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Lyonel Feininger

by Bruce Bond

Picture a dark fugue of interiors,
and there in each the long slits of windows

as imagined from the outside—an alley,
or the many versions of an alley,

as if the city fell from a great height
and shattered strangely, neatly into shards,

so what you get is a universe,
ordered, yes, but whose violence

of accident yields a certain hope,
a play, where tiny brushstrokes of no

one shade tell us there is freedom here.
And at the corner of our sanctuary

looking in, a man, the only stain
of red, poised to enter the solitary

gate, to dwindle like a prayer, a flame.
It is 1914. The alley narrows.

The prow of it cuts a sea of clouds.
And if you look hard, the night suggests

some rough shape at the vanishing:
a second man perhaps, his back to us,

a soldier, a thief, or just a superstition,
a hole at the tapering end of things.

Perhaps the shadow of our protagonist,
a charred fragment, having wandered off

into the distance, swallowed by the maze.
Picture happiness here, the painter said,

I do, though who among us wouldn’t pour
through all these unlit windows, these cracks

in joy, careful to keep our voices low
as if history were out there, lightly sleeping.

Take me with you, says the red to the black.
Somewhere the distant cannons of the storm.

Take me, says the fire to the smoke,
the man to the shadow, the one who sees us,

flees us, leads us on, the one whose face
keeps disappearing the moment that he turns.


Bruce Bond’s collections of poetry include Blind Rain, Cinder, The Throats of Narcissus, Radiography, The Anteroom of Paradise, Independence Days, and a new volume entitled Peal. His poetry has appeared in The Best American Poetry, The Yale Review, The Georgia Review, The Paris Review, and many other journals. He is Regents Professor of English at the University of North Texas and poetry editor of American Literary Review. (4/2010)

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