By JP Dancing Bear
Slog through the creek
As the densities of gnarlwood
And tangle become mere ghosts
Of themselves in the gloom.
I too, feel a coming undone;
A separation of self from known
Territories and paths.
How many pinpoints of light
Act like hope but are the small asses
Of fireflies? I stumble upon
The damp fallen; snagged by
The bony grasp of their branches.
Feet numb with the cold current—
These things that trick and betray
Me to stay, to give in, to take root
Among the muddy banks as they.
So I keep moving, lifting one
Senseless foot up and forward.
Time is reinvented again—
Another meaningless measure.
I’ve heard the odd birds call
To me, like the voices of family
I’d all but learned to forget.
They beg: come, come, why
Did you ever leave us
? Before
My throat clears to answer
They break into squabbling
Caws arguing over love’s borders
As if I am a loosed seed
Or nut. I do not stray. Upstream
I see much more of the same.
Fireflies where might be a sun.
Shale breaks itself into steps
Rising away into the arms
Of stranger trees. But I go on
Listening to the babble-song
Of water wearing down stone
And cutting into the land—
A slow blade I walk the edge.
In some fantasy I harbor within
A hollow of my thicket soul,
I am the sun lighting the end
Of this darkly lived tunnel.




J. P. Dancing Bear is the author of nine collections of poetry including, Inner Cities of Gulls (2010, Salmon Poetry). His tenth collection, Family of Marsupial Centaurs will be released by Iris Press in 2011. He is editor for the American Poetry Journal and Dream Horse Press and hosts the poetry show, Out of Our Minds, on KKUP and available as podcasts.


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