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Raccoon Dancer: Dream, Dance, Vision


1 Vision


I am Wanblee Ishnalla

On a rock shelf of skulls and hunger

I saw earth as a glittering crust of salt

Two huge and fierce hawks tear me away

They drop me and I fall a full day

I do not want to die

My blood spreads along the salt


                                                A raccoon licks me

Lightning stabs from his eyes

His breath is rancid and when I writhe

He bites me

Brother he says

Raccoon Dancer


2 Medicine


Moccasins trace the snake's path

A crow flutters on my back

Alive with mirrors my knife sheath

Led to earth by a Dog Soldier sash

A red pinch-bag of horsehair

The grass-stuffed raccoon


I come in peace

Red cheek patches

Raccoon's mouth and my blood

A spotted turkey dangles form my hair

For uncle's death

One notched eagle marches for first coup

I bring medicine to dance


3 Challenge


Shamazza drums and chants roar

Bells tremble and glisten in firelight

No one knows who wins the knife challenge


Who finds the snake's path

Who learns the secret of the drums


My knife searches air

My brother cannot find me

                                                look where he comes


I feel the path Yi!

My feet fly inside the drums

My knife parts the current of my brother's blood

He lies down bleeding

The river of his body floods

We drown inside the drum

Float down the high wind of the snake's path

To the center of earth


The spirit sips his blood

We scream that it might be ours


He leaps stronger than before

We dance together

Our legs break before morning

Yi! A game of fire


My name is Wanblee Ishnalla

Raccoon Dancer




David Steingass

Dance Poetry
A comprehensive anthology
Edited by Alkis Raftis
Copyright 2012