Short Poems by Sherman Alexie
Walk the midway and hear the carnival barker.
Come see the freak named after his deceased father.
Come see the prince who wants to abdicate his throne.
Come see the son whose name is carved on a gravestone.
Family Farm, Defaulted
Sure, we thought the acres
That we tilled were sacred,
But how could we have known
That wheat can haunt like ghosts?
Dear father, dear mother,
I can’t forget your various deceptions,
But thank you, thank you
For my precarious conception.
Be quick now and pull to the roadside
Because bad drivers don’t know they’re bad drivers,
And the architects of genocide
Always think they’re the survivors.
The Last Sasquatch Defines His Loneliness
When I hear the hikers making love in their tents,
When I catch the pungent but disappearing scent
Of my clan, I climb mountains, stand on sky roofs,
And howl, howl until you confuse me with the wolves.
Does Any Indian Go to Enough Pow Wows?
Yes, yes, on my deathbed,
I’ll have indigenous regrets.
For instance, I’ll think myself dumb
For ignoring the drum.
I’ll wish that I’d been better and redder,
And shook, shook, and shook my tail feathers.
So Lightning says to Mud,
“What would happen if I struck your blood?”
And Mud says, “Brother,
It would hurt,
And make me the mother
Of every living thing.
But, Fire Boy, you ain’t lifting my grass skirt
Until you burn me a ring.”
Why I Immunize My Children
Because my dear tribe
Was once given a Jack-in-the-Box
That — surprise, surprise,
Surprise, surprise — contained smallpox.
Sherman Alexie is the author of, most recently, War Dances, poems and stories, from Grove Press,
and Face, a book of poems from Hanging Loose Press. He lives with his family in Seattle.
Copyright © Mudlark 2011
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