i watch you with blood shot eyes
by t. zoEy benally

i watch you with blood shot eyes
left leg folded over right, a large "P"
quietly read the Japanese movie on television
remote uncharacteristically discarded
it must be a good movie

my red eyes purvey the dishes, dirty rice
steamer, piled on the table, lunch stink
sesame seed and peanut oil, sea salt
frightful mexican hot sause
all waiting to be lead away

i can finally tolerate the internet, sunlight
with my sparkly, voodoo, zombie eyes
stained crimson by a "bad migraine" (doctor's words)
or maybe viral meningitis (my idea), no, not self-diagnosing
not a hypochondriac, or dressing above my station
just comparing lists of facts, but who am i to say
that i'm not just having a 7-day migraine?


by t. zoEy benally

if i could travel to Scottsdale in 30 minutes
i would devour a Protein Pancake
sit on cool blonde wood benches, elbows
rested on sanitized matching rectangle
pour water and tea out of sweaty carafes
stir in aspartame, sucralose, saccharin
or maybe even a packet of sugar

i would need someone to talk to
i enjoy laughter, drizzled over breakfast
brand new ideas shaken out of brains
Tabasco red flecks on eggs, hash-browns
humorous stories embellished and shared
over crunched ice, partially melted best
a brave soul unafraid of dewy morning sun

if i could talk a friend out of warm bed, into
icy cold car, onto frost lined roads
convince a friend to waste gasoline
i would be gone, disappeared to Denny's
and this time i would order a veggie omelet
i promise i would give them time to wake up
hold back my best ideas until caffeine kicks in

i would like to savor tea over dreams
with the most avid dreamers, watch them
pour cream out of tiny white plastic drums
listen to bizarre tales from night journeys
to other realities, dimensions, realms, planes
butter melted into toast, or jam pried from
square tubs, smeared into rough bread landscape


one word: pane
by t. zoEy benally

water drops crusted across
a thin silicone pane
green bug gut smeared
from injury to demise
fairy spinkles dragged by winds
my only protection from
insect protein and rain water



it's been a long month-and-a-half
by t. zoey benally

i had one super productive week right after the fair
when i look back at that week in my calendar, warm fuzzies
swarm up from the depths of my normally cold, dark heart
not really--my heart is really just a muscle bent on pumping blood
but i did get a lot done that week, resting heart rate 65 BPM

soon after this it started getting cold, but i continued to read
Salvato, the environmental health specialist bee-eye-bee-el-E
yep, that's the book to read when you need to know about everything
from Plasmodium vivax to flushometer valves to oligotrophic lakes
faithfully transported in my red Jansport, four miles each day

it was soon after the night temperature drop that i developed
my very first UTI, i dutifully ignored the symptoms and downed
cranberry juice along with my normal Surgeon General recommended
sixty-four ounces of tincture o' swirling dog, hoping that it would
just go away--but bacteria will not be ignored

i dropped significant other off at San Juan College that Saturday
the kids and i split for swimming and sushi in Durango
we swam for hours, writing messages in mineral bubbles congregated
on our arms and legs, stewed with friendly folks speaking German
the kids taught me to side stroke, i swam two pool lenghts and back

after eating sushi, we were summoned back to New Mexico, somewhere,
sometime i noticed a fine scratch feeling, behind my left ear in my hair
again i ignored the scratch feeling, i collected my best friend
and we went to watch a movie, i also watching him drink soda
while sipping my two dollar bottled water, no soda since May

Wedensday, five days after Durango, i woke up and trekked four thousands
steps southwest across Shiprock to work next to a capped tailings pile
10AM my back felt like it was going to break in half, i had to hold my breath
to keep tension, to keep muscles from collapse, my body from folding
in half, a dry deteriorating straw, cracks on fold corners, holes, useless

i survived, 103.5 degree Fahrenheit night, when i sat up, my daughter
noticed my face was all red, rash crawled down my neck
settled on my torso, then proceeded down my arms and legs
i scratched a spot on my back, blood pooled under the skin
in too-heavy-bag carrying streaks, but i had made it, i was alive

11 days later i finished Salvato, again we had sushi, but for dinner
this time, and in ABQ, not CO, a benefit of daylight savings time
is an extra hour of study! which i did with Starbucks and a blueberry
muffin--brain food! two-hundred-ten minutes flew buy, filling circles with a
a small well used number 2 pencil snatched from my son's school box

the past two weeks has been spent waiting for and receiving results
results of samples taking in October, brain and blood, processed
blood came back positive for Rickettsia rickettsii, brain performance
samples have not come back as of yet, i called last week, but they said
please wait at least four weeks for test results....


360 days until the Shiprock Fair
by t. zoEy benally

this year's Shiprock fair adventures are finally complete
people from here--Shiprock, people from other places
--Chinle, Window Rock, Crownpoint, Round Rock,
Gallup, Colorado, and other place names i didn't read
have littered US491 with smashed aluminum cans,
diapers uncurled along sidewalks for pedestrian viewing,
crumpled religious propaganda, smashed styrofoam vats
discarded corn wrap, aka, husks, discarded clues leading to
villainous burrito vendors peddling out-of-temperature goods

at 7AM the carnies and fair board still clenched our town
just below the waist, with two hands, having squeezed
and shaken, as many coins from our pockets, in exchange
for dirt and grey water mud, heel slides, footprint smears
i just hope no one fell into carnie bath-water, money grime
washed from hands shiny, nails caked with greasy dirt
they still held on, unwilling to let go, trying to keep the sun
from rising, they left flood lights blaring, pointed at
the City Market parking lot exit, interrogating drivers

rides were folded into semi-trailer shapes, light bulbed curves,
familiar arcs, betraying the amusement ride identities
copper grounding rods pulled out with grey-yellow dust puffs
brake lights, blinker lines strung to trucks, skinny men
accustomed to a quarter-inch filth layer crawl behind wheels
focus eyes on the gate, then highway, i didn't watch to see
if they turned left or right, didn't care really, i was just happy
to see the so called City of Fun leave, our town liberated
from a noxious parasite--sucking assets--for another 360 days


only weeks until the fair
by t. zoEy benally

evanescent khaki clad ground squirrel munches goat head blossoms
backs absorbing southern sun they scrutinize fair board provisions
Cynomys gunnisoni pyrethrin dusted, plague fleas gone


i like to stare at clouds reflected in puddles
by t. zoEy benally

i like to stare at clouds reflected in puddles
sweatshirt grey conglomerations of molecules
gaseous water mirrored by liquid water
small volume contains soaked enamel skies
recreate summer evenings pressed to the ground
two small eyes trained on the atmosphere arc
layers of gases, gossamer fabrics, angled filters
polarized gas lenses, cushioning us from cold
black exhales, vacuum breathed from god lungs

water saturated dirt melts away, now clean pebbles
granite chips, brightened from matte dust, fade to
flaming sun sunk red, duck neck teals, honey brown
precious jewels that vanish with evaporating liquid
mica glitter, embedded in dried magma, spewed
from some ancient volcano, hurled into smoke
not clouds, acrid airborne particulate choke, violently
grab oxygen, bound up in SOx & NOx with duct tape
winds thick with earth belches, bloated sulfur farts

i take this monsoon opportunity to look without
fear of offending rain deities, stop drops from falling
hydrogen and oxygens, seized, held tight
electric charges, clamor through atomic tunnels
empty metal desk raked across cattle guards by
burly men, dressed in silver lining gore-tex
hollow rez rockets driven too fast across washboard
roads, fine dust swirls up, slinky curls fully extended
drizzle down 8 meters per second, fill vinyl crevices

i watch for rainbow, ribbons unfurl from hazy planet edges
colorful lightwaves bounced off glass pools--trampolines
cupped asphalt, slight defect, cradles moisture dimensions
ROY-G-BIV somersault, cartwheel, flip end over end
multitudes of quark flavors sprinkle down--invisible
world miserably unaware of the shift in potential energy
riotous swings, tensions suspended on charges
the pools give my neck, shoulders rest, and allow me
to stare at clouds reflected in puddles without tripping


daddy long legs prevent baths
by t. zoEy benally

baby developed a slight fear of spiders, then
spiders decided that the shower is a stellar
bug trapping environment, web central, and
as a result, baby developed a slightly funky
scent, slightly sticky bed head-do, and a massive
reluctance, resistance to taking baths, cleanliness

i bought a book, beautiful art, featuring
Little Miss Spider, yellow and black
a book that concludes with Miss Spider
finding a mother in green Betty beetle
in one day read four times four people
baby perched on laps, read to sixteen times

last night was the test, cultural sensitivity
of baby towards little spiders, miss or mister
everywhere, we walked into the bathroom
baby started saying, "i don't like spiders..."
"you don't like Miss Spider? remember,
she only wanted a mother?"

baby contemplated that idea in her lovely brain
that these spiders meant her no harm, only
wished to cuddle and snuggle with other exoskeleton
creatures, arachnids or insects, which ever
loved the spider best, to further illustrate, i picked up
a large daddy long leg, carried away, unharmed

baby was enthusiastically relieved, no longer
worried about spiders stalking her, Psycho style
in the shower, eight legs lurking behind soap,
shampoo, compound eyes watching, plotting
baby splashed joyfully, swirled bubbles in the tub
baby smelled wonderful, hair clean, fluffy
pretty baby in clean pajamas, spiders left to hunt


today i watched a woman unhinge her jaw
stuff a donut in and chew, rhythmic mastication
i wondered if the donut was good, quality
or old and crusty, only the surface beautiful
she chewed, pastry cud, eyes pasted to the telly
images paint rolled on of the devistation
in New Orleans, bodies floating in water
eyelids low, fleshy cheeks moving with her jaw
she observed houses surrounded by muddy water

a guy walked in as i was reading an old Newsweek
i could see his Adidas tennis shoes and Puma track jacket
in my peripheral vision as i read about London subway
naked bloddy bodies being stepped over by fleeing people
he stared with the woman at the television, his mouth
slightly ajar, breathing air in and out
probably drying out his lips, tongue, breath
she continued chewing, lifted her left leg
and placed it over her right, shifted onto her right
butt cheek, took another bite of possibly sinewy sweet

today i listened to christian rock disguised as punk
the guy bobbed his head like a rocker, i'm sure
he wished he could turn up the volume, jam
but i was there, so now i wonder what's the criteria
for christian music? is there a board that decides
what becomes eligible for play on these stations?
i wonder who's idea it was first--to incorporate
the rock and pop formulas into church music?

today i sit in an air conditioned room, jacket on
tapping plastic keys, electricity gobbed by this monitor
later i will walk down sidewalks scratched from earth's surface
ground gaia innards chew by metal teeth, never swallowed
while mud dries, mold grows, skin cells grow and finally
push hard scabs off mended wounds, fall for ants to find
i will think about old leaders, that have finally grown up
and wish to go back so they can have that moment
not chew that donut, and really try to save the world.


one word: ceremony
by t. zoEy benally

days filled with sandy food, sleepy relatives
smoke rubbed against roast mutton
spiraled hours poured out of aluminum shasta cans
carbonated water fills layered footprints, attracts ants
who listen respectfully to prayers while waiting
for sugar to crystallize, crust around dirt cubes
hours where you just had to be there...


trip to PHX
by t. zoey benally

silver Echo bloated with gasoline we zipped west
at the last minute i tossed the swimming suit out
shoved an extra pair of socks and underwear
into my health fair tote bag, shriveled from hot water
odometer needle pointed at 60MPH, i was surprised
to encounter a driver, arm rested on window sill at 55

Beclabito and Teec Nos Pos had horses in the streets
Red Mesa was our first stop, health center ribs
not yet stained by red sand, dwarfed twisted cedar
cruised through Mexican Water, across the bridge
up the hill, south on 191, tourist track towards Chinle
cows ambled through traffic towards Burger King

finally make it into Holbrook, sneak past Velosaraptor
miss the turn off that goes past Woody's, we end up
exiting on the next ramp, swing past the infamous
US66 wigwams, old autos used as parking dividers
internet says Native American Indians, no specific
tribe mentioned, lived in wigwams--very interesting

we zoom down through the canyon, weave around
fallen rocks, all the crosses i remember from before,
marking motor vehicle crash fatalities, no specific
names mentioned, are no longer there--removed
not as persistent as stucco cones, erected by Route
66-fifties nostalgia tribes, rampage west to CA

Tucson is humid, reportedly monsoons recently
have begun, ending a 39 day 100 degree heat streak
we pick up little sister and proceed to Tempe
admire all the new construction, reminisce about
visits to records stores, first dinners at restaurants
finally make our way to Dave's Inn, i mean Day's

we eat sushi, edamame and water, discover that
benadryl is an essential first aid kit component
and that downtown Scottsdale has no drug stores
Batucada is next, one hour early, forgot that Arizona
doesn't believe in daylight savings time, wonder
how they'll handle Bushy's new law extending it


going on a trip tomorrow
by t.zoEy benally

tomorrow we're going to Phoenix
i still need to pack, decide if i should bother
to take a swimming suit--i can't swim
only embarass my kids with drowning motions
mouthfuls of air gulped amid thrashes

tomorrow morning we're going to leave
supposedly at 6AM, but i expect clock hands
to creep past six and twelve significantly
before i finally decide i have remembered everything
forgetten only essentials (toothbrush, underwear)

tomorrow we're going to drive down the bumpy Jubilee hill
turn left, cross the bridge, maybe stop at Citgo
fill up on gas, two 20-ounces of water, chips, donuts
make sure i scrub all the bug-gut splatters
off the windshield, arrange cd-s, toss trash

tomorrow we're going to go through red mesa,
kayenta, tuba city--retrace the first trip we took
as a couple, brave, unflinching belief in Sheena,
punk rocker, maroon hatchback Renault Encore
redrive roads i learned to drive on, many 3AMs ago

tomorrow... i have no idea what we'll discuss tomorrow
maybe finish discussions on revolution requirements,
Navajo Youth Liberation Army uniforms, songs, activities
maybe invent another industry, light rail spider legs embracing
everything between the four sacred mountains


shi dine bizaad
by t. zoEy benally

lee chaa'i ei lizhin
masi ei ligai
naa a hoo hxai ei lichii
dine bi zaad ei shil naan tlah

shi deezhi tadiin do bi aan taa bi naa hai
to' deel chxooshi taalai do bi aan naaki' yaal ba iili
abiinigo ashdla' doo alnii oolkil ayoo shil yaa a teeh
dine bi zaad doo shil di in diin da

ilwoosh! sinida! iiya! noweh!
jaa'ii! ma'ii! naa'ii! bidii!
yaa di lah! ge' shoo...
alkidaa, dii tei ya shil beehoozin ntee'

haatiish baanina?
dikwiish beeso ne hoolo?
haadee nanina?
dine bizaad bohoosha, shika anilyeed


what i have done...
by t. zoEy benally

i distinctly remember the feeling of riding the hinge
the sick, but exhilarating roll of steel around steel, degrees
angle change, but was the door opening or closing? 0 to 180 or reverse?
i have no clue, only mixed dread, sadness in my throat.....

thousands of scenarios i have played since that moment
millions of possible futures i imagined, troubleshot
but i am not psychic, i do not predict or know THE future
only use data collected to develop ideas, hunches, notice trends

but you ask, if i had a do-over would i still go in this direction? the answer
undeniably yes--i would allow a glimpse of a small fragment of my world
a direct taste of the un-homogenized stream, icy winds of my reality felt
no hesitation, plow through decades of underbrush, clear this new trail

i am a nobody that never imagined that there would be a somebody
that would even understand this sliver, wedge of me sliced off
but what causes tears to condense, like shower steam on mirrors
is one particular maybe, the maybe of freaks, super-heros--not being understood


birth of this poet
by t. zoEy benally

1998, i was rear-ended by a pumpkin volvo 1977, counter-clockwise into a ditch
smeared bumper, mangled long bed, broken back window and the new
driver side rear tire of our brown 1979-80-82 Ford F-150 shredded
temporal lobe traumatized, neuron chaos ensued

day after morning, anonymous to myself, no one, a stranger
human being in a bed, regarding window frame silhouette
creep up pastel plastered wall, no previous shadow memories to compare
placid sheets, Speed Queen bouquets, stretch muscles, turn over and back to sleep

sepia film strips played, projected to the screen at optic nerve end
chronicled yesterday activities of three females, 28, 15, and 2
it started at 4AM with a metal trailer door knock, we boarded the brown truck
in Bayfield there was that doe, risked her life, leapt in front, third messenger

a bird in Beclabito was messenger two, ogling me from long, high windows
Red Valley coyote, messenger numero uno, ignored for my friend Lewis
one last chat, only jolts of nitroglycerin kept his striated cardiac muscles sliding
vessels relaxed so blood gush pumped from chamber to chamber continues

film cropped, edited to the final fourth warning, two vehicle slammed together
loud clap of fiberglass, metal on Colfax and Pearl, pause then scurry away
reflector crumbs left behind, crop to three females in a brown truck--LOST
parked at a payphone, buying a liter of orange juice for the toddler in carseat

the film ends here, broken, reel spins, film fish tail, slaps, flaps, flicks
melon hollow whack of my skull, no head rest engineered to cradle
bone on metal, grey matter on bone, capillaries burst, neuron arms
and fingers stretch, mozzarella, until they reach snapping point

math super powers lost, my new identity as a mere mortal more apparent
with each reopening of my eyelids, no longer able to recognize number faces
the taste, touch and smell of numbers eliminated, memorization impossible
and in it's place, repeated verses, droned, keep me awake until i download
scribble verses on a paper scrap, receipt, with a cheap Bic pen, eyes covered by dark

deals with the devil, make me fly
take these ridiculous, futuristic, wooden wings
wings that make me crash & yearn for lightness
give me wings of metallic vapor
flailing through the atmosphere
ruddy face, germless gut, fuming at the mouth


plants, mines and me
by t. zoEy benally

nineteen-sixty-one, only one of my best friends was born
but she was too young to attend, not connected enough
to receive an invitation to the ground breaking, spray painted gold
shovels pushed into sandy earth with hogback looming across the river
wonder which politicians pushed that spade with their cowboy boot?
promised jobs, money to help us evolve to the 5th world

i remember in Kindergarten, 1975, remember at career day
i snuck away from the nurse and secretary exhibits long enough to hear
secrets told to the boys about scrubbers & bag houses to clean clouds
whiten steam billowed out of tall black stacks, hidden ships
trying to wend their way away from Navajos, coffers packed with coal
carefully dug from around graves, silent protesters ignored

she lived at east low rent, was able to afford tiled floors, sidewalks
a roof that didn't leak, she had no weeds to pull, squash bugs to pick
from the undersides of large dark triangular leaves, eggs to smash
i have to admit i never saw her push-start her family's vehicle, and
she always had nice shoes, never had to patch with tire patches
sole holes, her dad worked at the power plant, an electrician maybe

i'm not sure when it started, but it would wash away with strong rains
then gradually would build up again, stretch it's scrawny fingers
across the skies, fondle the southern skies, rub the western horizon
drum finger tips north to Ute Mountain, dangle it's dirty nails above the sunrise
my uncle said that the beautiful pink sunsets were actually a by-product
resulted from polluted air rising up from the deceptively pure emissions

i took my hard hat the first time i visited, not really a tour, a survey
part of my job, look at the water, 0.05 microns of conductivity, so empty
they had to add catfish water back in for humans to drink, and avoid cell lysis
those clouds were still white, but black soot rained down, flooded,
covered faces, shoulders, sidewalks that i walked across, i inhaled a good
lungful of fine dark particles, stolen coal burned making it's way back to me


pink eye revolution
by t. zoEy benally

deadly pink eye, i knew it was bad when she put on gloves
normally i watch to see if the docs even pause at the sink and soap
ignored, yellow sign placed at doc eye-level, wash your hands

yesterday it started, but i trace it's origins back to saturday
putting too much of me into the dead dog poem in Telluride
small itch progressed to burning redness, and flood of puss

it would be easy to start a pink eye outbreak, be the point source
a fondled dollar, imbued with gooby eye bacteria, spent here, there
hands contaminated with simpler organisms, bent on survival

pink eye bacteria, smeared on all the P.O. Boxes, counters
shaken onto hands, smeared onto doorknobs, handles, tools
don't touch your eyes! wash your hands! pink eye was here...

today a glob of medication is smeared into pink eye, and fellow eye
the alien beings slowly release their tentacles from my sclera, rhymes with
Sara, Tara, bo-Bear-a, banana-fana, fo-Farrah fee-fi-Mo-Mara, sclera


one word: iron
by t. zoEy benally

red sand stains on your white tube socks
gallons of chlorox bleach will never fade
iron flakes oxidized, rusting in the knit of your heels.


one word: courage
by t. zoEy benally

courage the colour of cougars
tawny yellow that blends with sand
beneath trees, behind bushes,
around fibrous legs of grass
that lick the air before it reaches the sky


JLow's Fur Farm
by t. zoEy benally

she was tired of all the criticism, the picture of her bling-bling next to a fox
electric probe in it's mouth and anus, soon to be denuded, fur peeled off
she tore a corner off the flexible plastic wrap of her Snicker, and pulled it down
rolled down like a sock, white surface exposed, square brown log revealed
she sunk her even white teeth through chocolate, nouget & peanuts
daintily wiped a chocolate smear from her lower lip with a dry, linty tissue

it was the last thing she had to do, before sliding between cream satin sheets
Jennifer glanced the time, 8:30, she better go now before they started rattling their bowls
she grabbed the forest green bucket on the floor, opened the back door
the faucet was dripping again, where did she put those rubber washers?
she turned the knob till water hissed and swirled, quickly filling the bucket
she grabbed the handle taking care not to catch her nail, she was out of nail glue

she held onto the abrupt handle end and dragged slowly towards the door
she discovered that a hoe worked best for cleaning, she cut the handle
so it was easier to maneuver and scrape scat from the corners, out the cage door
she had learned not to worry too much about the yellow urine crust, squares closed
they all peed into a common corner, at first she though the urine would rain
down through the cage stack and stain the fur of the lower rung minks

they were getting really big, for a second she thought back to when they were little
small footfalls vibrating the metal cells, they had gotten sleek, mercury movements
they paced back and forth, heads bobbing in recognition, they smelled food
she opened their cage doors, one by one, scooping a cupful of food into metal bowls
the sun was just coming over the concrete wall, soon her nocturnal army of mink would be asleep
she watched them chow the fish, fruit, and grain mixture, she had to be on the set soon

the blue tarp crunched and slid a little as she walked across, she put the knives down
next to the 5-gallon bucket, she looked over her set-up, plastic covered tables
one for the carcasses, one for the pelts, bucket to catch blood, sharpened knives, gloves
she had hired two guys to help process the meat and skins, but she wanted to do the killing
she wanted to peel their skins down, imagine pieces of her jacket, mentally sew it together
she pulled an animal out of the first cage, carried it to the bucket, and got ready to slit it's throat


living every-man's nightmare?
by t. zoEy benally

three-thousand-five-hundred-sixty-two-dollars and fifty cents
for a metal detector, to pick out criminals in a lined up crowd
catch them at the door, comb out blood cells from plasma
at least until your comb clogs, infested with plague bacteria
and you can no longer swallow, digest, and begin to starve
begin to regurgitate disease back into the world

the sun was out in Scottsdale last week on Loop 101
elevated lanes flying over urbanization stamps, strip malls
plazas, shopping centers, identical houses with half baths
contractors pretend they don't covet, peripherally peek, Salt and Gila River
the city bulges against invisible lines, perhaps biochemical
US government laid down centuries ago, when all this was worthless

economic development is their new game, our new reality
defined by the televis-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-sion, you need what we have
don't you know? Navajos don't want one room hogans, muddy shoes
Navajos want Crownpoint in-situ uranium mining, Burnham power plant
bringing jobs, 49% controlling stock, but only after four years of
foreign control, deceptively white clouds plumed over Sanostee

this place never changes, to the unobservant eye, the same dust
they don't notice, different shades of lipstick smeared on empty 40s
don't notice the water is flavored with songs of Uranium daughters
they ignore the little girl studying every day for her trip east
miss the people planning, organizing, gathering forces of change
to save sacred mountains from manufactured sewage snow


Methuselah Would Know
by t. zoEy benally

the question, page corner torn off and chewed, mashed down
to a pulp pea, not really the same as gum, potential spit wad
--would Dine' from six hundred years ago know us as Dine'?

if we were some how able to cipher the molecules of reality
travel to six hundred years ago, would my clan even exist?
Naneesht'eezhi Taachiinii, one of two sisters from another tribe

six hundred years would be nothing for Methuselah
coiled on dolomite White Mountain slopes, 4,767 years of icy wind
yes there are rocks older, i know, but a tree, new cells, it's different

would communication even be possible with a 1405 Dine'?
or would we be counted as "those that we fight with," bilighaana
our 2005 tongues fattened, dulled by potatoes, mutton, flour, sugar

would they see the chaos, glittering in our eyes, unsymmetric existence
would we see a different definition of harmony? balance on another plane
un-white washed by noble savage incarnations, Hollywood tea seeped in

what would they say about the discarded diaper that still sits along
the south fence of the fairgrounds? would we be easy game, DNA
readily accessible to their yang, ancient biologic warfare kung-fu?

Methuselah, Pinus longaeva, sequestered in plain site, would know
results of this encounter, a tree who has felt millennia borne on frigid winds
Methuselah, only, would be qualified to choose
an appropriate representative to make this journey

thanks Nate for the inspiration. Nate-->muse for a day. thanks for an answer to this question that has been bouncing around in my brain for some time. z


one word: interior
by t. zoEy benally

tan fire feeding walls, filled with styrofoam and cotton candy fiberglass
floors slathered with pumpkin carpet that preceeded the avent of harvest
only saving grace is that it's finger hooks are 1/8th inch, no where near shag
top it all off with petroleum based, explosive white plastic, massive fire ball fodder
this is the interior of the trailer that i live in


7 miles from Cortez
by t. zoEy benally

seven miles from Cortez we spiral, curve along fingerprints
black rubber smooches black asphalt, decomposed eons
different forms of prehistoric molecules touch, spark memories
extinct volcanoes, elemental times, penetrating gas, vapors, metals
salts & all powerful gravity still tethering creatures to earth

seven miles from Cortez is the juniper, cedar & pine
gateway back to another time, younger than highway
atoms, not as ancient as oil and hydrocarbons
igneous rock cooled enough to be handled by symbiotic
communities, humans, shaped into blocks, walls, wide homes

seven miles from Cortez, to the south and seven generations
fast forward to when pit bulls and rotteys fill Navajo corrals
how long until butchered dog swings by one leg from the tree?
Naahwiilbiihi has slipped from his prison in our minds, and again
owns whole families, slaves, who insist that yes and no both mean yes


pain relief
by t. zoEy benally

wrongly i assumed i had outgrown this tendancy
odd mannerism, funny twitch, silly fidget
mistakenly thought this suicidal cowlick
had finally straightened and my hair hung
minus that odd flip on the right lower edge

yet here i sit again, staring into the blankroom
devoid of the usual landmarks--lightswitches
wall outlets, shelves--nothing but invisible walls
smoothed out of existance with white plaster
gesso-ed, waiting, for my painting of the unknown

this weakness, this flaw, this dent in my soul
everyone thinks it's for attention, to control
they just can't see the nightmare parched fields
infested by tan armored grasshoppers, spitting
fear tobacco, preparing to blend in with dirt

if these tires could just survive this pothole
drive on into the next town, where i'm sure
there's a gas station, squeegie in blue window cleaner
glass coolers of fizzy soda, and a telephone
where i could call and you'd tell me it'll be okay


not long enough for always, too short for never
by t. zoEy benally

"always and never are not true"
i read that on a sheet of paper while cleaning today
more potential wealth unearthed
from stacks and piles, what would have been trees

always is not fair and neither is never
i wonder about words that rhyme with never
ever, that could still be a lie when teamed with "not"
virtually banged out onto a flattened tree knot
print strikes replaced by tapping plastic keyboards

always and never make me laugh
i read about dinosaur extinction hypotheses
it's easier to have potential wealth in cyberspace
but soon, all those yes and no answers will catch up
balances will tip, and dino-influenza will become our extinction level event

when always and never finally happens
cockroaches seventy times seventy generations will excavate, mine
our trash time capsules, ponder our fate, and laugh
at our always and nevers, mere shivers in the sun's
hydrogen nuclei into helium nucleus barbecue cook-off
what do humans know about always and never?


insomniac cafe
by t. zoEy benally

it's 1AM, we have just opened our doors for business
at the insomniac cafe, square lights, squinty red or mint gel blue
the pressurized, static hum of neon tubes -- absent
not even the heartbeat cluck of a mechanical wind up clock
cool handed LED, LCD deftly push out corners, collapse
squares, change zeros into ones, twos, three minutes of not asleep

everyone at the insomniac cafe feels the burning optic nerve tug
cold fingers and toes, stuttered inhalations that refuse to fall
into teeter totter patterns, squeaky chain pendulum swing
of bright playgrounds, arc of sand kicked away, kicked away
everyone has the recent memory of escape from water torture
twisted blankets, gritty sheets, head aching from lying alone

all the tables at the insomnia cafe are 22-inches in diameter
they are all 32-inches high, and have soothed many a weary
cheek, forehead, laid upon this tranquil metal palm
most patrons sit alone, ears jaded by even lung action song
sonorous snore pudding, slow drip of drool from lax jaws, dry lips
they lean back, legs thrown out or maybe folded into X-s and T-s

insomniac cafe's ceiling is the ballroom dome of dark violet night
Orion is my favorite dancer, i run my fingers over starry nubs
of his belt, i am Artemis, intrigued by his movements, await his return
sipping warm tea, stirring already dissolved sugar, adding cream
golden pekoe, vanilla eddies swirl around a long, thin spoon
tinny clinks of silver against ceramic would cross oceans of tea

the light bulbs at the insomniac cafe are intentionally incandescent
shadows honored, unblurred, tethered to each of Thomas Edison's suns
the wood floors are polished and waxed, foot falls squeak and tap
jangled nerve feathers can be smoothed, by water from steel faucets
delivered in robust, unaerated streams, warm if goose bumps are your demon
icy cold if nausea, sticky hands, and a burning brain plague you

small corners are available, should you be released from insomnia's
sinewy talons, corners with curved velvet couches, burgundy or forest green
static free angora blankets to curl around, edged with thick satin borders
dark back bench seats of cars parked, abandoned, that you can stretch out on
malleable pillows, filled with buckwheat hulls, or yawn free down
ready for you, to relax, release and slide into sleep's tenuous embrace.


grocery shopping in Shiprock
by t. zoEy benally

bread, baah, pan, what else is it called?
the need for slices, canvas for peanut butter,
jam--sans the high fructose--that's another aisle
rice paper lantern wonder bread
tipped, emblazoned with golden kanji symbols
primary color splashed bag, marshmallow puffed
kindergarten nostalgia, but dad always said, "...brown bread."
fierce Roman meal, luscious Sara Lee
a bag of wheat bread tumbles into the cart
remembering all the bumps, saving them for a sandwich later

ignore the donuts, ignore the butter, margarine
margins of lard, grease and trans-fatty-acids
but that cheese sure looks good, no, not the
computer generated, laser printed processed cheez
thick, cow jumping over the moon cheese
beyond commodity cheese, approved Navajo Nation
WIC cheese, good for little kids and breast-feeding moms
get a brick of that, wire sliced strips, slightly sour
could you call it harvest gold? or maybe smiley face yellow
nuke it in the microwave until it melts, oozes across tortillas

milk is next, my son said that lactose-intolerants
are not made, they are born, he read that somewhere
avoid the yellow highlighted cartons, warning, impending doom
calcium enriched milk--just like bees, wasps, poison plants
ultra-nauseating in the morning, cereal becomes chalky
thick, like that spoonful of breakfast before you realize
the milk is sour, you have no tuffet, but are munching curds & whey
yogurt is fun to look at, but carries lots of guilt and shame
French voices proclaiming their serving are smaller, obese Americans
ground up mother bugs providing crimson tint, to match place mats
i presume, and then there's that high fructose corn syrup issue

ignore the sandwich meat, bacon, hot dogs, pepperoni
curve back towards the bread, but not quite...
slip into the cereal aisle, all the best stuff is at the bottom
i resist the urge to shop for toys and candy
disillusioned by granola myths, and 1950's healthy bales
images of women strapped into fat shaking devices
a box of fruity pebbles to get me through tough days ahead
ignore the pseudo juices, hiss and spit at the word "concentrate"
hallelujah--peanut butter and--no not jelly--jam
i scan labels for the twin demons, evil duo, dark nemeses
trans-fatty acids & high fructose corn syrup

tin can troops line the next aisle, more guilt and worry
it won't biodegrade, how much energy is used to make that can?
how much salt? how much sugar? is it dented? botulism swollen?
industrial revolution technology, nudging us away
from enteric disease--my brother-in-law said that in China
they consider diarrhea the norm & people with solid feces are ill
shoving us towards resource depletion, pollution, trash mountains
remember Nali's wood floor patched with can tops nailed
over fallen out knot holes, the rusty can at grandma's house
top partially opened, metal circle curled into a handle

skewed fats, hydrogen atoms at odd angles, jaunty hats
thrown out hips, hydrogen hookers hanging out under dim streetlights
food victims of a capitalist society, engineered to taste better longer
i walk through the cracker red light district, mutated fats and oils
hold up signs, profess to be the second coming
whisper lies into my ears, "we're not like saturated fat, we're good for you."
"now why would we hurt you? we care about you!"
"less hydrogens, more double bonds." fail to tell you that
reconfigured carbon double bonds curl noodles
into spirochetes, Frankenstein heart worms for humans

soda pop is next with all it's carbonation joys and phosphoric acid burns
but that's a whole poem unto itself, let's roll on into the baking aisle
the wall of bluebird flour, did they know about blue birds & Navajos?
is the flour really better for tortillas & frybread, or is it just effective marketing?
BIA sized food isle-bah, number 10 size cans of green bean torture
WD-40, motor oil, then the wall of SPAM--eyes forward, keep moving!
frozen food aisle, frozen veggies cornered by frozen pizza and desserts
my eyes glaze as i meander past Sudafed, tampons, i bypass the baby aisle
grab a pack of toilet paper, roll of paper towels--select a size is my favorite
by pass the dog and cat food aisle--dog's been gone for a year now

i have finally reached the store back corner, produce penitentiary
unenthusiastic, leafy greens bide their time, await blackened edges,
cellulose weakening, leaking water, and eventual demise, mass landfill grave
potato piles, pass themselves off as vegetables to uncles and aunts
trying to be healthy, green chili is a dark green vegetable isn't it?
scentless tomatoes perch on little hill sides, i can almost taste their grainy
texture, something i don't remember from childhood, something
i think fat green tomato worms would object to, alter the ecosystem
in protest over, i push the items i have gathered, move like a knight
along tiled floors polished, two forward & one across, to check out.


midnight in the cemetery a long time ago
by t. zoEy benally

i did not realize, until just now, that
cemetery was spelled with three "e"-s
grey cemetery dabbed with "e"-s, though my fingers
instinctively gravitate and pounce on the "a"

i probably knew years ago that cemetery
had those "e"-s, teachers threaten to ask
those questions, you know, when you are in their grasp
lined up in rows, much smaller desk than theirs

i don't remember how many of the words
we spoke that night had "e"-s, that night
we parked along grave marker queues
searching moon pacing the night bowl behind us

we talked irrigated corn furrows, thick mud
stuck to our tennis shoes, i am surprised
we kept our shoes and the ground kept
tomato and bell pepper roots, echo exchanges

i do recall that you couldn't convince me
that it was time to go home, that we needed sleep
that there would be other days, other conversations
a small break in the e-s, a small moment of z-s

i knew that it would end, that our conversation
would not exist beyond the dirt car tire trails
that those would be the last energy waves
disrupting air molecules, thumping my eardrums


i've been awake since four
by t. zoEy benally

it's almost 6AM now, but
i've been awake since four

adrenaline flooded veins
heart pumping from a nightmare

my son said, "there's a bee."
"shh. don't be afraid, they smell fear."

malfunctioning electronics smell
aubergine aroma of burning clutch

he pointed to where the creature was last seen
i pawed through the pile of blankets--nothing

i turned over the last blanket fold--it's always last
there it was, hunched over bright yellow and black




i put fear aside, unfolded pile of laundry and concentrated
on yellow, then reached out and grabbed black

soft and fuzzy waist, i enjoyed it for a millisecond
then it started its menacing hula dance

soft wide abdominal plates shifted, contorted
geometric chitin exoskeleton puzzle

the stinger tipped abdomen curved, contorted to the right
viciously stabbed the outer side of my right thumb

i felt no pain, just paused and absorbed
yellow and black in my hand, stinger in my thumb


no wonder brother
by t. zoEy benally

no wonder i noticed
clouds, sky, geese arrows
tree branch brain storm
reflected in puddles this morning
fine silt layer settled
small jewels, cradled by mud

no wonder car lights sparkled
roadside gutters, mini canals
concrete water brightened
sunlight bent by droplets
shifted from morning white
to going home evening orange

no wonder she still loves you
despite the selfish monster
that trails you, runs it's claw
over indentations your shoes
leave in earth softened by snow melt
that jingles with stolen treasure hoard

i wonder if you'll remember brother
the tomorrows that lurk beyond
today's dark dome, realities that
tumble toward us, propel us forward
be strong, never succumb to demon fingers
prying your brain apart, grey pomegranate


one word: lightening
by t. zoEy benally

white ribbons flicked through cloud melt
girl children skip, turn, dance to giggles
unfurl lightening banners, electric streamers
untied from pigtails, ponytails, braids

small morsel for you... i'm done sleeping... not really insomnia, thank goodness, but still too early for everyone else...


just when i got my thoughts in order
by t. zoey benally

just when i got my thoughts in order
he hopped up next to me on the sidewalk
clothes damp from mist spit from tire treads
he walked next to me, kinda like the clown
during the Shiprock Fair Parade
that sped walked next to me
on my way to work, scrutinize burritos
assess the predicament of mutton stew
his hair bounced up and down crazily
"you scared me!" i said to him
he grinned and continued to keep pace
i looked at him and smiled at his antics
"i know you!" he said. "high school!"
"what's your name?" i asked
he told me his first, i finished with his last
i remembered light brown hair
girls fist fighting in the bathroom
so they could "go with him"
he didn't emit alcohol vapors
from his mouth back then, his light brown
eyes weren't circled bruise blue
he asked "what was your name?"
i offered my first, he finished with my maiden
i offered him pinon nuts, he asked
what i was listening to--tori amos--who?
he stopped, grinned & said, "what color is it?"
"pink." "let me see." i pulled off my hat
he laughed, put his hands in my hair
and ruffled it, scattering all the thoughts
messing all the organization recently created