J. P. Dancing Bear

Five Poems


A Little Night Music

she says that damn sun­flower is such an insuf­fer­able tune: it lets itself into the house: in the mid­dle of the night: search­ing for the sun: annoyed by the emp­ty dish of a moon: it creaks the stairs: pulls open the doors: a real pol­ter­geist: then she droops against the frame: her shad­ow a silent twin who has that look of a girl in a win­dow who can­not go out and play: and you feel the chill of the petaled pres­ence: sta­t­ic elec­tric­i­ty enough to make your seed-black hair stand on end: snake wild­ly: like rib­bons com­ing undone in the wind: you can feel the bro­ken stalk of the thing: you hear its siren voice: call­ing every­one awake: the crack­ing of seeds on the san­guine car­pet: echo­ing down the hall: your sis­ter she says that damn sun­flower… : as she grips a torn petal: you can make out the body of it at the top of the stairs: the aban­doned eye: search­ing for its god: you are remem­ber­ing a pas­sage from a movie: or a book: or play: where the sun­flower is a sym­bol for life and death: you want to cra­dle it in your arms: hold onto the last moments of the old day: not cry­ing: but hum­ming some­thing near­ly for­got­ten: some rhyme from younger days

Natural Selection

at the man­a­tee mat­inée: young girls were swoon­ing: over the watery-eyed: whiskered: star’s face: full as the pro­ject­ed moon: above them in the dark­ened room: the boys rolled their large pupils: won­der­ing at the attrac­tion: on the tow­er­ing movie can­vas: love plays out: with all its tragedies: as the antag­o­nists win: the lit­tle bat­tles: and the main char­ac­ters must learn: to embrace hope: or faith: or luck: per­haps mir­a­cles: but main­ly believe in them­selves: as a con­duit: of high­er pow­er: that wins the war: while the boys view a male star: as their own antag­o­nist: draw­ing away the attrac­tion: from poten­tial mates: there is no expla­na­tion: for why they stare at a star: or moon so far: from the warmer touch: of what swims patient­ly: beside them: on any giv­en Saturday afternoon

The Third Eye

You are a red door: locked from the out­side: when I place my eye to your peep hole: there is the dark­ened lob­by of you: the strobe and par­ty: in the next room: and the qui­et­ed shad­ows: and dimmed bulbs upstairs: every poster of your child­hood is tacked upon the walls: in this room you are: a ceil­ing fan: mock­ing the gen­tle broom: lean­ing against the cold bricks of a wall: I no longer remem­ber build­ing: but rub my cal­lus­es anyway

Soft Watch Put in the Appropriate Place to Cause a Young Ephebe to Die and Be Resuscitated…

O Time: O ghosts: O soft watch­es: we think so much of our time: and our ghosts and hope: that our inter­nal clocks will soft­en: like ripe brie: O third-eye clock dream­ing: dream­ing of the slow: hands mak­ing their way: oblong and ellip­ti­cal: through the space of mind: O young hero: out there on the rocks: paint­ing them col­or­ful and dra­mat­ic: O dynam­ic artist-atom­ic: you are there: with stat­ues: bril­liant white and trag­i­cal­ly posed: beg­ging for col­or: O pig­men­tor: what is time: if not the yel­lowed ghost of col­or: ris­ing at sun­set: tag this moment: with a poly­eth­yl­ene blue and cad­mi­um red: stop it at the gates: keep it from escap­ing: this is always on your watch

for Visual Piracy (aka Neil Women158 Parkinson)


you say the word and a frog arcs into the air: it doesn’t mat­ter where you are: say it enough times real­ly fast: you get a bib­li­cal response: this is your gift: your super pow­er: which may not seem like much: to be the amphib­ian queen: how many nights did you stay awake think­ing of your alter ego’s name: Anura—intel­li­gent with­out all the bag­gage: you once stopped a group of debs from pick­ing on a nerd: with a leap­ing green body for each mean girl: you stopped a bank rob­bery with a rain of frogs: stunned, mouths agape: they froze there watch­ing the sky (dumb real­ly when you think about it): guess­ing it was God’s imme­di­ate inter­ven­tion of their sins: and the cops took them away: —crime in the area was down for a whole year after that: the cred­it nev­er went to you: divine inter­ven­tion stole the head­lines again: but you were nev­er in this for the attention

for Stephanie Kartalopoulos


J. P. Dancing Bear is the author of ten col­lec­tions of poet­ry, most recent­ly, Family of Marsupial Centaurs (Iris Publishing Group, 2012) and Inner Cities of Gulls (2010, Salmon Poetry), win­ner of a PEN Oakland-Josephine Miles National Literary Award.  His poems have been pub­lished in Mississippi Review, Third Coast, DIAGRAM, Verse Daily and many oth­er pub­li­ca­tions.  He is edi­tor for the American Poetry Journal and Dream Horse Press.  Bear also hosts the week­ly hour-long poet­ry show, Out of Our Minds, on pub­lic sta­tion, KKUP and avail­able as podcasts.