Honor Dance
     (a ghazal)

To many powwow dancers, it’s not worth it if there’s no contest.
They cannot see the value if there’s no competition, no contest.

Was it Trickster Coyote who thought it up, snickering?
A play on pride, he thought. Gamble or tall tales? No! Contest!

What a coup it was, so the “best of the best” could preen!
It mattered greatly to them, their esteem. Where was it with no contest?

But there are others who enter the Circle in honor.
For memory of family and heritage we dance, not fame, not contest.

In regalia or just a shawl over street clothes, we know —
in the Circle, we are witnessed by those seen and not-seen, no contest.

We gather in dance to show respect, to honor a person, a family.
We mark the joyful, the sorrowing, but now, not contest.

To many powwow dancers, it’s not worth it, this weighted test.
We value self and others, without competition or contest.