National Poetry Month

Blizzard on the Rez

by Iver Arnegard

She smiled all the way to the morgue.
Fifty-eight or not, Mable Bear could still bury a man.
Her anger was much older.

She stabbed him in the chest
and opened him to weather
--twenty below outside and dropping.
That night the wind spoke
and snow-drifts listened.

They’d been trapped in the trailer a week.
Even if snow let up the Ford would never budge.

No one knows the words spoken
before the last bottle of Jack
when Mable opened the door
to let warriors in and sat at the kitchen table
as wind and snow filled her corners.

A week later police found the man dead,
Mable Bear still at the table
and a deer, who’d come in from the cold,
had to be chased out the back.

Maybe her last thoughts were too drunk to walk the line.
Maybe she thought of a mother
who wouldn’t come to a wedding
because he was white, or just
a Dakota winter that didn’t end when it should have.

All we know is
what the coroner said:
Her smile never thawed
with the rest of her body,
still there as the zipper
ran up her face.

Behind Every Good Soldier

by Maria Melendez

It sounds too scripted, unbelievable now,
but he really did ask: what would you think of me

if I killed someone? When this childhood
sweetheart joined the Marines,

I was back from college and leaping at him
for a week or so, smoking at his kitchen window, drinking

in the ridiculous brilliance of a typical
Berkeley garden, azaleas and tropical whatnot.

How sure of greenness it all seemed,
how shocking the mob of growing things

that surged against his little yellow house.
—the answer I gave

evaporates, but the question roosts
in the mind’s cave, elaborates rubbery wings

each time I meet a returning veteran.
Old lover, neighbors, boys marching drills

on the college quad, what do I think of you
when I think of you killing?

I see an old ghost, fatigued as storm-
blown sand, standing behind you, and it’s

nothing but fangs and finger bones, disguised as a girl
with a sweet little honey-pot country

you’ve got to defend; she’s got her dirty
little hands all over your weapons.

Reprinted from Flexible Bones, University of Arizona Press, 2010.

silver, now and then

by David Martin

silvery notes
sparkles of wave tips which, although random
somehow translate as music, not static

it is the rocks beneath the surface
which makes the creek sing

on tiptoes, making faces
in the chrome curvatures of the side mirrors
on dads 1964 silver turquoise Ford pickup

silvery splashes remind the memory of laughter
water dark grey shore rocks glisten,
sun reflected circles, six submerged beer cans
or the hot ice chests handles, flash of the church-key

drizzle blown over the mountain top,
filters through cold canyon light,
splitting the sunbeams with a fishhook’s
silver length, a spiders silky filament

the flash of the trout’s sequin scales at release,
tumbling, left behind, blinking into darkness
silver halide crisp moments yellow with time,
autumn sepia, damaged polaroids
rust spots the bicycle chrome
chopper handlebars, banana seat, sissy bar

brand new concertina wire in what once was eden,
sun glints of yesterday’s wetland deltas drained,

sun caresses silvered feminine curves
wrapped around small blue skies of turquoise

the weightless band on the left hand

the razor, the tiny trimming scissors
clippings on the sink increasingly silver,

now and then, here and there,
a fading to and from,
flashes of the journey

Talking to the Dead

by Juan Morales

Be careful. They weaken when you channel them too much.
Their croons in ductwork and walls will wane.
Don’t drown them out in electronic frequencies or ignore their language of clicking pipes and creaking doors.
Be careful. Listen. This is not automatic writing or a way to neglect your voice.
You’re at your desk, replacing the empty spools of memory with new threads.
Let speeches of the dead weave together pieces into tapestries.
Let it warm you to feel the coarse knits of a blanket assembled by their tired hands and squinted eyes,
with the dead coaxing you to continue laboring in the weakly lit rooms.