GOD in the West
In Tucson, in the bar where a man who calls himself GOD will brand his name on you for five dollars, from the entrance you can see the steam rising, and the newly religious yelling for GOD in the West, the poets at the bar waiting for something to transform them, their hands on their glasses, on the wood, in their own Indian hair, religion in the girl running back and forth across the room yelling for GOD and for Pabst blue ribbon, in the shot that one of the poets bought the other, in the woman watching the girl getting branded for life, telling her to brand her own name and the girl rolling her eyes and saying I like GOD and I like Pabst blue ribbon, in the clouds moving quietly in the dark outside above the heads of the unknowing poets, in the iron that presses to the flesh, the flash of enlightenment after as the camera’s pulled up, and in the girl who simply sits down from where she had been standing above and like a tiny new god, admires her newest wound, consecrating all of the others, and then looks up, asking for her free shot and takes it, her blue eyes glowing with the kind of knowledge only the very strange and very beautiful ever fully understand.
That Small Wooden Box
Why does it always end up in grass, dirt, stars, where we all go
for release. We will come again and again and again. Your eyes, I hold you,
I fuck you, fuck you, fuck me come in (me) boy and shut the rusty screen door tight,
don’t let the cat out, let me hold your mixed blood head in my mixed blood arms. Look how dirty we’ve gotten, we’re covered in grass, blood, mine, hers, yours.
Perhaps this too will fade, the memories a closet full of old glass, sky clouding over
for days, the way my heart wavers with the wind, something strange and musical
in the air. But no one better open the door, or we will all get cut, bleed into the night,
the grass, the dirt.
Tell me, where is that small wooden box that someone buried long ago,
somewhere in the grass, in the night, lost lost they buried it
and died with the secret; we are the thing it hunts and we will never be found.
How Big and Cruel the Ocean
It’s like the man said; it’s a doorway that opens straight into the ocean, a nothingness, a knife, the blade that you took to yourself to cut the parts of your grief away, the big black curls sitting at your feet. I imagine you staring into the mirror of his eyes, the black of them behind those bars all of those miles and miles across the desert away, the wind blowing like the sound of a train at midnight. Lonely and tidal. Fall, fall in, sink into this ocean, think of his prayers of forgiveness and hate me for my big, red blood instead. Close, close your eyes boy let the cold seep in, the knife in your heart twisting and twisting in the kind of pain that nothing can spirit away. Your lips against my hair in the dark, how you said you wanted to bundle it up in your hands… how small your voice was, how large his, how strong my hands, how big and cruel this ocean.
Bio Note: Erika T. Wurth’s published works include a novel, Crazy Horse’s Girlfriend and a collection of poetry, Indian Trains. Her collection of short stories, Buckskin Cocaine and her collection of poetry, A Thousand Horses Out to Sea are both forthcoming. A writer of fiction, poetry, and non-fiction, she teaches creative writing at Western Illinois University and was a guest writer at the Institute of American Indian Arts. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in numerous journals including Boulevard, Drunken Boat, The Writer’s Chronicle and South Dakota Review. She is represented by Peter Steinberg. She is Apache/Chickasaw/Cherokee and was raised outside of Denver.