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J. P. Dancing Bear


Pack Your Trash

— Poem starting with a line by Jeffrey Levine

We'll pack one tent for our love, another for our sins, walk south

away from the ruins—Orpheus will never come back here.
The birds register a guarded song, they know us
by our garbage heaps, our casual disregard
for that which is not ours.

What the feathered remember in song is the unbroken
sky, pre-contrail, pre-carbon cloud,
the edge growing empurpled
and giving way to the evening star.

If they thought of us as gods, it was those drawn
with black blood, the unmentionable ones
living in their own pollution, and who must be
prayed against.

Yes, we leave dragging two tents behind us,
walking in the direction of green heat.
We have all our hopes and a few
lessons we may never unpack

because what we know we do not like to know,
what we carry with our hopes is a box of imps
and what we cannot force ourselves
to remember is that not everything we pack

should always be opened.



J. P. Dancing Bear is the author of Conflicted Light (Salmon Poetry, 2008), Gacela of Narcissus City (Main Street Rag, 2006), Billy Last Crow (Turning Point, 2004) and What Language (Slipstream, 2002). His poems have been published in Shenandoah, Poetry International, New Orleans Review, National Poetry Review, DIAGRAM, Mississippi Review, Verse Daily, and many others. He is the editor of the American Poetry Journal and the host of "Out of Our Minds," a weekly poetry program on public radio station KKUP. His next book, Inner Cities of Gulls, will be published by Salmon Poetry in 2010.
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