Sherman Alexie

The Public Health Option

Ah, hell, the drum fell

And broke both my thumbs,

I couldn’t afford to get them fixed,

So I taped the drumsticks

To my hands, and now they’re splints

And musical instruments.

On my rez, they don’t allow

Sacred cows. You need to bleed

From the palms and brow

If you want to speed-the-powwow.

Sherman Alexie is the author of, most recently, Face, poetry from Hanging Loose Press, and War Dances, poems and stories, from Grove Press. He lives with his family in Seattle.

“I remember when I first saw an expansive front porch, the kind with a stainless steel barbecue and waterproof furniture. It was owned by a white family whose son was one of my best high school friends. I felt a curious mix of elation and shame. Elation, because I had a rich friend (who wasn’t so rich, after all), and shame because their front porch was nicer than my family’s house. As I write this, I think that I will probably write a poem about that front porch. Funny thing is, I’m very comfortable financially, and my house is very nice, but I still don’t have a front porch.”


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