Contact Us

Have a question? Please feel free to email the Mud City Staff. 

83 A Van Nu Po
Santa Fe, NM, 87508
United States


Mud City is an online literary journal promoting the ideals and vision of the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) Low Residency MFA Program.

Sonja Bjelić

  Sonja Bjelić was born in 1991 in Portland, Maine. She studied at the Institute of American Indian Arts before completing her B.A. in English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Iowa. Her poems have also appeared in the online journal Petri Press.
Sonja Bjelić was born in 1991 in Portland, Maine. She studied at the Institute of American Indian Arts before completing her B.A. in English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Iowa. Her poems have also appeared in the online journal Petri Press.

From Private life


The mystery is our being here, knowing the edge

is something sharp and unforgiving. It can be easily

overlooked for a wood bench along the water. Or for

a close encounter at the bar. But one cannot predict

the different faces. We return to our own rooms,

with our own furniture, with our own constellated pains.                                           






One has their own room, their own window, and their

own houseplants. One is assigned to this space and

takes it very seriously, diligently watering their plants

and rotating them in the sunlight. In another window,

in another room from across the street, another

someone is sitting at their desk, intently staring in

the direction of your window, of your room, of your

intimate dressings with plants.




Fear of Ghosts


Fear of ghosts… fear of being seen… fear of

looking… fear of an empty window… of exploitation...

of losing… of walking alone for fear of evaporation…

of open spaces…of reflective surfaces and empty

movie rooms… of audiences for fear of screaming…

of discrepancies for fear of narrative… of inexplicable

margins between mind and tongue…fear of touching

too soon… of impact… of overextended limbs and

breath reactivity… of depth… of running the whole

thing over with your car... fear of acute arrows…

of rocket headaches… of strings… of weather patterns…

of abandonment… of erasure… of crossing the street…




It is hard to know where our passages lie in the larger

narrative. Theory tells us that to speak is to exist

absolutely for the other. This means our movements

take precedence over a particular air, water, food or

mosquito; we are constructing whole cities when we

speak. We are blueprints of our own capacity to name

things. We are our own measurements of existence.




In the more private sense, we are inviting others to

look in; our words granting entrance to a sovereign

ecosystem, there we are stitching each other together

with an internal language of experience. Neither one

noticing when the curtain fell, had the streetlight

blazed through the frosted window, dispensing little

golden fingers across our matted backs?




Death is not the implosion of 37 trillion units like a

fatal line of dominoes. Our heart, for instance, can go

on without us, implanting itself in a foreign casing

and plummeting on. A person wakes from surgery

with a changed appetite, a new favorite color or taste.







Suddenly one is preparing tea instead of coffee.

There is a foreign music in the air. You are listening

to the songs getting sadder. You wonder whether

their design is too either delicate, or too self-mastered

to ascertain. You want to adopt their peculiar mural

as your own. You open your arms to a new field

of color, to a new house of ghosts.




There is a place we can undress between the

continents, between the two rooms, the faint smell

of music and your hands, the culprit every morning

where time is politics, and the news seems

a dead language.




The sheets of music we emptied into the throes

of winter, as snow dropped like debris,

on the stairwells, on the fields, on the moths of

a remote timber.




Farewell to the temporary apartment…the feel of

aged yellow…those mind-pebbles shot over a winter

lake. Farewell to the stolen repertoire…those

arms-in-arm with death…the strings we pull through

blood. Farewell to the forsaken country kites…the

letters we kept the pits of… the imported winds.

Farewell to the lives we dumped…the pleasanter

times… these useless hands. Farewell to the ghosts

we count to sleep…the spaces that we carve…

the way we knew desire…the way we knew the knife

performed…a death by repetition…each line long

enough to be the last…each habit outlasting itself.





Adaptations in Love


We become casualties of each other’s solitudes.

Our dreams aglow with the fears and symbols

of another’s patchwork mural. Our mornings spent

in slow abstraction. To love someone can be as tragic

as mistaking an eternal string for a heart’s tentacle.




You lose your lover to the night before. You close the

gate behind you. You coast over a country of private

campfires. You arrive understudied in a land of

Crosses. Here you must crunch time with anxious

hands of motors. You must learn to read the barbed

wire fencing. Notice how the birds seem manic.

The sky is stalked with chimney smoke. Your boots

are heavy with mud. There is a corridor around every

corner. You make lists to pass the time. You stick your

tongue in everything. Outside it is shooting pellets of rain.




Nod your episodic heart from shore to shore.

You are a heroic paper boat.




I asked the stranger with transient hands to build me

a new architecture of light. I said: “I have been silent

for a while now. I have tasted the darker earths of

erosion. My tongue has been a narrow graveyard

the birds skip across. The history of our language has

been a history of evaporation. When I speak stones

recede into more broken waters…”




You mistake a star for a blinking plane and the

clouds prove incomprehensible in their speed tonight.

How do I offer you more than half-formed theories

on the private lives of birds? Or find words

honest enough to cut through the net-nerved silence.

How do I write above the clouds today, when our

dreams can only idle in a world that precedes





After the aimless wandering through a landscape

inching with machinery, the same few songs pouring

out the windows, you are perched over the hood

of the car, lighting your last cigarette with bloody






Fear of Transplanting


To think like a plant means learning how to

lose quietly. To bare new green. To poke through

every manmade hole. To outsize your container

in a stationary life. Just as the housing changes,

so do the hands that carry us. What remains the same

is a skyward course.




But do plants dispose of their ghosts, exchanging

their bodies for starlight, as we do in our poems?

And will every metaphor unfold new possibilities?

Or might instead, the words begin to point inward,

each poet losing quietly to their own language?




From the coffee shops we watch as the pigeons

dangle their red heels indefinitely.