The Sharp-Breasted Snake

By Louis Little Coon Oliver
Read by Jennifer Elise Foerster

(Hо̄kpē Fuskē)

The Muskogee’s hokpi—
                fuski (Loch Ness
                       Travelled here
                           by the Camp of
                              The Sac and Fox;
                                  Thru the alluvial
                                     Gombo soil, flailing
                                        Thrashing-up rooting
                                     Giant trees;
                                  Ploughed deep
                               With its sharp breast.
                            Come to rest by
                         Tuskeegi Town, buried 
                      its self in a lake of
                   mud to rest. The
                warriors of Tustanuggi    
             were ordered to shoot
           it with a silver tipped
        arrow. With a great
      roar and upheaval The
    Snake moved on;
  winding by Okmulgee
 To enter (Okta hutchee)
South Canadian River.
 Thus his ploughed
  journey, The Creeks
   called (Hutchee
    Sofkee) Deepfork
       One, Cholaka,
          observed The Snake
            had hypnotic Power.
              Could draw a person
                into a swirling
                  whirlpool. It
                    made a sound
                       Like a


Film by Monte Nickles and James B. Joyce.

Part of Songs at the Confluence: Indigenous Poets on Place, a digital event produced by Adrian Brinkerhoff Poetry Foundation and Tippet Rise in collaboration with In-Na-Po (Indigenous Nations’ Poets).

From Caught in a Willow Net, Greenfield Review Press, 1983. Reproduced with permission.