If Nothing, The Land

i. the toughest sheriff in the world

There is no other bad than what I say’s bad.

It’s tough-living on this land. Miles of desert,

undeveloped; the interstates, mostly unmanned,

are threads unspooled down broad hallways.

Beyond their edge: the space is dead,

a rogue trailer or redskin reservation.

Backward problems

of methamphetamine and rape. Those doors

have their own police, their own dumb justice.

I concern my posse with invasion. Paperless

beaners. Rust that ruins a polish.

Uneatable animals doing no man any good,

unless buried to cease the flies and the stink.


ii. flock of Seagals

If not thousands than millions of hours

I’ve played bang-bang; nabbed bad guy

brownies in kung fu-grip shoot-em-ups.

Who’s better fit to patrol kids in tiny pants

than a convicted man? Limits,

like borders, stretch thin and tear. If anyone

can get a gun then shouldn’t everyone

have one at the ready, like in the glory days:

a round up of savages, spics, and spooks out

to devalue our kids, good at killing their own.

I learned from watching birds nestled within

cacti: though there might be many, a single bird

more makes another cavity, an eventual collapse.


iii. come mierda para el desayuno

Chickens dismantle, like pit crews can

a vehicle, scorpions quickly.

Urged forward by pickers hens bob

and amble over fallen oranges, bruised grapefruit;

seek pincers, stingers, exoskeletons;

their urgent work efficient.

Back at the coop stubborn roosters fight;

bloody and unfeather each other

until the losers peck frail chicks from the clutch,

strew limp bodies beneath florescent light.

The hens return, squawk and circle the carcasses,

until the migrants transfer them in sacks

meant for citrus to anonymous holes on the land.




Bojan Louis is a member of the Navajo Nation — Naakai Dine’é; Ashiihí; Ta’neezahnii; Bilgáana. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Kenyon Review, Platte Valley Review, Hinchas de Poesía, American Indian Research and Culture Journal, and Black Renaissance Noire; his fiction in Alaska Quarterly Review, Yellow Medicine Review, and Off the Path: An Anthology of 21st Century American Indian Writers Volume 2; his creative nonfiction in As/Us Journal andMudCity Journal. He is the author of the nonfiction chapbook, Troubleshooting Silence in Arizona (Guillotine Series, 2012). He has been a resident at The MacDowell Colony. He is full-time English Instructor at Arizona State University’s Downtown Campus. Formerly Co-editor at Waxwing he is currently Poetry Editor at RED INK: An International Journal of Indigenous Literature, Art, and Humanities.  


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  1. Pingback: Table of Contents, Issue 14 | Matter

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