T H Y G I F T S, F O R W H I C H [ I A M ] A B O U T T O [ D E V O U R ]
Bless me, dearest Father, for the sin I was
born with—how I forget your face, once
I see your flesh- tinted photograph:
I am your ghost, a blessing
for the damned—a way out of your life as soon as
the earth opens up
its mouth to let you in. & inside, to carve this
haunt with brighter air you are still
breathing—to stay this alive: so faint
against the wall I shiver
in the warmest of rooms.
I appear as a single finger- print on the lips
of a god betrayed, to smear away what shame I entered
into you those years gone. Stare at me like a house
burning in lavender, Father. Give me your voice
please—for it is
the only gospel I ever had. & never once
heard. As if this body-
shot & hungered sky was left starred
with countless eyes.
Michael Wasson is the author of Swallowed Light (Copper Canyon Press, 2021). A 2019 Ruth Lilly & Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellow and a 2018 NACF National Artist Fellow in Literature, he is from the Nez Perce Reservation in Idaho.
But he knew the cause of his malady. —R. Akutagawa, 41. Sickness
—caution in starting a chainsaw
the buzzing vigor generates an onset and eases the space between my ears, as the massive jolt from the metallic melodic rigor rages from the chainsaw
what my supposing father does not know is, pulling on the trigger can cause a negative interaction with his pacemaker
the space between my ears bow upward, plumping my cheeks and creasing crows feet, almost in a hopeful snicker
a tiny thought in my head voices its concern, warns my supposing father, leaving me with this dismal decision to notify, but contrary to my supposing father’s heart condition is
—do I dare warn him not to cut wood? —or should he die trying?
But to believe in a God, — to believe in a God’s love, that was impossible. —R. Akutagawa, 50. Captive
many of them went astray, as whispers away from faith many of them went astray, from faith as a whisper, away
in the exhaust of these whispers, I become the air of arid fall as it torments my hands of some presence, by some torment — God?
here, pacing inside my small square room, in falls’ remains I persist this empty pace, but the room is small and arid inside
—inside, I am small, and I believe the pace of this arid room Inside, I astray from the belief of fall whispers and small rooms
belief in them fails in the small space of this whisper yet, in this whisper they fail and may fall in exhaust I have paced the floor for so long, I have gotten better at it
but the arid belief in God fails the small spaces of these rooms but mostly arid whispers pace the presence of small beliefs
—to believe in God, is to believe these small beliefs exists
In this semi-darkness day to day he lived. —R, Akutagawa, 51. Defeat
—in this determining dark, inside my condensing state of mind, there is much clarity to consider, inside my conflicting state of mind, there is much conjecture to clarify
as the sordid lump of flesh drapes over a yellow armchair I presume the defeat, the control of place, the control of people I presume the manifest which continues to exist, and I resist I challenge daily the destiny, which is this darkest hour of being My state of becoming is this dark American hour
an opinion like all options leave nothing to clarify, even after a conclusion formed based on incomplete information by use of force, or by use of this state of mind, this darkness manifests a destiny left in a gripping palm and blank conjecture
nothing is determined, nothing determines the outcome without a belief to consider a consideration leaving no belief, and yet outside the wind blows the dry leaves about —the day moves on without me
Crisosto Apache, originally from Mescalero, New Mexico (US), on the Mescalero Apache Reservation. He is Mescalero Apache, Chiricahua Apache, and Diné / Navajo. His Diné clans are Salt Clan born for the Towering House Clan. He holds an MFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Crisosto is an Assistant Professor of English at the Rocky Mountain College for Art + Design (RMCAD). He is the Associate Poetry Editor for The Offing Magazine. He also continues his advocacy work for the Native American LGBTQ / ‘two-spirit’ identity.
Crisosto’s debut collection GENESIS (Lost Alphabet) stems from the vestiges of memory and cultural identity of a self-emergence as language, body, and cosmology. Some of the poems in this collection have appeared in Denver Quarterly (Pushcart Nominee), Cream City Review, Plume Anthology, Common Place: The Journal of Early American Life, photographer Christopher Felver’s Tending the Fire. and most recently The Poetry Foundation’s POETRY Magazine June 2018 issue.
“Make things happen!” says L.A.-based artist Kit Thomas. This Mohawk Two-Spirit/Indigiqueer is Wolf Clan from the St. Regis Mohawk Territory of Akwesasne. Kit (she/her/he/him) is an LGBTQ and Mental Health Advocate. This mixed media artist has been honing her painting skills for the last decade and now has a recognizable splatter paint style infused with Native American symbolism.
Kit’s evolution into digital art allows her to introduce other elements of design with social issues into this union. It extends the range of her talent even further as well as encouraging and inspiring healing within LGBTQ and Indigenous communities.
Jenny L. Davis (Chickasaw) is an Indigiqueer/Two-Spirit writer and artist from Oklahoma and an assistant professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Her work has most recently been published and Transmotion; Santa Ana River Review; Broadsided; Yellow Medicine Review; As/Us; Raven Chronicles; and Resist Much/Obey Little: Inaugural Poems to the Resistance and exhibited at the Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture & Lifeways and Minnesota Center for Book Arts.
Julian Talamantez Brolaski the author of Of Mongrelitude (Wave Books 2017), Advice for Lovers (City Lights 2012), and gowanus atropolis (Ugly Duckling Presse 2011). Julian’s poetry has been included in New Poets of Native Nations (Graywolf 2019), Native Voices: Indigenous American Poetry, Craft and Conversations (Tupelo 2019), Tending the Fire: Native Voices and Portraits (University of New Mexico Press 2017), and Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics (Nightboat 2012). Julian is the recipient of the 2020 Cy Twombly Award for Poetry. They are the lead singer and rhythm guitarist of Juan & the Pines, which recently released its first EP, Glittering Forest (True West 2019). Julian lives in Goleta, California.
A Vernacular Response is an ongoing series of images representing everyday moments, yet diverse aspects of the Navajo Nation. In support of the Dine’ way of life, the documentation of environment celebrates and interrogates site/sight-specific perspective. As a form of contemporary Navajo storytelling, the series also acts as a (re)collection of intimate moments tied to my own understanding and ever-developing relationship to my surroundings. Thus, the visuals expand the possibilities of Dine’ cultural stewardship and an ongoing mission to explore the past, create the present, and curate the future.”
Rapheal Begay is a photographer and curator from the Navajo Nation. Currently based in Window Rock, AZ, he serves as the Public Information Officer for the Navajo Nation Division of Human Resources. In 2017, he obtained his BFA in Art Studio with a minor in Arts Management and Certification in Museum Studies from the University of New Mexico. He has exhibited, curated, and collaborated in creative initiatives highlighting Queer and Indigenous art throughout the Southwest.