Justin Bond's work has appeared or is forthcoming in journals such as This Land,
CURA, and 580 Split. He lives and works in Tulsa, Oklahoma (USA).

The Night Ferry:
A Love Poem

On the ferry Vincent stood behind me
her hand resting against the small of my back.

The night reflected below us dark and deep
as a wood, whispering cantos against the hull of the ship.

Vincent said, There are no stars here:
only the lights, and what the lights cannot pass through.

She pressed a pear to my lips,
insistent as a mother, saying

Always at night, this falling into
of dark places, over and over.

My lips parted in spite of myself.
The flesh gritting like sleep between my gnashing teeth.


For every seed you find caught in your teeth
I'll plant a persimmon tree and call it by your name

down by the river where the groves grow high
and rounded as loaves of fresh bread

it seems my hair is always in need of cutting
and I am never brave enough to clean behind the stove

but even if sex can't be like the movies, is it enough
when I cut my finger on a broken saucer and dream of animism

how we can never truly leave the dead where they lie
always worrying over old bones

with the flesh always so eager
to yield to the cloying sweetness of rot

when there are wolves in the forest, this long winter
cold and hard as a breast that will not feed.


From the moment the car lurches from the road
and begins to tumble, improbably,
end over end
gravity feels as hollow
as any other promise made in summer

but, oh! how soothing the warmth
of the water
when it envelops you like the rain
in the place you grew up

And I Am Reeling

Even the smallest things have shadows
when the light is right.
Grandma brought peonies, armloads
big as severed heads, cut fresh from her garden.
In the morning, ants. A steady stream running
from their drooping faces to the counters,
the baseboards. Everywhere.
So many openings to this body,
yet still my fingers search my skin
for zippers, for a pocket to turn out &
fumble through for the hard candy caught
in the lint and loose change.
The meat of things.
Bloody fall stripped down to the bare brittle
bone of winter, then borne away on the shining black
backs of days receding, one after another.
Next door, the lonely girl with the dogs that bite
searches all night for reasons to stay angry.
Her face is translucent in the glow of her computer screen.
It baits her like a mirror, the way it casts back
and waits.
Memory is like that: a slippery,
wriggling business. Like cleaning a fish,
the careful and deliberate scraping away
of hard-won scales.
One slip of the blade and the blood—
Yours, the fish's—
is everywhere.

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