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For The Bee Who Dances At This World's End
“Dedication” Bardic Poetry by Joseph S. Plum
Greetings and welcome to American Bardic Poet.
This week I share the poem Dad pulled from his mind collection as the dedication to one of his books. I said, “Dad, we need a dedication for this new book.”
And he instantly replied, “Gratefully, forever and again. For the wolf who is a friend.”
This poem highlights how important wild animals are to his poetry - indeed they are at the center of his creative work. I also share a story from my childhood about the poet and bees. He’s allergic to bees. And he also dances with bees.
It’s this dance...the swirling between two worlds…animal and human <> life and death <> body and spirit <> that opens his mind to the poems. I think.
(The poet’s daughter.)
gratefully forever and again
for the wolf who is a friend
for the hawk who becomes a man
for the bee who dances at this world’s end
and for the great stag of the red speech
of the ancient tongues of the wind
i dedicate this division of dark and light
to every unknown to every known
who has ever slipped from being
into becoming that I might begin
coming into being forever and again
Read my post regarding punctuation and editing of the poems here.
When I remember Dad dancing with the bees, it is set to the rhythm of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” in my head. The marching drumbeat keeping time, the celestial voice dropping down from the clouds, Dad’s logic and proportion falling to the wayside.
He’s in the field at the center of a swarm. He’s swirling his hands in circular motions, head bent, eyes closed. He’s curving his hands just over the backs of the bees as they collide with his open palms. He is barefoot, bare-chested.
It seems as if he’s chanting, “Feed your head! Feed your head!” as the inevitable moment arrives and he gets stung.
I run as fast as my body will move toward the house. I feel like I am underwater screaming, “He got stung! He got stung!” in slow motion.
Mama runs toward the car, grabs the Epi pen from the glove box and turns to me, eyes wide.
I point to the field. Dad is stumbling toward the house holding his hands up to his face. He stares at his fingers as they swell into ten floating balloons. He lifts his arms over his head and watches the balloons float upward toward the sun. Mama tackles him at full speed and stabs him in the leg. He passes out. My brothers and I help Mama drag Dad inside the house to the bed where he remains asleep. Motionless.
I wait at the foot of the bed. I tickle the bottoms of the poet’s bare feet.
“Dad, wake up.”
I pull on each of his toes, one at a time. I tell him stories, update him on my adventures.
“Dad, wake up.”
“Hija,” Mama finally says, “leave your Dad alone. He’s resting.”
My brothers and I rotate shifts at the foot of the bed, watching for movement. I go back for my shift, but this time Dad is missing. Mama points to the dining room. Dad is slumped-over in a chair, his head tucked inside his arms resting on the table. I sit next to him and wrap my fingers around his.
“I went traveling, Lupita,” Dad says in a whisper. “I went to visit the bee who dances at the world’s end.”
“I know,” I whisper back to him, squeezing his fingers, once again their normal size. “I saw you.”
This is a page from the book, I Believe in Seeds: Affirmations for Rewilding, made possible by a grant from the BeWildReWild Fund at Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. This book combines my watercolor paintings with Dad’s poems, and gave me a chance to try something different with punctuation. Also, it was such a beautiful moment when Dad saw my paintings and realized his poems were part of his daughter’s artwork.
I’ll write more next week. Hope to see you again then. Please consider sharing this post with someone you think may be interested in Dad’s poetry.
🙏🏼 Thank you for gathering here. May it be a blessing. 🙏🏼
About the Poet
Joseph S. Plum is a poet in the bardic tradition. He lives off-grid in rural Iowa and composes his unique chant-like oral poetry for fascinated audiences around the world. Joe has over 16 hours of oral poetry memorized in his head. He pulls from this collection of rhyming lines to compose poems according to the energy of the audience listening. Joe does all of this without writing the poems down on paper or holding any notes.
Joe’s daughter, Emily Lupita, typed up his poems over the years and launched Dreaming Deer Press to publish his work. He now has nine poetry books for sale on Amazon that can be purchased on Joe’s website - here.