Two Poems

Jake Skeets

Red Running Into Water

 

tsi’naajinii nishłí
pronounce the ł as water whistling through shadow
               on black bark
the í as boy wearing only yucca
               lake colored

tábąąhá báshíshchíín
the í is now mouth of narrow stream
               inside a pink mobile home with white skirting
the ą sounds like pulling hair
               from the throat
shaped like the á

táchii’nii dashícheii
the á now a head busted open
               red running into water
the í is the boy now naked
               red running into water

tódik’ǫzhí dashinálí
boy has the ó for mouth
               washed with memory of salt water
pronounce this á as rain cloud
               belly up
the í still the boy floating on the lake
               except it is a field
his mouth left ǫ

Drift(er)

 

                    after “Benson James, drifter. Route 66, Gallup, NM 1979” by Richard Avedon

 

Drift

to drift is to be carried by current of air or water

                                        but men are not the teeth

of their verbs

they pry nouns open with a belt buckle

to take a sip

Drifter

a drifter carried by a current of air or water

                                                                                         makes his way from one place to another

see vagabond, see transient, see

drunk

see a man with shoulder-length hair

dollar bills fisted standing before a white screen

see his lips how still

how horizon

how sunset

a train

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

passing through

 

I try to hug him

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

through the spine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

left on the white space

                    his face becomes a mirror

if I stare long enough

                                         my face

charcoaled

                    pursed squinting

at the camera

 

train horn

                    punch shatters

the mirror

 

                                         frees him from the page

my uncle leaps from the

From Hunger Mountain Issue 23: Silence & Power, which you can purchase here.

Art by @anna_croc01, curated by Dana Lyons.

 

Jake Skeets is Black Streak Wood, born for Water’s Edge. He is Diné from the Navajo Nation and holds an MFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts. His work has appeared in Boston Review, Waxwing, and elsewhere. He is a winner of the 2018 Discovery/Boston Review Poetry Prize. His first collection, EYES BOTTLE DARK WITH A MOUTHFUL OF FLOWERS, won the 2018 National Poetry Series and was published by Milkweed in 2019.