Face by Sherman Alexie
Face (Hanging Loose Press, poetry) is ax/not ax/poleax, as in still S. Alexie. His personae (will contain biographical elements of the author) have one leg stuck in White Batter (all connotations) of mainstream academia/book/laugh at nothing/muttering $peaking tours and one shakily afoot “the rez.” The third leg is a ghost leg. Tear ducts in its toenails, Andrew fucking nebulous Jackson. Like a man standing in two canoes (never try this), sway and suffer consequences. The question—in the words of another poet noticing Halle Berry dragging along the Very First Oscar (2002!) like a battleship anchor—is whether speaker will crust and sugar over, sag like a heavy load, or, well, explode. I celebrate the men who preceded me. Face has numbers in a burlap sack (math, as history, as stat, as in right now. As in statistics): 1492, 15 million Native Americans. 1892, 750,000. 2002, 1.8 million. Look up Pamunkey, an odd word. Face, do you feel yourself rowing against the current/into the past, like White Fitzgerald? Hypothermia. Face, blanket, and not blanket. Mask. Shroud. OK, speak.
Every Face transposed over another. They exchange lips, sacred songs, everyday curses. Two sides of the same treaty parchment, the same rent sheet. When I say sheet I mean covering. When I say rent, you want to own something. When I say blanket I mean blanket, fuck-Face. Shades and winding veils. Besides, it was only smallpox…Animals are shrouded. White Batter woman in a suburb shaking a fist at Michael Vick, in the other hand a hamburger. The starlings mourn for three days and three nights. We killed their children. The tail, like wags, so it is happy. We build monuments; they rebuild their nests. Cats like to live indoors. The bees are gone. Who gives a shit? Morningstar, motherfucker, White Batter Cake. Mosquito rose out of its ashy tomb. Same kingdom as a cockroach. That animals love Indians more than they love white folks. Pigs know more words than dogs. I killed and killed and killed and killed my ant cousins. Burial plot for a parrot. I said a prayer to the Snake God. Lies are shrouded. Of course I‘m lying. It might be wrong for Native Americans to dwell in memoir. It might be like a Bad Faith spy. There is no treaty I will not bend, bust, ignore, or screw. Oh, history. What is it? My wife loves me but she doesn’t believe me. The questions you must suffer at public readings. Does the world need one more unreliable narrator? The biggest disaster for your soul is a mortgage. He wasn’t really my uncle. I lied. It’s OK to like the most Cake poet, Robert Frost. This is not a conceit for the poem. Can I even talk about this subject? All day and all night my lies roar in the trees. Jesus, let it go. Sorry about the Jesus thing. And saying let it go. I know the Catholics…Sprawling maturation, storm/form changes, organic ax like the NYorker story. Wow. I didn’t know you had that in you…but publishing it there, that had to…We have to talk about things eventually. And what human can compete with metaphors? White Batter: Dude, you cut your hair and you look corporate. Shut the fuck up. I’m grieving, you fuckers. Did you just say, dude? Listen. If I want to only be in admiration of the organic form, I am going to watch beach volleyball. Comedy is shrouded. Not drinking I think is lonelier than drinking alone. You’re not supposed to mention alcohol and Indians. You’re not supposed to say Indians. “All Alexie was, was funny.” Ouch. Wake up, with redwood. Blood, bile, cum, and trash. Carry the one. Rhyme gawk with cock. “The best cure for insomnia is to get lots of sleep.” Face is not going to be more obscure & more inaccessible, sorry. Settle for the blown glass murky cover. A wheeled support for a cannon. I hate blown glass. A few blame God. Less or fewer? Fucker just splintered a villanelle over his knee like a chicken bone. That is up to you. “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.” A dog sitting inside a torso, that’s you, dude, but never change. Keep on howling. Dude? Check your tone, check your facts and the tongues of your shoes. But who the hell fact-checks poems? There goes a crow and an autistic billboard, but focus on the crow’s eye. I forgot. I forgot. It was my people who invented the sky.