oneword: roll
by t. zoEy benally

it turned to a greasy smear on the sidewalk concrete
candy oils creeped into grey crevices
abandoned tootsie roll left over after the fair


oneword: base
by t. zoEy benally

7 inch strip at the wall base
covered in dark chocolate rubber
to protect dry wall
and latex paint
from muddy
pine-sol scented
mop water


maybe it doesn't make sense
by t. zoEy benally

i wipe fine cemetary dust off my work shoes
and it all makes sense, ummm--well it sorta makes sense
okay--it doesn't make a damn bit of sense

he was like a cloud, normally gentle, but prone to outbursts
he was an expressive, articulate, and he loved quality
sometimes extravegant, sometimes lavish
but always just a little bit of opulence
sadly, he is another wanderer i will not bump into again

and i kinda think maybe i know why he did what he did
i think it was because he could not escape the fine
cemetery dirt that supported the aluminum frames, planks
covered with olefin grass carpet, smack dab between
yellow and blue on the color spectrum, dirt imbedded in seams

could not escape the grim foundations that support
all the luxuriant and sumptuous things in this world
could not forget the drilled earth, dug mines, and tailings
could not erase the fact that our sovereign nation
is held in trust and we don't even own air space above it
okay--maybe it was just because of love?

the last time i saw him we were shopping in Hobby Lobby
and i recall his voice, and the solar timbre
as he told me how excited he was to work at the college
i remember his squinty smile and the way his bangs
licked ebony across his forhead, he was decked out,
large turquoise chunks strung audaciously

the time before that i don't remember the location
but i remember he talked about working on computers
for a hospital, but he never told me he had been
to Italy, never told me he had seen operas
also never told me his email address

but the time before that i had him all to myself
my grandson, Naneesht'ezhi Tachiinii link
on a bus from Buffalo--NY to Niagra Falls
he made me laugh until i got the chills
singing a Navajo song about a little dog

he remembered the pin i wore with my velvet shirt
Navajo woman profiled, silver etched with turquoise earring
he said he remembered it from junior high band
when we marched in velveteen shirts and white pants
he played second clarinet

and i remembered how impressed i always was
that he could speak both Navajo and English
so eloquently, and secretly wished he would teach me
because no one else called me Masaan, and now i wish
i could also remember English words only he would use

but it sorta makes sense, maybe makes sense
okay--it totally doesn't make any sense at all
that it would be powdery yellow dust
not completely wiped off shoes in the end.


oneword: ridge
by t. zoEy benally

my right leg barely shoves the aluminum pedal to the lowest point in it's rotation, and my shoulder muscles burn with lactic acid as they command my arms to veer off the rutt ridge left over from three glaaniis caught in the last big rainstorm


oneword: plumb

by t. zoEy benally

red hills slid down, clay topped inclines supported the too thick cement foundation slabs, and with eyes squinted by the sun he raised the solid metal mass into the air to see if the line was plumb


my week in ABQ
by t. zoEy benally

one of my friends hears "Abiquiu" everytime i say "A-B-Q"
his questions baffled me, until i realized
so i threw in a quick "Albuquerque," just to clear up the confusion

late Wednesday morning the sun was eye squinty in Shiprock
i galloped my silver pony east, cutting across the NAPI edge
we continued at a gallop southeast to Cuba

i hopped off and we walked through Cuba, admiring pine and elm trees
i should have taken a picture of the signs, the 2 dollar part at least
sadly it would be the last time we would see 2.93 gas in Cuba

we resumed our original pace after the hill and curve
we passed lumbering semi beasts and pokey domestic donkeys
a Texas longhorn latched onto us and followed us through Bernalillo

i checked into the hotel, and left the pony content to gnosh greens
the training was in full swing, i made it in time for my first section
my colleagues and i finished off the day and made plans for the evening

sushi was first on the list--beloved Sushi King--adored by 3 year olds
the world over! then a trek around downtown, slightly skewed
made much more entertaining by green filters

the next day was similar to the first, training, then food adventures
Vietnam 2000 was Thusday's adventure, then a visit with an old
friend from 1st grade, a friend that remembers much more than i!

Friday was the end of the training, and no matter how many trainings i do
i always feel sad, always wish i could continue work with new potential
we quietly packed remnants into boxes and carried them out to the van

i cruise north Rio Grande, quest to find MPH program director's house
i don't remember it being so far out! i don't remember that curve!
i try not to second guess myself and keep the pony moving forward

we find the graduation afterparty and narrowly evade leftovers!
i'm not a very good Navajo--bad at feeding guests, despiser of leftovers...
i feel my positive feedback insomnia loop kicking in--....must ...sleep

i crawl between hotel sheets, dream for an hour of non-threatening
colors, shapes, and smells, listen to Law and Order in my sleep
no world problems solved in that quick selfish bit of sleep

groggily i steer pony back down Indian School, picking our way
carefully through side streets, taking care not to careen into arroyos
i leave pony in a quiet area, a good distance from the Blue Dragon

the poets are wonderful, but it takes too long for the two vats
of iced coffee to kick in and i must go dancing and sweat the caffeine
out of my veins, so that i can sleep and dream of threatening things

in the morning, i pack pony, and slowly meander out of ABQ
we meet a friend at the Range in Bernalillo to eat breakfast
then begin the long journey back to SR


one word: clad
by t. zoEy benally

clad only in wet fear--i lie awake surrounded by dark. weighed down by water embedded into terrycloth--i ponder solutions, but cannot move beneath the weight of this fear shroud that has descended upon me, that has been thrown upon me by my own hands.