you are in the diode archives diode v5n2




Within the body of water,
other bodies of water.
It cossets her, one tentacle

and then more.
Behind each suction cup,
a blue mark: half moon, star, 

and a night sky
it only knows from rumor.

though it is governed by fluidity.
It sees farther out than she,
into tide and current, guarding.

It thinks to return her to the surface,
but with each slip across her skin,
she says, “Stay.”

It cannot sleep anymore—
too many visions
of fishhooks and cleavers. 

Her back curves in to it.
They are buoyant,
and it is wild eyed:

when has it been loved like this?
It would live in her world—
bathtubbed. But she says, 

“Stay here in the sea.”
It wants to be her diving bell,
surround her in pocketed air,

but she will kick to the surface.
They drift in and out
of their domains,

air and water exchanges.
She moves her home to the edge. 
It stays close as the surf will allow.


Labor Day


the apartment building windows
are the cells of a hive
a place to store drones in the off hours—
where bodies
lay dreamless of the day
away from paid sweat
or the uniform pretension
of “appearances.”
Dreamless of the lobby walls
etched with hollow-fonted mission statements
where god loves his cogs,
his flywheels, his grease—
all the machines
built in his image.

I finger my name into the fog
of my breath upon the apartment window.

A clean exhalation—no textile
or coal dust.

For this, my body is grateful.

I stare at my soft fingers
that I have used today
to run ahead of my reading
page after bound page.

Where is the parade of the day?
Too much work?


I napped on the made bed
with the window open
a slight breeze thumbing
the pages, losing my place.

I translated street noise
into waves, into currents,
water and sand—but
no visions accompanied.

I was blind in the desert,
the sound of rattlesnakes
to fear, I followed
along the bank.

No rest was my bounty
from sleep. No
angeled epiphany alighted
upon my brow or woke me.


the evening amber windows
the light of hundreds of cells

each has its own movement
of bodies using time

to wander the realms
of coglessness

away from the engine hum
of apocryphal needs.  


J. P. Dancing Bear is the author of ten collections of poetry, most recently, Family of Marsupial Centaurs and other birthday poems (Iris Publishing, 2012); and Inner Cities of Gulls (Salmon Poetry, 2010), winner of a PEN Oakland-Josephine Miles National Literary Award. His poems have been published in Mississippi Review, Third Coast, DIAGRAM, New Orleans Review, Verse Daily, and many other publications. He 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.