Dry Bones Dance by D.E. Kern

Dry Bones Dance

In memory of Joel Keen

It’s mile two, and I have an eye on the ice.
I am also slipping into thoughts of my dear,
departed friend—the one who was all limbs
and a great big heart. It is the damnedest

thing. Searching for a bone-dry spot, I am
reminded of his favorite song about a prophet
dancing for the pleasure of God. I recall him
telling me this and thinking it funny, but not

nearly so much as watching him the next
Sunday, bopping the way older men are apt
to do—humerus and metacarpals unhinged
—and entirely comfortable with the idea

there is something more to this than us. He
had this lesson for me and others, us being
the sorts to exchange in the currency of the
mind. We agreed a just deity takes questions;

this being the only gentlemanly thing to do
for one with such an advantage in perspective.
I suppose we shared some skepticism regarding
love too, the way it requires us to punch out

chinks in our own armor. Maybe this is why
you’re on my mind tonight, as I finally gain
the vantage of a bridge that shivers under
the burden of all this Christmas traffic.

The water rolls past unchecked, oblivious
to the demands of a new year I can itemize
far too easily. But the sum of my trouble
is time; it settles with the cold in my bones.

I think perhaps that is why you danced.
There is something entirely logical about
letting go of those things we were never met
to hold. Something utterly courageous shown

when a man taught to stand on ceremony
lies these pretenses down. The muted sun settles
behind a latticework of trees, and I throttle
the truck, content with another lesson learned.

by D.E. Kern

David on Facebook

Editor’s Note: The enjambment from the first stanza to the next reflects the uncertainty of the speaker’s position on the road, and in life.

One thought on “Dry Bones Dance by D.E. Kern

  1. This is a powerful and exquisite poem. The long run on sentence adds to the sense of confusion and anxiety. Having lived through something similar with my own mother, I know the truth in what this poet has so magnificently shared. His deep respect for his mother’s life is palpable.


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