Three Poems

by Joe Dale Tate Nevaquaya


The Dream Warrior


I am intentional to light

never capitulating the stars

or the sway of grasses in my mother’s mouth.


The red gash at my people’s breast

is a journey of words and deed,

exposed to the sun,

a river of blood that pours outward

beating against the sun at dawn.


I am intentional to light,

dancing upon the moon’s altar, where

dreams recede back into their sacred

hole. I am a dream warrior, protecting

the destinies of my children’s children,

with fists of familiar medicines,

with songs of soft gestures,

and brutal forgiveness.


I am a dream warrior,

silhouetted against the day of bad sign talk,

against the signing away of my mother’s breath,

against the part and parcel of your reality,

silhouetted against the road that severs

my people’s dream.


I am a dream warrior,

sleepless around my people’s fire, remembering

the beating down of the younger sisters,

the emasculation of fine young men,

all their smiles bright as the river’s moon.


I am intentional to light,

to the chins resting too long on sallow chests,

to the educating of my children of your missionary

positions. You return them lost to us.


I am a dream warrior,

intentional to light.

Never capitulating my people’s dream,

never capitulating the stars.



Leaving Holes

Spider palmed up

prays lunar

globular and darkly,

its brittle voice

scratches the trees.


Far away,

thumb-marks dream

of frosted glass.

Old throats eddying

with age,

sound the water.


Fingertips hardened

into sleep, curve

the eggdish of moon.


Birds oily black

peck into the air

with honed beaks,

leaving holes.


Plateaued onto sleep

ghosts dogear the eaves

and silently

salt the sea.


Somnambulist inks

the sperm

pressed against

the shadows,

pressed against

the window of night.


Flesh imparts itself,

hand into wing

wing into tongue.


Mossy gray pebbles

their lips stilled,

brood inside the gourd

as spider turns to fog

fog turns to earth

and earth turns to song.



Origin and Sombra


Viscera of night beats canopic

in our hands of wet spiders, crawling

towards the edge of moonlight, a lake

of abysmal origin and sombra.


We are remembering

missiled plumes of destruction

and pungent strikes of lightning,

cataclysmic designs slurred across

the primordial horizon, silhouetting

the pithy ghosts of our names.

(Our sorrow will be short lived)


We are remembering

the language of eclipsed stars

murmuring among the cattail and reeds,

their voices blue in water

and refractive mirror. A vain distance

of darkness held in preened gesture.


We are remembering

our mother’s hair of bee’s wax

and saddened cuspidors, kicked aside

by editions of blood and cadres

of spitten rubies, their rank sputum

eases from the gables of higher houses.


In their frenzy, diaphanous nightshade

and in mourning.


We are remembering

the black ink of our misery, touched

to our mouths with fingertips,

the blueprint in orifice of speech

and pulsing hearts, emerging

like a thousand suns, blistering

a calligraphy upon our skins.


We are remembering

the returning of ourselves

to our selves,

over and opening

to this light, forever.

Originally published in Leaving Holes & Selected New Writing by Joe Dale Tate Nevaquaya (Mongrel Empire Press, 2011). Appeared in This Land: Spring 2015.