A Sherman Alexie story

I dreamt I was trying to write Sherman Alexie a sentence that would help me understand him. Something about intergenerational desperation and toxic masculinity. Something about power and how hungry Sherman must always be. I didn’t even want to make this point, but I was editing it.

But before I wrote the sentence I was looking at him in the eyes, about to be quoted on his beauty while a man with a camera filmed us. I could see beauty, I really could, but I needed a moment first to enjoy him and Sherman was not used to waiting. Each time I inhaled to speak, he accidentally interrupted me.

But before he interrupted me, an entire tree had snapped in half, because he had snapped it. The man with the camera was interesting and handsome, or so Sherman had thought I had thought, and he was upset I‘d given him the gift of my conversation. I felt Sherman turn into a glacier and touch me, 500 years of slowly destroying everything in his path. But I was a woman and not a valley, so I looked at him without an echo. “I love you,” the look meant to say, “so stop,” but I could only say it once.

“What first drew you to Sherman?” the man asked me, wanting to protect me and so he protected Sherman, lifting his camera and pushing record.

Before the man lifted his camera, Sherman was holding a carton of broken eggs. The carton itself was soft and falling apart, yolk and whites dripping like a song being sung badly. He looked so proud and I didn’t have the heart to tell him he was an absolute mess. There might still be a good egg in there, I thought. He held it in one arm, like he was waiting in line to check out.

Before he waited he was walking. He was walking beside me, someone he did not need, except he needed me to need him, so he needed me very much. We were at the carnival! It was an abandoned carnival. I was having so much fun, I convinced myself, even though it was a sad place and there was nothing to do. I had just met Sherman. I knew he was not a good man for me, but that he was a good man deep inside.

Because before that, long before that, men discovered a million ways to prove they could be dangerous. Men who are ashamed are the most dangerous, which is why I was taught to forgive them before I ever met them.

Before that I was free


Just as when I pointed the “geisha-inspired” piece out, I offer the following poem not to incite racism but rather to hold a mirror up to it. Racism is powerful, and there are consequences if you speak against it. This is one way it thrives. From character attacks to references of violence, we implicitly and explicitly send the message that if you confront racism, you will be punished. 

In making this poem I used direct quotes from the last six days.

Content Warning: racism, profanity


a found poem

Fuck you Christy NaMee Eriksen

Christy NaMee Eriksen’s obvious white hatred

She’s actually embracing racism herself to use it as a weapon

Christy is lying

Racist fucker

Dumb cunt

disingenuous bullshit

personal issues

what is lacking in her life that she chose to lash out at this piece

This chick is an asshole

Be nice

and teach your damn kids to be nice at it while your at it

Quick being butt hurt about everything

Save the complaining for real issues

I am disgusted by her

The way the person went about it is wrong

It's good to have a conversation, but the reaction by CNE was not appropriate

Moving us backwards in progress

You have slapped, punched, and defiled my family

Her methods can be abrasive, hurtful, and can alienate

One lady complaining and she caused basically a riot

One person who was fanning the flames




Put that in your kimchi and choke on it

I will never step foot in her shop again

I would like to rip christy apart

People like christy namee eriksen need to be checked

whacked out racist Korean woman

You are racist, Chick. 

probably wishes she could BBQ my dog

this is a woman who is openly racist against white people

when it comes to RACISM, INTOLERANCE, SEPARATISM AND FLAT OUT IDIOCY you take the cake

making white people feel like shit just because we are white

There are literally counselors to help people who choose to be offended over nothing. 

this chick just wanted to be something

Fuck off, fuck right the hell off

she doesn’t care about our feelings


she thinks we are stupid and need books to educate ourselves

don’t do me any favors bitch

cancer on society

please explain to me why this piece is racial discrimination

what I see is Beauty

beautiful piece of cultural appreciation



beautiful and intricate

the beauty, the respect, the confident power

beautiful representation

something beautiful

something beautiful

absolutely STUNNING

not a mockery, just brilliant

what makes you special

Happy New Year (2018)

May both the wind and the stillness seek you.


May the sea see itself in you

May the swell meet your stern  

and humble you both.


May the sun change shapes,

may its faces surround you

and give you warmth.


May the knots unravel


May the fall fetch your balance


May laughter light you like a fuse


and may every route be scenic.


May the wizard in you be revealed.

May you be brave enough and smart enough

May your heart be human enough

May you find your way home.


May you arrive, necessary protest,

loud and unannounced

clumsy and brooding.

Mouth full of grief.


And may you welcome even the

banished parts of you

with bread and open arms.


Somehow your knuckles know grace.

Somehow the beggar gives thanks.  


And then they graduate

You know what it is, it’s the ordinary days. The Wednesdays. The ones where we sleep like usual, wake like usual. We run late, we look for clean socks, I slice a fruit for snack. And then, they graduate. Unceremoniously, a dozen small ways - a kind gesture here, a deep breath there, maybe they finally wrote three sentences instead of two. I won't wait to weep. When my son succeeds it won't be all at once; it rarely is. When his name is placed on a diploma it will be because he carried it there, one step at a time for years. Honestly, I don't see what he sees when he walks into class, but I believe him. It's so hard to arrive sometimes, so hard to put up with even ourselves. But we are beauty and we are beast, who will love us if not us. And so today, today when you are wild and unafraid of yourself, I celebrate you. And today, when you are deliberate enough, gentle enough, I celebrate you. And today, when you are still the same son I sent to school this morning, when it strengthens you but doesn’t change you, I celebrate you. I celebrate this the most. 

On the run

26 days after Amy passed away I cleared my schedule, put on a black dress and prepared for the opportunity to grieve, but first I ran a 5k with my son.

Boys on the Run, I love this program. It’s about building self-awareness and positive living, raising healthy men. It's not a race, they said. I was his running buddy, my job was to run alongside and encourage him, accept his pace fully.

The first mile: He is fast, he is vivid, we are joyful oxes. Everyone is a champion at the beginning

because nothing hurts

The second mile: he is crabby and silly and anxious. We feel how we feel before we know how we feel but until we know how we feel it comes out funny

too hot too tired there are too many people

needs to walk needs to skip needs to walk

needs water needs to take off this shirt

On the third mile “woohoo" becomes "you got this”

and I worry I’m an asshole

because I worry my own son's an asshole


look at all the cheering people, look at the wrath of my son

how can a person be this surrounded by support and this stubborn

because I want to be a shelter but he only speaks tornado

because we are in a hurry

we are always in a hurry

and there is so much to carry.

So who is really having the breakdown when he is folded and crying on the side of the track

“I need a break,” he says

“I need a break” he echoes

Parenting is just the valley where all our flaws are returned to us

if you pause long enough

to listen

I sit down for the first time in weeks

My sunken sadness rising

"Okay," I agree 

My buried chest

lost at sea 

"Okay," I echo

We are two storms, luxuriously self-absorbed, watching everyone run past.

They say grief comes in stages, but honestly there is nothing organized about it

At some point you just drag yourself all over the place until you can’t

Running in circles I had told him, "we're almost there."

"Stop saying that," he had said.

Two more laps: we walk.

The last curve: we sprint, end strong they say.

When he crosses the finish line the crowd cheers.

He is the last runner, we are the last runners

and I’m crying now, kneeling

arms around my sweaty son, his face a sky

"I’m so proud of you," I say

"I'm so proud of you," I echo

Ask the glacier who carves and collapses inside me,

some days we don't appear to be moving and still we arrive

How powerful is this,

when you give yourself

the space and the pace you need

when you need it

I've seen the inside of endurance; it's tenderness.

I kiss my child, alive and aching.

It is so easy to pass ourselves by

but we won’t.


MATT LAUER WAS FIRED WITHIN 36 HOURS OF BEING ACCUSED OF SEXUAL MISCONDUCT. Matt frickin Lauer. Everyone loves Matt, he’s like the neighbor your dad always mentions and secretly wants you to marry. He walks dogs, he’d open your door, he’d offer you gum if you were waiting somewhere together. I grew up with that dude in my living room; he was a part of our breakfast pyramid, like choosy moms choose jif and they also choose Matt Lauer. Every boys club wants a Matt Lauer. Every basketball team wants a Matt Lauer. I can’t even pick him out of a crowd anymore bc I grew up with Matt Lauers in the classroom and Matt Lauers at the airport and Matt Lauers at meetings and I’ve been followed by Matt Lauers and I’ve worked for Matt Lauers and I’ve been groped by Matt Lauers

A Matt Lauer has driven me to his house and not driven me home till morning. A Matt Lauer planted an earthquake inside me, it was the quietest way to destroy me. A Matt Lauer never loses friends, a Matt Lauer goes to work as usual, I have torn myself apart before I’ve torn Matt Lauer apart.

and then NBC FIRES MATT LAUER ANYWAY!! and I’m not crying, you’re crying!!! Bc everyone loves Matt and finally it’s not enough. Bc the tremors are real. Bc the whole country is shifting. Bc we’re making examples out of the powerful and putting the good ol boys in time out. Bc their money won’t save them, their face won’t save them, their parents won’t even save them.

Bc it’s a new morning.

Bc I’ve been asked to protect abusers my whole life and this, THIS is the today show I’ve been waiting for.


The other day I watched a teenage boy

walk across four lanes of traffic with his

middle fingers in the air

just to hug a girl

on the other side.

Romance can be wild

but when I mistake


for fearlessness

I wonder why we were ever taught

that it should be dangerous

to love us

Truly, it isn't that brave to

throw yourself into another.

I could throw myself into


right now,

if I was rude

and had nothing

better to do.

Why not instead

care for someone 

the way the light cares

for an uneven landscape

or the silver cares

for a stream it barely remembers

or the gardener cares

for a complicated ground,

so shy it pools up

They hold even the untouchable close,

bow down to the precious.

my lovers take their shoes off in the house

they would never make demands

parts in my hand

When you grown now

so you can hear your father.

Here he is building you a shelf.

Here he is comparing rear view mirrors

he found on eBay. Here, he has already

assessed the prices of every wind

chime in the city because on Sunday

you mentioned you're in the market for

one. Your dryer doesn't work, now

he is describing how dryers are supposed

to work. How your brakes work. How

grit works. How a man who will

never change works so

how you should work.

Here is his garage, full of honest things for sale

because he is sorry or so you will finally

leave the knock off lover behind, same thing.

We don't say it. But

when there are a lot of places to sit

I sit next to him. And when nothing

is broken I believe he believes

it's broken and he can fix it.

Here I am, nearby

holding parts in my hand for him.

Today, the sound of my

new raincoat moving

is the sound of his

raincoat moving.

When I turn I hear him

turning, his boat swelling

on the pacific, soft

as he twists

to see me.

I didn't know

if I wanted the frozen pot pie

but I knew I wanted to receive it so

I said oh that sounds good.

I can still hear him opening it

Tiger mom

When they ask you what kind of tiger mom I was, I hope you'll say I was soft.

Hope you’ll say I was fierce. Tenacious. Simple. That I would chew my own bones just to keep my teeth sharp. That I would make soup for a sick vulture. That some evenings I would circle you, like a choice, and fall asleep.

Tell them how we’d walk together, a bouquet of wild footsteps. Tell them about the good mornings: when I’d boil you an egg or when I’d tuck a kiss in your pocket or hold a lighthouse between our hands. Tell them I did my best, even when I’d disappear. Tell them we are a family of ghosts and every one of them sound like me. Say: to this day, it’s hard to tell us apart.

The other night I dreamt a man was driving a truck across time and I hopped into the back. At any moment, memories sneak up on us, bum a ride. Once I put a roman candle into the ground and it fell over. Stars shot at our family instead of the sky. Pow, pow, pow, pow, until your uncle kicked it away. When I met your father, he treated me like a holiday. We were so in love we lit everything. Every day he stole fireworks till he built me a home out of them.

You wonder why I bite the lies right out of you. Why I smother you in a mother’s temper before yours ignites. Why you are having trouble breathing, why ashes are streaming down your cheek. Child, you and I are divine, we are sacred. We are sacrifices, we are legends, proof of prayer, protectors; but first we were small explosions, so fallen we could not tell sky from being kicked.

Will you believe me - that I can’t help but raise you like a rescue? Sometimes you sing the song I made you with and all I hear are sirens. I see you cower the way I cower and I cower again, because there are so many ways to ruin you. I think: how was I, a foolish, reckless girl, given such an important, dangerous thing to tend to? How can I, an ordinary woman, open your gifts and not choke on the honor of being recognized as your mother?

Be braver than I was, so that you can forgive yourself often! Tell them you are the tiger's son: an unfinished folk tale, a new tradition. The one she raised to be more powerful and more humble than anyone who happened to see her, more peaceful than the mountain spirit that leaned on her. Tell them your mom was unrelenting; she leaped to love you, silenced herself into a roar. Tell them. She never wanted you to be afraid of being afraid.


Just wanna say thanks for all the eclipse

photos everyone posted yesterday. You


looked beautiful in your glasses. Your

sidewalks looked lovely covered in


crescents. I am grateful to live under the

same confident sun, the same honest moon


as you. I like that you shared your view - the

stanza of sky that was so uniquely yours and


so undeniably ours. Maybe I'm projecting.

Maybe I'm reflecting. Anyway I like that on a


humble Monday, at roughly the same time, in

different shades of the same light, across this


tender and arrogant and

clumsy country, we looked up


to each other.