Charlie Bondhus’ second poetry book, All the Heat We Could Carry, won Main Street Rag’s Annual Poetry Book Award for 2013. It was also a finalist for the Gival Press Poetry Award. Previously, he published How the Boy Might See It, a finalist for the 2007 Blue Light Press First Book Award, and two chapbooks. His poetry appears or is set to appear in numerous periodicals, including Midwest Quarterly, The Hawai’i Review, The Wisconsin Review, and others. He holds an MFA in creative writing from Goddard College and a Ph.D. in literature from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He teaches at Raritan Valley Community College in New Jersey.
“When a bullet leaves an M4,
it can, depending on weight
and powder used, travel
up to 3500 feet per second.”
He tells me this in the car, on the way to the beach,
a blinding summer day, cloudless
and ten degrees too hot.
I just asked the question
you should never ask a veteran,
even if he’s your lover.
I just wanted to show that I wasn’t trying to forget,
that I accept unspeakable things,
that I wanted to share everything.
An image of the road floats
in miniature on his iris.
“3500 feet per second.
That’s almost 2500 miles per hour.”
I grunt polite astonishment.
It’s rubbed off on me;
most days I speak
in ambiguous sounds
communication for equilibrium
my tongue red and white
as a Swiss flag.
I read a story in the Gay City News
about a returning Marine
who pistol-whipped his boyfriend
into a coma and then swallowed a bullet
black and hot as a coal.
This is the kind of thing
that doesn’t happen to us.
Instead, we find ourselves
in conversations of near-misses
where dull, heavy words fall
like powderless mortar shells
impacting the earth and crumpling
into something dented,
smelling vaguely of fire.
- Poet’s website
- “Poetry, Therapy, and Becoming a Good Man.” The Good Men Project. 22 January 2014.
- Review of All the Heat We Could Carry by Cameron Conaway. Rattle. 25 December 2013.
Seminar | January 28, 2014
Reading | January 28, 2014