J.P. DANCING BEAR


THE RHINOCEROS AND THE GYMNAST

She bends over backwards
and he shoulders the maneuver.
He does his best

to keep the horns of his head
lowered and away from her next move:
a back handspring.

Each footfall, each planted hand
wipes away the mud covering his skin—
as though she is drops of rain.

Beyond their bodies
steamers and confetti flurry.

She passes through a hoop,
he steadies his weight and walks

a plank and rope bridge;
her movement is perfection.

Her conical hat, white, is almost
a mutant horn rising out of his back.

Her muscles defined by smudges of red dust,
still she is as bright as the moon to him.

As they move, never is heard the laughter
of children, the moaning of the audience
outside their spotlight.

They are not two unusual creatures
living together;
when they touch—no other thing exists.
 
 
 
 
CHRONIC

I shuffle the hallway between sleep and waking
as I lie in the twilight castoff of streetlamps.
I can feel the old house bones settling,
each creak a reminder of the damage
that occurs naturally over years
even as my own weights and pulleys strain
and groan with each turn into a new position.
Time, through rust and wear, has left
a wake of jagged edges.
Beyond my four walls the green world sighs,
wets itself down in preparation
and acceptance of things returning to soil—
the earth will take back everything,
regardless of whether the receipt is kept;
regardless of condition. In this way,
one can say the planet is forgiveness;
one could even say love—as a fine moss
envelops, becomes a shroud.
What I know about the world
is reduced to a garden of sharp points;
rugged rosettes prying at my vertebrae.
Sleep is unnecessary—the body’s first lie.
This is often proclaimed at the point of drift;
like the wet tying of a captain
to a ship’s wheel as it pitches,
rolls creakingly to a choir—
sound of lightning and splintering timbers.
The vessel is drawn to its own groundings.
Here the second lie is told:
what does not smash the boat
somehow becomes an improvement.

Walking the long hall back, I see the spines
of vipers, hear their hiss and protest
of my journey—another chorus of an epic tale
and the hero roughed-up and bruised,
returning to his waking life.
 
 
 
 



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