the curve of the horizon to send a horse.  If, beneath

    the sun, a mirage across the water gave birth to lions,

    any wonder the sea rose, the island dwindled.  Longing

    for news like a soul for a body, one body for a mate,

    any wonder he saw the shoreline eaten by the waves.

    Those nights I kept vigil beside my mother, I saw her

    eyes open, now and then, and I could not see if I was there,

    her gaze so thin, like a paper cut.  Sometimes a yawn.

    Sometimes a lion of the apocalypse, only smaller,

    fiercer.  What if it is nothing, she asked.  What was I

    to say, I who believed in something better for her sake. 

    And as I walked in darkness to my car, I smelled something

    burning.  Leaves, I thought, and wind gone out to meet them.

    My worry makes me taller, more fatherly, suspicious

    of pride and thereby prouder, so who am I to say, I

    worry about John.  If he ate crickets and watercress

    and slept an hour, here and there, doubtless he longed

    to be a better man.  But when he emerged, bearing news,

    I wonder, did the casualties of men make him a better

    listener.  He must have felt the blister of all that fire, his

    personal hell, I say, and who am I, I wonder.  Who.

    Bruce Bond is the author of twenty-seven books, including Rise and Fall of the Lesser Sun Gods (Elixir Book Prize, Elixir Press 2018), Frankenstein's Children (Lost Horse 2018), Plurality and the Poetics of Self (Palgrave 2019), Words Written Against the Walls of the City (LSU 2019), and The Calling (Parlor 2020). Five books are forthcoming including Behemoth (winner of New Criterion Poetry Prize) and Patmos (winner of the Juniper Prize). 

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