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