Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving Day Poem

Thanksgiving Day Poem

My people were all poor people,

the ones who survived to look

in my eyes and touch my fingers

and those who didn’t, dying instead

of fever, hunger, or even a bullet

in the face, dying maybe thinking

of how their deaths were balanced

by my birth or one of the other

stories the poor tell themselves

to give themselves the strength

to crawl out of their own graves.

Not all of them had this strength

but enough did, so that I’m here

and you’re here reading this poem

about them.  What kept them going?

Maybe something in the souls

of people who start with nothing

and end with nothing, and in between

live from one handful of nothing

to the next handful of nothing.

They keep going--through the terror

in the snow and the misery

in the rain--till some guy pierces

their stomachs with a bayonet

or some sickness grips them, and still

they keep going, even when there

aren’t any rungs on the ladder

even when there aren’t any ladders.

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