then and now
by t. zoEy benally

there was a time, clock hands pointed
at 2 hours and 23 minutes past midnight
black dew suspended, damp hands
caressed my cheeks & forehead
minutes when I would have followed you
through the stickiest mud puddles
with my best shoes on, crashed through
tumbleweed thickets in silk and polyester
I wonder if you even realized
the power that you wielded
sternum cracked open, rubbery heart
muscles pumping furiously
did you know, that they were all yours
every jumpy muscle thread
never have I been so close to total
destruction, voluntary annihilation
if you had just leaned forward
mist from your warm breath
would have been enough to send me flying
silver weather balloons
released to me, my weak forearms flooded
with lactic acid, mouth dry, sugar thirst

now mostly I am perplexed, not sure
whether I should wipe my brow in relief
having dodged a bullet, you unaware
that you had even pulled the trigger,
and sent down polished chambers
or whether I should feel the wet
cardboard weight, rejection stench
perhaps I am just a lucky mouse, fortunate
to live out my brown haired days
survivor who can relive the day she felt
the tabby’s claws retract, and a paw
batted a sparkly toy, pinball bounce
off bumpers, flippers flail, but missed
down the drain, into the hidden tunnel safety
I have descended, patchwork earth becomes clear
I see homes, cars, trees, I see the whites
of everyone’s eyes again; I see finger nail moons
and you have become a mere form letter
reply to all, blind courtesy copy
black Times New Roman 12 point font,
full justified, not italicized, not bold


by t. zoEy benally

his feet don’t really match his personality
man poured into size eight running shoes
mother earth replica perched on a spindle
i am impressed at the engineering of his ankles

she loves the secrets that he shares with her
spores released, snuffled out, truffle hints
she smiles eagerly into his face, and nods
watches for crowd reaction to his revelations

he used to hang out by Turquoise, Hogback’s
other side, zigzagged south & north, scared
many tourists, a good boy taking his medicine
stumbled through the Kachina’s dark mouth

she found him out there, moisture and color
dried out of him, mineral crust stains
forgotten doll, she cleaned & oiled, folded him
into a sitting position, placed on her shelf

Navajo sabbatical years he chortled, laughed
until it made him cough, snot bubble threatened
from his nostril edge, and that’s the only thing that
makes him stop, research finally complete, not put off


be it known this day...
by t. zoEy benally

we do not support women going to school
and we reject anything an "educated" woman tells us
because everyone knows that addled brained "little women"
don't really know what they are talking about

we do not support women working outside the home
and we do not recognize any contribution
made by these women, and any donations
will be accepted only from what the man earns

we do not support men micro-waving their own dinners
and we will comment at every public forum on the wane,
sickly pallor that thin children have, and we will
praise mothers whose children wear husky

we do not support children learning to sort laundry
and we will loudly inform them that this is not right,
advising them that when we were children our mothers
never asked us to do any of these things--your mother is lazy

we do not support atheists that watch television on Sunday
and we know that these heathens will not reach the same zenith
that we will, because we do good things
just in case, Jesus or God is in disguise, watching

we do not support instant mashed potatoes or soy products
and we will make faces when served beans with no meat,
because our heritage is based on stew potatoes, potato salad
Bluebird flour frybread, and Don Juan Onate's roasted churro sheep

we proclaim these things by virtue of the power
vested in us as defenders of the family unit, as upholders
of truth, light and wisdom, and as those actively working
to promote harmony and happiness everywhere


air traffic, no control
by t. zoEy benally

conversation waves disrupted my lunch
tuna salad sandwich, torn from thick plastic
preservatives sprinkled and stirred to keep
mold, fungus and other spoilers in check

digital exchange beamed along sight lines
towers squint at tower flashes perched on hills
skeletal cyber gods, fierce chitchat balls hurled
binary games of catch across red sand valleys

she told him about her day and asked him
if he paid the bills? NTUA money order provider
purchased from a trading post not the same
another, containing a whole other tuna sandwich

ma-yazh says it was probably a fax sent
from Chinle to Salt Lake City that messed up
her pancreas and mutated the insulin
a contract for carnival sewage, cotton candy thieves

acid reflux, heard about it on television
esophagus erosion, gully eaten, sand drops away
dirt road oxbows, trail thrown wider and wider
but i know it's all the internet chat room traffic

he said they don't need line of sight anymore
satellite beams can bounce, sift through yucca
inner-space, Navajo model code grasshoppers along
grazing land, zero-one, yes-no, on-off, stick-circle, earth-sky