Streaming by Allison Adelle Hedge Coke
An award-winning poet turns to her indigenous background to consider loss, memory, and the fate of the planet.
Split skin stretched over marrowless cage,
encased dry tomb, like those strewn
through this loess reach, cradling past
ever present here, and now you come
walking riverside, bringing sensory thrill
into daylight much like this cervidae
culled morning each waking before
demise. We move this way, catching life
until death captures us, where we rot
into the same dust holding multitudes
before us, and welcoming those beyond.
just go where they’re made to
when everything else goes awry.
Eagle Tail in stilled time
the body lifting surface
where churning falls gave
walleye, trout, coolness
for multitudes, generations,
now quiver his resolute effort to
something larger than humanness.
Or, was it the core of humanness?
Was it melody? Rhythmic water
moving serpentine as it had always
grasped? Carrying, then delivering
the boy back to surface.
In turn taking in
the child’s sister with brave stranger to
people the underneath where
we seldom belong.
Are they now nearer
the center we stepped from?
Nearer where we all lived,
yet gone? In this world we lose
the ones who give the most.
The fruit of toil, its mission.
More than we muster.
Each time the water
surges and crashes, I feel his words,
“I got him. Hold onto me. I won’t let go.”
“Allison Adelle Hedge Coke’s fierce new poetry collection, Streaming, takes her always brave and startling sonics into new narrative spaces. These poems are full of needful improvisation and piano runs. Hedge Coke makes music from tornados and glyphs, from cranes spiraling overhead, and from the grumbling stomachs of hungry children. She sings these stories because she has to and because we need her to. And when the speaker in “Sudden Where” says “maybe we’d find something magnificent, give it up to make somebody happy,” it is clear that in these urgent poems, and in this necessary book, we’ve found both the magnificent and the unforgettable.”—Adrian Matejka, author of The Big Smoke
“Streaming, is an elegant collaboration between poetry and music.”—Hawaii Review
“Each poem has its own rhythm that meshes into that of the collection overall, a body greater than the sum of its parts, an organism alive with language.”—AskMen
“Her poems beg to be read aloud, a jumble of hard sounds that wind their way into an effortless melody. . . Streaming is truly an accomplishment.”—Summerset Review
“We should be grateful to Allison Hedge Coke for compiling, with her poetry, notes about a world that will be unfamiliar to a generation living one hundred years from now. By that time, the nature that she describes will have all but vanished. It’s as though the earth itself was dictating its biography to her.”—Ishmael Reed
“When a book of poems contains the pleasure and adventure of a fine soundtrack it should be loudly celebrated. There are many ways to listen to Allison Adelle Hedge Coke’s fine collection Streaming. The thing of it is, whether still on the page, or with an undercurrent of musicians and voice, the lyrics ring true. The poem always wins.”– Cornelius Eady, Miller Family Chair, The University of Missouri
“If the history of the Americas is a body of stories, Allison Adelle Hedge Coke’s Streaming is most definitely its life-blood. This glorious book journeys through the bittersweet relationships between personhood and nation, nationhood and nature, and nature and culture, bearing witness to each entity’s determined struggle, each entity’s hard-won triumph: “colonization,/ construction, that morning, this day,/ every beam in balance despite horror /in the world. Streaming’s elegant verse will “sing you home into yourself and back to reason.” — Rigoberto Gonzalez
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.
Author photo credit Vaughan Hedge Coke