Our poetry editor, Joe Pan, has selected two poems by J.P. Dancing Bear for his series that brings original poetry to the screens of Hyperallergic readers.

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Jacob El Hanani , "Gauze" (2008), ink on paper, 18 1/8 x 18 1/8 inches (all images courtesy Acquavella Galleries, Art © Jacob El Hanani)

Jacob El Hanani, “Gauze” (2008), ink on paper, 18 1/8 x 18 1/8 inches (image courtesy Acquavella Galleries, art © Jacob El Hanani)

Yellow Flock

I study the body of birds until I am a body of birds.
I am a private library of knowledge, being lifted
by instinct, called to by the magnetism of the earth.
Each of my cells, the seeds of wings seeking air.
Don’t talk to me about the plans of the gods we invent
they do not sing a single song within my blood.
I am a cloud of feathers moving as one direction
and then so quickly to another. What you see in the sky
is not what I feel, what you interpret of my darting
is not some magic wire in my brain that dictates
to my body of bodies. When you say the color, yellow,
you miss the point of my existence completely.
I have never been about the choices of all my ancestors,
I live with each of my decisions precisely as they are made.

Surface Tension

Sometimes the bed is like an ocean, its edges rolling
up to the city. The surface is as cold as water and reflects
the skyline and its lights. On this blue edge of night
I imagine you are one of those lit windows, living out
your life beyond my reach. I hear gulls crying in the wind
and the faint noise of traffic behind the waves on the beach.
I feel the fog rising out of my body, almost breath,
but nothing so alive, warm or intimate.
Sometimes the buildings are quiet math equations
I keep on a bar graph presented to the empty conference
room in my head. I count the waves, make note of variables
in length and depth. From here, everything is measured
in distances from this point to anywhere else. Other times,
I am just holding my breath, unsure of how long I can stay afloat.

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J.P. Dancing Bear is editor for the American Poetry Journal and Dream Horse Press. Bear also hosts the weekly hour-long poetry show, Out of Our Minds, on public station, KKUP and available as podcasts. He is the author of thirteen collections of poetry, his latest book is Love is a Burning Building (FutureCycle Press, 2014), his fourteenth and fifteenth collections respectively, Cephalopodic (Glass Lyre) and Fish Singing Foxes (Salmon Poetry) will both be released in 2015. His work has appeared or will shortly in American Literary Review, Crazyhorse, the Cimmaron Review, and elsewhere.

Joe Pan grew up along the Space Coast of Florida and attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His debut poetry book, Autobiomythography & Gallery, was named “Best First Book of the Year” by Coldfront...