somewhere in america, in a certain state of grace . . .
                                                   Patti Smith

As a child I danced
to the heartful, savage
rhythm
of the Native, the
American Indian,
in the Turtle Mountains,
in the Round Hall,
in the greasy light of
kerosene lamps.

As a child I danced
among the long, jangle legs of
the men, down
     beside the whispering moccasin women,
in close circles
around the Old Ones,
who sat at the drum,
their heads tossed, backs arched
     in ancient prayer.

As a child I danced away from the fist,
I danced toward the rhythms of life,
I danced into dreams, into
     the sound of flies buzzing.
A deer advancing but clinging to the forest wall,
the old red woman rocking in her tattered shawl,
the young women bent, breasts
drooping to the mouths of their young, the heat
hanging heavy on the tips of our tongues,
until the Sun
burned the sky black, the moon
made us silvery blue and
all of the night sounds, all of the night sounds

folded together with the buzzing
still in our heads,
becoming a chant of ghosts,
of Crazy Horse and Wovoka
and all the Endless Others,
snaking through the weaving through the trees
like beams of ribbons of light,
     singing, we shall live again we shall live,

until the Sun and the Sun and the Sun and I
awaken,
still a child, still dancing
toward the rhythm of life.

Note to Poetry Out Loud students: This poem begins with an epigraph that must be recited. Omitting the epigraph will affect your accuracy score.
  • Mark Turcotte, “Flies Buzzing” from The Feathered Heart, published by Michigan State University Press. Copyright © 1998 by Mark Turcotte. Reprinted by permission of Mark Turcotte.

  • Source: The Feathered Heart (Michigan State University Press, 1998)

Poet Bio

What People are Saying

"I learned that I had the ability to capture the attention of an audience and evoke emotion from them. When I recited my first poem in 9th grade for a mock POL class competition, I was incredibly shy and barely audible. But eventually I grew to love sharing the emotions poems gave me."
Chiara Raimondo
2016 NY POL Champion