Gacela of Narcissus City and Other Gacelas


poems by

J.P. Dancing Bear

Poetry chapbook, 30 pages, $7 cover price

ISBN: 978-1-59948-054-1

Released: 2007

***This title was selected for publication as a result of finishing as a runner up in the 2006 MSR Chapbook Contest.***

J.P. Dancing Bear is the editor of the American Poetry Journal and the independent literary press, Dream Horse Press. He is the author of Billy Last Crow, (Turning Point Press, 2004) and What Language (Slipstream, 2002) winner of the 2002 Slipstream Chapbook Prize. Salmon Poetry will publish his second full-length collection, Conflicted Light. Bear’s work has appeared in Mississippi Review, New Orleans Review, National Poetry Review, Shenandoah, Poetry International, Marlboro Review and Hotel Amerika, among others. He is the host of public radio station KKUP’s weekly hour-long poetry program, Out of Our Minds, which features some of America’s best contemporary poets reading and talking about their work. He is a founding editor of the on-line magazine, the DMQ Review. J.P. Dancing Bear’s translations of Blanca Castellón’s poetry have appeared in the Marlboro Review, International Poetry Review, Redactions, Iconoclast and Buckle&.

Gacela of The Color Coded
Threat Assessment System

The wolves are running with blood in their mouths.
My friends have disappeared like wolves in shadows.
They pant rhetorically in the shadows of war,
their breaths make a hot anthem of fear and hate.

The march of huge green boots on my street, the rifles, the rifles.
The rifles cradled like babies arms to a blue crib.
They’ve built yellow barricades at the ends of my street.

I say the word love before the background of their prayers.
I say the word God before the background of their flames.

The marching green boots devour the purpled landscape,
beating the landscape like wheat to reveal our new enemy.
The devil hides in a house. The devil hides in the street.
The devil pounds his feet on the black asphalt.
The devil finds shelter in unwitting hearts.

The orange light of flames dies on the faces of the houses.
The light dims to a shadowed quiet inside these houses.
All night the wolves throw shadows on our faces.

Gacela of Hunger

Warm is the air that ruffles the red-tail hawk in the dogwood.
I watched the red-tail’s sharp features watching me.

The people here bistro and loiter under midmorning blue.
They rattle sports sections and sip from sunlit glasses.

From table to lip—each movement presents itself as prey;
the rodent movement of hands on their scuttling errands.

Looking for the weak hand, the red tail studies us.
It sharpens hunger into an anxious stance, readying.

Talons grip the branch as if the optic nerve were the brain.
I am a mouse, watching, refusing to move or chew.

Gacela of Memory

From out the window and down the highway
broken glass and oil look like stars and nebulae,
some places familiar or should be familiar.

Bucket seats are uncomfortable after several hours—
novocaine the old questions back under the skin
perhaps with a song, anything but a lullaby.

Memory stands like a stranger on the shoulder,
thumb commanding west, but buried in the desert
twilight, almost a body of fading details.

Love will drive all night, the radio stuck on gospel,
humming along when the tune allows itself
remembered from that distant pew of childhood.

What I remember about winter is the loneliness
of her blankets. The snow rumpling away
to some edge, fraying into the unseen soil of spring.

When I fell through the ice on a childlike day,
I clawed the edges and I thought of your body
as yellow—not unlike the sun, though not as distant.

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