Ghost Dance

Like Vacant and Empty forms,
giving birth to world,
brother and sister,
stretched and
shaking.

Like Greedy Raven scab fed,
descending Sky Walker’s sparks,
delivering us a
gift of
sunshine.

Like Great Turtle supporting us,
on his venerable shell,
providing a rest
upon the
deep.

Like brave Beaver winding through
river, stealing guarded fire
from huddled pines,
makes them
unmovable.

Like crafty cunning Coyote fixing
north, south, east, west,
from rainbow poles
placed in
order.

Like the soaring Eagle who
flies upon burning wings,
singing our prayers’
joy in
spirit.

This is what I’m thinking,
all of these things,
a beautiful people,
forever in
spirit.

Giuseppe Gillespie – August 2021

*** Notes ***

Stanzas decrement from 5 to 1 word.

Originally inspired by the Havasupai Medicine Song‘s form.

The first five stanzas are based on separate Native American myths from many different groups (Luiseño, Tsimshian, Seneca, Achomawi + Wishram, Nez Perce).

1: Based on the creation story from the Californian Luiseño people. Luiseño Creation and Origin of the World
2: Based on creation story from the Tsimshian of the Northwest Coast. Tsimshian Creation and Raven
3: Based on the story of Old Woman’s Fall from the Seneca of the North East. Here
4: Based on the story of Beaver and the Pines from the Nez Perce of the Plateau.
5: This is a slight mixture of the ‘Coyote and the Salmon’ myth from the Wishram Plateau people, where a crafty Coyote frees salmon from a beaver dam, and the creation myth from the Californian Arochmawi where Coyote Man fixed North, South, East, and West using poles made from the rainbow.

Listen to poem audio:

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