Look, I wish I could tell you that it gets better from here. I wish I could tell you that once you crossed over into the territory things would get easier … but I’d be lying. It doesn’t get better—not one bit. Welcome to SHIPROCKLAND … I hope you enjoy your stay.
There wasn’t much left when we found her body. Left out here in this godforsaken place, abandoned without a hint of remorse, so far from everything she loved. How did they manage to drag her body so far out here without anyone seeing a thing? She must’ve been so scared. She didn’t deserve this … those fucking animals.
The sun was magnificent that day the shot rang out. Nobody thought he had it in him. Nobody thought he was capable. He proved them all wrong. You’re all going to miss me when I’m gone! That’s what he told them. And now he was gone. All it took was one bullet. The sun was magnificent that day.
There used to be a monument commemorating those who lost their lives to this canal. My father used to call it “21 Lives” because that’s how many people’s names were on the plaque at the time. That number is higher now. And the monument no longer stands.
I don’t quite remember how old I was the first time it happened. I think I was like ten or twelve? He was drunk when he came into my room and lay by me, I was small and he was my father, so I didn’t think anything of it, you know? He loved me and he was always passing out around the house anyways, so I thought this was just one of those times. But then he started nudging himself closer to me, spooning me. I didn’t know what to think. And then he put his arms around my waist and started caressing my body, like he was searching for something. I tried to slide myself out from under him but he pulled me back and dipped his hands between my legs. I knew it was wrong, but I was too scared to move. Thinking back on it now, I wish I said something to someone about it. But I didn’t want anyone to get in trouble—especially my father. I loved him and I didn’t want him to get hurt.
This used to be my cousin’s house before we had to tear it down. My aunt couldn’t stand looking at it anymore. I guess it was too hard for her seeing that house standing there all alone with no kids running around outside making noise. She loved her grandkids a lot. She really did. And I don’t blame her. Every time I think about what happened to them I can’t help but feel bad. All because of another woman, can you believe that? I mean, I can understand my cousin’s reaction to finding out about her husband cheating on her, but why did she have to hurt her kids like that? They didn’t deserve that. They really didn’t. They’re all buried together, too, which makes it even worse.
After so much trauma and degradation and humiliation, this is what remains … beautiful isn’t it?
Along the canal beneath the elms,
I buried my heart in SHIPROCKLAND.
My ventricles plugging into the Earth Mother,
beneath the shade where sparrows burrow.
Sometimes my heart talks to sunflowers,
Other times sage.
What can I say—I can’t help myself;
just another typical Rez boy ... or is it Rez man?
I can never seem to differentiate between the two.
You see, in SHIPROCKLAND no faces remain
Elongated and intertwined,
They slide behind cottonwood trees,
Wolf tongues &
Juniper vowels w/cedar clusters.
The air is un-breathable here
Or so I’ve been told
although I breathe just fine.
Maybe I’m just as distorted
as the rest of them?
Sometimes I rest myself beneath the elms
Pressing my lobes against the Earth Mother
Listening for the slow systolic beat
Of circulating blood pumping
beneath the womb. My pulmonary swelling with life
forming roots; a rhizome of networking machines
weaving under the surface
like metallic tentacles.
SHIPROCKLAND is incomplete.
An unfinished project.
A glorified failure
where trash lords and meth heads
cry themselves blind
under the elms
hoping redemption will come from the rootstalks …
but no hope exists here,
only acres and acres of buried hearts.
The old ones knew,
They tried to warn us before bursting into juniper.
I wish I could tell you it gets better from here. I wish I could’ve told you once you cross over into the territory things would’ve gotten easier—but then I’d be lying. It doesn’t get better … not one bit. Thank you for coming to SHIPROCKLAND … I hope you enjoyed your stay.
by Katie Iser
... Once on a late summer afternoon I took my usual path. Before stepping out into the sun, I saw a fox lying on the ground ...
by Timothy Parfitt
... As a kid who watched a lot of movies and read a lot of books, my lived experiences often lagged behind my imagined ones ...