17 Santa Cruz Poets — The 17th Annual National Poetry Month - 2012 PreviousNextHome


J. P. Dancing Bear

J. P. Dancing Bear

About J. P.:

J. P. DANCING BEAR is the author of ten collections of poetry, most recently, Family of Marsupial Centaurs and other birthday poems (Iris Publishing, 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, New Orleans Review, 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. 



Even as the last red tongues of our tree

cling to a colder life, I see your bones

amongst the naked branches

where even my smallest prayer

falls to mulch.

I entwine my limbs into silent knots

with yours, and  think not of death,

but what I can remember

of your body—its shape and fragrance,

the hunger it generates

within me. And yes,

my tears have watered this tree

for what else is there

but to nurture what memory provides.



And with this I say to thee

Roll, as when the punches

Come.  And you say curve

So that our shoulders bend

Into the work, like the turning

Of the mill. The cycling

Of water. Of seasons. We

Become our spiral arms

Wrapping around the other.

Gold and warm light. Pulled

Closer together till we

Are a shared gravity. We

Move and there is a draw,

A desire, a need, to return

To our origins and celebrate

The length of our migration




She says this is how we define ourselves in love
and continues her brushstroke

across the dimples of canvas I am naked
in a pose she has chosen for me

the floor suggests a giant chessboard
but we are not at war nor this a game

I continue to hold still, though I am a big-mouth
and the note held in my throat

begins to swan-neck, to stretch an S
up to my tongue

the rippling curtains full of color
transform that side of the room into a jungle

where I might come out with a thousand creatures
to give my competitive love song

I am all brass and stainless steel in my delivery
—something Miles, something Coltrane, something Bird—

proud among the wild roars and screeches—
a primal horn and reed

she says perfect
and leans closer for a clearer perspective

Ancheta || Atkinson || Crux || Dancing Bear || Freeman || Glick || Ifland || Moody || Omosupe || Robbins || Sirens || Spencer || Sullivan || Sumrall || Tagami || Teutsch || Weisner
  Co-sponsored by Poetry Santa Cruz and phren-Z   A publication of Santa Cruz Writes