syan jay

(Blood) Quantum Mechanics

:: the fundamental theory that describes
             nature at the smallest scale of energy

             from atomic and subatomic ndns ::

have you ever seen how the sun clears
             a saguaro? a billion phosphorous petals

ruptured on the spines of its fruit,

coming to bubble like diabetes-pricked fingers.
             my uncle told me that no one appreciates
ndn science—they could never know how
an auntie beads algorithms and protein structures
                          with just the
             right shades of blue and yellow.

these are original tricksters
bound to knowledge, without
needing words, to know what has been cannibalized
by colonial teeth.

how can you
measure genocide? by carnage, weak tongues,
             or fealty to blood laws?

could i know an elder who comforts this body
without gender but full of violence measured
                          against it?

                          [the uncertainty principle states
             that both the position and the momentum
of the free particle ndn

cannot be measured with complete white

i learn to paint my face with patience
while my mind watches light refracting
between the window and a man’s eyes, belonging

to the hand who holds a depressor
             on my tongue, spreading papillae
                          like the legs he will attempt to explore later,

                          as he asks me if my family has a
             history of alcoholism? and did i
read about what is happening at Standing Rock?
             but is not interested in what i say,
                          until two days later:

             i crawl into the emergency room,
kidneys beginning to fail.
             the nurse asks why i didn’t come in earlier?
                          how did i even manage to get there?

             how do you explain that your dna
is fortified by braids of anguish? that after so much
             time and attempted assassinations,
                          even the smallest [subatomic] ndn
             knows every wound and how to survive it?

Loanword for a Body

the satellites above, in metal bondage, are trans-                                                                    mitting
             information to thankless people
             whose hands flicker each other’s holes,
             as the moon swallows the shadow of its former
the prairie, where I was born, was once trans-                                                                           sected
             by a pink sun, split open in the sky
             from my mother’s singing
             & my throat echoing her in cries
when Creator made me, they were trans-                                                                                   lating
             not-girls & not-boys into whole people
             w/ knees inventing new words as they opened & closed
             & when asked for my name, silent I’s dripped from my lap
on the day I return to the crows, my body trans-                                                                  gendered
             ceremony w/ yellow ochre swept on unzipped skin,
             my two young sisters will sing & cut apples
             to feed the feathered & femme pallbearers,

             who during my wake
              will feast & hold me as their own
              before letting the river silt
              know the true name of this body.

My safeword is restless

We have an apartment with a small patio
& we can hear every inch of rosemary
grow from the herb garden. We watch
cottontails scamper down the cement wall
separating us from “colonial”-style homes.
We stop making jokes about the houses.
We grow tired of ruminating on the same scab.
We know the past is preserved in error here.
We have no children & I start making tea
to make my body feel useful during the long
afternoons where even the breeze cannot fill
such absences. It is early summer & sweat
collects at the back of our knees. We explore
the salt of each other. I share with your mouth
& its wounds. We fuck carelessly, leaning on
the window, afternoon sun nesting on our heads.
We run our fingers through each other’s hair,
scalps warmed, & what we feel takes the place
of want. Do you think there is a universe where
instead of rosemary, the garden grows white roses,
& the cottontails turn into salesmen for vacuums?
Could we learn how to hold onto that life too?
The version where we make comfort from what
we are given? & the one where our want died
& was replanted in the soil? & the one where even if
we try to coax it out, our want feels no need to bloom?

syan jay is an agender, Dzil Łigai Si’an N’dee (White Mountain Apache) cyberbrat who lives in invaded Nipmuc/Massachusett/Wampanoag land. They are the winner of the 2018 Pacific Spirit Poetry Prize by PRISM International. Their work has been featured in wildness, Barrelhouse, Glass Poetry, Palette Poetry, and more. Their debut poetry collection Bury Me in Thunder is forthcoming with Sundress Publications. You can find more of their publication history and additional information at, or on Twitter @mxsyanjay.