As Us

A Space for Writers of the World

Tacey M. Atsitty – Poetry

Paper Water

After SB 2109

X threads us into rope, a weave of human
arms, X-ed down a canyon wall. Voice

is not written when nights like these
call for complete night, without

scraps of light or dissonance or a stuttered
cry. Crumble of tree limbs: X, there

we are again. This is how far we climb
for life. We’d rub out before reaching

the ground, where water cuts—
Once a man had only water to pray with.

Once life is like the blur of a windmill,
each crisscross sets another arm

to bark. Cessation of the line; break
it up there. Article X: delineate marginal

arcs, say everything within windmill shot—
Whereas injury to water was writ

and concluded: how far into the earth
will you reach? Whereas for groundwater,

you steady your wrist for a slow up-stitch
across the eyelids.

Listen to Tacey Read Paper Water

* * *

Lace Sonnet

Like this vein:
webbed, glass
me a ribbon so rain,
so pearl in mass
or my wedding white
I see you at the crown
of my crux. Light
and petals veil, blown
this fringe. This leaf-
let face, let lips
drown the way. Your
coral neck, it zips
at the back: up
& down. My hand-cup—

Listen to Tacey Read Lace Sonnet

* * *

Sons of Carlisle

In circum, in house turning on wheels, dust
of morning. We spin to be the last— wallowing

—in line. Because a snake splits in half
or leaves its hole. Because we are no longer

a part of what’s left of the smooth. A son
altered to watch over each row of beads, glass

like the crisp diagonals of a snake shedding.
Do you see these marks? These marks

these insignia, these names: whorls right over
and quiets you. See how the wrist can roll

widely when completing a capitol O, in air
in name. When I speak my name from behind

the oculus, as do casualties of letters, head-
stones can’t cap words. In the speaking of our

own words. Dig and mounds and rows: skills
of how to chisel, to sign one’s name in stone

faces. Where from the wave of a fescue, one son
clicks with a lye tongue, spits bars, and lathers

new marks: Abraham, Albert, Edward, George,
Joseph, Isaac. And these are they who were

once taught to look, to pray with eyes
open. Boys— shed our childhood names,

so later we become man of our wives,
and stay sons to one. An altar of hair

half-bound half-loosed; fraying, falls second
to his feet. Final step is to brush him off

like clouting dust from your pant cuffs
and collars before stepping into the house.

Listen to Tacey Read Sons of Carlisle

* * *


Spine, brain as yolk.
Promised to a full-
one. Blood

quantum. Pulse
fence, running.
Wind, to throw

an infant strapped
in cradle, to hide
and gallop away. Cut

off. Waving paper–
fanion of oxen
piss. The dead

animal so black,
says you go
to school. Steal

children. Take me
to substance, to
fallen spine, nuggets

of bone. In these waves
we were taught to walk,
with word, this paper

crinkle, wave ring white
another massacre of names.
Suck the marrow ink

curls water. Mothers left
heaps & howls in sand—
step in rain, on stone.

The white finally steps
out of brown. The native
stirred to cream.

Kill the Indian, Save the Man
A runaway crusted with snow—
whirled away from letters.

Rain gives an edge, eraser.
Look for signs. They tell you
where to sit, trace the angels

smooth into one. Extend
your palm like this, it means:
You give me water.

Listen to Tacey Read Dilute

* * *

Saanii Tacey Atsitty HeadshotTacey M. Atsitty, Diné, from Cove, Arizona is Tsénahabiłnii (Sleep Rock People) and born for Ta’neeszahnii (Tangle People). She is a recipient of the Truman Capote Creative Writing Fellowship, the Corson-Browning Poetry Prize, and Morning Star Creative Writing Award. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Cornell University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, Crazyhorse, Florida Review, New Orleans Review, Drunken Boat, New Poets of the American West Anthology, and other publications. Her chapbook is Amenorrhea (Counting Coup Press).

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