“Powwow Grounds At Night” by Michael Daugherty


Woodsmoke permeates the air.
Hushed sounds of campers talking.
Bugs singing their midnight songs.
Crunching sound of spirits walking.
Dirt paths and valley hills.
The slight echo of Hank Williams soul.
Merle Haggard, George Jones,
and maybe some David Allen Coe.
The pitter padder of the little people.
Things going missing from the table.
The sound of the fresh flowing spring;
Fresh enough to sip from a ladle.
Those days have long passed me by now
That I’m grown and don’t see those places.
I no longer feel the ancestors beside me
and I no longer remember their faces.
I hope my children can feel those feelings
as they watch the flickering of campfire light.
That comfort of the ancestors holding your hands
as you walk the powwow grounds at night.


About This Poem

Looking back on my younger days, I remember powwows being a large part of my youth. There’s so many memories of powwows that they all kind of blend together into one large powwow memory. But those memories were filled with mystery, spirits, and country music. The little people lived up in the hills behind the camps. Running down the dirt paths, you saw someone running beside you and when you looked over, no one was there. Deer woman lived across the bridge. That’s the kind of memories I have of powwows from my youth. I miss them…

Niyâwe! Thank you!


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