Esther Belin





There are cries between each letter:

The piercing cries of birthing – hot like a mother
The piercing early morning cry of a drunk driver’s balding tires
The piercing mid-day cry of an imploding middle-schooler, border-towner, cross-blooder – bloody and invaded – the heavy metals in our blood more bloody than springtime flood waters – can you handle hauling water for five hundred more years – yes 500 hindered, more sleepless – gaps of memory – can you find me in the cavern between the letters “M” and “E” – the puss-filled gummy sockets of tissue stagnating my voice?

The piercing evening prayers, a penetration of jackhammer pulses pulsating for loveless (un)loving longing for love-filled spaces – quiet spaces of rest, beautified glances …

Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray…

And what about the coolness of the evening, the tangle of clouds tucking me into bed, trapping me into my nighttime wanderings – my dusky landscapes of rainbow-arced points of entry – seeking shelter – a rest like the shadow from the Most High – a holy mountain retreat


There are seedlings between each letter:

Today I am standing in front of the Creator – I am witness – the slaying of the lambs – the preparation of the meat – fire-roasted with tortillas, green chile, and 'ach'íí – my hands are sore – gutting and cutting – tender around the internal organs, tough and fierce at hip joints – my hands are sore – slapping the bleached, red winter wheat flour into disks – my hands are sore – cedar splinters embedded, cedar smoke infused, cedar sap veneered

Today I am mother in a smothered breakfast burrito – the red chile burning my ass

Today I am peaceful like a river flow – like a river plugged – like a river dried – like a river rivering, a current currenting, a splash spilling and sparkling skyward – like the river used to flow in me – and out – like a soppy addict sitting at the Transfer Station, a transference of laser-scribed CIB, BIA tendril insertions deafening the cries, widening the distance between you, me and home

Today I am emissions of spit swallowed since my birth on a hill down a hall of IHS hospital the window holds oceanic groans, a wave of saliva – I swim in utero – I drown on arrival

There are  ____________________ between each letter:

Choose the best answer from the list below to fill in the blank – then write a haiku to support your answer

starving Indians                                                         traveling songs

capsules of Discovery Doctrine                           mutton ribs

mountain songs                                                         Hollywood Indians

soft goods                                                                     tádídíín


Extra Credit: Map your answer on the graph below.


There are (Jiní)

Other voices (Dishní)

Between each letter (Nisha?)

between each hallow each sigh and forgotten star sayings of and about and how to hold our map waiting in the heavens high above knowing I can visit with them whenever I want is good information but not enough to divert my gaze from the glittering world tragedies – allure allusions allegations of a better than now existence my shell dented toughened from mutiny mutilation monstering mothering in a standard-issued shell like the language I speak and write and cry and plant with a shoveling motion imploding to make room for more penetration(s) pencil prodders tapping my flesh testing my urban-smeared blood against the indigenous DNA tucked into sandstone graves tucked into denim pockets like smashed noses into ceilings poundings like last night’s black eye back door left open to flee like boarding school runaways in transit to checkerboarded houses nestled in tar paper reservation wind winding won’t stop it