On earth as it is in heaven, I prayed
***** when I was young and the chapel glass
held us inside a stained parade of saints.
***** It bore the sun that came and went inside
their eyes, their halos and their lacerations.
***** Like the soldiers I saw in televisions
lit from the other side, or some such world
***** bigger than the cabinet it came in.
Those were days the grasses of Vietnam
***** rippled giant eyes beneath the copters
and the palm fronds waved like castaways.
***** It felt unreal until a neighbor boy
arrived, in a cold crate, to keep the flesh
***** from turning. Believe me, he was no saint,
and yet the black lacquer of his coffin
***** glittered with the acolytes of candles.
I heard the mother weep, as a sermon set
***** its sights on heaven, and I wondered
at the sadness of paradise. Must it always
***** arrive in the dark, when the souls inside
our windows fade, and earth receives the stars.
Bruce Bond is the author of thirty-four books including, most recently, Patmos (Juniper Prize, UMass, 2021), Behemoth(New Criterion Prize, 2021), Liberation of Dissonance (Schaffner Award for Literature in Music, Schaffner, 2022), andInvention of the Wilderness (LSU, 2023), plus two books of criticism Immanent Distance(U. of Michigan, 2015) and Plurality and the Poetics of Self(Palgrave, 2019). Among his forthcoming books are Therapon (inspired by Emmanuel Levinas and co-authored with Dan Beachy-Quick, Tupelo) andVault (Richard Snyder Award, Ashland). Other honors include the Crab Orchard Book Prize, the Elixir Press Poetry Award, the Tampa Review Book Prize, the Lynda Hull Award, two TIL Best Book of Poetry awards, fellowships from the NEA and the Texas Institute for the Arts, and seven appearances in Best American Poetry. Presently he teaches part-time as a Regents Emeritus Professor of English at the University of North Texas and performs jazz and classical guitar in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.