65 Comments

Bravo. May there be another fifty years for all of the world's Samuels to come alive and walk our paths and drink in our waters and embrace all of the kindness previously unknown.

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Jan 15, 2023Liked by Sherman Alexie

The stories we tell about those of us in the margins. How we are only known by our people, our lives, our history...

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Yes, the autobiography of the tribes...

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Jan 14, 2023Liked by Sherman Alexie

The pain and joy of remembering seem an odd couple in being human. Thank You

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Jan 14, 2023Liked by Sherman Alexie

Such a haunting account, and in the best ways. Since initially reading it, I’ve been thinking about the name Samuel. The name seems to come to us from two Semitic verbal roots grounded in the profound notions of hearing and of placement. Hearing, as admonition: Shm’a Yisrael, “Hear, O Israel”, hear--the Lord our God, the Lord is _one_”, an important hearing in cultures of polytheistic belief and practice. Hearing, as petition and obedience: “Speak, O Lord, for your servant is hearing You”. Hearing, as fulfillment: Hannah prayed to God to give her a child, and God placed Samuel in Hannah’s womb. Here, it was God who was listening to the petitioner, and God responded positively, so that Shm’a came to be associated with God’s placing someone, even something, in the just and intended location.

All these are heartbreaking notions, thinking of your handsome, hilarious, lost cousin Samuel. What calls was he hearing when he hitched off the rez? Where was he placed? Where is he now? On the way there, what were his responses to perceived calls? What did he think, how did he feel, what did he do? Where did he go?

These are questions I will be asking myself as I journey from Epiphany, glory revealed, to Lent, character defined. I truly do venerate your cousin Samuel and likewise thank you for placing these issues front and center. I don’t know what sort of spirit workings energize or energized Samuel’s heart, but pray he may “rest in peace and rise in glory”, whatever that may mean for him.

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Ah, Kerry, such beautiful thoughts. "Where was he placed?" That question, as you ask it, really hits me hard.

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Yes, a central issue with grief is, of course, that it doesn’t shrink or vanish over time. We just grow around, over, through, from it. And there’s no schedule. We have to drive the process. The beauty of your situation is that you’re still working at it, all these years on, doing so reflectively, and self-givingly sharing the whole process. All of which is to the benefit of the rest of us, including Samuel. A sought spirit need not wander.

I still periodically unearth shards of grief from my Dad’s death in 1961, when I was 15. I’ll try sharing, as apropos. Again, thank you.

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Jan 14, 2023Liked by Sherman Alexie

Harper’s Magazine?

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Lost a friend to AIDS in my mid-twenties. I think about him a lot. Each new phase of my life--good or bad--I'm like: he didn't get to go through this.

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This needs to be published more widely.

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That would be nice!

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Jan 13, 2023Liked by Sherman Alexie

Thanks for sharing Samuel. He is alive❤️

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Thank you.

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💔

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Thank you.

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Yep, agreed he seems capable, but when you listen to his political commentary, it's not particularly astute or in any way creative. Plus his affiliations are off-putting, like Mitch McConnell. Unfortunately I'm addicted to CNN and listen to him a bit too frequently...plus I'm a tad biased on what strikes me as astute commentary. Not that I'm correct and they are not, though! Just biased and probably to my detriment.

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I avoid TV politics as much as possible. I haven't watched CNN, MSNBC, or any channels like them in a long while, probably since election night 2020.

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Jan 13, 2023Liked by Sherman Alexie

So many things to be depressed and furious about. All our lying history. Thank god you keep the spirits alive. The white supremicist lying republicans don’t help. To the contrary, they suck ard are stupid to boot. I hope Samuel is in a beautiful forest somewhere.

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"A beautiful forest..." That thought brought tears to my eyes.

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Jan 13, 2023Liked by Sherman Alexie

Please keep interrogating the world and distilling what you learn into words that break hearts open.

I receive emergency texts and emails from my county on a regular basis. When I got multiple alerts about a missing white woman from Piedmont, a wealthy city that's entirely surrounded by Oakland, I thought, "That figures". But when I learned that a toddler had disappeared from East Oakland at about the same time--and I didn't learn about that until his body was found, I didn't--and still don't--have words for the rage, grief and sense of WTF???

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I just remembered there is a food truck here in Seattle called Off the Rez. They make fancy fry bread. Yeah, we Indians can turn anything into humor.

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Yes, if you want to watch a very profane, very hilarious, and very accurate view on this phenomenon, check out this video of the late, great Patrice O'Neill, a brutally honest standup comedian:

https://youtu.be/kYKJ2z7mecQ

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Jan 14, 2023Liked by Sherman Alexie

Thanks, Sherman. Since the phenomenon is profane, I would say this is most appropriate.

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Yes, that does make sense, doesn't it?

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Jan 13, 2023Liked by Sherman Alexie

Never stop interrogating the world. It is your song and your search that keeps Samuel alive. You have been given this rare gift of poetry to animate him.. It doesn't compensate for the years that were stolen from Samuel and the pain he lived with but it makes it possible to cast his beautiful spirit forward tp generations who can never know him and to igiite the memory of him in those who remember.

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Thank you, Annie.

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I've read the poem several times this morning and listened to your reading, and it just gets more beautiful. It happens that last week, or maybe a few days go, I heard a political commentator on CNN ( Scott Jennings) a Republican regular on their panels), use the term "off the reservation". I wear hearing aids, so I thought I possibly misheard him, but unfortunately I didn't. He said that phrase in the context of its usual, archaic meaning—someone going outside of their socially acceptable boundaries...where they are not supposed to be. I am still in shock. I haven't heard that reference in many decades, maybe not since I watched a John Wayne movie as a kid. Some may think my outrage is superficial, but I'll cling to the belief that it's rather substantive, particularly as its concept might relate to your poem.

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"Off the reservation" is so archaic that I just have to laugh. And I would've laughed if I'd seen it live. It's still somewhat common among military folks, but I just looked up Jennings and he didn't serve. I think his use of the phrase says a ton about him but I don't think it means much otherwise.

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Yes, I might have laughed if I'd had a moment to collect myself off the floor. It does say a lot about him, but in my opinion, none of it good. I often wonder how some people get the jobs, positions, titles that they do, and then keep them.

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Looking at his bio, he appears to be a very capable person. He apparently did some great work that can even be called social justice when he was an investigative journalist. I'm sure he and I have very different politics and I can see that some of that difference would relate to why he'd use such an archaic term.

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Jan 13, 2023Liked by Sherman Alexie

Thanks, Sherman. This is comforting—knowing there is someone caring, watching, witnessing our existence.

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Thank you, Kath.

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Jan 13, 2023Liked by Sherman Alexie

Beautiful...keep the stories and spirits alive!

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Thank you, Mary Kay.

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