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Hammer Myths

J. P. Dancing Bear

          (Poem Starting with a Line by Simone Muench)

to build a house that cannot hold us

or our hammers, which lie down in the shadows,

and pretend that the nails do not wish

them dead, that their flat heads want to go bendingly

into that good night—or that being driven

deep into the grains of another life was a life.

The hammers lay shivering in the slivers of wood

in the silvering twilight and spooned—

they’d said prayers against the rusting dawn.

Their Gods were our hands: flat faces, five fingers for hair

and We fashioned them not in Our image

or to be Olympic, but to pound and bang

all the other things We had to make. They were angels

with prybar wings. Ping and Ballpeen, Framing

and Claw—all the names of angels written in the Book

of How To. But in Our grand minds, in Our grand

images of Ourselves, We could not imagine

the blueprints for a house big enough to cathedral

Our vanity. And the hammers began to think

themselves better than Us. They outgrew

the tool boxes and sheds.

They asked questions but forgot

to genuflect. There were whispers during the winter

nights and rains that the hands were dead—

departed into the ghostlier realms, leaving the flock

of hammers to contemplate their fates under leaky roofs.

J. P. Dancing Bear

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