Monday Jun 24

SkeetsJake Jake Skeets (Diné) is from the Navajo Nation. He is pursuing an MFA at the Institute of American Indian Arts. His work has appeared in Word Riot, The James Franco Review, The Blueshift Journal, and elsewhere. He was the recipient of the 2014 Native Writer Award. Recently, he founded a queer Indigenous magazine that publishes queer Indigenous and queer poets of color, titled Cloudthroat.

Instructions in the Joints

when mistaken for water
            on the kitchen floor,

just boys still. Their grandfathers’
veined hands on the backs

of their necks.
            They know tragedy,

each eye a coal pearl
                        for people they lost.

One’s mother in his hair,
            cousins at his teeth.

The other carries his name
                        like a toothache.

            Bloom into saguaro
on their knees on vinyl tile.

Two boys asleep by a stove,
            after painting the skin

on the other’s back, an ode
to sky bit down,

            scar tissue of inner cheeks.
Just another war,

wars in arm hair, wars
            in cutlery, tomatoes.

            Instead of a burning,
their names become a cornfield.


He is crying through his hands, thunder bursts
palmed by sky. Three pairs of limbs woven

into roll clouds, heavy over Mid-May snow. Stretch
marks light on his skin spider down to hip, lightning

bolts against the powder of his sheets beneath us.
His shirt still noosed around his neck, boxers shackled

to ankles. Gasps for air between his cries were fists
                        punching holes in every wall.


third world      was gunfire
            in a canyon      horse
tongue dragged
                        on salt block
manage to locust
                 through     climb
reeds into a chalk sky
            arrive in fourth world
a paler sky       flickering
            through swarm
of cicada               sweat
glistening on stomachs           
                        in a dorm room
spotlights glittering
               through bleachers
during men’s fancy
       arrive and keep arriving