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How to dance with death

Buy a skull on a five-foot pole.
Glue negatives in the eye sockets.
Tie a cascade of film to its throat.
Crown it with bone beads.
Safety pin your mother’s hospital band
To the brown net atop a golden hem
adorned with blue beads, red bangles,
and green feathers.

Then wait.

When the time comes jump up.
Implore a death dancer
to join the improvised ritual.
Plant the skull-stick between you.
Take a deep breath.
Shake, moan, and bow.
Upturn the staff.
Turn death on its head
As a newborn unborn
Birthed by a drone
Transform it into a divining rod,
a navigational gyroscope.
The life force presses out on one axis
The death force presses in on another
Complex torques spin their cycles.

Dance to disambiguate death.
Materialize it’s finality.
Find a truer balance.
Trust the hole in the heart.
Do this delicate dance
Slow down.
Let it teach, tame,
tremble, humble you.
This is how to stay wild.



*A gyroscope is a device for measuring or maintaining orientation, based on the principles of angular momentum.[1] In essence, a mechanical gyroscope is a spinning wheel or disk whose axle is free to take any orientation….its orientation remains nearly fixed, regardless of any motion of the platform on which it is mounted.


    • cynthia winton-henry says:

      Hi Rick. Took my breath away too. It is a reflection on a dance I did with Trish at the InterPlay Convergence. I really stepped into a conscious trance. I know you would understand on many levels.

  1. I love the waiting part–until the time comes to jump up and dance w/ it all. Paradoxically, as hard as it is for me to practice patience, waiting, watching and listening, it’s one of the things I do best, because it so feeds my soul.
    Thank you, Cynthia for this beautiful poem. Lila

  2. Nancy Banman says:

    Reliving being entranced and taught by the Dane with death. Thank you for the beauty and power of the dance in body and poetry.


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