“A Dispatch from Seattle” by Sherman Alexie

Sherman Alexie


or, Nervous in the Hot Zone

Yes, we’re scared but we also make
      zombie apocalypse jokes
By texts. I don’t know when I’ll see
      my friends in person again.

We don’t want to panic and overreact
      but we don’t want
To underreact. Some of my friends
      are still hosting parties.

Some of them are still planning
      to take their previously
Scheduled trips overseas. Some are
      the polite looters

Who are buying all the toilet paper
      in Seattle.
“Good for you,” I text to one of them.
      “You’ll be

The most hygienic and well-stocked
      shitter in the city.”
Some of my fellow Native Americans
      are performing

The highly sacred Indigenous shrug,
      as in, “Dude,
They’re not giving us smallpox

But, hey, it’s the Trumps. Their
      wicked incompetence
And delusional arrogance is
      striking us

With smallpox of the soul.
      I try to listen
Only to the health experts,
      but the dipshits,

Conspiracy theorists, partisan
      hacks, trolls,
And the mentally ill dominate
      the discourse,

As they always do. How did
      we get to a place
Where the borderline personalities
      get quoted

As if they were experts by borderline
Who also act as if they’re experts,
      as well?

Maybe the true pandemic is
Maybe the true pandemic is
      the loss

Of a shared and common
But, hell, that’s big talk
      for someone

Like me, who just angrily,
And paranoidly bought
      $500 worth

Of canned food. And yet,
      I also know
That people are good. I know
      that most of us

Will reflexively switch
      into kindness
Mode. That’s what humans,
      at their best,

Have almost always done.
      In the meantime,
Here I am, re-binging on Parks
      and Recreation

As I serve myself another bowl
      of lactose-free
Ice cream and rhyme my way
      through self-quarantine.

from Poets Respond
March 12, 2020


Sherman Alexie: “I live in Seattle so coronavirus, coronavirus, coronavirus.” (web)

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