Henri Cole

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There's a black bear

in the apple tree

and he won't come down.

I can hear him panting,

like an athlete.

I can smell the stink                                                      

of his body.


Come down, black bear.

Can you hear me?


The mind is the most interesting thing to me;

like the sudden death of the sun,

it seems implausible that darkness will swallow it

or that anything is lost forever there,

like a black bear in a fruit tree,

gulping up sour apples

with dry sucking sounds,


or like us at the pier, somber and tired,

making food from sunlight,

you saying a word, me saying a word, trying hard,

though things were disintegrating.

Still, I wanted you,

your lips on my neck,

your postmodern sexuality. 

Forlorn and anonymous:

I didn't want to be that.  I could hear

the great barking monsters of the lower waters

calling me forward.


You see, my mind takes me far,

but my heart dreams of return.


Black bear,

with pale-pink tongue

at the center of his face,

is turning his head,

like the face of Christ from life.

Shaking the apple boughs,

he is stronger than I am

and seems so free of passion -

no fear, no pain, no tenderness.  I want to be that.


Come down, black bear,

I want to learn the faith of the indifferent.