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The Shaman of Ice Cream

On Monday, September 23, 2013, Sherman Alexie participated in a live conversation with PEN America and Director of the Office of Intellectual Freedom at the ALA, Barbara Jones. This conversation can be watched in its entirety here. Below we feature a poem from Alexie's forthcoming book of poems What I've Stolen, What I've Earned from Hanging Loose Press. 


The Shaman of Ice Cream


“Death is the mother of Beauty."

—Wallace Stevens

Who brings a drum to a funeral?
Who tells dirty jokes?
Who laughs so hard that Diet Pepsi geysers

out of her nose?
Who brings a drum to a funeral?
Who uses the bacon grease to make fry bread

and apple pie?
Who puts his hand on his third cousin’s thigh? Who brings a drum to a funeral?
Who asks the Jesuit if he’s naked

beneath his nightgown? Who uses dynamite to dig a grave

in the frozen ground?
Who brings a drum to a funeral?
Let this goodbye be Coyote’s wet dream. The only shaman is the shaman of ice cream.

In his coffin, our father is cold to the touch.
He’s dead, dead, dead. There is nothing to touch. His skin is no longer skin.
His eyes are no longer eyes.
His bones are no longer bones.
He is a fossilized hive.
If I picked him up, I could shake him

like a gourd rattle.
Let this goodbye be a death scream.
The only shaman is the shaman of ice cream. 

 

Reprinted from WHAT I'VE STOLEN, WHAT I'VE EARNED © 2014 by Sherman Alexie, by permission of Hanging Loose Press.

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