Poem: "Catching Copper" By Natalie Diaz

A new poem for BuzzFeed READER.

My brothers have

a bullet.

They keep their bullet

on a leash shiny

as a whip of blood.

My brothers walk their bullet

with a limp—a clipped

hip bone.

My brothers’ bullet

is a math-head, is all geometry,

from a distance is just a bee

and its sting. Like a bee—

you should see my brothers’ bullet

make a comb, by chewing holes

in what is sweet.

My brothers lose

their bullet all the time—

when their bullet takes off on them,

their bullet leaves a hole.

My brothers search their houses,

their bodies for their bullet,

and a little red ghost moans.

Eventually, my brothers call out,

Here, bullet, here

their bullet comes running, buzzing.

Their bullet always comes

back to them. When their bullet comes

back to them, their bullet

leaves a hole.

My brothers are too slow

for their bullet

because their bullet is in a hurry

and wants to get the lead out.

My brothers’ bullet is dressed

for a red carpet

in a copper jacket.

My brothers tell their bullet,

Careful you don’t hurt somebody

with all that flash.

My brothers kiss their bullet

in a dark cul-de-sac, in front

of the corner store ice machine,

in the passenger seat of their car,

on a strobe-lighted dance floor.

My brothers’ bullet

kisses them back.

My brothers break and dance

for their bullet—the jerk,

the stanky leg. They pop, lock

and drop for their bullet,

a move that has them writhing

on the ground—

the worm, my brothers call it.

Yes, my brothers go all-worm

for their bullet.

My brothers’ bullet is registered,

is a bullet of letters—has a PD,

a CIB, a GSW, if they are lucky

an EMT, if not, a Triple 9, a DNR,

a DOA.

My brothers never call the cops

on their bullet and instead pledge

allegiance to their bullet

with hands over their hearts

and stomachs and throats.

My brothers say they would die

for their bullet. If my brothers die,

their bullet would be lost.

If my brothers die,

there’s no bullet to begin with—

the bullet is for living brothers.

My brothers’ feed their bullet

the way the bulls fed Zeus—

burning, on a pyre, their own

thigh bones wrapped in fat.

My brothers take a knee, bow

against the asphalt, prostrate

on the concrete for their bullet.

We wouldn’t go so far

as to call our bullet

a prophet, my brothers say.

But my brothers’ bullet

is always lit like a night-church.

It makes my brothers holy.

You could say my brothers’ bullet

cleans them—the way red ants

wash the empty white bowl

of a dead coyote’s eye socket.

Yes, my brothers’ bullet

cleans them, makes them

ready for god.

Natalie Diaz was born and raised in the Fort Mojave Indian Village in Needles, California, on the banks of the Colorado River. She is Mojave and an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian tribe. Her first poetry collection, When My Brother Was an Aztec, was published by Copper Canyon Press. She is a Lannan Literary Fellow, a Native Arts Council Foundation Artist Fellow, and a 2015 Hodder Fellow. Diaz is an assistant professor of creative writing at Arizona State University, and teaches at the Institute of American Indian Arts Low Rez MFA program, Princeton University, and New York University. She works with the last remaining speakers at Fort Mojave to revitalize the Mojave language.

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