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Cheii is Home


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35°36'21.746"N 110°4'4.124"W

It's another hot day here in the Valley of the Wind 

Duke is sprawled out on the concrete porch with his tongue out   lapping up the last of the cool breeze 

The hot wind moves with the offbeat, but distant heat waves

The cicadas restlessly match the pitch of the newly installed power lines.   Whisp clouds fade into the blue. 


Listening to his early morning prayers, 

She is one of the many he spoke of. 

Asked for good health, protection, and blessings

Every morning.

while she has been coming here for the past three summers. 

And the imprints of her soles bring a child's curiosity. 

The surrounding mesas, sage brushes, and washboard dirt roads,    we have welcomed her.

Watched her, kept her safe, as best as a land could. 


Her warm Shasta suds are slowing down to a flatline, 

Watching for movement coming from White Cone, Arizona. 

There across the horizon, "KTNN, the voice of the Navajo Nation," serenades the cows 

Across the washboard, dirt roads from  

a blue pickup truck


 A mass cloud of dust 


heading in

Her direction   





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ROWIE SHONDIIN SHEBALA is a Native American, Diné (Navajo Nation), poet. She is from Fort Defiance, AZ. Shebala earned her B.S. in Theater at Northern Arizona University and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing - Poetry at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, NM. Spoken Word Poet who has been on four National Poetry Slam teams, a five-time representative on the Women of the World Poetry Slam, and a two-time representative for the Individual World Poetry Slam. Her work has been featured in The Rumpus Magazine, Button Poetry, Indian Country Today, Annick Press, Red Ink, Wicked Banshee Press, and Suspect Press. Shebala has performed her spoken word poetry nationally and at the Lincoln Center for the Out of Doors Project. Crediting her father for gifting her with storytelling; Shebala's works combine story, poetry, and performance.


I was doing an exercise once where you think of a place that you feel the most safe. I closed my eyes and I was thinking of where would I go to feel safe, to feel welcomed, to regain my strength, to get some answers, and my mind and heart brought me to my Grandma and Cheii's (grandpa in the Navajo Language) home place in the White Cone, AZ Community. My cheii and grandma have called this our strong hold. This is where I would spend my summers a child. When people say Arizona, this is how I picture Arizona, The Navajo Nation.

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