for Priscilla Becker
you say tomorrow for example: and there is something about the acoustics of your voice: that calls six sparrows to nest in the upper eaves: after the idea of rigging is complete: you have built a background of navy gray: only to apply naples yellow and red: for focus: you say those three colors: make me want to sing: now you think you're ready to consider the practical applications of canvas: —impractically: you tie a sheet to the leaning tower: expecting an opera of flapping: when the wind finally rises: other canvas is loved for the way it drapes: curves and spills over angles: you are expectantly pacing the deck with a patient ear: counting out: 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3. . .: more sparrows arrive: upon the first breeze
for Edwin Van De Grift
all that remains between the mountains and the eye: is glassy coldness: even the snails are climbing up the phone receiver: trying to dial out: the air is so thin: full of tension: as if everything is pressing: against the seams: one bolder by the lip: of the lake looks: like the long lost Madonna: —shhhh: don't tell anyone: people you don't know will be lining up: for a miracle: her reflection: has a deep gash along one side: blood and tears: as if the lake wants a line: of true believers: anyway: you can almost believe: that the lake has a mind: of its own: but a cold and cunning one: at dawn you can hear it: whispering wisps of mists: saying come dive: come bath: come cannonball
J. P. Dancing Bear is the author nine collections of poetry, most recently, Inner Cities of Gulls (Salmon Poetry, 2010). His poems have been published in DIAGRAM, No Tell Motel, Third Coast, New Orleans Review, Verse Daily and many other publications. He is editor of the American Poetry Journal and Dream Horse Press and hosts Out of Our Minds on public station KKUP. His tenth collection, Family of Marsupial Centaurs, will be released by Iris Publications in late 2010.