say thank you please
by t. zoEy benally

sunlight excites water molecules
jiggle, twirl and dance off into
bantam chicken blue egg skies

and we cry, OH WHAT DID WE DO?
forgive us gods, remember us gods
we are evil and our thin dirt cows are thirsty

Peromyscus maniculatus numbers
are low and still we wail, pull hair from folded
tsee-yelth bundles, until heads droop in shame

pushy winds sand blast our eyes till muddy tears
blow away into hazy tan skies
tangled and knotted in whirlwind thought strands

and we yell, WHAT CAN WE DO?
save our topsoil gods, we are weak
we cannot farm if our land is blown away

paper or is it plastic? tumble and bound
race east to where San Juan County begins in some minds
pass non-native tumble weeds and we still scream

say, "thank you gods,
for protecting your children."


empty building
by t. zoEy benally

adobe crumbles
clay, sand, rock mutiny
seek out similar species, familiar fractals
to rub surfaces with
they abandon communal block ideas
unified rectangles bound by dreams
of residing high above the ground
bigger than mountain mud

they have all gone, all birds
and most gregarious insect factions
i have been formatted as a background
watch them pass with eyes eroding
every wider with each wind or rain storm
eventual face crash, splash of dirt rubble

empty pews will be revealed
seating bones bleached by sun
connections weakened by repeated
swell-shrink, freeze-thaw, absorb-evaporate
far beyond trendy weatherized wood
straight to interesting trash
bound for the landfill

my zenith come & gone
my parting remarks, farewell gesture
only a reminder
black & white still life
suitable for framing
of a time whose relevance
in this configuration, now elapsed


recovery is amazing
by t. zoEy benally

A dream is a wish your heart makes. --Cinderella, 1950

tuesday morning i killed
one of my dreams

followed proper microbiology flame sterilization technique
SD40 gobbled, then metal licked clean by turquoise flame tipped violet

my teeth & jaws hurt as soft #2 pencil wood stifled screams
& was embossed by incisors, canines
pocket knife blade sliced cell membranes & severed capillaries

if my eyeballs burst from searing pain
would vitreous & aqueous humor rain down
or glom out like desiccated jell-o?

affixed to the front of my right 4th finger, this dream kept
rings from fitting properly; even a ring made from a spoon end
shallow cup hacked off, ends curled to meet—would not fit

daily this dream caught on edges, tore & bled
daily i winced in pain, & often cried

i tossed the disengaged piece high into the tree branches
so bugs & birds might be nourished
by this cotton candy fragment of myself

wednesday i started radical chemotherapy
to keep it from coming back


by t. zoEy benally

turn around & let me write poetry on your back
why wait for smooth level surfaces
when your shoulder blade planes do nicely
i promise, i won't dribble ink on your solar ray baked skin
your going provides ample space
for my words to roam & shift around
one or two might wander around side
try to hide in elbow corners
nibble on tender grass fingers
that continue to tickle stoic rock cheeks


five by seven I
by t. zoEy benally

our eyes dart to the rooster red display above sliding door
--why does everyone always do that?
confirmation that this vertical ferris wheel
has indeed scratched steel on steel to a halt
horrific reassurance that an enter button
was indeed punched & you have been entered
into a database cell of people who can
YES--raise your hand--i have been trapped in an elevator

a chasm of steel, yawns, jaws spread wide
separates us to our respective corners--ding-ding, round one!
upper class versus lower class, radical versus conservative
three million square millimeters of steel line up
between us, behind us, above us, below us
they engulf us in this stainless petri dish
floors disguised as tile and walls padded with carpet
fiber covered to deaden bangs & yowls
woven acrylic loops to dig our nails into
softness to sink teeth into when we finally go mad


by t. zoEy benally

"ar--thur, ar--thur"
splits early black grape bowl
pinches cheeks, squinchy wince
strong aunty fingers
airbrushed nails
sour squeeze
juice under tongue

"ar--thur, ar--thur"
skin shades drawn
black lash fringe
mascara free

"ar--thur, ar--thur"
dragon screams
tomato & stawberry silk
curly feather shake

"ar--thur, ar--thur"
thick cream spills
slowly covers
grape stains


pawn me please
by t. zoEy benally

i thought about her this morning
crossed & looped brown-black shoestring tubes
tightened and pondered so many
men fearlessly wearing bows

my shoe bow daintily tied i recalled
iridescent soap bubble words
blown my way on a breathy annoyed sigh
encapsulated in circular soap film
i love you--oh yeah, by the way
floats towards my face, bursts
and soapy slobber stings my eyes

i am an accessory for her
padded drawers lined with faux velvet
she made me buy for her
burgundy because it sounded
like wine & gold toe rings
to fill the cavern where her heart could be

our coexistence is a lie
this concho belt, not the one she thought
she had me pay for
it is all i can do to not clash & contrast
midnight blue broomstick skirt she wears today

i make her look fat & sallow
my look sadly Santa Fe when she desires Scottsdale or
my eggs boldly scrambled to her order of poached
my counterpart, an eight pound squash blossom
purchased with a warm ball of Santa Domingo bread
on the side last fair

i keep track of when she puts me on
and wonder if i compliment tight wrangler paint-ons
tucked into acid-washed, pre-distressed
leather that will never hold sweet
horse manure perfume


pace my cage
by t. zoEy benally

varnished earth ribbon between piles
great value, create your own, fast acting
freedom, fluffier biscuits, & pleasure promises purchased
feels friction, my daily march, no change in guard

linear clay pot polished by a lithe pebble
picked from the river fringe, reflects moonlight
it winds between things bestowed
in lieu of time, genuine interaction

items to ease guilt that shadows privilege
static echo that whispers reminders
metric tons of trash, stolen land
starving children, ozone layer hole

bars are out, but bullet proof Plexiglas is in
memory molecules blend, invisible haze
paper scraps, old report cards, important articles
pleasant smile on a clay cat's lips
i might need this some day

ancestor fitness passed through genes
slightly turned eye, able to transform empty into full
twist bread ties into tools in milliseconds
has made me wrong for this zoo

my escape plans are flawed
all fluffy cloud devoid of rain
my rude prison stares me in the face
fur has matted & eyes soon cease to blink


yesterday's rain
by t. zoEy benally

aluminum skies freckled
sprinkled with poppy seeds
seven crows leap frog east

palms break surface tension
whorls, archs & loops
carried by currents

dust particles plump with rain
remember gravity & plummet
succulent smooch on her cheek

earth softens & allows earthworm tunnels
satiated winds curl fragrant coffee & blossoms
brown & pink swirled around & over me

i step carefully over orange extension
lines drawn across my path
cross at puddle isthmus
dodge diesel tire spray
eighteen wheels lumber through our clean town