Poetry Life & Times January 2002 Continued:

Poetry By J.P. Dancing Bear

See Main Page for biography.

Index of poems:

  1. Making Fire - published in Rattle #15

  2. American Acheron - published in 580 Split, issue3 2001

  3. Canaries - published in Snow Monkey, Volume 2, Issue 2, 2000

  4. Orpheus and Eurydice - published in Crooked River Press, September, 2001

  5. The Lonelier Moon - published in The Pedestal Magazine

  6. Dali and Plath Make Love - published in Conspire

Making Fire
© J.P. Dancing Bear

Even after this much evolution,
the furnace goes out
and she is cold again.
I go out to the back of the house,
with its spiders and mosquitoes,
where the rusty gas pipes wait.
I've tightened, lit, re-lit, banged and kicked,
but no rock or bone in my tool kit works.
I snort and swear at the metal box
then look closer at the pilot
and notice the stress crack.
Now I know what to do,
but I can't remove the rusted plate
that prevents me from getting at the pilot.
So I go down to the hardware store
where other men with wide hands
pick and prod among the pipes and boards,
grunt and point their calluses at dream tools
--they can't justify the cash.
So they linger, tell their fantasy scenarios,
--money no limit--
the things they'd build.
I don't belong here;
I buy what I came for and go home.
In fading light I fill the crack
with the metal repair goo.
It's not pretty, and another guy might scoff,
but I can smell cooking from inside
and I know she appreciates
the warmth of my fire.

American Acheron
© J.P. Dancing Bear

conquistador headwaters      then this European
then another      someone avoids       the word
"slave"       but will use       "savage"      bloody 
like cotton       or rum       one tributary      deserves
another      and someone misuses        the word
"freedom"      and fires      a shot into a crowd
whitewater       of cultures       much displacement
bend south or       west      flood       over 
the farmlands      rage new banks      in that battle       
or this rebellion      our heroes       are calm       
surfaces       dark fish      swim in       their souls       
silt of internment       or reservation       the mighty 
muddy sales banks      industrious flowing       to our      
delta       of corporate uniforms

© J.P. Dancing Bear

My grandmother's hands are canaries
ready to collapse in on themselves.
I study her hand in mine:
the thin skin, the purple veins and bones

ready to collapse in on themselves.
I am crying an afternoon of
the thin skin, the purple veins and bones
behind my attempts to be brave.

I am crying an afternoon of
my grandmother trying to communicate
behind my attempts to be brave.
I feel her hand slipping--

my grandmother trying to communicate
after the stroke stole her voice.
I feel her hand slipping
to make the gestures lost in air

after the stroke stole her voice,
locked inside her head, left
to make gestures that are lost in air
Between us,

locked inside, her head left,
ready to collapse in on itself.
Between us,
my grandmother's hands are canaries.

Orpheus and Eurydice
for Jade
© J.P. Dancing Bear

So now he sings his song,
not to some apocryphal god,
but for the warmth of her.

When they are together,
after the fields have been sown,

they write songs to sing
in the City of Poseurs,
laughing as they do
at fools who have names
made of clay.

These reckless summer hours
under a canopy of constellations;

that one right there--
a dragon zig-zagging his mate.

She knows every verse of his lips
like each flower's name
in the field of their love.

The Lonelier Moon
© J.P. Dancing Bear

Armstrong has seen it
from its sister.
He wants to be with her:
plant his red stripes,
blue sky, into her.

It is not enough to land
on one moon
knowing the other is

Isn't that what the myths say too:

the twin goddess
persuaded by a trickster,
drifted out beyond
her sister's reach,

fooled into solitude.

Armstrong knows
what it is to reach out
for a god

and come back a man.

Dali and Plath Make Love
on The Edge of a Cliff
© J.P. Dancing Bear

He looks like Peter Seller's brother,
moving his paint brushes in and out,
afraid of the open spaces where
the light rushes in; and she's so dark
in moods, a plummy jam of images.
She dances for his curly mustache,
his sweet madness. She is a Sheherazade
of gray landscapes and jagged stones.
Oh their lovemaking is as precise
as a surgeon's scalpel slicing the belly
or the chest -- it is watching their own
blood pool in an aphrodisiac elixir,
their green bottle-fly kisses
and watch-dial eyes bring them
closer to each other, closer to the edge.

© J.P. Dancing Bear

Host of Out of Our Minds -
KKUP, People's Radio 91.5 FM, Cupertino


Disquieting Muses

Dream Horse Press

J.P. Dancing Bear's Home Page:

Click here to return to rest of the January 2002 issue

Click here to return to main index