The Voice

By William Oandasan 1947–1992 William Oandasan

“first there is a word
the word is the song

1

song gives birth to
the song and dance
as the dance steps
the story speaks


2

the icy mountain water
that pierces the deep thirst
drums my fire
drums my medicine pouch


3

deep within my blood
a feather in the sky
foam on clear water
Tayko-mol!


4

free as the bear
and tall as redwoods
throb my blood roots
when spirits ride high


5

a valley ripe with acorns
and yellow poppies everywhere
as i stand here
dreaming of you


6

jolting my dream
an old man struggling
with an eel      his coat appears
disheveled and empty


7

in a sacred manner
i sang and waited
       a lick of your blood
       i must take, reverently, deer


8

for you, blue corn baby,
my thoughts
on a melody of love
sail the sky


9

around fire on my head
a rattlesnake hisses and slithers
then flies up      out of sight
fighting in sleep i cry out


10

the snake in my spine is tensing
for combat
thoughts become forced and tight
the air is a sharp knife


11

from under me today
the earth was pulled
balancing on a sharp mountain ridge
i search for a plain


12

Tayko-mol has not left us
but lives in the pulse
of our words, and waits
in the azure for us all

William Oandasan, “The Voice” from Round Valley Songs. Copyright © 1984 by William Oandasan. Reprinted by permission of West End Press.

Source: Round Valley Songs (West End Press, 1984)

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Poet William Oandasan 1947–1992

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Subjects Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Nature, The Body

Biography

Of mixed Yuki and Filipino heritage, William Oandasan was a member of the Yuki tribe of Round Valley, California. An advocate for Native American writers, he founded A Press in 1976 and edited A: A Journal of Contemporary Literature. He is the author of the poetry collections Taking Off (1976); Sermon & Three Waves: A Journey Through Night (1978); Moving Inland, A Cycle of Lyrics (1983); Round Valley Songs (1984), winner of the . . .

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Poems by William Oandasan

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Nature, The Body

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

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