Tommy Pico

from Nature Poem

My primary device is personification, says Nature. Do your associations consider my mercurial elements?

Nature is kind of over my head

the speech sweeps inland is overtaking

Nature keeps wanting to hang out, and I’ve been looking for an excuse to use the phrase “hackles of the night” but you can’t always get what you want.

Every date feels like the final date bc we always find small ways of being extremely rude to each other, like mosquito bites or deforestation

like I think I’m in an abusive relationship w/nature

then again I think I’m in an abusive relationship w/myself, I whisper after pinching my squishy belly

but for reals I leave yr apt in the early train of my hangover thinking that was a weird bump like all jostled but back on the open road

then like clockwork u txt two days later sayin, greetings from the Pines–you free Tuesday night?

and I’m both charmed and suspicious, which is probably redundant, and also the soil of my landscape and a landing strip.

from Nature Poem

My family’s experience isn’t fodder
for artwork, says Nature in btwn make outs

but you’ll drink yourself to sleep?

Who is the “I” but its inheritances—Let’s play a game

Let’s say southern California’s water is oil

Let’s say Haliburton is the San Diego Flume Company
and I am descended from a long line of wildfires
I mean tribal leaders

The Cuyamaca Flume transported mountain runoff and river water into the heart of San Diego. Construction began illegally, in secret, in the 1880s. The creek bed dried. The plants died. The very best citizens of San Diego called it “deluded sentimentality” to give Indians any land or water. As if these are things, stuff to be owned or sold off

I am missing many cousins, have you seen them?

The sadness is systematic. Suspicion is the lesson that sticks. I forget

When Pio was young, he tended sheep. The flock numbered a couple thousand strong, and he herded them across the four corners of San Diego county

Drought makes us restless, searching for nourishing territory

Ventura kept horses. He used them to ferry NDN ppl across the county’s mountain trails, like the first reservation taxi driver. You cd say that, like his father, Ventura had a flock. They both went on to become chiefs

Sometime much later comes me

from Nature Poem

Onstage I’m a mess
of tremor and sweat
I must have some face-blindness? bc I can’t tell the difference btwn the faces
of attention and danger

The gift of panic is clarity—repeat the known quantities:

Today is Wednesday.

Wednesday is a turkey burger.

My throat is full of survivors.

Science says trauma cd be passed down, molecular scar tissue, DNA cavorting w/war and escape routes and yr dad’s bad dad

I’ve inherited this idea to disappear
Oh but you’re a natural performer

In the mid 1800’s, California wd pay $5 for the head of an NDN and $.25 per scalp—man, woman, or child. The state was reimbursed by the feds

When yr descended from a clever self adept at evading an occupying force, when contact meant another swath of sick cousins, another cosmology snuffed, another stolen sister

and the water and the blood and the blood and the blood and the blood and the blood

u flush under the hot lights

Tommy “Teebs” Pico

Tommy “Teebs” Pico is a poet from the Viejas Indian reservation of the Kumeyaay nation. He authored the books IRL, Nature Poem, and Junk, & myriad keen Tweets including “Love in the time of climate change.” He is co-curator of the reading series Poets With Attitude (PWA) with Morgan Parker, and co-host of the podcast Food 4 Thot. His Myers-Briggs is IDGAF. @heyteebs