Another Poetry Friday in November—and here’s another Sherman Alexie poem for you. It’s a poem about basketball and American Indian boys and God and brown skin and muscles and athletic prowess and hair and young veterans of foreign wars…and a bearded Walt Whitman observing it all. Who else but Alexie could write a poem like this?
From Defending Walt Whitman
by Sherman Alexie
Basketball is like this for young Indian boys, all arms and legs
and serious stomach muscles. Every body is brown!
These are the twentieth-century warriors who will never kill,
although a few sat quietly in the deserts of Kuwait,
waiting for orders to do something, to do something.
God, there is nothing as beautiful as a jumpshot
on a reservation summer basketball court
where the ball is moist with sweat,
and makes a sound when it swishes through the net
that causes Walt Whitman to weep because it is so perfect.
There are veterans of foreign wars here
although their bodies are still dominated
by collarbones and knees, although their bodies still respond
in the ways that bodies are supposed to respond when we are young.
Every body is brown! Look there, that boy can run
up and down this court forever. He can leap for a rebound
with his back arched like a salmon, all meat and bone
synchronized, magnetic, as if the court were a river,
as if the rim were a dam, as if the air were a ladder
leading the Indian boy toward home.
You can read the rest of the poem here.
At Wild Rose Reader, I have a bunch of original list poems I posted for Tricia’s Poetry Stretch this week.
The Poetry Friday Roundup is at Brimstone Soup.