Today's poetry for today's world

J. P. Dancing Bear 


J. P. Dancing Bear is the author of Inner Cities of Gulls (2010) and Conflicted Light (2008), both published by Salmon Poetry.  His tenth collection, Family of Marsupial Centaurs will be released by Iris Press in 2011.  His poems have been published in Mississippi Review, Natural Bridge, Shenandoah, Third Coast, 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 they are available as podcasts. 




Click on the cover to buy Inner Cities of Gulls.










For us, there was never a Harry Houdini

who escaped from the boxes or from behind

the Bureau of Land Management fences.

There was Jim Thorpe, who ran in circles


better than anyone else. He ran like a caged wolf.

That was something we all knew.


Great fists rose from the west, drifted over

the plains and pounded us with thunder

as though we had always been corn


waiting to be reduced to meal in the unfurling fields.

Out of the east the real fists came.


From within the snowstorm of lies, we heard

tales of our own resistance.  But we heard


too, the names of our fathers embossed in chrome

on the fenders of cars, on the labels of alcohol,

in the lonely glow of neon above cafes.  We heard

the death song coming from the sky, loud

and piercing the way a bird of iron might sound.


And all our ghosts.  Those boys who went to war

and fought like there might be a freedom hidden

somewhere in blood.  They came back to our open-

armed ghostfathers, their faces yellowed

and parched by the long poverty of their lives.


Our boys went back to being unneeded as a stone—

waiting in the desert, petroglyph for all that is lost.




from Inner Cities of Gulls (Salmon Poetry 2010)




Click on the cover to buy Conflicted Light. 








All day the owl is dreaming of a crow, dreaming

of a crow, dreaming of a crow and his war caw

rushing through the pines, and the owl opens

her mouth as if to say wait, wait until nightfall,

until nightfall when the crow's own blackness

is not enough to hide him from her keen eyes.


All night the crow is dreaming of an owl, dreaming

of an owl, dreaming of an owl and battle screech

so close it could run through his dark body and sever

his spine.  His mouth moves in silence: wait, wait

until daybreak when the owl's gray camouflage

cannot protect her from the murders of crows.


In twilight the owl and crow are praying to live, praying

to live, praying to live the long hours of hunting.  They do

not fly nor tempt the other into the unowned time

and orange territory of conflicted light. They bide, bide

in their pine churches with their psalms to a god

who would favor their feathers over the other's.




from Conflicted Light (Salmon Poetry 2008)                  




Click on the cover to buy Billy Last Crow. 







I heard the humming engine

of a heart smaller than an anvil;

in the hummingbird’s forest

my ear was mistaken for a flower

I should be complimented

for the brief moment before

the taste of my ear canal

will forever mark the thin tongue.

The hunger that was whispered

to me, woke me from a dream:


I was the drum in the redwoods,

the tongue of green prophecies,

the anvil of summer hunger,

awakened to the canopy songs

that had lain in the linens of leaves

I called my stomach.  Now I hear

the hammer’s rumor of sparks

on the anvil and can taste fear.

Now I realize I worked for years

in the coded silence of a paper heart.




from Conflicted Light (Salmon Poetry 2008)    




Writers Tip: Make the time to read poetry every day—and you find the time to write poetry every day.




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