Tuesday, October 23, 2007

'nother nice day

O.K. the bike run yesterday was a measly 5 mi,
35:10 min (stopped at the bank),
33.1 max speed.
8.5 avg.
Sun through the window today, see ya later

10 Comments:

Blogger butch said...

Enjoy the sun, sir. Even though it is only high 50's, low 60's, you can get out there in your hot pink bike shorts and your racing helmet and tear up the streets. I don't know if this is the tail end of Indian Summer, part of Indian Fall, or even if the Indians had or have anything to do with the weather. Hell, they are too busy raking over the white eyes with their trillion Indian casinos and butchering blue whales that happen to get lost in the Straits of Juan de Fuca. Melva was in Spain this summer, and at one point visited the southwestern corner, looking out over the Strait of Gibralter. She took some pics. The Rock of Gibralter is only like a couple miles out in the middle, and Africa, Morocco, is closer than Vancouver Island on a clear day. Odd to look out there and see Africa, she thought.

Speaking of Indians, I have been an honorary member of the Yakima tribe for several years, ever since I spent a week on the Yakima reservation at Camp Chaparrel, up on the sides of Mt. Adams, on the eastern slopes. The VA paid for some sensitivity training. I get the "Warrior's Newsletter" every other month. Some vicious punks broke into the club house for the tribe and tore up the flag, and crapped on the desks, and spray painted graffeti on the walls. If I were those punks, I would lay low for a time. The Injuns are angry, and looking for the white man. Of course if could have been Indian punks, but I doubt that.

When you get Fidelio up to 33 mph, man that is spinning those tires. Is that downhill, or on the flat? To become such a serious biker at your age is something else. Some of my friends, who cycle, were talking about some of the bike races offered in the area. They do not like the Seattle to Portland, the STP much; lousy food and poor planning, and too many riders. My son in law and daughter,who rode it for the first time this year, were not happy with it. They all recommend you ride the Courage Classic, which has better food, better planning, and less riders. You ride over Snoqualimie, then over to Cle Elum,and north up Bluet Pass, and then back to WEst over Stevens Pass. With a party in Levenworth at the half way point. You get sponsors to help with the fees. I would be glad to kick in some bucks for your efforts.

I have to get off early today to meet the Comcast worker to replace one of my cable boxes, and to meet the electrician we will hire to put in a new outlet in the basement, so that we can hire the plumber to put in the second sump pump in the basement. It is just one damned thing after another.

Glenn

11:01 AM  
Blogger Lane Savant said...

Sherman Alexie, a hell of a nice guy and an brilliant writer, is Yakama.
He came to one of our book group meetings once when we read "Reservation Blues"
If you read anything of his, read "Indian Killer"
Over 30 is downhill, I can just touch 30 on the flat.
Ride over Sno pass? Me have qualms about that.

Sno-qualm-me get it? Haw!

1:56 PM  
Blogger butch said...

Sherman Joseph Alexie, Jr. (born October 7, 1966) is an award-winning and prolific author and occasional comedian. Much of his writing draws on his experiences as a modern Native American. He lives in Seattle, Washington.

Alexie was born in Spokane, Washington and is of Spokane and Coeur d'Alene heritage. He grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, Washington, about 50 miles northwest of the city of Spokane.

He was born hydrocephalic ("with water on the brain"), and, at six months of age, underwent brain surgeries to correct the condition. His initial prognosis was grim; even after he survived the operations, doctors predicted that he would suffer mental retardation. However, in spite of suffering from seizures and uncontrollable bedwetting, Alexie proved to be an extremely intelligent child, who says he learned to read at the age of three and by the age of five read adult novels such as John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath.

Alexie's intelligence caused problems with his peers at the reservation school, who saw him as an outcast and frequently bullied him. He opted instead to attend a nearby all-white high school in Reardan, Washington, about 20 miles south of Wellpinit. There he excelled in academics and athletics, becoming a star basketball player and popular student.

Alexie graduated from high school in 1985 and entered Gonzaga University in Spokane on a scholarship. After two years at Gonzaga, he transferred to Washington State University (WSU) in Pullman. He claims that he initially planned to be a doctor but after fainting several times in his human anatomy class, he decided to choose a different career. He graduated with a B.A. in American Studies, becoming one of the first members of his tribe to earn a university degree. His completion of his degree was a bit unorthodox. He left WSU in 1990 believing he had not met the requirements for the degree, and spent the next few years explaining that he could never finish his United States History survey because when Indians disappeared a few weeks in, so did he. In 1994, the director of the American Studies Program, Susan Armitage, examined his academic records and found that he had completed the requirements, but missed a minor administrative procedure. The degree was thus awarded that spring in a special ceremony , while he was on campus for a reading.[citation needed]


[edit] Writing career
Since 1991 Alexie has published 17 books, and has found success as a writer of novels, short stories, poems, and screenplays. Alexie's writing is marked by harsh depictions of reservation life, autobiographical elements, colorful use of humor, political outspokenness, seamless invocation of history and popular culture, and social commentary. He has also dabbled in stand-up comedy and music.

In college, Alexie was encouraged to write by his poetry professor, Alexander Kuo. His rise in the world of writing was rapid: he earned a Washington State Arts Commission Poetry Fellowship in 1991 and the National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellowship in 1992.

Only a year after leaving WSU, shortly after receiving his second fellowship, two of Alexie's poetry and short story collections were published: The Business of Fancydancing (Hanging Loose Press) and I Would Steal Horses (Slipstream Press). In the introduction to The Business of Fancydancing, Alex Kuo wrote:

“ Throughout this collection, there is an emphasis on balancing carefully, and a willingness to forgive, as in the subsistence forays into the sestina in "Spokane Tribal Celebration, September, 1987," and "The Business of Fancydancing." The history these stories and poems remember goes beyond the individual; it is the healing that attends the collective space and distance of both writer and reader, which will hopefully "make everything work/so everyone can fly again." Here, on a long jumpshot arcing into the distance, there is enough light to push back the darkness for several generations to come. ”

Alexie's literary successes prompted him to give up drinking, an issue with which he had struggled in college. At age 23 he gave up drinking and has been sober since.

In 1993, Atlantic Monthly Press published his first complete collection of short stories, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven. The collection earned him a PEN/Hemingway Award for Best First Book of Fiction and a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Writers' Award. It was reissued, with the addition of two new stories, in March 2005 by Grove Atlantic Press.

Atlantic Monthly Press published Alexie's first novel, Reservation Blues, in 1995. He was honored by the UK's Granta magazine as one of the Best Young American Novelists and won the Before Columbus Foundation's American Book Award, as well as the Murray Morgan Prize.

In June 1998, Taos, New Mexico, Alexie competed in the World Poetry Bout Association (WPBA) and won his first World Heavyweight Poetry Bout, beating out world champion Jimmy Santiago Baca. He successfully defended his title three times, becoming the first and only poet to hold the championship for four consecutive years.

Alexie, alongside seven others, presented in the PBS Lehrer News Hour Dialogue on Race with President Clinton in 1998. Jim Lehrer moderated the discussion, which aired on PBS on July 9, 1998. Alexie has also been featured on Politically Incorrect and 60 Minutes II. He wrote a special segment on insomnia and his writing process called "Up All Night." for NOW with Bill Moyers.

At the Northwest Comedy Festival in Seattle in April 1999, Alexie made his stand-up debut at the Foolproof. In July 1999, he was the featured performer at the Vancouver International Comedy Festival's opening night gala.

In February 2003, Alexie participated in the Museum of Tolerance project, "Finding Our Families, Finding Ourselves." This exhibit showcasted the diversity within the personal histories of several noted Americans, and celebrated the shared experiences common to being part of an American family, encouraging visitors to seek out their own histories and heroes. He presented the Museum of Tolerance project as a guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show in January 2003, in the episode "Our Big American Family."

Alexie has also served as a juror for several writing awards, including the 1999 O. Henry Award, the 2000 inaugural PEN/Amazon.com Short Story Award, the Poetry Society of America's 2001 Shelley Memorial Award and the Poets and Writers "Writers Exchange 2001" Contest. He was a member of the 2000, 2001, 2005 & 2006 Independent Spirit Awards Nominating Committees. He has also served as a creative adviser to the Sundance Institute Writers Fellowship Program and the Independent Feature Films West (which has now been changed to Film Independent) Screenwriters Lab. Alexie most recently was a juror for the 2005 Rae Award.

At the University of Washington's 2003 commencement ceremony, Alexie was the commencement speaker. He was an Artist in Residence at the university and taught courses in American Ethnic Studies in 2004 and 2006. Recently, he earned the 2003 Regents' Distinguished Alumnus Award, Washington State University's highest honor for alumni. He also holds honorary degrees from Seattle University (doctor of humanities, honoris causa - 2000) and Columbia College, Chicago (1999). Alexie has also worked as a mentor for the PEN Emerging Writers program.

Alexie's stories have been included in several prestigious short story anthologies, including The Best American Short Stories 2004, edited by Lorrie Moore; and Pushcart Prize XXIX of the Small Presses. Alexie also served as the guest editor for the winter 2000-01 issue of Ploughshares

Alexie's book, Flight was published in April 2007. His most recently published book, the young adult novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a finalist selection for the National Book Award in the young people's literature category.[1]

He sounds like a way cool author. I have SMOKE SIGNALS and a dozen other movies about modern Indians on the Rez. It is great stuff. Glad it interests you too.

Glenn

6:23 PM  
Blogger butch said...

You know, after doing some nosing around on other blogs, which in some cases are pretty schmancy, lots of graphics and pics, etc, it occured to me that FFTL still, these days, has a "unique" quality.

Often the comments, the responses to your sterling posts, are numerous, and sometimes even longer than your comments. In a way it is double-edged, kind of a blog within a blog. If readers bother to look at the comments, they will be able to fully appreciate the depth and multi-dimensional quality of the Savant creation.

It is like reality itself, just a wayward series of perceptions that each of us in our lame specific and personal way "see" the world around us. Imperfect carbon units that we are, we all take in events, and witness crimes, and have experiences filtered through our senses, and then refiltered through our experiences, and spiced with our shards of wisdom. What emerges may be in conflict with what emerges from a personage standing two feet from you during the same event. Eye witnesses usually disagree on several aspects of any event. It is sometimes called the Rashomon Complex. In some ways it is what makes us human, our differences. Yet we still have to put up with the peer pressures to live in identical houses, drive identical cars, wear identical uniforms, eat identical food, and shop in identical stores. Is there security in conformity? Perhaps. I have never subscribed to such nonsense. As Popeye always said," I yam what I yam."

It is like the delicious pleasure we all get from eating with our fingers. Finger food is probably my favorite. I would eat a steak with my fingers if my wife would let me. Using utensils removes you from the sensual aspects of the sustenance.

I heard on the news this morning that a couple days ago 30 Federal Agents descended on Decatur Island, a very small (50 people population) part of the San Juans, with little to no ferry service. They had had 5 agents undercover on the island for 3 months. They seized 1/8th of an ounce of marijuana, and they rousted folks out of bed. One young couple was naked, and they cuffed them, and interrogated them naked. The girl was 19 years old. They fed her whiskey while questioning her about a famous killer, Claude Dallas that had visited the island 3 years before. Dallas was the mountain man in Idaho that had killed two game wardens, and then hid out in the mountains for years before his capture. He would have been a hero to my grandfather, who always wanted to pop a game warden deep in the woods. He hated them and the cops. I think this might have infleunced me as a young child as well. Anyway, what the hell is up with the Feds? It is like Ruby Ridge times 4, add several pounds of stupidity. Is this what our tax dollars pay for? What about feeding the poor, giving our teachers raises, and paving the potholes all over the state? I am still trying to figure out where the millions raised by the state lottos goes. By rights, we should have the best schools in the world.

By the way, if Sherman Alexie said he was a Yakama (correct Indian spelling too, and kudos to you for knowing that), it is because the Yakama nation is fragmented from the amalganation of dozens of smaller tribes. In reality, all reservations are made up, and all large tribes are made up that way. If you looked at the actual names of all the minor Indian tribes in Washington state alone, it would list like all the small cities, hundreds, if not thousands of them. You have peaked my curiousity though, sir, about Sherman Alexie, and I may have to break down and actually read some of his work. But I must be careful. I have a shelf now full of Richard Brautigan poetry and novels that I may not read until after my retirement. I also have some more Doug Palmer to read, in fairness to the author who loaned them to me. I enjoyed the latest CD you sent me of your music too. My computer at work, though, is on the fritz again. Somehow it has trouble playing a CD all the way through. I have talked before about getting a portable CD player. That may be the best bet.

It was 35 degrees at my place this morning. Has Fall finally fell? I habitually put 300 pounds of concrete blocks between my wheel wells, in my pick up bed, for the winter. I may have to do that soon. It helps to beat hell when the ice and snow descend upon us; which is coming I assure you. I guess I have read and contributed to the FFTL for about 10 months now, because I remember the neat pics Savant posted about the snow in Rainier Beach, at his place.

Melva called from White Plains, NY. She is settled in at the Crown Plaza Hotel, on the 6th floor if you want to contact her. She will go through a program of working with guide dogs for the next few days. My plans are to go on a movie watching frenzy over this weekend. I need to see Wes Anderson's THE DARJEELING LIMITED tomorrow night, and Sean Penn's INTO THE WILD, and Ang Lee's LUST, CAUTION, among others. Then again, I might just stay home and chill out and lay low, and watch films from my own vast and huge collection. What I won't do is write any music, or ride a bike, or take a hike, or build a violin. That or those are the pervue of Doug Palmer. Did the mob come over and tow away all your collectible cars? I offered them to compensate for the pay off; which is still a bit mysterious.

I got spanked at work the other day for having a "tone" in my voice of disapproval while working with a difficult student. It is a bit confusing. One minute I am given a performance award, and several atta boys, and the next minute I am getting reprimanded. Say La vie, right? You have not launched into French or Latin in a few weeks, please do so and then we will feel that all is right with the world. Good morning, Anonomann and the LL, whereever you are.

Glenn

6:05 AM  
Blogger butch said...

Hey, you got me motivated, and I just ordered a paperback copy of Sherman Alexie's THE LONE RANGER AND TONTO FISTFIGHT IN HEAVEN. It is a series of short stories and some poetry I think. It is being sold from somewhere here in WA state, so I should have it soon. I will report on the book, like a mini-review, or not.

Glenn

3:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lane: Right-on with your "Sno-qual-me"! In German, one verb for torturing someone is "quälen".

Glenn: Thanks for the info on Alexie; I must admit, I had never heard or read of him before.

Glenn: The "comments" that "are even longer than your (Lane's) ALWAYS are those of "Butch".

Glenn:
1) I agree with your indignation over the visit and especially the METHODS of the Feds on Decatur Island, but I disagree with your spelling of "c'est la vie".
2) Great you have sunny weather in Seattle; it is so long now since we've seen the sun over here; practically no rain, but thick black (dry) clouds the whole day-after-day.

Tschüß, y'all
-- Anonomann

6:08 AM  
Blogger butch said...

Well, sir, Tuesday was an eternity ago. Another one of my comments has not been reviewed, and several more "nice days" have transpired since your last posting.

Lethargy, honey-dos, projects, Wednesday classes, illness, madness --hey, what's on your plate, palette, and pate these fine moments; little gems of time and space slipping away from all us, unused, unheralded, unappreciated?

I am excited about reading som Rez literature. As I mentioned I have 8-10 Rez films, like SMOKE SIGNALS, and I have really enjoyed them; like POW WOW HIGHWAY, and DANCE ME OUTSIDE. I, also, love those Hillerman novels about the Indian detective, the Leaphorn stories. Robert Redford has released two or three of them as film on PBS, starring Wes Studi and Adam Beach, like COYOTE AWAITS.

Too many good films out there, and archived in my basement, and too little time to watch them and discuss them. I don't know really how huge of a film festival I will manage to squeeze in this weekend. Tonight is a work night, and I will be fatigued, but I will get my tired ass to the Grand, in Tacoma, and see THE DARJEELING LIMITED, and later on Saturday, after 9 hours of shut-eye, I may try for a triple bill. There is Ben Affleck's new film, GONE, BABY, GONE, and George Clooney in MICHAEL CLAYTON, Sean Penn's new opus, INTO THE WILD, Ang Lee's smoldering sexuality in LUST, CAUTION, Cate Blanchett reprising her role in ELIZABETH: THE GOLDEN AGE, Robert Duvall and Mark Wahlberg in WE OWN THE NIGHT, and the Beatles take-off film ACROSS THE UNIVERSE. Gosh, where do I start, and where do I end?

Melva called me from White Plains, NY. She is having a fine time wearing blindfolds, and working with guide dogs. She says it is rainy and overcast a lot, but hell, she is a Northwesterner now, so I told her to get over it.

Have you finished work on your cabinets yet? Have you worked in more bike rides on Fidelio? Have you munched and envibed at THE DEPOT? Have you seen more concerts? Have you read, or are you reading more books? Has your cat brought you any more fluttering gifts? Where are you at, sir?

Glenn

6:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Lover Man:

I appreciate your ardor even without sexual egress. By the way there is sex after death. You better believe it! Better than I ever had as the repressed Belle of Amherst.

When you are happy, so am I. I live and die awaiting more or your words and thoughts and music. Tell Butch that only that sad husk that was my body and bones is there at the cemetery. I am your Muse, your real love, your shining light. I am your Emily --and I shall always be.

Emily

6:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lane:
The LL always asks if you pass along her regards to Meredith and Keth.
She (and I) send them again herewith to you, Meredith, and Keth.
Danke fürs Weiterleiten &
Tschüß,
Anonomann

6:12 AM  
Blogger butch said...

Yup, tis "nother nice day" seez Brer Rabbit to Brer Bear. Yeah says Wally the Warhog, but I had ice on my *(&^%%$ windshield this morning, and the moon was full and bright, and I could see like it was ten in the morning; cold as hell and clear as day, at 4:10am. Go figure.

My Isuzu is humming along warmly and I am happy that both it is Friday, and my pick up is well tuned up and ready for the wicked winter that is about to descend upon us.

Hey I tracked down a Sherman Alexie poem:

Grief Calls Us to the Things of This World
by Sherman Alexie


The morning air is all awash with angels . . .
- Richard Wilbur


The eyes open to a blue telephone
In the bathroom of this five-star hotel.

I wonder whom I should call? A plumber,
Proctologist, urologist, or priest?

Who is most among us and most deserves
The first call? I choose my father because

He's astounded by bathroom telephones.
I dial home. My mother answers. "Hey, Ma,

I say, "Can I talk to Poppa?" She gasps,
And then I remember that my father

Has been dead for nearly a year. "Shit, Mom,"
I say. "I forgot he’s dead. I’m sorry—

How did I forget?" "It’s okay," she says.
"I made him a cup of instant coffee

This morning and left it on the table—
Like I have for, what, twenty-seven years—

And I didn't realize my mistake
Until this afternoon." My mother laughs

At the angels who wait for us to pause
During the most ordinary of days

And sing our praise to forgetfulness
Before they slap our souls with their cold wings.

Those angels burden and unbalance us.
Those fucking angels ride us piggyback.

Those angels, forever falling, snare us
And haul us, prey and praying, into dust.

Reprinted from Thrash, © 2007 by Sherman Alexie, by permission of Hanging Loose Press.

Man, that is one dark vision, and it sure as hell slams angels; or does it? I love the phrase, "they slap our souls with their cold wings..." and "those fuckig angels ride us piggyback." Something to ponder, to give us pause, to prick our interest. "No, nurse! I said prick his boil!"

Here is a great poem about fathers, something Doug and I did without, or sort of:

Blood
by Naomi Shihab Nye


"A true Arab knows how to catch a fly in his hands,"
my father would say. And he'd prove it,
cupping the buzzer instantly
while the host with the swatter stared.

In the spring our palms peeled like snakes.
True Arabs believed watermelon could heal fifty ways.
I changed these to fit the occasion.

Years before, a girl knocked,
wanted to see the Arab.
I said we didn't have one.
After that, my father told me who he was,
"Shihab"--"shooting star"--
a good name, borrowed from the sky.
Once I said, "When we die, we give it back?"
He said that's what a true Arab would say.

Today the headlines clot in my blood.
A little Palestinian dangles a truck on the front page.
Homeless fig, this tragedy with a terrible root
is too big for us. What flag can we wave?
I wave the flag of stone and seed,
table mat stitched in blue.

I call my father, we talk around the news.
It is too much for him,
neither of his two languages can reach it.
I drive into the country to find sheep, cows,
to plead with the air:
Who calls anyone civilized?
Where can the crying heart graze?
What does a true Arab do now?

And here's another:

Descriptions of Heaven and Hell
by Mark Jarman


The wave breaks
And I'm carried into it.
This is hell, I know,
Yet my father laughs,
Chest-deep, proving I'm wrong.
We're safely rooted,
Rocked on his toes.

Nothing irked him more
Than asking, "What is there
Beyond death?"
His theory once was
That love greets you,
And the loveless
Don't know what to say.

Back to Sherman, you say? Oh yeah:

Poverty of Mirrors

You wake these mornings alone and nothing
can be forgiven; you drink the last
swallow of warm beer from the can
beside the bed, tell the stranger sleeping
on the floor to go home. It's too easy

to be no one with nothing to do, only
slightly worried about the light bill
more concerned with how dark day gets.

You walk alone on moist pavement wondering
what color rain is in the country.
Does the world out there revolve around rooms
without doors or windows? Centering the mirror
you found in the trash, walls seem closer
and you can never find the right way

out, so you open the fridge again
for a beer, find only rancid milk and drink it
whole. This all tastes too familar.

Copyright ©1992 Sherman

What the Orphan Inherits

Language

I dreamed I was digging your grave
with my bare heands. I touched your face
and skin fell in thin strips to the ground

until only your tongue remained whole.
I hung it to smoke with the deer
for seven days. It tasted thick and greasy

sinew gripped my tongue tight. I rose
to walk naked through the fire. I spoke
English. I was not consumed.

Names

I do not have an Indian name.
The wind never spoke to my mother
when I was born. My heart was hidden

beneath the shells of walnuts switched
back and forth. I have to cheat to feel
the beating of drums in my chest.

Alcohol

"For bringing us the horse
we could almost forgive you
for bringing us whisky."

Time

We measure time leaning
out car windows shattering
beer bottles off road signs.

Tradition

Indian boys
sinewy and doe-eyed
frozen in headlights.

Copyright ©1992 Sherman Alexie


Would Steal Horses
For Kari

for you, if there were any left,
give a dozen of the best
to your father, the auto mechanic
in the small town where you were born

and where he will die sometime by dark.
I am afraid of his hands, which have
rebuilt more of the small parts
of this world than I ever will.

I would sign treaties for you, take
every promise as the last lie, the last
point after which we both refuse the exact.

I would wrap us both in old blankets
hold every disease tight against our skin.


Copyright ©1992 Sherman Alexie



Poet Bio
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sherman Alexie is an enrolled Spokane/Coeur d'Alene Indian from Wellpinit, Washington, on the Spokane Indian Reservation. His first book, The Business of Fancydancing, was published by Hanging Loose Press. His poems and stories have appeared in Another Chicago Magazine, Beloit Poetry Journal, Black Bear Review, Caliban, New York Quarterly, Red Dirt, Slipstream, Zyzzyva, and others. "Native American writing is about survival," Alexie says. "We recently went over one million in population, estimated as 75-90 percent less than the population when whites first arrived in America. With that kind of genocidal philosophy prevalent, it is our strongest tradtion, our longest dance, to remain alive, to survive."




Poetry
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Poverty of Mirrors

You wake these mornings alone and nothing
can be forgiven; you drink the last
swallow of warm beer from the can
beside the bed, tell the stranger sleeping
on the floor to go home. It's too easy

to be no one with nothing to do, only
slightly worried about the light bill
more concerned with how dark day gets.

You walk alone on moist pavement wondering
what color rain is in the country.
Does the world out there revolve around rooms
without doors or windows? Centering the mirror
you found in the trash, walls seem closer
and you can never find the right way

out, so you open the fridge again
for a beer, find only rancid milk and drink it
whole. This all tastes too familar.

Copyright ©1992 Sherman Alexie


Back to top




What the Orphan Inherits

Language

I dreamed I was digging your grave
with my bare heands. I touched your face
and skin fell in thin strips to the ground

until only your tongue remained whole.
I hung it to smoke with the deer
for seven days. It tasted thick and greasy

sinew gripped my tongue tight. I rose
to walk naked through the fire. I spoke
English. I was not consumed.

Names

I do not have an Indian name.
The wind never spoke to my mother
when I was born. My heart was hidden

beneath the shells of walnuts switched
back and forth. I have to cheat to feel
the beating of drums in my chest.

Alcohol

"For bringing us the horse
we could almost forgive you
for bringing us whisky."

Time

We measure time leaning
out car windows shattering
beer bottles off road signs.

Tradition

Indian boys
sinewy and doe-eyed
frozen in headlights.

Copyright ©1992 Sherman Alexie


Back to top




I Would Steal Horses
For Kari

for you, if there were any left,
give a dozen of the best
to your father, the auto mechanic
in the small town where you were born

and where he will die sometime by dark.
I am afraid of his hands, which have
rebuilt more of the small parts
of this world than I ever will.

I would sign treaties for you, take
every promise as the last lie, the last
point after which we both refuse the exact.

I would wrap us both in old blankets
hold every disease tight against our skin.


Copyright ©1992 Sherman Alexie


Back to top




Little Big Man

I got eyes, Jack, that can see
an ant moving along the horizon
can pull four bottles shattering
down from the sky and recognize
the eyes of a blind man

who told me once, The future is yours
and I believed him until he left me
without a campfire, without an axe
to chop down a tree and build myself
a chair, house, cold drink.

Jack, how much pain is thre
in the world? I think there's only one kind
and we all keep moving around it in circles
like clumsy pioneers, over the same ground
until the landscape becomes so familiar
we settle down and call it home.

Seems like everybody wants to be an Indian.
Why should you be any different, Jack?
Still, when you rub the red dirt off your pale nose
your little insanities vanish.
Listen: the proof is glass.
When an Indian looks through a window
it's like a mirror. When the Indian looks
into a mirror, it's like a window.

I know you have dreams, Jack. We all want
an acre of land, love, and a full stomach.
Without that, we couldn't listen to the wind
without anger. But I've been sitting in a cold room
watching stars through a hole in the roof.
That bright star to the north doesn't have a name
I know. Like everything else, it will break my heart.


Copyright ©1992 Sherman Alexie


And here is a little something from THE RAVEN CHRONICLES;

The Farm
by Sherman Alexie

1. Jonah
All of us, the Indians, know exactly where we were
when scientists announced that they had found the cure

for cancer. I was eating lunch in the Tribal Cafe
for the third time that week and was only halfway

through my fry bread when the national news broke
into the local news: a white man in a lab coat

stood at a podium porcupined with microphones
and quietly spoke. "We have found that the bone

marrow of Indians, synthesized with a few trace
elements, form a powerful antiviral agent named

Steptoe 123. This agent, when taken orally, will
stop the metastatic growth of tumors and kill

cancer cells. Steptoe 123 has been 95% effective
in ten years of research under the direction

of Dr. Miles Steptoe at the Center for Disease
Control. We have prepared a detailed press release

which will give you more information on Steptoe
123, Dr. Steptoe, and all that you need to know

at this time. The President, with a clear vision
of the future of Steptoe 123, has made a decision.

Therefore, under the authority of Executive Order
1492, we have closed all of the reservation borders

within the United States and will keep them closed
to any and all unauthorized traffic until further notice."

Silence. Then I turned to Charlie the Cook, who was really
the dishwater. "Jonah," he asked me. "Is it real?"

"It's real," I said. Charlie looked at me, looked
at Agnes the Waitress, who was really the cook.

"Why is it real?" asked Charlie, but it was too late
for a history lesson. We all needed to escape

before the borders were completely shut down.
"We've got to go," I said. "We've got to go now."

So Agnes, Charlie, and I jumped into my old car
and prayed it would save us like that famous ark

but we didn't even make it past
Cold Springs before we heard the first dissonant

music: the helicopters played ragtime as they fell
from Heaven, as one descended on us with propeller

blades that broke our hearts and windshield.
I drove the car off the road and into a field

where everything stopped
as Sam the Indian, who


was really white, suddenly stepped onto the road
with his hands out, palms open, just inches below

that helicopter, as Charlie asked, "Where did he
come from?" I just remember Sam was whittled

to bone as he helicopter dropped down onto him.
(Did you know you can play a gospel hymn

on a flute carved from human bone? I heard
the hymn once, in a dream, but have since learned

to play it on a hollow femur.) The soldiers came
for us then, dragged us from the car, asked for our names

and tribal affiliations, demanded to know if the guy
killed under the helicopter was Indian or white.

"He was white," I said. "Fully white?" a soldier asked
and I told him that Sam the Indian might be the last

fully good white man in America. "The dead guy ain't Feeder
or Breeder," shouted the soldier. Sam wasn't needed

because the scientists couldn't use his bone marrow
so the soldiers left Sam's body to the crows and sparrows.

"What am I?" I asked the soldier as he tied my hands behind
my back with soft cotton twine, but he did not reply.

"What am I?" I asked the soldier as they carried
me to the helicopter. "Are you single or married?"

asked a soldier. "I'm a bag of bones," I said.
"Do you have any children," the soldier asked again

and again, but I kept telling him I was all alone
in this new world, that I was just a bag of bones.

2. Sam the Indian
When the blades fell upon me
I was closer to being Indian than I had ever been before.
When the blades fell upon me
I was closer to being Indian than I had ever been before.
When the blades fell upon me
I was closer to being Indian than I had ever been before.
When the blades fell upon me
I was closer to being Indian than I had ever been before.
When the blades fell upon me
I was closer to being Indian than I had ever been before.
When the blades fell upon me
I was closer to being Indian than I had ever been before.
When the blades fell upon me
I was closer to being Indian than I had ever been before.

3. Charlie the Cook
After we were captured by the soldiers, they took all of the Indians to a place called the Farm. My history became their history. They took notes. They tattooed my forehead with a B for Breeder, because I was young and pure-blood. They keep the Breeder men and women together. In each cell, there are five women and one man. We are rotated often, never allowed to develop relationships. We are not allowed to talk. We are never in the same cell with a member of the same tribe. Bright lights wake us at 6 A.M. We eat breakfast only after we procreate. I'm supposed to have sex with five Indian women a day. I have fathered dozens of children since this all started. Half of my children became Breeders and stayed at the Farm, while the other half became Feeders and were sent to the Kitchen. The Feeders have it much worse than the Breeders. The Feeders have their marrow taken from them. They are hooked up to machines that suck it out. Sometimes they survive. Sometimes they die. It happens to children, too. There is no age limit. When they need the marrow, they take it. There's constant demand. Each cancer patient needs a year's worth of Steptoe 123. Late at night, in the cell, I reach my hand out into the dark and I feel another hand reaching out for mine. I cannot see who I touch. We cannot speak. But we hold each other's hands lightly, ready to release our grips at any moment.

4. Agnes the Waitress
When the Indian men come to me
I try to smile.

I lift my tunic
and part my legs

with as much honor
as I can manage.

I try to love the Indian men
who are forced to enter me.

It would be easy to hate them.
Some women do.

Some women refuse
to acknowledge the man's body.

Some women close their eyes
and imagine a new childhood.

Some women weep constantly.
They don't last long.

But I hold the men close
and kiss their necks.

That always surprises them.
They stare at me

and I wonder if
I am beautiful.

I have forgotten
what that means.

I cannot tell the difference
between a beautiful man

and an ugly man
because it makes no difference.

We do not have the luxury
of such a decision.

We are Indian
and that is all that matters

though it is rumored
that white guards sneak

into bed with Indian women.
I have heard the rustling

of blankets late at night
when Indian women crawled

into bed with Indian women.
An Indian woman once kissed me

and I felt her hands on my breasts.
I reached for her, too

but the guard rushed in
and took her away.

I never saw her again.
I dream about her

though I cannot tell you
if she was beautiful.

I want to believe
my babies are beautiful

though I have learned to let them go.
I give birth.

I heal.
I am pregnant again.

Pregnancy is the good time.
Pregnant women share a cell.

We eat well.
We are not touched.

We are allowed to speak
to the body inside our own

and pretend it is our mother,
father, sister, and brother.

5. Charlie the Cook
We have developed a highly complex and subtle sign language. Through slight gestures, such as brushing the hair from our faces, we can talk about the past. The volume of a cough can change the tense of a sentence. A woman can sit up in bed, scratch her cheek, stand quickly, shuffle across the room to a water fountain, take a big drink, swallow loudly, and we'd all know she was telling a joke. Indians always find a way to laugh, though each of us laugh in a different way. I laugh by crossing my arms. I cry by tapping my left foot against the floor.

6. Agnes the Waitress
I try to find the soldiers beneath their masks.
I try to find the doctors behind their sorrow.

The white people never thought to ask
if we would voluntarily donate the marrow.

7. Jonah
We've been planning the revolution for years.
We have weapons and white friends, but I fear

Indians have forgotten how to survive.
It's a complicated song and dance. Late at night

we practice. We pound invisible drums. We sing
with our mouths closed. Silence is the thing

we must learn to fear. This is the plan.
One night, we will slip from our beds and stand

together. We will stamp our feet in unison
and sing the same song loudly with strong lungs

and hearts. We will sing the old songs.
Cousins, this is not where we belong.

Way, ya, hi, yo. Way, ya, hi, yo.<
Way, ya, hi, yo. Way, ya, hi, yo.

Cousins, remember how we sang and danced back then.
During the revolution, we will find our music again.


8. Sam the Indian
When I fell into Heaven
I was closer to being Indian than I had ever been before.
When I fell into Heaven
I was closer to being Indian than I had ever been before.
When I fell into Heaven
I was closer to being Indian than I had ever been before.
When I fell into Heaven
I was closer to being Indian than I had ever been before.
When I fell into Heaven
I was closer to being Indian than I had ever been before.
When I fell into Heaven
I was closer to being Indian than I had ever been before.
When I fell into Heaven
I was closer to being Indian than I had ever been before.
When I fell into Heaven
I was closer to being Indian than I had ever been before.


9. Charlie the Cook
I have not seen a black man in years. Not a black woman. Not a Mexican man, though their blood is often mixed with Indians, too. I have not seen another Indian man. I have seen only white men and Indian women. There are rumors. The Indian women have refused to procreate, and instead, they are killing the Indian men. It would be easy. In each cell, five women to each man. There are rumors. Indian men are becoming sterile. We have fathered too many children. There are rumors. The revolution is about to begin. Indians will rise against our jailers. We will never touch each other again. We will allow ourselves to die as a people, rather than live as we do now. There are rumors. A large army of sympathetic outsiders, white, black, brown, and yellow, are preparing to storm the Farm. They will free us. There are rumors. All of the cancer is gone. It has been completely destroyed. Our jailers will soon open the doors and let us free. They will give us medals of honor as we leave.

© The Raven Chronicles 1997


Oh gosh, have I run on again, reaching deep into cyber space and my innerspace to spew golden moments out onto FFTL? Perhaps. Perhaps not. You be the judge.

Glenn

8:17 AM  

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