by Tim Vaughn

Allison Adelle Hedge Coke

Allison Adelle Hedge Coke is an American Book Award–winning poet and the author of Dog Road Woman, Off-Season City Pipe, Blood Run, and Burn, as well as a memoir, Rock Ghost, Willow, Deer. She is the editor of the anthologies Sing: Poetry of the Indigenous Americas, Effigies and Effigies II and currently serves as a Distinguished Writer at the University of Hawaii, Manoa. Hedge Coke came of age working fields, factories, and waters and is currently at work on a film, Red Dust: the dirty thirties, chronicling mixed-blood and Native life.


"dancers on toe chaotic climax
extremities held in tight circles
bent elbow, dainty toes, black-gray claws
ears slicked back like
a scorned, angered mare
whiskers gleam, tails streaming along to
the dance the dance
the Mardi Gras
the Coup d’état
the Marathon
They Shoot Horses Don’t They?
their bodies wrapped in fur as if they
should be dressed, primped, combed
frenzy filled they touch lightly almost
a ballet, or tap, no, free
dance they are free
from restraints
from being minor mammal
suddenly they huddle
gangly approach to center
like a sneak-up dance
exchanging excitement
they plan, this is no instinct,
they prepare, premeditate
mutinous recapture of the den
those tunnels outside, they
were not built by hares the
urine odor was not left by infants
dancers left this trace
to forewarn intruders"

— from The Year of the Rat