Monday Jun 24

MenomineeKateri Kateri Menominee is Anishinaabe from Bay Mills, Michigan. Her poems have appeared in Drunken Boat, The IAIA anthologies Birds and Other Omens and Radical Enjambment. Her poetry has been published in As Us: A Space for Women of the World., 2012, Drunken Boat, and Red Ink. Her chapbook, In Tongues is out now in Effigies II from Salt Publishing.

Battery Pie

There is a rush rudimentary precision in the way
he handles antlers. I call out / bone king / antler king

But no matter what I cough out / no matter the scabbing
his fist finds the palest parts of me / so I hum white winter

to the empty vale / He burns his manhood to a sharp flint
hip swing along the ice whale of my back and I / can’t breathe

The smell / God / The smell / these smells stay with you
An estrus soaked oil rag slopped inside a clenched fist

I am reminded of dog teeth / toppled words like printing press
Forgotten articles / thick disintegrated tongue columns

Milk carton cut-out stamp thrown on an empty cartridge
the more my skin drinks of it the more ink cockles up

blots out / His eyes like a pair of bunting cedar branches
pinched loom tight during a storm / This swollen red ice shack

Frozen / Erect cake topper on lake box / ice box / My hands
pressed against a portable heater / It’s wiry palms baking / then

the paraffin lamp‘s glass glow / smoking / out the sides
He yawns -

“This is your home now.”

I am brain tanned / lost pink slush smeared on raw hide
the kind seeping through slot mouth beneath the swinging

oaken door / frost / burn / My arms constricting
to the size of a deer heart / one hundred hearts

burned into black cockles along my throat/ He laughs / mumbles
half-something’s only a Northerner could understand

says your lucky if you float / bloat / your body‘s puckered organs
like driftwood shards pointing north / I look up and see only

coughed up planets / a wintered consumption spat
like packs of wolves / their paws dancing on a glass floor

like clockwork / cogs and gears iced / over mechanisms and coppered
things caked in rust / I am reminded again of my own construction

the scaffolding loose now / once bright shiny beams unhinged
and breakable / broken metal bent at the abdomen

Brass rivets like lace parasols rotating counter-
clockwise / and soon like the rest of them / fallen

In the corner of the shack lies a tea kettle / the spout burnt
red / an aftermath of someone else / tea stained and exposed

He places his chin on my shoulder -

They‘ll only find the parts of you I‘ll sing.
He cups his ear.

I recline, smoke a half cigarette snuffed out / watch the ashes ossify.

        After Jacklight

We small masters receding amongst bracken-stale
pursed up against a carved star of birch burnt fever red.
Our haunches fossilized, bone matrix froth frozen,
breaks only to be re-beaded.

We are sewn, dismembered, fried or baked
until our yellow fat rises, roams, the smell
of a smoked rump burning the hips of a chimney.
Aren’t we just easy prey?

All doe-eyed and electric. We can smell them here,
their faces blotting out the night. The cold clipping
sound of their throats as they take in the storm.

Listening to their nostrils consume and flare, the slush rippling
over boots and the smell of their socks engorged with rain
water. They pin our ears up so we can decipher the shadow
of a trigger finger, the itch to open us up and fold through
our organs, the blood trails, the tiny streams between our thighs.

Then our skeletons, our blunted ribs
vanished beneath another bridge.

We have no cemetery or mourning grounds,
only skulls folded upon skulls as if two hands

pressed in prayer. Our skeletons sometimes lost
beneath the cape of twilight, a bed of crisping
leaves and rabbit down clouding the dust.
We remove these jawbone shards off our felt,
only to quiver and boil. We remain un-scattered

but the stink of them still stays on us.
The smell of steaming lager, rusting screwdrivers
and knives filthy with the blood of something smaller.
Something receding in the brush, a rabbit, a fawn.
Their mouths are foaming.

We smell cassette tapes chroming the skin
on their fingers. We smell the sharpness
of their mind’s eye as it folds over our bodies
swallowing our innards, the varnish of our glans.

We smell the trigger finger.
Their eyes adjusting, become thinner.
We smell the hesitation.

Then the heat from the foreheads. Lip stain
from a mother or a child. The gleam streaking
down to the welt on their chins.

We recite a song, clicking our teeth to our tongue,
an oaken dirge carved and rounded like a barrel.
No bleats and grass-fed grunts.

We are red bramble bloodying abandoned
horse trails, iced over on the shoulder of a highway
broken and bloating on the edge of a river.

We dream of bullets lodged in chambered stomachs.
The twisted fence by the crossroad, overgrown and forest green.

Sault Dog Watch Dream 

                                    The Soo Locks
                                       are burning

                                       black lumber f
                                    smoke putters
                                    chimney stock
                                    Boiler man Boiler
                                    man sticks a sever-
                                         red arm into
                                       coals, stoke
                                        fire in furnace
                                    ships dancing to-
                                 wards a brighter star
In Lake Superior                          black and red cargo ships    
cleave through ice          relics of fish                  prehistoric
pictures of lake spider     silverfish   each one       just as
slippery as the last and here     I am     on observation deck
feet locking to the rails                  wishing they hadn't
remodeled   floor     feet lichen         glass bottom boat girl
                      like me         I           beneath the sunken
Fitzgerald                 its ghosts       struggling to stay afloat            
hands                   reaching beneath rushing water       frozen
lake beds                     I dreamt I pulled the silver ore heavy
on their                             stomachs             shatter the pieces    
       Steady them           they will float to the top                          
     spray metalliferous in water.