Chilocco Indian School, Oklahoma, 1922: A disciplinarian says, There is no foolishness, do everything just so… such as keep your room clean, keep yourself clean, and no speaking of your Native language.

For now I can
             just whisper 
kál’a sáw

                  the ’óx̣ox̣ox̣ 
      of your hím’ k’up’íp

wrecked at the base
                         of a century that burns

through my slow blood


                                 kiké’t caught

in the blink                                       silúupe

so draw the eyelids
       shut & forget the fire 
tangled among the branches

of your spine
             start where the skin meets

half an autumn
       rusting the edge of winter that is

knifing                        between me & ’iin

you & ’iim ’ee


boy     have you forgotten us
                                                is not what they are saying

or are they        asks another century

        how are we remembered
in our choreography
of bones?


mouth your birthplace          boy
without mouthing off           tim’néepe    is at the heart

or the heart of the monster
                                         or the grass blood-soaked

from the fresh kill that finally isn’t
                                                             your father

& pray héwlekce when your body is given away       says the
     orphan boy

with lashes licked into his shoulders

forget ’im’íic   because they can         tear every lip from every

                                     of your mother


because you are
torn & because you are
what song fills
your throat
with the color
of carved out tongue

peewsnúut & hi’lakáa’awksa
              is what is voiced in the dark
& so what does it mean
                           asks the boy


as the moon
glows mouth open
to the unbearable
taste of ash
blown among the stars

that the boy learned
the ghost’s trail

that milky way
is lit by the dying
brightly echoed


c’ewc’éewnim ’ískit
so there had to be breathing

there had to be.







kál’a sáw—just in sudden silence
'óx̣ox̣ox̣ —sound of bones and flesh tearing
hím’ k’up’íp—sound of a mouth breaking
silúupe—at or in the eye
’iim ’ee—you (with emphasis)
tim’néepe—at or in the heart, where the mind and felt emotions are housed. Also, the name
of the Nez Perce creation site, Heart of the Monster, located in Kamiah, Idaho.
héwlekce—I disappear
’im’íic—your mom [more intimate] (as opposed to your mother)
peewsnúut—without tongue, or cut tongue, or removed of one’s tongue
hi’lakáa’awksa—he, she, or it is lit all through the night
c’ewc’éewnim ’ískit—the ghost’s trail / the Milky Way

Countdown as Slow Kisses

10. Here on my knees I look for the single animal: you left
                                                   ravaged at the edge of a meadow

9. Is everything accounted for? The fingers dipped
                                     beneath the torso—to keep this body bright

8. Every breath we are desperate to take
                             sounds as if a war lost against a country of promise

7. Discarded halos: the light you remember
                   in your head—you feed on what is crushed between the teeth

6. America declares these dreams I have every night be re-
                                                      dreamed & pressed into names

5. Upended petals of qém’es
                                 abandoned like torn butterfly wings—we’é I pray

4. I pray that nobody
                  ever hears us

3. An eye gone
           bloodshot: I tear through the crisp apple of your throat & find—

2. myself: this—a boy beside a boy. An eyelash
                            fallen at the base of a valley, our dark bones bursting in-

1. to bloom. I stare into your beloved face & enter: yes,
                 yes, this nation, under god, its black sky we lay our nightmares to

0. where I am your animal: my Lamb—now eat
            me alive.

So Call it Grace

The first plea-

sure was,

someday, a man

amen a boy be-

fore this boy

without form

yet here god-

send said god—

send me an-

other portion

of sky ’ipelíikt

turns to bruise

pressed to our

skin now skinn-

-ed touch us

into extinction

where we are a-

live, so say it:

live—no out-

live any god

salvaged by

the image a-

flame trapped

in the night

of the throat

like a gun-

lit glimmer

in a room sh-

redded with

our pleas-


Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear

Awake again, I find my name as
                                              vanished as a midnight I want
      to salvage. To have those black teeth sinking back
                                                                      into my skin—you enter me
through an opening in the sky
                                     of my body like a face,
             a moon behind me falling slow
                                                  & moving its fingers to a mirror made
of the window above my bed. I hear the weight of its life
                                                                   pressing down & the image
cracks. A figure stands
                  in a gown of blued smoke—this me
                                                                  & you—a shadow laid over
                         the surface of a puddle. Its eyes
                                                                      lit up like those
of wolves brimming with winter. So let this body. Let it go:
                                                                                       as though a breath
wanted to be saved, I part my mouth into
                                                             púuceyxceyxne & into pieces
as I am. But language between the lips
                                                    shrapneled into air is all that ever touches
                           the never-seen
pink of my lungs. I breathe in & breathe out. For what
                                                                        we’ve lost—my dear
ghosts. The sound of the field
                                       long after the war