"Poetry: Serious. Not That Serious." by Lucy Hitz

Poetry: Serious. Not That Serious – Turkey Day Edition

22 November 2012 on Blog, Poetry: Serious. Not That Serious.   Tags:

Poems I'm Thankful For

The poems I've selected for POETRY: SERIOUS, NOT THAT SERIOUS Turkey Day Edition are the kind that you can read at the beginning of your Thanksgiving meal in lieu of grace, toast, or prayer, or maybe as a friendly add-on. I spend the day before Thanksgiving every year searching for a poem to read to guests before I lose myself in Mom's stuffing and homemade cranberry sauce. Here are the requirements for a Good Thanksgiving Poem:

  1. Relatively simple and direct—no one wants to decode a sentence or Google a word while deciding whether to pounce on the gravy boat or sweet potato casserole first.
  2. Short—like that saying “The higher the heels, the closer to God,” but the opposite.
  3. Acknowledges pain but focuses on gratitude anyway—for relevance's sake.

Keeping these guidelines in mind, I've chosen three poems which I hope you'll consider reading to your friends and family right before you give thanks and indulge in the true meaning of the holiday—unabashed overeating.

1. When you want to KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid), and send some reviving wishes to the ones you love, extending far beyond the holiday table:

By Mary Oliver

It grew in the black mud.
It grew under the tiger's orange paws.
Its stems thicker than candles, and as straight.
Its leaves like the feathers of egrets, but green.

The grains cresting, wanting to burst.
Oh, blood of the tiger.

I don't want you to just sit at the table.
I don't want you just to eat, and be content.
I want you to walk into the fields
Where the water is shining, and the rice has risen.
I want you to stand there, far from the white tablecloth.
I want you to fill your hands with mud, like a blessing.

2. When it's been a rough year, but you're still thankful. Take that, misfortune!

By W.S. Merwin

with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
smiling by the windows looking out
in our directions

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you

over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you

with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is

3. For the more avant-garde Thanksgiving crowd:

The Power Table
by Jean Valentine

You, lying across the wide bed, vertical,
I, horizontal,

you, I, in a green field two green paths
flowered with xxxx's and xxxx's

you, I, lined inside
with pre-historic quarrels

old black cuts
in a wooden kitchen table

the table where you sit down with your older brothers
the table where things get settled once & for all

the cow's hip shaved down to the brand
her body divided into zones

yes I am standing in the doorway
yes my softness & my hardness are filled
with a secret light,

but I want world-light
and this-world company.

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