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J.P. Dancing Bear

Gacela of the Heart in Darkness

We do not want a reason for why the heart

changes shape.  We like to think of mystery

and believe  in destiny instead of handfuls of clay.


We do not seek answers for what makes a heart

chant its music in the dark, but we sleep better

when our ear rests against its house.


The heart sits within a lightless trunk of flesh,

blind to the brain with information, unconcerned

for the world of thorns and thistles, flames and blades.


The muscle and vein pull and stretch to morph

into the shape of what consumes it.  For some

this is the shape of hate; others contract in love.


The heart rests in its kiln waiting for devotion.

It listens to the whistling lungs sing all night long,

rubbing and hugging the walls of the house.


What a surgeon sees, as light first shines on the heart,

before it can reshape itself back to reason,

is the face of a lover -- or the face of an enemy.


J. P. Dancing Bearís poems have been published or are forthcoming in Shenandoah, Poetry International, New Orleans Review, National Poetry Review, Poetry East, and many others.  He is the editor of the American Poetry Journal and the host of "Out of Our Minds" a weekly poetry program on public radio station KKUP.  His latest book of poems is Billy Last Crow (Turning Point, 2004).

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