Boderra Joe’s “Corn Meal” & Manny Loley’s “Awakening” (In-Na-Po, Indigenous Nations Poets)

Corn Meal

Boderra Joe

An early spring morning
wind hands-over blessings
to mother earth’s mouth
a low prayer
nudges at corn husk

the eastern sun dances
above lilac mountains
holds a jar
close to the tassels to dust off pollen
to offer a prayer of any sort

a pinch of yellow releases
on her Diné tongue
the sweetness melts
on top of her head
and returns to mother roots

a prayer is drawn in dust
in blowing bush waves
up to the sun’s burning lips
and the moon’s pupils

*Writing Prompt: It’s Springtime! It’s a time of growth for land and for ourselves. Think of landscape and its space. It could be at your grandparents’ house. Your room. Outside in your yard. In the city. Plant yourself there. What does Spring look like in your space, in your perspective? What do you see, hear, smell, taste and feel? You can focus on either of the senses or all but really place yourself in that space and focus on how your body and mind react.


Manny Loley

with lines from Zeina Hashem Beck

I am tired of knocking on the doors of empires. 
Along my knuckles fault lines split open
white shell    ichor red.
But don’t you know
I’ve been here since the beginning, 
since Aniłt’ánii sang the world
into being: 
                  blue mist in the valley
                  sunlight filtered
abalone shell
    glittering earth all around me
        my universe is no lawless one
            nor sin
            (as you’ve called it) 
I’ve been afraid of this awakening—
this white mountain lightning 
now, there are no doors, 
    no locks, no latches, 
only my voice calling names older 
        than this English language
            Hasch’ééh Dine’é
            Niłch’ih Dine’é
            Diyin Dine’é
            Nihookaa Diyin Dine’é
    nááts’íílid shináágo na’ádílts’ǫǫd

*Writing Prompt: Diné storytellers recognized the power of story in our world. What are the stories that exist within you? What stories vibrate in your daily life? What are the stories that empower, move, or shape you? What stories heal or ground you? When visiting relatives or friends, Diné may use the phrase ‘ąą’ which expresses an expectation of story. To say ‘ąą’ is to say, “I know you hold stories, so tell me, enrich me with your language and voice.” To anyone reading this prompt, I say ‘ąą’.

This issue of The Hard Work of Hope is produced in partnership with In-Na-Po, Indigenous Nations Poets.

Boderra Joe

Boderra Joe is a poet, journalist and photographer from Bááhazł’ah (Twin Lakes), New Mexico, on the Navajo Nation. She is Diné of the Folded Arms, born for the Water’s Edge clan. She holds a MFA and BFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts. Her work has appeared in Tribal College Journal, Yellow Medicine Review, Indigenous Goddess Gang, and Keshmish Knitting from the Rez (an eBook series). Her manuscript is currently finding a home.

Manny Loley

Manny Loley is ‘Áshįįhi born for Tó Baazhní’ázhí; his maternal grandparents are the Tódích’íi’nii and his paternal grandparents are the Kinyaa’áanii. Loley is from Casamero Lake, New Mexico. He holds an M.F.A. in fiction from the Institute of American Indian Arts and he is a current Ph.D. candidate in English and literary arts at the University of Denver. Loley is a member of Saad Bee Hózhǫ́: Diné Writers’ Collective and director of the Emerging Diné Writers’ Institute. His work has found homes in the Diné Reader: an Anthology of Navajo Literature, the Yellow Medicine Review, the Massachusetts Review, Broadsided Press, the Santa Fe Literary Review, and RED INK. His poem “Tádídíí Bizaad” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize by Broadsided Press and his short story “Na’nízhoozhi Di” was nominated by the Santa Fe Literary Review. Loley is at work on a novel titled They Collect Rain in Their Palms.