"The pamphlet is not the way."
(R.E. Skaggs, 032604, 16:56)
by t. zoEy benally

What's wrong with you?
You need to be educated.

I am here to save you from yourself
with pamphlet panaceas
of plethoric proportions.

Bequeath & bestow my superior thoughts & knowledge
unto you & your backwards existence.
Once you know, you'll change.


cranberry filled photoalbums
by t. zoEy benally

when he opens his eyes
she is his first thought
they share coffee, stir in sugar & cream ideas

he listens for her voice, low murmur
hot waxy bees
sticky with sleep, sing sweet honey

they watch movies
share popcorn paper bags
sprinkled with salt, hold the butter

later alone they re-watch
DVDs, and they are together
again, hands brush at the popcorn well

she sleeps, he listens & enjoys
the even rhythm of her breath
refrigerator cycles on, cools cartons of milk

he watches lint glide down warm sunbeams
picks up the paper
scans black letter march across the thin rough page


shoe gum
by t. zoEy benally

“Do you throw your gum
out the window?” he implores
“Uuh—No. I usually swallow.”
I stammer, unsure of his motive

Double agent spy vs spy
Search for secrets linked
to missing lynx
cage bar vacation to unknown faces

He never spoils parking lot walkscapes
casual flick of greyed-pink
Frees them back to the wild
far from all cemented trails

Hot pink mottled clay
imbedded in canyons
sandstone wind sheers
hard plastic tread corners
gum belongs on the highway


morning songs
by t. zoEy benally

birds chirp at 5AM, the first to recognize new days
specialized vision allows them to see infrared colors of fruit
and initial photons that skitter over the horizon
they position themselves strategically in treetops
prepare us for E -equals-M-C-squared, before it shatters sleepy skies
lyrically ease us into a new day, stiff line dried levis wait in the corner


no plans on coming back
by t. zoEy benally

every stride takes me further away
gravel catches on the toe of my shoe
rolls helplessly under sneaker tread
flying forward, thrown back
small crashes and crunches can be heard
by drooling dogs for miles around

though i retrace my steps, i am doubling distance between us
on hard sand i leave only a dim shadow
faint whisper that i had passed through
deep sand gently cradles the wedge left by my toes
dreamily let go with air currents
evidence released for crow interpretation

i never look back, because i know you will not follow
climb hills, run down valleys
skirt shattered beer bottles
fractured brown glass planes reach up for some change
sneak up on unsuspecting prairie dogs
they whirl around and hurl themselves down their burrows
inefficient past, educe a stronger future


sugar cubes
by t. zoEy benally

decades had passed
since i had heard those songs
i could feel the uneasiness
wrap it's dessicated fingers
around my throat

would it be a semi with jaundiced eyes
slamming into fruit trees in my orchard?
collective outrage of several thousand leaves
then almost ripe fruit pummelling to earth
angry fists, then plum colored skin

but when he put it in
and she sang those angular chords
skipped up & down steps with Bo Jangles
it was none of those things
spring winds and discovery by fresh ears
made it new again
leaving me to wonder
in which box, in which closet
does it all hide?


one word: orchid
by t. zoEy benally

her lithe body craned
over all the little plants
gathered around to hear her speak

she was the new kid in school
she could feel her words
stick in the back of her throat
a peanut butter sandwich with too little jam


welcome back, we’ve missed you!
by t. zoEy benally

lanky stands of last summer’s grass
languorously lean with their elbows
balanced on imaginary bars and counter tops
itch to recount tales, chronicles sung
occurrences transpired
since my last visit to these parts

juice story morsels, drip golden honey
tumble from smorgasbord platters overfilled
mad rush to be the first to spill
fill my ears with narratives
first hand accounts of actual sightings

furious fingers loop & cast yarns deftly
knit & purl events till a cozy information scarf
snakes forth from the grass

they crowd the path, tall, thin, yellow
occasionally tug at my pants
“don’t forget to tell her…”
“remember the time…”
chatter & jabber pile
until all i hear is a continuous hiss
which follows me the entire journey & back


nimble rain
by t. zoEy benally

her sweet perfume nimbus
melts into air, announces her arrival
ambrosia wetness softens keen borders
of his desert skin, non-slick lizard leather
desiccated crazy quilt of pentagons, triangles
octagon edge ravines filled with sand & mites

female rain glides in, shushes starlight chatter
nimble swishy satin skirts of rain
dance over mesas, absorb into distressed bark
arroyos fill & clay comes to life
squeezes between fingers, toes
slides over arms, legs & shoulders
clay chunks take refuge in comfortable curves
quiet spot behind the knee


no retreat
by t. zoEy benally

we will not retreat into shells of fear
that scientists have defined as ours
we will not soften & bend our bones
a shape already represented deep inside our ears

no--we will not give up mobility & freedom
become blame warehouses
nor will we don acid green tunics of shame

we will not hang our sister
pinned by the ears to vinyl coated clotheslines
deflected dip explained by algebra

we have smelled this coffee
brewed seven mornings
and seven mornings again

throw open the windows
blood sucking parasites make easy fuel
for ultraviolet, non-violent rays