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a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society

Dwayne Martine

Dwayne Martine
We walk the lengths of this land.
We walk and walk, as movement is life,
as breath is proof of the body’s heartbeat,
proof the towering red cliffs,
the verdant snow covered mountains are real
in this light, those that rise up whole around us,
complete against the dark sky,
complete in their beginnings and endings.
We walk and drink in the night,
listen to the horsemen charging behind us,
in front of us, in the sky above us,
listen to the cries of those who have fallen behind,
who were never meant to have gotten even this far.
We bleed out stars in the moonlight,
chilled blood, clothing frozen blood,
falling like stars from the sky’s open palms over us.
We walk and walk, as movement is life,
is proof of the body’s breath,
proof the ashen ground underfoot is real,
that the night we drink will not end or tear us open.
We walk and vomit out this walk,
listen to the cries of those who have fallen behind
and were never meant to have gotten even this far.
We walk and walk and drink in the night,
bleed out the stars complete in our beginnings
and endings on the frozen, stilled and stilling earth.
“Hwééldi” = Place at the end of the Navajo Long Walk, “the place of suffering.”

Ars Indigena
What began in mist and darkness,
with hands reaching
into the clean, red earth
taking away palmful after palmful,
figured form from
the growing absence.
We empty the earth to create a space
only from which
to emerge from again
into pure clay hollows, danced circles
woven landscapes,
two dimensional starred nights.
What does not hold cannot transpose,
the masters say, their gnarled hands
expressing the intentions—curling around
cedar canes, feathered fans,
turtle shells and gourd rattles—
their words simply cannot.
Muse the indelible into flame, then smoke,
then a memory borne of time dilation,
as any creation, they insist, is also
the beginning of its own
dissolution, vibrating
into nothing only to be then shaped again.
I pluck a feather from the dark bird
of this continuation
to render its edge,
repoussé its silver negative onto
the stilled currents
of evening shadow and light around me,
bidding unfurling dark-starred creation
to contain me,
hold me
in your perfect form, in the resounding click
of your absolute
Dwayne Martine is a Jicarilla Apache/Navajo writer living in Tucson, Arizona. He has been published both regionally and nationally in print and online. He works as a professional editor and writer.


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