I have recently been diagnosed with cancer—metastasized, terminal. Since I am not writing any new poems at the moment, this one, posted last year as the month of December was beginning, seemed even more appropriate now.
Many readers will recognize this poem as one I have—almost traditionally now—published in November around the time of the American holiday of Thanksgiving. This year it will also appear in the fall issue of THE LYRIC, the oldest magazine in North America in continuous publication of traditional poetry since 1921.
The turkey is a curious bird
And there’s a tale quite often heard
Of how this hapless, weak birdbrain
Looks up, agape, and drowns in rain.
But that is really just a myth
To entertain the gullible with.
In fact his monofocal eye
Must look sideways at the sky
Not up…and he might as easily drown
In puddles, failing to look down.
Poor thing can’t fly, can barely walk,
And gobble-gobble is his talk.
The ostentation of his tail
And puffed-out chest will surely fail
To keep him swaggeringly proud
If there’s a noise, and it is loud.
Then he is spooked, suddenly tense
And runs to cower by the fence.
American fowl of colonial fame
That Benjamin Franklin wanted to name
Federal symbol, national bird—
Turkey? Ridiculous! Turkey? Absurd!
Yet, in a way, it has almost come true–
Not on The Seal, but on the menu.
When Thanksgiving comes, it’s almost a law
Though steak lovers groan and vegans say “pshaw!”
That turkey be served as pre-eminent meat
Above the plenty of plenty to eat.
Crackling, drumstick, breast and wing
This one day a year, turkey is king.
copyright Cynthia Jobin 2014 TURKEY
. NOTE TO REGULAR READERS: For health reasons I may not be able to keep to my customary schedule of posting….playing it by ear, henceforth, rather than by the book.
Once again I offer a guest poet. This is an antediluvian poem, that is, it was written long before the flood, or current deluge, of cyber emotion and virtual living and received opinion that threatens to drown us all.
From William Stafford:
How far friends are! They forget you,
most days. They have to, I know; but still,
it’s lonely just being far and a friend.
I put my hand out—this chair, this table—
So near: touch, that’s how to live.
Call up a friend? All right, but the phone
itself is what loves you, warm on your ear,
on your hand. Or, you lift a pen
to write—it’s not that far person
but this familiar pen that comforts.
Near things: Friend, here’s my hand.
“Colors are the deeds and sufferings of light.”
It has been said the weather is bright blue
this time of year. A tinge of cobalt cools
the contours, copper trembles, sounding true.
Red and golden maple leaves, the motley fools,
die dancing on a breeze of nevermore.
Those who must learn go back to schools.
The year was started long before
this current, nearer to the final, page
of curling calendar behind the closet door;
yet blood, air, the purple-kissed greengage
belie that paper rubric and bestir unnerving
promise in what’s more than come of age.
Cliché favors youth, the tight uncurving
blade of spring, bronze beauty at the beach,
the summer’s salad days all undeserving.
And youth favors cliché, believing each
grey hint of winter is a closing down,
smug in its grasp of things beyond its reach.
We’ve been there. Now we’re here, my frown,
searching a spattered mirror for small clues
to an unsettling ripening. We grope for nouns
to name it—for the way so many hues
exquisitely become a potent reticence of brown.
. A CERTAIN AGE