Waadookodaading Drum at the Wisconsin State Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection Consultation with Tribal Leaders meeting at the LCO Convention Center, 10/8/14; or:
I can’t stop watching this YouTube video:
of seven little Indian boys
with their switches in hand
and they begin to sing. How can you stand this?
I would ask my mother at each Pow Wow,
young and heartless, before it became a homecoming,
their pitched wail, fevered yips and arpeggios,
how the longer you stayed
they were like wolves, then crows,
then, eventually, the river, too.
Oh yes, the river moves like this,
sometimes broken by tributaries,
but carried by momentum, sometimes
the floodplain and one stick at a time strikes
and all pick up again together
like a shared lung. We who stand at the corners
of this carpeted space, most likely
another casino convention room
if it’s anything like ours, we shift
our feet, we grind our heels
in time. We witness. And now, how
can you leave? How can you
look away? We don’t all know
the songs, but we know the materials.
We know to love the language
spinning from their throats.
Beat Me to Grandma’s, I Dare You
What storm do I inhabit?
but not quite dark, so that were you
a small runner stream along this path
I’d see when you crossed me
and surely avoid it. Can night still me
in my lung’s worry,
you ask, your mouth full up
with peaches and spotted apples.
My basket was
You’re a time bomb, you say. But I am the one
with the butter knife hidden
for when you disrobe,
saliva and five-day whiskers
in a negligee like you’ve
lost your damn mind
screaming you were the one,
Sails Like White Clouds
Air shimmered, those moments
before they found us, their sails,
our small bony fish crisping
at the fire. Each of us breathe,
narrow our eyes, the fog above
every waterway like fingers
in our mouths, but here
we shift—into bears with
open jaws, our pupils alien,
their hands heavy on the rifles.
Smoke twines from the fire
and other fires, the thatched roof
splinters to ash. They say
deliverance, we say go,
and take the blankets with you.
Kenzie Allen is a descendant of the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin, and she is a of Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Sonora Review, The Iowa Review, Boston Review, Indiana Review, SOFTBLOW, and elsewhere, and she is the managing editor of the Anthropoid collective. Kenzie was born in West Texas and currently lives in Norway.