J. P. Dancing Bear

Inward Oracle

          “There's a Donald Trump in all of us."
               —Chris Hayes

Apollo, Apollo my old ray of truth, only because
of the harnessed sun, not the shadow cast—the lie.
Everyone comes to me for something they want—
answers to the whens, the wherefores, the where arts,
when the heart is the future of a dormant volcano
at the foot of which you might live your entire life
in peace and content, still you only want to know
of the violence, the screaming, the catastrophe.
The old kings are good for provoking the gods, adding
to your fear—dwell upon eruptions and greed. The eye
boils in such futures, mad monarchs laugh, they clutch
their scepters in gloom and this your consumed, scorched
heart spent on a fork, in an unopened alleyway. Each ray
offers a silhouette, a child's lie, obvious only when focused on.




for days I walk a skeleton
wondering at the body

that has left me—how I might have sloughed off
my entire life
but for the bones
I can wear a robe of sunset

where the star dipping to the horizon
can become my heart

it too is slowly decaying
but I am no threat
except in what was given to me
in strands of code buried in my marrow

even now I can imagine a gate
of bars I cannot slip through

even if I take off a limb
and then another
and slide them through
the arm severed to save the finger
so the old joke goes

I am a gate
and a broken bone-white key

like a raw moon I carry where an organ
might have gone
here beneath my ribs
I have plenty of open air

for which to mark my dreams
with the tombstones of stars

Look where my eyes used to be
listen to the echoes
of myself denying myself

or earth
I gather my loose bones

my face is a grin
when I feel no joy
no assurances
any ghost can fill me

uncertainty, fear, shame, doom—
haunting molecules and atoms

of ancestry, of history
of being before what may not
live to be tomorrow


J. P. Dancing Bearis co-editor for the Verse Daily and Dream Horse Press. He is the author of fourteen collections of poetry, most recently, Cephalopodic (Glass Lyre Press, 2015), and Love is a Burning Building (FutureCycle Press, 2014). His work has appeared or will shortly in American Literary Review, Crazyhorse, the DIAGRAM and elsewhere. His next book, Fish Singing Foxes is due out from Salmon Poetry.