May 23 • 9M

Flight Envy

eleven very short poems I wrote on one Saturday because I was stuck on the couch elevating my broken foot

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Poetry, fiction, and essays by Sherman a alexie
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Breakfast Meditation


Feeling contrary,
I discard the orange

slices and keep
the rind.

I ignore the clock
and calendar.

I sit in one place
and watch

my mind
meander.
Flight Envy


Those crows know my name
but I don’t know theirs.

They’re geniuses with wings
but gravity keeps me landed

and dumb. No bird is jealous
of my opposable thumbs.
Your Mask or Mine?

At sundown and sunrise,
my shadow is taller than me.

None of us is the person
we believe ourselves to be.

Inheritance 

In mirrors, I look
like myself.

In photographs, I look
like my father.
Politics

Dear enemy, I despise
your rage because

it sounds exactly
exactly like mine.

This next poem is a monosyllabic sonnet, a poem of fourteen lines with only one word per line. I first encountered this kind of contemporary sonnet in the work of Sidney Wade. My mono-sonnet poem is an Petrarchan sonnet, a traditional form with two stanzas—the first containing eight lines and the second containing six lines. First created in the Renaissance Era, and popularized by Francesco Petrarca, the Petrarchan sonnet is meant to present a problem in the first stanza and offer a solution in the second. In my poem, I ask a question in the first stanza and answer it in the second.




Haunted

Do
I 
believe
in 
ghosts?
Only
the
ones

that
I
create
in
my
poems.


To be grumpy, I’ll add that many contemporary poets write poems they claim are sonnets…but they ain’t. Many of those pseudo-sonnets do have fourteen lines, their only concession to the form, but sometimes they don’t even have that! Here’s the thing: a sonnet has rules. And you gotta follow the rules to call it a sonnet. That said, you can experiment with the rules, as I’ve done in many ways over the years. But my experiments still have strict rules that strongly echo the strict rules of traditional sonnets.

Eucharist 

The grounds
are the body.

The water
is the blood.

You name it
coffee.

I name it
magic

and serious
joy.

My Big Brother Remembers

The night they wheeled 
Mom’s body out of the house,
he sat by the front yard gate.

Seven years later, he tells me
that a thousand mosquitoes 
bit him but he didn’t feel one.
Benedictions in an Emergency

The drowning man loves his breath.
The borrower loves his debt.
The insomniac loves his rest.
I still love the ones who left.

The next poem is a Shakespearean sonnet. Yeah, no pressure to perform here! Among other formal considerations, this type of sonnet relies on the Volta, the last stanza that is meant to be a rhyming couplet. This couplet “plays a pivotal role, usually arriving in the form of a conclusion, amplification, or even refutation of the previous three stanzas, often creating an epiphanic quality to the end.” My Volta has a slant rhyme that employs the same vowel sound.



Social Contract

Driving, I trust
the unseen
people piloting
their cars

as they travel
toward me
from the opposite 
direction

on this two-lane
midnight road
where the only
illumination

is their headlights
merging with mine.

Climate Change

I
caught
these
salmon

messiahs
and
they
promised

they’d
swim
forever
wild

or
not.