One Word: discreet

This doesn't really work, but--hey--it's only 60 seconds!
His phone numbers were discrete
so that he could keep his relationships discreet
Each assigned a number
Discarded when interaction curtains drew to a close


One Word: birdhouse

dainty butter daffodils, hollow grasshopper stems contorted by pooled weight of coalesced water drops dripped off the empty birdhouse. canary flexed and drawn to ground-level by gravity. rusty conglomerations trickle down into yellow trumpets, soon to be lowered and splashed on the ground.


One Word: circuit

1970s elementary students run PE circuits
gather beanbags & chalky erasers
deliver them to opposite gym ends
try to avoid slips and splats
prevent huge hematoma lumps on knees
result from smash against white tiled floors


One Word: tray

little bones still held together by tendons and ligaments
connective tissue jellied by days soaked in strong bases
small clumps picked off and dropped onto a worn aluminum tray
slowly, the bones became cleaner, the edges more precise


One of these days I will remember you to someone else
by t. zoey benally

One of these days I will remember you to someone else
Pull out the nanoid stainless steel cog on my Nixon watch
Daily life etched and scratched like happy smile wrinkles onto its face
Stop the second hand, painted sticky Washington ripe apple
Fallen to the ground from Garfield tree orchards
Turn it backwards
Turn it backwards and spin the clouds,
Spin the clouds like crabs, trickling back into the ocean
Receding with the waves
Sunset exoskeleton bellies tickled by taupe sand and blood warm murmuring waves
Sky furling out like a tutu as earth pirouettes back through remembered time

One of these days I will remember you to someone else
Describe the kindness that you shared with me
Minty gum sticks on long, dull afternoons
Sweet powder dusting fingerprint arc,
Loop and whorl ridges as I unwrap square paper scraps
Fine confection, which I lick onto the tip of my tongue and savor
Sugar to power the notes and stanzas of my retrospective songs

One of these days I will remember you to someone else
I will describe the way you restarted the spin of my earth’s magma
How you recalled Fluid Dynamics 101, just in the nick of time, ala “The Core”
I will recount harrowing epics of how you figured out the cryptic manual
For the weapon to defeat ultimate evil and protect life
Just like on the “Fifth Element”
I will chronicle events leading up to the mouth to mouth resuscitation of Christmas
After you stopped the Grinch from stealing it
AND all the presents from under Whoville trees
I will remind the eternally forgetful cosmos how you shifted the equilibrium
And brought balance back to the force
Jedi like in your precision and skill
AND that you had no light saber OR Master Yoda to aid you

One of these days I will remember you to someone else
I will try to mentally capture
And paint Sistine frescoes of your laughter
I will be no more successful than if I tried to lip-sync the humming heartbeat of a mouse
No more successful than if I tried to bottle the white eastern skies bleached by the rising sun
No more successful than if I tried to slide down light quantum arcs, water drop prism split into rainbows
Despite these failures I will persist and I will aspire to paint murals inspired by the color of your eyes
Attempting to capture them in Palouse winter skies at dusk
Espy them in the fielded hills after the plow

One of these days I will remember you to someone else
And they will nod their head
Feign comprehension
Simulate understanding
But they will never comprehend
Remain utterly blind to your brilliance
Never truly understand
What you mean
To me


by t. zoEy benally

Anger always heats up my optic nerve
--When a person buys into the drunken Indian myth
I imagine the nerve fibers turn red hot
--Authoritatively telling me that it’s a well known fact
Like an inoculation loop thrust and held in a Bunsen burner flame
--That Indians metabolize alcohol differently
Metal glowing magma red-orange-yellow
--Shame and blame righteously doled out like potato salad
That Indians are genetically predisposed to becoming alcoholics
--So where is your published peer reviewed article?

Several years after his death, Charlie was on local television
Filmed by a church group proselytizing and saving Indians,
In the parking lot of the Turquoise Bar, a dirt floor establishment
Constructed to resemble two kachina heads, two hogans, two cells almost done dividing
Placed conveniently on the road leading into our dry reservation,
By a non-native businessman “just trying to make an honest living.”

I imagine the day the film was shot, Charlie’s glucose,
albumin, and globulin were low, but his serum liver enzymes were normal,
Last remaining soldiers surrounded by fibrous tissue wastelands
Normal landscape disrupted and distorted by chronic warzone activities
Going through the motions, maybe sometimes not having enough resources
Or sometimes overwhelmed, and serum levels drop equivalent to a cockroach sigh.

Charlie spoke incoherently, blinking his already low eyelids at reptilian speed
Pendulum sway, non-plumb-bob at the end of some unseen pivot
Ammonia slipping past the liver into systemic circulation, making its way
Up, to the blood brain barrier, and bursting through
Unruly mob of women shopping at 5AM on Black Friday

Bile acid shots circulating in his blood--disregarded,
A mixed drink of conjugated and unconjugated bilirubin flowing in his blood--disregarded
By his fibrous shrunken liver, lumpy with numerous attempts at regeneration
Fresh starts, resolutions—with the standard half-life of the New Years variety,
Many years passed since acute toxic hepatocyte injury and initial enzyme leak

No one knows what the day was like when Charlie’s hepatocytes
were first damaged by cheap, fortified, swill packaged in bulk quantities
Maybe it was a fall afternoon bite, into a tree ripened apple—bright, cold, sweet and crisp
Alternating sunny and cloudy, ravens and magpies squawking quarter note triplets
Brisk winds roaring through obsequious dry leaves while hepatic necrosis ensued

Gradually Charlie’s blood flow ebbed to a slumberous pace as scars and attempts
at regenerative growth anastomosed and compressed sinusoids and central veins
Charlie’s belly, gibbous with ascites and most likely spenomegaly
Hindered his attempts at stealing fire for humans,
Prevented him from being hailed a champion
Yet Charlie was STILL chained to the Hogback, liver eaten out for eternity by Turquoise bar
And Hercules came too late for this would be Prometheus
Charlie died of hepatic insufficiency in 1985
The same year that the Turquoise Bar closed


Mental Diverticulum

Pulsion or traction, it makes no difference
Because I’ve acquired a mental diverticulum

I functioned with my mental diverticulum
Subclinically for almost a decade
Existed on a bland diet of television,
chit-chat, and reading material set in
greater than 11 point serif font

Benign ingesta slipped quietly past,
Inaudible crowds streaming past, an undiscovered
dead end mall hallway that violates the Life Safety Code
Children laughing, women brooding
mildly distraught over
unmatched hand bags and alligator skin shoes
Clamorously unaware of the skulking horror
enthusiastically hovering in tumid crypts
Ptyalistic at the prospect of undetected ambush
unanticipated subterfuge
Frightened bodies crammed in,
The unfortunate
Seeking ingestion and digestion
Down an erroneous passageway
in a smoke choked labyrinth.

This lesion was fashioned by
Contracting fibrous tissue
Like small diameter child fingers
picking and pulling at diaphanous dry cleaning bags
Forming flimsy blister traumas,
Or perhaps incompressible fluids
transferring hydraulic forces,
liquid mechanics executed
along a section of pipe wrought
from the same brittle steel
that sank the Titanic.

Before this lesion existed
Information flowed faster and more efficiently
than hayate shinkansen
Axons myelenated
Unctous and 4X fast forwarding
stoic commuters leaping
from node to node, station to station
a flat stone hurled and skipped across water

Since this lesion matured
I am dyspneic
With daily Thanksgiving feasts of information bought on credit,
--15 pound bird, basted and baked
Sides of mashed potatoes, cranberries, and gravy--
All vanishing into a barren, leviathan, marsupium
Fermenting a monstrous concoction
of incoherent ideas and jumbled logic
I am dysphagic
Gavaged foie gras bird
Mental cachexia, and liver diseased

And all the while interest accumulates
Concurrent Guinea worm infection
Emerging and wound around a stick
Slowly, and painfully extracted by financial institutions

Development of this lesion
makes me anorexic and apprehensive
At the prospect of aspiration pneumonia
Carious, uncontemplated, regurgitated facts
Pahoehoe lava--Inhaled
Creating a fabulous environment
favoring bacterial proliferation

I’ve acquired a mental diverticulum
and no amount
of endoscopy or barium
Will divulge its location


Goose Filth & Bottlecaps

I'm not going to crawl in there.
Wet goose poop will soak through my jeans
and slime onto my knees
Cold, wet--rejected by goose cells
I'm not going to crawl in there.
Dry goose poop will stick onto the palm of my hands
Urea dust, seemingly more potent--toxic
Riddled with unknown bird bugs
I waddle in, only the rubber of my tattered Converses
are allowed to touch the filth
I feel myself tip and steady myself
Hand pushed against
Corrugated insulated walls
Bottle caps used in lieu of washers
Spread nail pressure
and keep cardboard in place
I grab goose eggs and cautiously back out
Bathroom Sink

Water swirls down the chrome plated drain
Canned laughter erupts, reminiscent of,
Laughter strategically inserted after
Limp noodle Brady Bunch punch lines
But Alice does not clean my dual sinks
Elsewhere she sits, sipping coffee
with her Sam
I squeeze SoftScrub with bleach
onto enamel and chrome coated metal
Never able to exorcise
Canned laughter swirls
Escaping down the drain


How are you doing Jack Mueller?

Some days I wonder how Jack Mueller’s doing
If he still slings that string of snake vertebrae around his neck
I wonder what he would say if he knew that I had lost my voice
Washed away by the rain, blown off into straw fields and buried
Turned under with spent gray topsoil by thick silver blades
Jack probably couldn’t see the smokey lisps
Whispered rumors of some poet, sometime back
Lost endurance, asthmatic lungs and mind
Only able to write single stanzas
That trail off…


My imagination is always better than reality
by t. zoey benally

My imagination is always better than reality
(Alone) with the door mostly shut
Listening to deepened AC hum kicked started out of fan
Five flights down, hydraulic release
Hiss and blows clean asphalt circles
Ant rocks and raised dust tumble towards diameter fringes
Mr. Coffee carefully repackaged, encased in cardboard
Makes its way--pardon me, excuse me, oOo--sorry about that!
Onto the bus and up into over head storage

This was NOT what I imagined

Walk across unlit tile floors, arm un-kinks, fingers unfurl & feel the switch to flip
Earth friendly tubes crackle, hum and stutter, finally release a white yell
That ricochets off the stainless steel faucet fixture
And aches my eyes
I lift the handle and allow pressure generated miles away
Devised by civil engineers, scratched to existence, H graphite on grid paper
Oblivious that I (alone) would be thirsty (alone) in this apartment (alone)
On this particular Friday (alone), many years from whence
They conjured waterline diagrams and schematics
Carefully considered and chose PVC pipe, more carefully picked than China patterns
To deliver these 16 ozs of chlorinated water
Which I will drink (alone)

This is NOT what I imagined

I kick off my shoes, unbutton my pants, crawl out of my shirt
Shimmy into flannel pajama bottoms and worn t-shirt
Too transparent to wear in public
Slide between cold cream sheets
Serenaded by bits of metal hooked together in rectangles and smaller squares
Interspersed with springs, discordant squeaks
Unintended instrument, which will never lullaby me to sleep
I play the game—BE STILL
Fortunately, simply breathing does not set off
the metallic dissonance, creaking cacophony

This is NOT what I imagined


Nineteen Thirty
by t. zoEy benally

Nineteen thirty, and the world was poised
on the paper cutting edge of chemical technology
Symbolic fingers and cuticles prepared to be shredded
Wyatt Earp might have saved us, but, alas,
he was sucked into a wild vortex of discovery dreams
And he didn’t wake up in the morning
A time of innovation, breakthrough and understanding
New galaxies—not just the Milky Way
gravity related to electromagnetism—Einstein’s idea
Zeppelins flying around the world and landing in New Jersey
And Lysol douching

Exploration of Antarctica had begun
But American women were still “Held in a web of indifference…”
Patents were being issued for coin-operated vending machines
And women were still trusting “now-and-then care”
Women were careless and risking “married happiness.”
Grace Kelly was born and what did she have to look forward to?
Prescriptions for “Lysol brand disinfectant for douching—always.”

Day after heartbreaking day…
Held in an unyielding web
Leo Reisman and his orchestra sang
“Happy Days are Here Again”
But not so for these women
Webs spun by spousal indifference
Resulting from—you know—poor feminine hygiene
These women were banished because of—you know—poor feminine hygiene
Women equaled Trotsky, husbands equaled Stalin
Lysol equaled disinfection and—you know—feminine hygiene
Women were put on a five year plan of
Industrialization, electrification, and mechanization
A five year plan of Lysol douching

December 1931, poet, Nicholas Vachel Lindsay
Downed a bottle of Lysol, and his last words were
"They tried to get me—I got them first!"
But Lysol douching continued
And the capitalist misconception that
The only good bacteria was a dead bacteria
—funny how that mantra has been reused
for a variety of subjects including me—
Continued to be churned out
There were myths that Lysol prevented pregnancy
Vaginas smelled like government institutions

Perhaps it was psychological warfare
To permeate our mothers with the stench of Lysol
To make them seem like they were one with the government
Blurring the line between women, mother, and home
And the federal government
The whirling eyes of Ka
Telling us to “Trust in Me.”
And beneficial bacteria across America
Were being killed
Paving the way for opportunistic pathogenic bacteria
By Lysol douching.


by t. zoEy benally

I cannot write because my muse no longer listens to me.
I feel her back--smooth, oily shale
Ignore me.

I am shunned, and words are repelled
by the force field that she has installed around my brain
by the iron walls she has welded around my heart.

I am unloved, and have been relegated to a hell
of perpetual false starts.

And each time I jump the gun
Bound out starting gates
I am tazered.

Portions of poems stick in my throat
Uncried tears, unacknowledged sobs
Partially masticated truth
and never digested.

I am left malnourished with scurvy
Dehydrated and infested with worms
And my poems emerge in tatters
because she has left me only
boll-weevil infested elbow macaroni
and contaminated muddy water
to consume.

She is like a silent cat - my former muse.
Sleek refusal to reveal my transgressions.
She kneads my flesh with freshly peeled claws,
Purrs, and sheds silver fur on my black sweater and face.


I wish I had a picture of your eyes.

But no camera would capture what I see
when we talk about mundane things.

Like trying to take a picture of the moon
when it ambles over the eastern horizon
magnified not by earth's atmosphere
but by an illusion created in my mind.

Maybe I am the only one that can perceive
gold fire burning in the afternoon forest
that is your eyes.

Maybe I am the lone soul that senses infinity
and that listens for echos of pebbles dropped,
smash against the bottom
of seemingly endless granite enigmas
contained within these glimpses
into your soul.

I wish I had a recording of your voice.

So that I could listen to quiet wind
pushed through wheat straw, filtered through
evergreen sprigs, moistened by cool rain.

Maybe I am the only being that can detect
the crackling plasma bubbling under
quiet shushes at the edges of your words & phrases
Alone in my static reactivity to your soft accent,
the sole being with receptors,
cognizant & alert in this reality.

I wish I had answers
to unasked Questions
Questions that remain sequestered
only partially thought
at the tips of comet tails & eyelashes
Questions inhaled & held tight in lungs
in anticipation
of a quick kiss.


by t. zoEy benally

Mitochondria were there at the beginning
Nidus that brought all the layers
of complexity, precipitating out,
careening out of solution,
out of matter neither created nor destroyed.