Buffalograss

Barely-morning pink curtains
drape an open window. Roaches scatter,

the letter t vibrating in cottonwoods.
His hair horsetail and snakeweed.

I siphon doubt from his throat
for the buffalograss.

Seep willow antler press against
the memory of the first man I saw naked.

His tongue a mosquito whispering
its name a hymn on mesquite,

my cheek. The things we see the other do
collapse words into yucca bone.

The Navajo word for eye
hardens into the word for war.

Anthropocene: A Dictionary

definitions provided by the Navajo–English Dictionary by Leon Wall & William Morgan

dibé bighan: sheep corral 

juniper beams caught charcoal in the late summer morning
night still pooled in hoof prints; deer panicked run from water 

ooljéé’ biná’adinídíín: moonlight

perched above the town drowned in orange and streetlamp
the road back home dips with the earth
                                                                    shines black in the sirens 

bit’a’ :  its sails or—its wing (s)

           driving through the mountain pass
                       dólii, mountain bluebird, swings out—
           from swollen branches
I never see those anymore, someone says 

diyóół        : wind (

                         wind (more of it) more wind as in (to come up)
                         plastic bags driftwood the fence line 

nihootsoii 

            :             evening—somewhere northward fire 
                                       twists around the shrublands; 
                               sky dipped in smoke—twilight 

        —there is a word for this, 
                                                    someone says 

                                        :           deidííłid, they burned it  
    
                                        :           kódeiilyaa, we did this

Related Poems

The Caravan

The city’s neon embers
stripe the asphalt’s blank page
where this story pens itself nightly;
where ghosts weave their oily hair
into his belt of ice,
dress him in pleated shadows
and lay him fetal
on the icy concrete—
the afterbirth of sirens glistening over him.

We drain our headlights
on his scraped forehead
and watch the December moon
two-step across his waxen eyes;
his mouth’s shallow pond—
          a reflecting pool
          where his sobs leak into my collar.

One more, just one more, he whispers,
as he thaws back into the shape of nihitstilí
bruised knees thorning against his chest.

We steal away,
our wheels moan
through sleet and ash.

Death places second, third,
and fourth behind us.

At home on the Reservation:
Father sifts dried cedar leaves
over glowing embers,
Mother, hovering
above cellphone light, awaits:
          He’s okay,
          never went out,
          watched a movie instead.

But tonight,
my speech has knives
that quiver at the ellipses
of neon Budweiser signs
blinking through the fogged windshield,
and I text:
          I’ve only rescued a sliver of him,
          he’s only twenty-five
          and he smells like blood and piss,
          his turquoise bracelet snatched for pawn,
          by the same ghost who traded his jacket
          for a robe of snow and ice,
          before inviting him
          back into the Caravan
                    for one more, just one more.

How the Milky Way Was Made

My river was once unseparated. Was Colorado. Red-
fast flood. Able to take

       anything it could wet—in a wild rush—

                                 all the way to Mexico.

Now it is shattered by fifteen dams
over one-thousand four-hundred and fifty miles,

pipes and pumps filling
swimming pools and sprinklers

      in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

To save our fish, we lifted them from our skeletoned river beds,
loosed them in our heavens, set them aster —

      ‘Achii ‘ahan, Mojave salmon,

                                Colorado pikeminnow—

Up there they glide, gilled with stars.
You see them now—

      god-large, gold-green sides,

                                moon-white belly and breast—

making their great speeded way across the darkest hours,
rippling the sapphired sky-water into a galaxy road.

The blurred wake they drag as they make their path
through the night sky is called

      ‘Achii ‘ahan nyuunye—

                                our words for Milky Way.

Coyote too is up there, crouched in the moon,
after his failed attempt to leap it, fishing net wet

      and empty, slung over his back—

                                a prisoner blue and dreaming

of unzipping the salmon’s silked skins with his teeth.
O, the weakness of any mouth

      as it gives itself away to the universe

                                of a sweet-milk body.

Just as my own mouth is dreamed to thirst
the long desire-ways, the hundred-thousand light year roads

      of your throat and thighs.

A Queerification

—for Creativity and Crisis at the National Mall

queer me
shift me
transgress me
tell my students i'm gay
tell chick fil a i'm queer
tell the new york times i'm straight
tell the mail man i'm a lesbian
tell american airlines
i don't know what my gender is
like me
liking you
like summer blockbuster armrest dates
armrest cinematic love
elbow to forearm in the dark
humor me queerly
fill me with laughter
make me high with queer gas
decompress me from centuries of spanish inquisition
& self-righteous judgment
like the blood my blood
that has mixed w/ the colonizer
& the colonized
in the extinct & instinct to love
bust memories of water & heat
& hot & breath
beating skin on skin fluttering
bruise me into vapors
bleed me into air
fly me over sub-saharan africa & asia & antarctica
explode me from the closet of my fears
graffiti me out of doubt
bend me like bamboo
propose to me
divorce me
divide me into your spirit 2 spirit half spirit
& shadow me w/ fluttering tongues
& caresses beyond head
heart chakras
fist smashing djembes
between my hesitations
haiku me into 17 bursts of blossoms & cold saki
de-ethnicize me
de-clothe me
de-gender me in brassieres
& prosthetic genitalias
burn me on a brazier
wearing a brassiere
in bitch braggadocio soprano bass
magnificat me in vespers
of hallelujah & amen
libate me in halos
heal me in halls of femmy troubadors
announcing my hiv status
or your status
i am not afraid to love you
implant dialects as if they were lilacs
in my ear
medicate me with a lick & a like
i am not afraid to love you
so demand me
reclaim me
queerify me