J. P. Dancing Bear


for Francois K. Needles

you say love is a burning building: then run in: to save the woman on the second floor: the one you've watched as she stood in the window: as you walked past her apartment: on the other side of the street: she always seems to be wearing red: always in the window: as though she knew you were coming: and yes: you do have a tendency to be punctual: like a self-fulfilling prophecy: both of you approaching ritual: and now this fire: this urgency: you run through the flames: wrapped in a sheet: through trapped billowing smoke: you bound the stairs: you know the door: you kick it in: you pull her body into your arms: carry her out into the street: as you've always known you would: when you first struck the match: so many weeks before




for Sam Witt

you feel like a door: only holding your hinges: as though somewhere a naked frame: is sobbing: in this light you like to think about the brightness of the moon: someone holds a guitar neck like a slaughtered goose: and sings Istanbul—not Constantinople: and you have to laugh: other times you feel like a giant tooth: rough-surfaced like the moon: but usually late at night: before dreams of floss: someone holds a toothbrush like a rifle: and sings hi-ho it's off to work we go: perhaps there is too much vodka in the world: you are listening to a cricket calling out: among the starlight: like a squeaky hinge: you sing the oil can serenade: swaying back and forth: until the words work their way in with the pin





Both of these poems were written as part of my "birthday poems" project which were partially born of ekphrastic writing while drawing from other inspirations including from the honorees themselves.