In a Ferris wheel over the scaffolds of postwar bewilderment
and disrepair, the star of our movie flashes the word victim
as one might the authoritative deformity or scar, when Lime,
also known as impossible Orson Wells, played by doubles
in long-shot overcoats and sewers until now, considers the dots,
also known as people on the ground. How little it would mean
if one, he says, stopped moving, forever. But nothing stops.
What we see below is dirt and men at shovels that turn it over
without end, digging out some basement garage and crawl space
of another era. They are everywhere, as is the boom-chick
and whimper of the zither, café anthem of Viennese distraction
that moves men scene to scene, through the sewage and thrill rides
of a fair that cares for no one. It makes for a stronger entrance,
the music that brings each friend turned antagonist to meet us.
It sharpens a smile into someone who knows the art of looking away,
which is, these days, the art of looking everywhere behind you,
your shadow the coat of a much taller person. These days,
the smart money is on zithers who get a bump from those who love
these scarred facades and sentimental waltzes. Make no mistake.
This music is transparent. Practice forever, you still might hear
a stutter in the plectrum, still sink at the burden of time you need
to fill these measures. Which is what you tell your exhausted neighbor
when he pounds the wall to make you stop, that you were just about
to get somewhere, to a better Danube of wine bars and sad companions.
You were just about to take a table among the others, the dust
of postwar medication in your eyes, when something tips and shatters.
The cloth goes red. The chamber of your zither startles like a bird.
You were looking through the music for a waiter, when you feel
a hand on your sleeve-a friend, a stranger-and, without thinking,
you kneel down, together, and cup the broken embers in your palms.
Author Bio: Bruce Bond is the author of twenty-two books including, most recently, Immanent Distance: Poetry and the Metaphysics of the Near at Hand (U of MI, 2015), Black Anthem (Tampa Review Prize, U of Tampa, 2016), Gold Bee (Helen C. Smith Award, Crab Orchard Award, SIU Press, 2016), Sacrum (Four Way, 2017), Blackout Starlight: New and Selected Poems 1997-2015 (L.E. Phillabaum Award, LSU, 2017), Rise and Fall of the Lesser Sun Gods (Elixir Book Prize, Elixir Press, 2018), Dear Reader (Free Verse Editions, 2018), and Frankenstein’s Children (Lost Horse, 2018). Presently he is a Regents Professor of English at University of North Texas.