Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving poems

A long-time and much-appreciated reader of this blog, Edward Hessler, has kindly included us again in his yearly sharing of a Thanksgiving poem.  When we wrote to thank him, telling him that the poem brought tears to our eyes, he sent another.  Which made us laugh.  He has happily consented to us thanking him here, and sharing his choices.

Perhaps the World Ends Here

The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.

The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.

We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.

It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.

At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.

Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around our children. They laugh with us at our poor falling-down selves and as we put ourselves back together once again at the table.

This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella in the sun.

Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is a place to hide in the shadow of terror. A place to celebrate the terrible victory.

We have given birth on this table, and have prepared our parents for burial here.

At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering and remorse. We give thanks.

Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.

--Joy Harjo, The Woman Who Fell From the Sky, W. W. Norton & Company, 1994.

Joy Harjo is from Tulsa, Oklahoma, a member of the Muscogee (Creek) nation and of Cherokee descent. She has also played alto saxophone with a band called Poetic Justice. She has played a powerful role in what has been described as the American Indian poetic renaissance. In January of 2013, Harjo will join the faculty of the American Indian Studies Program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The Turkey Shot Out of the Oven

The turkey shot out of the oven
and rocketed into the air,
it knocked every plate off the table
and partly demolished a chair.

It ricocheted into a corner
and burst with deafening boom,
then splattered all over the kitchen,
completely obscuring the room.

It stuck to the walls and the windows,
it totally coated the floor,
there was turkey attached to the ceiling,
where there'd never been turkey before.

It blanketed every appliance,
it smeared every saucer and bowl,
there wasn't a way I could stop it,
that turkey was out of control.

I scraped and I scrubbed with displeasure,
and thought with chagrin as I mopped,
that I'd never again stuff a turkey
with popcorn that hadn't been popped.

--Jack Prelutsky

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