one word: awake
by t. zoEy benally

water splash word awake
slaps me with two hands
on each side of my face
yes! i am awake. up!
please shut off alarms
no more beep-beep-beeping
turn off that infernal orange sound
i am awake!


by t. zoEy benally

my friend just called, the ringer set to alien stun gun
the original saaniidotcom is gone, taken away
you just never know when wind is going to lead you astray

she took care of my friend when her knee twisted
the wrong way and ligaments severed from bone
she was there for chats lit by silver moon lamp light

the shower chair was brand new then, had yet
to morph into a computer chair, an extra
dining room chair for the inevitable welcome guest

"see the shower chair my mom got," our injured friend said
"my saanii chair." we laughed, laughed and then called
each other saanii, until saaniidotcom was born

then it stuck, static clung like light plastic
grocery bags, fit because it rhymed best with her name
saaniidotcom came to life, always in t-shirts, jeans

i can still see her low key smile, hear her sigh,
content from steaming pasta plates topped with spaghetti
sauce from a jar and microwaved for 30 seconds, hot

i can hear her calling us, "hey, saaniidotcom!"
ronniedotcom, i can hear her laugh in the aisles
at Albertson's carrying bags of green leaf lettuce

i didn't want to look, was afraid to look, afraid
that i would forget her saturday afternoon grin, that
i would not remember how her hair curled out of ponytails

buy flowers for me today she always said, and wear red, never black
red the color of peppers sliced on salad, "see my daughter?
see how well she has done? she is your daughter now."


cold shower
by t. zoEy benally

you know what will come out
thunder out from silver plated spigot
you wish you could change it
but everything is closed
everyone asleep, nothing can be done
butane canister empty & you must
confront the cold shower

your skin reacts even before
water gurgles from the tap
goose bumps rush
from shoulders down to toes
teeth chatter, jaws rattle
breath staggers
you try to calm yourself
but you know how that chill blast will sink
to your bones and red marrow gel

some say turn on the water and jump right in
be brave, face your demons
i say, take your time, strategize, use science
your head loses heat the fastest
if your head gets cool first
then the rest won't be so shocking

wet your hair, wet every strand
shampoo was designed for warm water
so you must be sure that every strand
is completely wet, totally ready for suds
lather and rinse, but be gentle
it's easy to injure your scalp when it is numb
from cold, and you won't feel it till hours later

soap up your wash cloth, bath mitt, what have you
i always wash my arms, then legs & feet
rinse, then move on to my chest & belly
i've found that cold water is most painful
causing me to gasp and shiver
when it rains down my back
i move slowly, deliberately
wash more sections until finally
it is time

time to step into the shower & rinse
everything again
time to finally rinse your back
time to rinse the junctions between
arms, legs, torso free of soap
boundaries between front & back clean
time to rinse shampoo residual
from your hair until it squeaks
it's time--you're finally ready
to face the cold shower


uncomfortable peanuts
by t. zoEy benally

squeeze my foot to the right
press it as close to the side as possible
force some room so that there will be room
for the pebble to slide inside my shoe
to an unfurnished area, unoccupied by cells
it merely rattles, jangling back & forth
then snuggles into another tight place
imposes on another patch of skin

poked though my sock cuff, catching a ride
doing the job, but i am still annoyed
knit purposely loose to stretch around
odd ankle bones protruding delicately
only as a bone corner can do
it finely crafted point, genetically honed
scratch, furrow plowed in my first skin layer
seed tip reaching capillary beds
unfertilized, inactivated by dead end host blood

don't rub your eye
lacrimal flow washes arroyos clean
the way she says my name, wrong
glommed letterers fall continually
down that final stair flight
but what can you do?
unless you accept
permanent safety goggle marks
circling your eyes everyday


on becoming furniture
by t. zoEy benally

eight months
since i greyed into background
formatted as a watermark
40% bright, 45% contrast
excluded from text & plot
this chapter his; no longer ours

32 weeks
almost enough time to create
another person, squirming to be free
tangy lemon wedge of me
is left on dusty window sill
lemonade potential evaporates
leaves bland cellulose next to chitin husks

over two hundred days
feet impressions emboss carpet fibers
bent and smashed to root fibers
mapped lint showers, cosmic fuss
i feel certain sections of fabric
being faded another grey shade by sun


i want...
by t. zoEy benally

i want...
"i want" is a meteorite
hurling through space vacuum
craving more mass
desires a sun to revolve around
ends up burned
in friction flames
in atmosphere
of a real planet

"i want" is a weird word
more bizarre
with each utterance
chewing gum
stuck on your nose
toilet paper
adhered to shoe tread
furled out kite tail


need a ride
by t. zoEy benally

hitchhiking is a lot like clubbing
take only bare essentials
picture i.d. is good, but
for morbid reasons not mentioned

water, comfortable shoes
shirt & pants that you can run in
billowy skirts only catch wind
high heels will sink into soft shoulders

at first you might be embarrassed
remember what you've said about hitchhikers
equating them with bums & hippies
just get that thumb out there

it never happens immediately
cars, trucks, motorcycles, semis
will pass, many times too full
often only one person burning all that fuel

keep going, listen, listen for rubber on asphalt
smile, let them see their potential passenger
aim for humble, but not too skuzzy
i too have left potential psychopaths

admire the roadside
if you're not a regular
you might never see
the road from this perspective again