Spanksgiving Day Poem
(Minor addendum to William Burroughs)
By Cristopher Ketcham
23 November 2017
I’ve got my daughter on the Thanksgiving trip
Down from the Catskill Mountains,
Where the holy days are every day
In the mountains of the shroud heights.
Where at the season’s end we gave thanks
To trees and salamanders and red efts,
And the last frogs before the birches and beeches turned,
And the oaks and the maples,
The wild orchards of the last berries, and bluestone walls
Built for property’s tomb
Falling into streams where the rain runs free,
Speaking in language which to others is babble.
To her and I, raise a glass: with redbark wine we drink,
And with whitebark wine and yellow-wine-talking leaves.
It is the nature of a grand speech to say, Thanks to you
Who have no big talk or tradition
Of one day only to give thanks
But give love and make love and spread love
In every romance of morning and every sun setting
And every season going and coming.
Such is Thanksgiving. The rest is an old rug
Walked on with annual precision
At the sound of a dying clock.
So I say to her, let’s laugh and call it Spanksgiving.
Which is what it is, this punishment of travel and shop.
In the cars they’re all mad, beating themselves to get
Somewhere going to families ignored for the year long,
Smacking heads that look like asses against walls
Of airlines, roads, red lights, green lights, colors
That have nothing to tell except stop and go, but mostly stop.
We shall give a sweet spanking
To all who we love, with whom we laugh and sing.
Not a hard hit, just a slap with bright
Twinkling eyes, a love slap.
There’s no way forward for such a holiday
Except to mock and laugh.
For it is mad to say thanks in the tradition
that locks history at bay.
And there it is, howling, contorted, unrecognizable:
A feathered fearing tortured creature in a cage,
And a fearing people laid with tethers,
Running for life at the Year Zero
Of the first Thanksgiving, when the mad dash
Called history across this continent started.