Collestipher Dodge Chatto is Diné from the Ramah Diné Reservation, New Mexico. In May of 2015, he earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing at the Institute of American Indian Arts. His poems have appeared in anthologies, Tribal College Journal, Plume, Friendzone, American Indian Culture & Research Journal, Witch Craft Magazine, The Gordian Review, HIV Here & Now Project, and Yellow Medicine Review. He is an American Indian Graduate Center Fellowship recipient. Currently, he is a candidate for an MFA degree in creative writing, focusing on poetry, at IAIA. He also enjoys writing short fiction, and, painting and drawing.
The Banes of Cacti & Snake Holes
________________________________Grey heads witness
____________________the hunter grapple Nadlééh
____________nakedness shatters Moon reflection in ________On the other
____________________the shallow riverside
____________________shoal red caltrops sticker the labia the wife
_____________________________________she inserts a cactus oblong & ropes
_________________________________________a fetus cord around
____________River is a planked corpse ____ her neck
________splinting continents divorced shores
____________In between mescal buttons lump infant skin
___________________________Antler tine stabs Nadlééh
______________________The hunter shuts his eyes
_________________A rectum blooms White seed
____________a lotus seed pod His spine glows settles on pink
________Orange poker sizzling the shoal Opens his eyes
_______________________________Nadlééh is not the woman
Haatali skin only fetish receptacle
________sludged black once said jack flesh
________Monstrosities in the river first surfaced sickness
_________________________________of cacti & snake holes
____________thighs as the cord chokes
__________________________off his wife’s head
____________Her widow eases
____________the scabbard outward
__________________________crystals whitehead his girth
_______________Planked on gurney
rattling through pallid hallways, rooms
________occupied by gloves pumping chests. Hunchback insects—Nálí
_________________________________& Chéí smudge dura mater—sweeping
This white gown wrangles brown skin weedland vibrations.
________—silicone breast pads the jock pouch.
_______________Eclipses ago, interment for change?
________cards crease Nálí’s grin. Artifact. A museum
she closes her eyes to. A spine Turquoise nipples her silver belt returns to the ground’s back. draping my shaven legs in velveteen.
_________________________________Chéí’s corals flower these wrists,
________________________________________________salute the bun
_____________________________________wrapped in mohair nap.
_____________________Cannot do this alone.
______________Play with copper rings
________as the lamp spotlights. Soaping his forearm hairs,
_____________________________________surgeon says, What have you done
________________________________with your name?
______________Swallow saliva before it cruds.
__________Smile is a skiff
lifting the mountain slopes, & she
_______hears the calling for her to float down. Squint over mounting chamisa. See
_____________________________________the woman wished for
___________________Gossamer mask in birthday flames.
_______threads the airways.
________________________________touch the shaved skin
___________________________ashy below my navel—inter
__________________the boy, the son, the man, the father.
___________Her palm caked in Moon dough, perches
_______________________________I’m different, Nálí.
____________________She coils around my head. Dough dabs my bruise.
_________________________It is not shameful, shiyázhí,
_______________________________to be a Woman.