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

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.

58 responses »

  1. Yipee, I’m first to enjoy this year’s posting of fun illustrious poem – congratulations on getting it published. So sorry to read of your health issues,. I quote my oft repeated message to myself,”old age isn’t for the faint -hearted but beats the alternative”. I hope that it doesn’t keep you too far from your writing and your blog audience who savor your erudite insights. As for the turkey – I feel a tinge of regret for his kingship not much in it for him. One year Dan and I saw some wild turkeys in a vacant lot near our home. They are more agile than their domesticated cousins – actually quite an impressive bird. My personal preference for table fare is duck but that’s too alien for the American Thanksgiving palette.

    • Your Texas wild turkeys were probably just like our wild ones here in New England…a much more impressive fowl than the ones farmed and destined for the supermarket. They used to stroll past my sunroom in NH on their way to the Cocheco river for a drink, and drove my dog wild. I admit I am not a big fan of eating turkey and, like you, would much prefer duck. But don’t tell anyone or I will be accused of blasphemy. Thanks a lot, Jane, and Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. No one ever will need to tell me about a Turkey or its character ever. It is such an accomplished poem crackling with innate music and fun I am sure I would have memorised it in a jiffy had I been the child I was. Nevertheless, I read it several times over and relished it anew at each iteration.

    • Yes..I think it is “our kind of poem,” Uma. (I can still recite Clement Moore’s “‘Twas the night before Christmas,” which I memorized when I was knee-high to a grasshopper.) I’m really glad you like it.

  3. Congrats, dear Cynthia, on the publication! It adds to my already puffed-up-turkey-bravado: “Oh didn’t you know? I have a published American poet following my blog!” (I actually have said it twice!) I do enjoy this poem each year – and (as you know my household celebrates this profoundly American Feast) I had forgotten and rushed to the freezer to begin the turkey defrosting process. AND I have asked to turkey “to keep an eye out” for our misplaced Christmas tree base lost in the latest house move! Be well!

    • I know that you and your household have a certain affection for memories of time spent here in the USA; still the idea of the turkey-ridden feast being celebrated in New Zealand tickles my fancy. My fancy also enjoyed the reading you once did of this poem. Your turkey is probably not the best one to “keep an eye out” for your Christmas tree base, but if it isn’t found, you can always suspend the tree from the ceiling with invisible fishing line. Considering that you have a new puppy, that may be the best way to assure the tree remains vertical! Thanks for those lovely, ego-gratifying words and good wishes.

  4. It’s such a great poem about your farmed turkey………. I remember once, many long years ago when there was a move to make us kiwis eat turkey, there was an April Fool joke played on a TV news programme about a local turkey farmer who, to stop the birds feet from rotting in the winter rains had made gumboots [wellingtons] for his flock. They filmed a bunch of turkeys strutting about in gummies and it was quite the funniest sight. [I’ll ignore the fact that I probably wouldn’t think it that humorous now.] Congratulations on your poem being sent to an even wider audience – you deserve a big following! I hope you have a blessed thanks giving my dear Cynthia – my thoughts are with you xoxo

    • What a great laugh I am having, picturing turkeys wearing tiny wellies! Given the shape of their feet, that must have hurt. I recall one time we bought some little rubber boots for our dog….I was worried, at the time, that she was getting rock salt in between her toes on our walks. They spread the stuff all over the roads here, in winter, to melt the ice, and it was burning the dog’s toes. Anyway, the dog didn’t take well to wearing boots….she suddenly didn’t quite know how to walk and went into this crazy kind of tiptoe dance that had us laughing uproariously. Needless to say, the boots were not used.
      Thank you for all your good wishes, my friend…the same backatcha, as always.

  5. Another publication! (Imagine, if you will, a happy dance gif). How wonderful for you, Cynthia. (And I can say without fear of reprisals, wonderful for everyone else too.)

    There’s something about the mechanics of your poetry that makes it so relatable, great, and fresh. I was going to say fresh, like turkey, but that is so maladroit, even in poultry circles, so I will refrain from availing myself of the mechanics of simile, for example, and leave that to the main poet laureate of Maine.

  6. Cynthia, first of all wishes coming your way for good health, second my congratulations on the publication ( no surprise there) and third, I had read this poem before and it is fresh and new each time it is read and you have captured the “turkey” splendidly. I declined an office “Turkey lunch” for Christmas as I am vegetarian. The part of Sydney we live in is leafy and bushy and there are Brush ( some call them Bush) Turkeys around. They are not shy of humans at all, in fact that is an understatement! There are tips being offered to keep them away. I am attaching a link for your reading pleasure.:)

    • Thank you for those good wishes and congrats, Shubha. Though I am not a strict vegetarian, I don’t eat much meat anymore and turkey is certainly low on my list of favorites. Thank you for the link about the bush turkeys in Sydney. I had no idea about all that and found it very interesting to read about. But then, I always enjoy your comments, my friend. Thanks again.

  7. As usual, I’m a day late and a gobbler short in commenting on your post, but at least that makes my response easier: amen to all the compliments and good wishes offered by previous commenters.
    Happy Thanksgiving, and take care.

  8. Cynthia! I hope your health resolves to the good soon. I love this poem, though of course it is about those stupid, captive, overbred turkeys and not the wily ones found in clearings in the woods. That thing about drowning I think started as a result of the fact that the pullets seem to drown easily (perhaps because they have less protective parents than do, say, chicks). I wish you a happy thanksgiving day and a respite from the waiting on answers. And congratulations on the publication. Quite a lovely thing, that. It’s so seldom that one gets a profound yes without the storm und drang.

    • I loved reading your comment this morning, Lisa. ( I had not heard that about the turkey pullets!) I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, however you choose to spend it. I guess we all have that feeling of deserving some respite…a bit of joy…a bit of peace. Many thanks for your kindness, my friend.

  9. Cynthia, congratulations on the publication of this poem! It’s delightfully clever and I hope you’ll continue to post it every year here.

    Sorry to hear about the health problems and hope you’ll be feeling better soon. I hope you’ll still be able to enjoy Thanksgiving – and the whole holiday season – as much as possible. (I do relate to health troubles and pain issues and how they can interfere with doing what we want! There is nothing more frustrating.) Sending you good thoughts, my friend.

  10. I love the idea you are going to be published in The Lyric, Cynthia. I have to check to make sure my subscription hasn’t expire. The news makes me feel like I could dance, but I can’t.

  11. Takes me right back dear Cynthia to the Thanksgiving table, oh for the love of Turkey!! Congratulations on being published in The Lyric, a wonderful accomplishment – their readers will “gobble” up your words!! I hold you in my thoughts ~

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