by Zoey T McKenzie

Calico koi
Flip, flash
Scaled tails
Beneath silent
Insulated ice
Water triangles
Lattice expands
To protect
Flora fringe
Burned black
By winter
Equisetum skeletons
Hollow holy reeds
Frigid wind
Gently coaxes
A lonely wail and sob
To fill
Space time cushions
Lily and lettuce
Taro and pickerel
Iris, sweet flag, mosaic


The Rock Record
by Zoey T. McKenzie

The dinosaur roared across the FM radio waves
Dino-Sizzle… Sounds like a Tyrannosaurus rex…!
We turned up the volume to listen for details

Dinosaur exhibition at the county fair complex
Animatronic displays, dinosaurs you could ride

My 8-year-old daughter had one doll
And a wide array of dinosaurs
That doll’s singular role was to be food for her diverse dinosaur herd.

Of course, we were going!

One display compressed the entire history of our earth
Into a one year calendar
We humans came onto the scene two days after Christmas
Imperceptible water molecules adrift in time’s briny sea
75 year jaunts in this 4.6 billion year journey,
Singular human, singular molecule,
Two hydrogen, one oxygen
Not even a water drop

The first three or four worlds, depending on
What corner of the Rez you’re from,
...March through most of December
Were dominated by single celled organisms
The first wave of collaborators
They generously released oxygen
And created a delicate atmospheric cocoon

Quietly observed by the anonymous Orion, Hercules and Pegasus
Then multicellular organisms
Then more oxygen…
Then bigger, more complex creatures
Until finally, us humans…
Mere infants, hours old,
Our first lick and wail of air
Sobs of life still lingering in the dead air space of our lungs
Our novel taste buds still sated and impressed with sweet mother’s milk

My dear friend Ralph reminds me on a daily basis
Of our narrowing window, our blip, our bloop, our bleep
Left with ravens, ticks, donkeys, pigs, pigeons, catfish
Our sliver of air slowly bubbling away
Diminished populations of song birds, bees, butterflies, and trees
Our thrashing limbs accelerating the dissolution, incorporation
Diversity becoming a weak memory ghost
Of oxygen into the saline ocean

Sometimes I wonder if our single celled ancestors have deemed us unworthy
Those whom we ACTUALLY should have created Gods in the image of
Observed our trajectory with ancient time wizened perception
Elected euthanasia for us, and are going back to formula
Infecting our brains to change our behavior and to increase our insouciance

Toxoplasmosis gondii protozoa in mice brains making them more cavalier
Taunting cats, and eaten
To perpetuate the protozoa
At the expense of the mouse

We thrash and flail, peel our fingernails from our fingertips
We deliberately crush our bloody stumps in door hinges
We slowly squander this splinter of heaven
That supports our complex creature survival

Soon our bodies will decompose and mineralize
Petrified and pressured into the layers of rock record
Our two days in the sun,
A gossamer air-brushed crust of tie-dyed sugar
Coated and recorded
Documented on the jawbreaker of time.


Movie Modes
by Zoey McKenzie

I’m an ionian sucker for rom-coms
Magical kisses in the pelting, humid, deluge
The threat of lightning strike not even rumbling
In the sights of a deity’s impending plasma cannon blast
Slo-mo running towards your soul mate through crowds, traffic, barking dogs
Defying gravity. Thumbing your nose at thermodynamics laws.

I’m a sucker for ethereal fantasy films
Featuring unicorns with dancing manes
And neat, polished hooves that prance and stomp
Sky filled with flower petals and allergy inducing cottonwood seed storms
Hazy, soft edges and rivers and streams that don’t care
Which side of the Continental Divide they are on
Dorian optimism with a slightly worried mom

I am a sucker for adventurous foreign films
Phrygian realities in other languages and unfamiliar locales
Trying to solve challenges and mysteries with an exotic accent
Tumbling in my ear and stumbling across my tongue
Losing my luggage and worrying about water quality
Should I get travelers checks or systematically slide
Stacks of local currency into my secret money belt.
How do I avoid being captured by bad guys?

I’m a sucker for films about interactions with alien beings
Quirky lydian love with green guys who are super powered by our star’s light
Waltzing in zero gravity, up and down walls and ceilings
Slamming down a pint of Romulian Ale
Sharing vodka and scotch with Klingons
Flying that space ship sling shot style around the sun
Dodging asteroids and avoiding tribbles

I’m a sucker for movies about the common man
Overcoming staggering odds, escaping from dire straits
Fleeing avocado, harvest gold and rust decor
With wry, mixolydian pluckiness
Sucking down egg yolks and black coffee
Stepping into sagging, faded sweats one foot, then the next
Jogging in the chilly dawn across sand and up stairs
Taking a moment to reflect
And punch the sky in victory with a balled, work calloused fist

I’m a sucker for films that don’t have a happy ending—most of them from France
The hero ensconced and entangled into overwhelming aeolian odds
Held down and enduring the focused beam
Of fluvial sunlight refracted through a magnifying glass
Held in place by a cruel child god
Curious to see, without regret
What will happen next?

I am a sucker for movies that don’t make sense
Teetering on a locrian stool, one of legs too short
One of the legs too loose.
Slowly, creaking into a monotonous
squeak, scrape, thump, squeak, scrape, thump
Work without effect



I waited in the snow. Wind pressed against my back and legs. I smashed frozen mud with my boot toe. Listened to the final crunch of ice crystals. Then the quiet surrender of red sand. His John Deere growled and chuffed out of the juniper trees. Big black tires pressed tread into the cold earth. He quietly climbed down. Not yelling like on the phone earlier. Shaken soda bottle diffused into flat, bland dark liquid. He had no money. And he cried. The horse was was his brothers. His brother was gone. He pressed his face into the mane, the gray hairs stuck to his tears and started to freeze. I gave him time. Let him cry. Tried not to stare. Tried not to join him in sorrow. He asked me again and again if I was sure that there was nothing to be done for the broken cannon bone. The horse had been his brother’s. And his brother was gone.


Burned bridges are difficult to cross
Prophecy from the bowels of a fortune cookie

If you're not prepared
This might be true

One summer the footbridge across the churning irrigation canal
Was burned by a troupe of zombie spray paint huffers, baggers, sock thieves

We still made it across
Again and again
Difficulty is relative


Bailing wire twisted, turned
Knotted symmetrically
I don't even know the conjugation
For what the pliers inspired
In that thin metal column
But it held fences
Transcended politics
Conducted electricity
Wired together communities



I’m eating my last boiled egg this morning.
Casual Thursday morning of yoga, squats, and routine hygiene activities.
I boiled a half-dozen last week, and have been eating them off and on.
Six Grade AA white eggs jitter-bug in the red enamel pot.
Trembling to a simmered beat. I depended on them.
I’m not sure what I am going to do now.
The barren forearm of future breakfasts stretches out before me.
I am anxious.


Time is Relative

Yesterday time was measured by the
speed of tears running down my face.
My universe contracted.
Exhalation. Removing toxins.

Yesterday was a day on Venus
Minutes hobbled by on creaky wooden crutches
Super heated air trickled in
I finished reading a book and re-read interesting sections
I tried to lose myself in music on Pandora
I tried to lose myself in my favorite movies
Meditation was my only recourse
Marinate in the time alone
Back to the basics
Continue to breath

Yesterday I lost my muse
Pluck inflamed with grief
But that is the nature of muses

Today I am better
Tomorrow I will be even better
With each turn of the Earth
I will be further from this nadir
Spirals of time
my wounds



Cold air slows molecule vibrations
Snowflakes with jazz hands
Water plods into ice formations
Crystallized into a
Clean flavored candy shell
Ice Floats at first
Then slams shut
A vertically clawed adamantium prison door
Liquid incarcerated
Not quite ready to be stilled

Cold air annihilates cell walls
Expands liquid into a solid lattice
Squares explode
Ninety degree corners become chaos
Triads joined at the electron
Harness the power of the atom
Then everything dies
Green, red, purple, pink, white
All fade to flat yellow
Bright sunflowers fade
To that same hollow yellow

My heart fades
Hollow yellow
I count the seconds
Until snow falls
I count the seconds
Until I am frozen
Seconds until
I can sleep and forget.


Wool Socks

My father taught me to recognize
The faint jangled vibrato discord of a spent incandescent bulb
He saved these bulbs so that he could teach me to darn my socks.

He didn’t use the same needles that my mother used.
He didn’t use the same thread.
He sang and whistled.

He asked me what I was doing...
Where I was...
When I wore holes through my wool socks.
I was…

Wandering along the gray irrigation ditch road
Carrying a stick. Followed by my mutts. Smooth river pebbles
Piled in my pockets. Pretending.
Pretending to be Spanky, Darla, Alfalfa.
He let me pull arms lengths of thread from the spool
It took quite a bit of practice to snip the threads cleanly with my even front teeth

Selling seed packets to my grandmothers and grandfathers
Inspired by black and white ads
At the ends of comic book adventures.
I wet the uneven thread ends with spit
Bringing the wet ends to a point between my lips

I was riding the bike that he helped me build
From parts we found at the trash dump
From parts that I bought from the scrap metal guy
A dime for each glass soda bottle
I enjoyed watching the caked sand
Melt from the glass
In water
It made him laugh when I exaggerated
When I scrunched up one eye and stuck out my tongue
While I threaded the big eyed blunt needles

I remember the day
We found the basket for the front
The dump smelled like rotting flesh. It smelled like burning trash.
I was cultivating another hole in my right sock.
The basket corner was as beautiful and precise as any elbow
I used my stick to scrape and pry it from the dirt
He showed me how to anchor and span strands of warp
Across the severed thread chasms.
Threads kept loose

My favorite dog learned to ride in that basket.
She was my constant companion
Silent witness to the erosion of my wool socks
Until a cruel Aunt shot her in a fit of drunken ennui
He told me to be patient
He told me to be precise
While I stepped the weft across
While I closed the gaps worn through wool socks by my adventures