Back to Issue Forty-Seven

Theme for the nautical cowboy



My mother wouldn’t let me go to the rodeo
when I was younger, so I jet off with my girl
in her truck to a George Strait song. It’s in our cosmology
to chase the tails of dogs over the horizon.
The sky stretches, map of strange stars.
I list the star signs of my exes, none of them
from Texas. We cheers our Baja Blasts.
Almost all sacred things are blue. Baby blue,
Baby blue. You joke that you’ll never date a white boy,
eh, you sing a love song to shit-straight hair and nighttime
eyes. The compass needle stays glued to the moon.
I catch your eyes in every mirror.
There was once a prehistoric ocean all around us,
even whales. We puff out
the great swimming shapes
of their bodies.
This layer of rock, trilobites.
This layer, some ancient eel. How small we are,
how funny. Massive fish-ghosts
vibrate to George Strait. Time is read backwards
in the rock-body: oldest to the top, magma pushing
what’s fresh to the surface. Your hand
skims the deep blue
sandstone, these long-cooled shells.
Tear drop, turquoise sliver of horizon, the creeping river
invisible in the dark. Here’s to you,
here’s to you, ancient and alive.
The sky stretches, full of old and older ghosts,
our once and forever wading pool.


everything is stranger in the NE because there are no memorials, only NDN names



The marsh islands with their little tufted backs
Someone’s home, everywhere is always someone’s home
Late sun fills the window of the Amtrak N.E.
Mouths open in the trees, in the mud
Museum babies trapped in tar pits
When our bones are found it’s called
A haunting. Where do the birds go? Who
gets a funeral? Everything is a burial
ground, even the sky.
In the old ways, this was someone’s back,
The constellations bullethole straight through
his stomach
Blasted with light—
How many NDNs must die here
for anyone to know?
The train babbles on about everything
else. I don’t want
to talk about the land so much–
I don’t wanna eco-NDN
But the marsh grasses
look like the most loved and lonely
parts of my body
Where do the songs go when it is dark? What names
moved through these trees
The soft
The underbelliesof leaves


Navajo Mountain



My grandpa’s house collapsed. I was looking out
The window, to a photograph of a daughter
Gone far away. Filled with thorns. I made love once
On that bed. I told a boy I loved him once, there,
Where the electrical wiring and the insulation
Weave a rug beneath the yawning roof.
My mother sends a text message, a photo of the bright
Pink. My insides. When I was little, I swallowed my grandma’s
Iron pills and shit stuff black. The night. The inside
Of a lover’s eye. Let’s be fancy
About it, please. On the way
To the doctor’s, my mother fed me orange chips,
Green soda, blue bubblegum, pink candy. I dreamed
Of the warm bed at home, my grandpa and his sweet tooth,
His bum stuck out playing basketball. My mother
Let me piss like a racehorse, and I laughed
For days. I let it almost kill me, the way that roof
Laughed inwards and heaved in two. All the fallout.
Honey, can you remember what color
The insides were? In the photo, the couple is looking
Out towards the light. Their daughter is somewhere
There, babbling. She has not had her heart
Stop yet. From a man. There she goes, with her shiny chrome
Heart. Inheritance. Stupid
As a songbird, but singing nonetheless.


Kinsale Drake (Diné) is a poet, playwright, and performer based out of the Southwest. Her debut collection, THE SKY WAS ONCE A DARK BLANKET, won the 2023 National Poetry Series and will be published in September 2024 by University of Georgia Press. Her work has appeared in Poetry Magazine,, Best New Poets, Black Warrior Review, Nylon, MTV, Teen Vogue, Time, and elsewhere. She recently graduated from Yale University, where she received the J. Edgar Meeker Prize, the Academy of American Poets College Prize, the Young Native Playwrights Award, and the 2022 Joy Harjo Poetry Prize. She was named by Time Magazine as an artist representing her decade “changing how we see the world,” and is the founder of NDN Girls Book Club (

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