we say the function starts at 3 but the food goes down on the grill at 4 and we don’t start eating until 5 and that’s why we show up after the announced time and if anyone thinks that’s improper they don’t know we gotta wait on the aunty who makes the bomb frybread anyways she who has a whole house of kids to get ready and it must have been the late 1700s when NDN-time became a thing when NDNs started living in cabins and because NDNs like to sit around under the propane lamp’s whisper and joke before we get started with ceremony and don’t you know we’re on the moon’s time anyways—slow and late into the night and gatherings aren’t the same since my late uncle no longer pulls up in his G series van with its rumble that told us the burgers were about to be cooked up something fierce like the night and he taught me how to drive a stick shift car up and down the reservation’s late evening but his steering wheel was loose with the threat of constantly crashing and it needed a few nudges to stay on the road and that was my excuse for never driving his van
We Fly Like This
After Rita Dove
rez boy dancing—it must have
been a two step or lock and pop,
something that unveiled my
passion for sporadic restraint—
no training just enough rhythm
to ride the beat. at our highschool
dances, it was common to stand
on the side lines. we few
whose chests heaved into our nameless
night, felt elated by the lactic agony.
in our small, arrowhead shaped lunch
room, where we ate left over
bean soup. some of us looked to wrap fingers
on the roll and range of hips, hoping
the staff was too distracted to shine
the spot light into the grove of grind.
awkward at first, taller than
everyone, absent minded,
i ceded to the lean of my head,
rise of shoulder, clap, and smile.
the end of song did not mean stop—
the small flicker between movie frames.
i’m not sure how
it happened—unbridled flight.
then i remembered who i’d leave
behind and came back down.
CooXooEii Black is an Afro-Indigenous writer and a member of the Northern Arapaho Tribe. He is an MFA creative writing candidate at The University of Memphis. He is a poetry reader for The Pinch Journal. His poetry has appeared in Eco Theo Review, Palette Poetry, and Carve Magazine, and in October 2022, he was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His creative nonfiction has appeared in The Tusculum Review. He is one of three winners of the 2022 Rattle Chapbook Prize, and his chapbook The Morning You Saw The Stars Streaking Across the Sky was published in December 2022.