Featured Poet

J. P. Dancing Bear

( Northern California )

poems and audio link


Gacela of the Destruction of the Moon

I want to live without the black ink of script.
In the coldness and dust, I place my hand.

Men tear the body into lots and patches.
Men claim the body as their property, their land.

More buildings—each the tallest, each 
building reaches to touch the moon’s black sky.

Strip mines rip open the face of the moon, 
New tears appear on the stunned face of the moon.

We landfill the craters with our Cola cans,
clutter the landscape with billboards, neon signs.

Borders, fences and check posts are erected;
Missiles and rifles are pointing past the borders.

We take our violence with us, and plant it on the moon.
I wanted to live on the moon, live alone on the moon.

Gacela of Fog City

From my window I can see open mouths 
and eyes of the opposite buildings, other rooms of darkness.

Arteries of rumble traffic, each car a blood cell—
a twilight glow of neon and sunset descends upon veins.

The first wave of fog crashes on the financial district,
traffic lights, each car a blood cell.

In the bay, the body of a lone tanker bears this city's under-
standing.  Traffic lights blinking their animal eyes.

Young men fight for territory —like big horn sheep—
on the sidewalk below the frame of my open eye.

From here I can see the open mouths of buildings—
I imagine the spaces between them are love.

Gacela of a Deserter

Now the soldier has dropped his rifle in the snow.
Now the soldier has turned his back on the battle.
Still the bullets crack and whisper past his ears;
he has broken open with a whisper and trembles.

He begins running and tearing at his stained uniform.
His tears are freezing on his face and on the ground. 
The man has seen hatred rip another body apart;
flesh not unlike his own torn open like an orange.

The man is moving farther from his rifle all the time.
Behind him are the bomb blasts and soldiers crying out;
each a blossom of death, an irrevocable change.
Frantically, he runs and runs from Death's garden.

On the horizon he sees more smoke and flags.
Everywhere he turns are more smoke and flags.
Everywhere he turns offers no hope of escape.
Everywhere he turns, more bullets.  More bullets.

The man is a soldier, an enemy, a comrade.
He is an animal of fear in the darkening underbrush.
Bullets sizzling around him, very near.  He sees his rifle,
wants his rifle, now that his target-self is realized.

Gacela of Crow Magic

You do not deserve the focus of the crow’s magic—
it cackle-caws a spell, it gutters darkened words.
You do not keepsake the token of the crow—  
the leathery hump of a picked-over kill.

A frightened person might run like a shadow
into the sun-stained streets searching for safety.
A fearful person might throw his body 
into the tall wavering grass of a field.

Still the crow perches on his telephone wire
and knows that you are only a future meal to him.
Still the crow casts his black sorcery, pointing
his beak at the plump prize within your chest.

Now you try reading some lines from Poe
but the black letters wing off the page.
Now you try staring into the brackish eye,
into the dark sea soul of the grinning crow.


Dancing Bear's Comments...

These poems were written under the influence of the haunting poetry created by Federico Garcia Lorca from what he called his “Tamarit” poems written a few years before his death. It is out of inspiration and my love of these poems that I began exploring the power of repetition. The original Garcia Lorca poems focused on the repetition of phrases and words. The poems that belong to this body of work I call Gacela use this concept of refrain as a foundation, but ventures into repetitions of image and sound. The Gacela poems touch on the root form, ghazals, and some of the poems address the traditional subjects of love, desire, philosophy, humanity and place, but Gacela also leaps beyond these subjects just as contemporary ghazal poets like Ali, Bly, and Sage have done. The Gacela poems interact with one another and share a complex symbolism and cosmology. What I call a Gacela poem are poems developed to focus energy on being read aloud and with subtle and obvious repetitions in the mouth and mind. Although each poem stands on its own, the poems do connect with one another in synergy to form the sinew and the intellect of a larger animal.

Next - Michal Macku


Current Issue - Spring Supplement 2006