Feature > Poetry
Bruce Bond

Bruce Bond

Bruce Bond is the author of eight published books of poetry, most recently The Visible (LSU, 2012), Peal (Etruscan, 2009), and Blind Rain (Finalist, The Poet's Prize, LSU, 2008). His tetralogy of new books entitled Choir of the Wells will be released from Etruscan Press in 2013. Presently he is a Regents Professor of English at the University of North Texas and Poetry Editor for American Literary Review.


There's a quality of legend about freaks.
Like a person in a fairy tale who stops you
and demands that you answer a riddle.

—Diane Arbus
When the flash goes off we go blind,
given over to a place made possible
by blindness. Light overflows the eye

as if to clarify the dark we see with.
It's all a lie of course. We know that.
We flinch at the sting of the shutter,

snap our lids the instant of the shot.  
With all the rude wonder of the literal
heart, they come to greet us: the abject posture

of the giant, the child with a toy
grenade, his face in a seizure of play,
each horror pulled away as it draws

a little closer, into the dead still
solitude of a moment in the past.  
What is a photograph if not a window

over a broken clock. All is glass.
Shame and awe. That is what the artist
confesses, bound by this to the mother

of the nine foot man, her face too small
for the eyes inside it, fixed on the freak
that passed through her body to the world.

If this is horror, it is not enough
the echo of our heartbreak makes it so.  
Nor can we all be monsters and remain

monstrous. What do we really know.
Once a girl—an orphan of the fur trade,
a father's absence, a mother's nervous break—

grew up to coax the body's camera open
like a stage. The giant in the legend,
if he seems disfigured, perhaps it's nothing

more than the room around him, the mean
confines of the conversation he is in.
Is he not made of distance, of talk

that fades into an effigy of seeing.
Who are we to imagine less, to close
the fist of the iris. Light is gigantic.

To look or not look, choose your self-reproach.
Which says, it was never the act of looking
that mattered  Only the power that bears our shame.


Poets in Person:
Claudia Emerson

Book Review

David Rigsbee reviews
Claudia Emerson's new book
Secure the Shadow


Claudia Emerson
5 New Poems