Landscape without Crossing Signal

by J. P. Dancing Bear

A herd of trains steaming the divided prairie
where last dusk I saw the shadowing horse gallop
headlong into the oncoming twilight—its breath
clouding like an engine, and in that gloom the animal
looked made of iron. My head heavy with wild
reenactments of metaphorical history and impending
collision. How the stallion streamlined it’s body
to an aerodynamic grace, maneless, ears like the slicing
fins of cars. The train with its forward lamp a beacon
as the transforming hooves kicked plumes

that drifted into the consuming grass. Muscles rippled
in the darkening mist until the outline of the equine
was overtaken. As though all the creatures that had
evolved over the tracked time had ceased to produce
a single horse. The train gained in size, it rumble became
more deafening than could be absorbed by prairie roots.
Each face in the lighted body of the train was my own
staring at the cut-up, patch-worked land, the first fence
not so tall as wide. In its wake, the final brush of tailwind,
and the clacking sound of steel wheels against rails,
I could nearly hear the galloping hooves.

J. P. Dancing Bear is the author ten collections of poetry, most recently, Inner Cities of Gulls (2010) and Conflicted Light (2008) by Salmon Poetry. His poems have been published in DIAGRAM, No Tell Motel, Third Coast, Natural Bridge, Shenandoah, 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. His book Family of Marsupial Centaurs and Other Birthday Poems will be released by Iris Publications at the end of 2010.

Back to Issue Nine: Fall 2010