When My Brother Was an Aztec

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Copper Canyon Press, Dec 4, 2012 - Poetry - 124 pages
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"I write hungry sentences," Natalie Diaz once explained in an interview, "because they want more and more lyricism and imagery to satisfy them." This debut collection is a fast-paced tour of Mojave life and family narrative: A sister fights for or against a brother on meth, and everyone from Antigone, Houdini, Huitzilopochtli, and Jesus is invoked and invited to hash it out. These darkly humorous poems illuminate far corners of the heart, revealing teeth, tails, and more than a few dreams.

I watched a lion eat a man like a piece of fruit, peel tendons from fascia
like pith from rind, then lick the sweet meat from its hard core of bones.
The man had earned this feast and his own deliciousness by ringing a stick
against the lion's cage, calling out Here, Kitty Kitty, Meow!

With one swipe of a paw much like a catcher's mitt with fangs, the lion
pulled the man into the cage, rattling his skeleton against the metal bars.

The lion didn't want to do it—
He didn't want to eat the man like a piece of fruit and he told the crowd
this: I only wanted some goddamn sleep . . .

Natalie Diaz was born and raised on the Fort Mojave Indian Reservation in Needles, California. After playing professional basketball for four years in Europe and Asia, Diaz returned to the states to complete her MFA at Old Dominion University. She lives in Surprise, Arizona, and is working to preserve the Mojave language.


 

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Contents

When My Brother Was an Aztec
1
I
3
Abecedarian Requiring Further Examination of Anglikan Seraphym Subjugation of a Wild Indian Rezervation
5
HandMeDown Halloween
6
Why I Hate Raisins
9
The Red Blues
11
The Gospel of Guy NoHorse
14
A Woman with No Legs
16
Mariposa Nocturna
60
Black Magic Brother
62
A Brother Named Gethsemane
64
Soirée Fantastique
66
No More Cake Here
68
III
71
I Watch Her Eat the Apple
73
Toward the Amaranth Gates of War or Love
75

A Genesis
17
Reservation Mary
19
Cloud Watching
21
Mercy Songs to Melancholy
23
If Eve SideStealer Mary BustedChest Ruled the World
25
The Last Mojave Indian Barbie
26
Reservation Grass
30
Other Small Thundering
31
Jimmy Eagles Hot Cowboy Boots Blues
33
The Facts of Art
34
Prayers or Oubliettes
37
The Clouds Are Buffalo Limping toward Jesus
39
II
41
My Brother at 3 AM
43
Zoology
45
How to Go to Dinner with a Brother on Drugs
46
Downhill Triolets
52
As a Consequence of My Brother Stealing All the Lightbulbs
54
Formication
57
SelfPortrait as a Chimera
77
Dome Riddle
79
I Lean Out the Window and She Nods Off in Bed the Needle Gently Rocking on the Bedside Table
81
Monday Aubade
83
When the Beloved Asks What Would You Do if You Woke Up and I Was a Shark?
85
Lorcas Red Dresses
87
Of Course She Looked Back
88
Apotheosis of Kiss
90
Orange Alert
91
The Elephants
94
Why I Dont Mention Flowers When Conversations with My Brother Reach Uncomfortable Silences
96
The Beauty of a Busted Fruit
98
Love Potion 2012
99
A Wild Life Zoo
101
About the Author
103
Acknowledgments
104
Special Thanks
105
Copyright
106
Copyright

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About the author (2012)

Natalie Diaz: Natalie Diaz was born and raised on the Fort Mojave Indian Reservation in Needles, California. Having played professional basketball for four years in western Europe and Asia, Diaz returned to the states to complete her MFA at Old Dominion University in 2007. She has received the Nimrod/Hardman Pablo Neruda Prize and her work has appeared in numerous journals and magazines, including Prairie Schooner, Nimrod International, and North American Review. She lives in Surprise, Arizona.

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