JP Dancing Bear

Let’s Spread Ourselves

like a catch dumped out
from a fishing net onto a deck.
Love, I am a wave crashed
over you. Spilling arms, legs,
ribs over your arms, legs,
ribs. Let’s not waste our time
talking about diving helmets,
slickers, and neoprene gloves.
Let the ropes and the hoses
snake and eel across the deck,
across our bodies seeking
escape and redemption.
I don’t care how their drama plays
out—leave them to their hiss-
choiring fates. Let’s run our fingers
through the currents of hair,
over our salt valleys and hills.
The wave of my tongue crashes
the shore of your lips. Let’s fishtail
ourselves, flop if we must! Let’s be
the catch of the day, the record
haul, the bountiful. Love, let’s call
ourselves the first catch, Eve
and her Adam, each one half
of the other’s apple.





A grave reopens as a bed
a bed with sheets of leaves

house of smoke and ash
house of mulch and autumn smoldering

one opens the window to let fog in
one watches at the sill as soot escapes

much of what has been built into the room
remains in gloom — frames of charcoal

a stump becomes a torso becomes
the last trick of low light

come to bed           is whispered repeatedly

night of insect love beneath a pillowed headstone
night of brambles

I tangle for you        comes out of the thick ether
the bed lay like an open cellar

she can willow her limbs, her fingers
in this exquisite limbo light

she takes on the curve and slant of her favorite font

she goes on quoting a favorite line from a movie

about the dead bee, only
out of context and darker than the original noire

momentarily the scattering light brightens
a yellow leaf or browning grass

aside from this no other color exists
on the monochrome palette

there is no black and white only varying shades of gray
echoes from the dusty corners

followed by the undeniable rustle of movement—
an arm rising up, a hand opening

more twisting of bed sheets

what could have been love is not love
what has been love keeps its veil on

that image, that outline of her
looks down at the earthy bed

never scans the room

what is left of sound travels further now
looking for its echo

the walls return to mist
and smoke

her name is spoken
—now the only disturbance

 in the emptiness of the room






J. P. Dancing Bear is the author of nine collections of poetry, most recently, Inner Cities of Gulls (2010, Salmon Poetry), winner of a PEN Oakland-Josephine Miles National Literary Award.  His next two books are: Family of Marsupial Centaurs, will be released by Iris Press; and Fish Singing Foxes, due from Salmon Poetry. 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.