Friday, May 30, 2008

POETRY FRIDAY: A Poem by Sherman Alexie

Recently, I read Sherman Alexie’s book The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. I have become a fan of both his prose and poetry. I selected the following poem by Alexie, which I found at the website of the Academy of American Poets.

Alexie's poem reminded me of how, for a period of time after my father had passed away, I somehow expected to see him at my parents’ house when I visited my mother.

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

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.
You can read the rest of the poem here.

At Wild Rose Reader, I have an interview with poet and anthologist Paul B. Janeczko.

The Poetry Friday Roundup is at Wild Rose Reader today.


Anonymous said...

Oh! I wasn't familiar with this poem before, and I love it. It brought tears to my eyes with its truth...

Sara said...

Glad to see that you're a Sherman Alexie fan, too. With every poem of his that I read, I fall a little harder for his world view. It's so brutal and loving at the same time.

Saints and Spinners said...

Thanks so much for posting this poem. I recently realized that I'm more familiar with Alexie the personality than with his actual work (I've read a handful of books and poems), and need to remedy that. I'm a fan of Wilbur's "Love Calls Us to the Things of This World," too, and think of it whenever I'm doing laundry for the family.

Vivian Mahoney said...

This is the second poem I've read of Sherman Alexie's and I'm a total fan. Thanks for sharing this.

Elaine Magliaro said...

Jenny, Sara, Alkelda, and Vivian--

One good thing about all the attention Alexie has drawn in the kidlitosphere over the past year for THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN, is that it introduced me to his poetry. I'm planning to order some of his poetry books now.


He's brutal and loving--and sometimes brutal and funny at the same time, too.

Has any of you seen his movie SMOKE SIGNALS?

Mary Lee said...

My mom didn't cut all her iris and take them to the cemetery on Memorial Day this year for the first time in forever. It wasn't that she forgot, it's just that it was cold and damp and her joints hurt. Nonetheless, her soul got quite a slapping from angels' cold wings for that, but we assured her that Dad really wouldn't mind. In fact, he probably liked it that SHE had the iris this year to enjoy every time she looked out the back windows or sat on the porch.

Elaine Magliaro said...

Mary Lee,

My mom didn't go to the cemetery either. She's ninety and hasn't driven in years--but she usually has someone take her to visit the graves of my father and the rest of her family every Memorial Day. I doubt that the angels will slap her with cold wings.

Jules at 7-Imp said...

I'm just NOW finding this.