Four Elements of Ghostdance

· Poems · ,

by Reed Bobroff

Listen to an audio version of this poem, read by the poet.


I’ve been ghost dancing in 12” ceremony,
mixed in reverse
I want to go back

back to when
drum circle cipher sessions

spun the world.

I’ve been ghost dancing
on this modern platter of cemented Long Walks.
I pray
for buffalo with hooves like hail:
“Stampede, please, bump the table

please, bump the table.”

I can dance my toes over their groove backs,
listen to the way hide grinds
like pine nuts in gourd
or Hip-Hop of extinct knees
that snaps beautiful like a B-Boy. The Tribe is back!

Quests no longer find thin sacks of bones
on the plains. I’ve been ghost dancing

I can see

Narbona                                      O.D.B.
Crazy Horse                               Notorious B.I.G. and

Red Cloud
jump from their paved-over graves.

I hear their Tribal
I hear words.
I hear prayer.
I hear


Jam Master Jay shows us
Sha’bik’eh through repetition.
We dance
through re-ah-repatition
we dance.

Need to be tied with a deer hide / fat lace. Spit shined, / sterling silver

stamp—gotta long vamp

before B-Boys rip through stage,
decked out in braids.
Turquoise chains hanging for days like

1862 Sioux warrior ways.

But us
new Braves smile,

‘cause Wovoka,
Natives don’t gotta be the only ones who come back!

John Lennon, Robert Johnson, KeithMoon
play Eagle bone
whistles inside Bob Marley’s Peyote clouds.

We are Rainbow proud,
like Krylon feathers, we
bomb this world in medicine wheel
Blue coats point their Gatling guns
but the bullets pass through us
leaving spiritless splatters on the walls.

They say Graffiti is
a “stain.”
So like Wounded Knee
we sink in.
Paint our faces,
black mask

like we’re Mad Villains.
Dressed in ghost jerseys,

we dance on aerosol petroglyphs.
Our signatures
lie upon all the silver
in this Glistening world.

is cedar, pine Hogan.
Thug Mansion is deer hide Tipi.
We mix these Gathering Nations
in until we all permeate

We dance to remember.
We dance until the world
is gone. Everyone is gone. The world is a ghost and everything is


So we drop the Sun
Dagger onto vinyl.

And let it sing.

Reed Adair Bobroff is Diné from Albuquerque, New Mexico and a Theater Studies major at Yale University. Primarily a spoken word artist, Reed is also the founder of Spoken Roots: an organization teaching poetry in underserved and Native American communities as a tool for identity development, grief counseling, and substance abuse and suicide prevention.

From The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop. Copyright © 2015 by Kevin Coval, Quraysh Ali Lansana, and Nate Marshall. Used by permission of Haymarket Books.

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