Thursday, July 17, 2014

Three Poems by Dwayne Martine

Red Rock Meditation  

I collect shadows
   as I walk
into the twilight
   ridden piñon,

lulled into the sky,
hushed by work strangers
   each of us

hauling armfuls of
   the quiet
like gathered cedar

We climb towering
red sandstone cliffs near
   my birthplace,

along a razor
   wire fence,
carting a backpack
   of sixers

and a liter of
up a trail not

for uninducted
ascending until
   only gas

refinery lights,
   the risen
moon and our closing

compel us forward.
   We do not
look down because there
   is nothing

else, gathered around
   the fire
with each other, but
   this first drink,

this last imbibed dark
to lives lived edge close,
   burden free,

balanced between work
   and future,
memory and night,
   not yet reeled

into tragedy’s
device. We drink and
   laugh as each

devastation of
   a failed
transmission or a

four-hundred year old
   hurt melts and
is forgotten in
   the liquid

warmth of precipice’s
   darkened clutch.
In a still moment,
   as the wind

shifts and the laughter
   stops, I pray
this night to never
   end, I pray

to halt our peace-flight
   march to the
   red stone brink.

Imperial Nostalgias
a Navajo Film

Looking into the mirror, I could
be anyone:  an Italian, Latin,
dirty Burt Reynolds in another
feather. I’m sweating under

these thousand stage lights, my
skin burning and dripping like
wax, yet still I return for revenge,
for a white man’s love, for

easy justice, for a place where
civilization’s word does not
apply but my anger does. Just
because there are no real

redskins here doesn’t mean it
shouldn’t be about a semblance
of us. Just because I’m not real
doesn’t mean the hot, mineral

redness I’m painted with comes
off easily or that revenge isn’t
the reality. They want to shoot
my eyes out so I do not rise

from the dead, hungry for more
revenge. They want to bound
my hands so I do not strike them
down hapkido style. They want

my broken English to mean I am
real, that I am not immediate to
the nightmare hiding under my
beaded headband and black hat.

They want my studio silence so
these screams will seem rehearsed.
They want movie justice so this
burning reality is the real illusion.

Autochthonous Tercets

I take the material of this tired, burdened life
and fret it with my thumb until the edges fray
and the weave tears into stops and longs strips

of midnight. These long unraveled segments
have just enough strength left to strangle
my enemies, tie and burden my family, hang

me from something tall. Shimásani, my
Grandmother was a sheepherder, a divorcée,
a Harvey Hotel waitress and a weaver.

She lived through Riverside Boarding School,
her first husband, broken stories and the loss
of a child. She wove and wove:  the language

of her birth, the rudeness of the bilágaana,
the places of her life and the private spaces
in her mind. I weave the language of my

alienation, the rudeness of white people,
the places of my life and the private spaces
in my mind. She wove the loss of another

child, a husband, knowing the world. She wove
her grandson’s face. She kept the hundred
by hundred foot rug of her life by her side,

leaving one imperfection in the august weft
to be teased out and questioned. I weave anew
into this newly unwoven life the carded dawn

of her memory, the few threads, patchworks,
imperfections of a woman whose life is to be
remembered obliquely, without her name spoken.

Dwayne Martine is a Jicarilla Apache/Navajo poet living in Tucson, AZ. He has been published online and in print. He works as a professional writer and editor. 

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