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When The Spirit Moves You, Sing A Song Called Odowan

From Fort Peck, Lois Red Elk sends us a new poem about a sonorous hymn to mark the moment you become present in the mystery of the natural world

Lightning strikes Electric Peak during a thunderstorm passing over Yellowstone National Park. Photo by Neal Herbert/NPS
Lightning strikes Electric Peak during a thunderstorm passing over Yellowstone National Park. Photo by Neal Herbert/NPS

Hello My Friends At MoJo,

I’ve begun working on my book again. With all our isolation I’m finding the computer my dear ally. Sending a poem I began last summer while viewing the painting of one of my children. I appreciate his detail and colors, so close to a high resolution camera image. I remember one of my father’s teachings of how the senses are our friends and how to honor them, use them and to study what they relay. 

My most best wishes to you all,

I Send You Odowan* 

by Lois Red Elk

Say you connect with the opaque wind that 
lives below the evening sky, it is a latch 
that pushes your energy to move mouth to
 bite the moon. I send you Odowan to match
 that mood, a vibration for exhaling breath.
 Say you catch lightning strike in the small 
 corner of your eye, you look, it’s no longer 
there just the split second thought lingering 
 above temple. I send you Odowan for that 
 instant coercion of cold power edging skull. 

 Say you center on dark silhouettes of buttes
 under distant storm, a calling of heart for 
easy prudence to request history held in rock
 from end to end. I send you Odowan to hum 
a patient tempo for day or dream time ethos. 

 Say you camp parallel to our celestial beings,
 evening sources of light not too distant in time, 
where soul sits with the everlasting unknown, 
returning only once. I send you Odowan your 
clue to recognize essence of spirit in interval. 

©Lois Red Elk  *Odowan – a Song

: May we share a few things you may not know about Mountain Journal poet in residence Lois Red Elk (Dakota/Lakota) who is an elder at Fort Peck and an adjunct professor at the local community college. On her mother's side of the family she has Isanti roots and from her father's Hunkpapa and Ihanktonwa blood line, she is descended from Sitting Bull. 
During her earlier years living in Los Angeles, Red Elk was a TV talk show host, an FM radio host at Pasadena City College, and a technical advisor for many Hollywood film productions. 

We are pleased that Lois is working away on a new collection of poems and will let you know when it is published. In the meantime, ask for her other volumes at your favorite local bookseller: Our Blood Remembers, winner of the best non-fiction award from Woodcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers; Dragonfly Weather; and Why I Return to Makoce with a foreword from Montana's recent state poet laureate Lowell Jaeger and nominated for a High Plains Book Award in poetry.
Lois Red Elk-Reed
About Lois Red Elk-Reed

Lois Red Elk-Reed is a poet who calls the high plains home. She is Mountain Journal's poet in residence.
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