Thanksgiving Poems: a Cornucopia

Thanksgiving Bounty 

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

I had no time to Hate”


I had no time to Hate –


The Grave would hinder Me –

And Life was not so

Ample I

Could finish – Enmity –


Nor had I time to Love –

But since

Some Industry must be –

The little Toil of Love –

I thought

Be large enough for Me –

.     .     .

Emily Dickinson

They might not need me – yet they might”


They might not need me – yet they might –

I’ll let my Heart be just in sight –

A smile so small as mine might be

Precisely their necessity.

Emily Dickinson_1830-1886

Emily Dickinson

Who has not found the Heaven – below”


Who has not found the Heaven – below –

Will fail of it above –

For Angels rent the House next ours,

Wherever we remove –

Paul Laurence Dunbar at age 19_1892

Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906)

A Prayer”


O Lord, the hard-won miles

Have worn my stumbling feet:

Oh, soothe me with thy smiles,

And make my life complete.


The thorns were thick and keen

Where’er I trembling trod;

The way was long between

My wounded feet and God.


Where healing waters flow

Do thou my footsteps lead.

My heart is aching so;

Thy gracious balm I need.

.     .     .

Paul Laurence Dunbar

The Sum”


A little dreaming by the way,

A little toiling day by day;

A little pain, a little strife,

A little joy,–and that is life.


A little short-lived summer’s morn,

When joy seems all so newly born,

When one day’s sky is blue above,

And one bird sings,–and that is love.


A little sickening of the years,

The tribute of a few hot tears,

Two folded hands, the failing breath,

And peace at last,–and that is death.


Just dreaming, loving, dying so,

The actors in the drama go–

A flitting picture on a wall,

Love, Death, the themes;  but is that all?

.     .     .

Guido Guinizelli (1230-1276)

Of Moderation and Tolerance”


He that has grown to wisdom hurries not,

But thinks and weighs what Reason bids him do;

And after thinking he retains his thought

Until as he conceived the fact ensue.

Let no man to o’erweening pride be wrought,

But count his state as Fortune’s gift and due.

He is a fool who deems that none has sought

The truth, save he alone, or knows it true.

Many strange birds are on the air abroad,

Nor all are of one flight or of one force,

But each after his kind dissimilar:

To each was portion’d of the breath of God,

Who gave them divers instincts from one source.

Then judge not thou thy fellows what they are.


Translation from the Italian: Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1861)

.     .     .

Luci Shaw (born 1928)

But not forgotten”


Whether or not I find the missing thing

it will always be

more than my thought of it.

Silver-heavy, somewhere it winks

in its own small privacy


the waiting game for me.


And the real treasures do not vanish.

The precious loses no value

in the spending.

A piece of hope spins out

bright, along the dark, and is not

lost in space;

verity is a burning boomerang;

love is out orbiting and will

come home.

.     .     .

Henri Nouwen (1932-1996)



Hope means to keep living

amid desperation,

and to keep humming in darkness.

Hoping is knowing that there is love,

it is trust in tomorrow

it is falling asleep

and waking again

when the sun rises.

In the midst of a gale at sea,

it is to discover land.

In the eye of another

it is to see that he understands you.

As long as there is still hope

there will also be prayer.

And God will be holding you

in His hands.

.     .     .

Walt Whitman(1819-1892)

When I heard the learn’d astronomer”


When I heard the learn’d astronomer,

When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,

When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,

When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured

with much applause in the lecture-room,

How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,

Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,

In the mystical moist night air, and from time to time,

Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

Gwendolyn Brooks

Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000)

Speech to the Young, Speech to the Progress-Toward

(Among them Nora and Henry III)”


Say to them

say to the down-keepers,

the sun-slappers,

the self-soilers,

the harmony-hushers:

Even if you are not ready for day

it cannot always be night.”

You will be right.

For that is the hard home-run.

Live not for the battles won.

Live not for the-end-of-the-song.

Live in the along.

Rabindranath Tagore in 1886

Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941)

Closed Path”


I thought that my voyage had come to its end
at the last limit of my power,

that the path before me was closed,
that provisions were exhausted,
and the time come to take shelter in a silent obscurity.

But I find that Thy Will knows no end in me.
And when old words die out on the tongue,
new melodies break forth from the heart;
and where the old tracks are lost,
new country is revealed with its wonders.

.     .     .

William Matthews (1942-1997)



How easily happiness begins by   

dicing onions. A lump of sweet butter   

slithers and swirls across the floor   

of the sauté pan, especially if its   

errant path crosses a tiny slick

of olive oil. Then a tumble of onions.


This could mean soup or risotto   

or chutney (from the Sanskrit

chatni, to lick). Slowly the onions   

go limp and then nacreous

and then what cookbooks call clear,   

though if they were eyes you could see


clearly the cataracts in them.

It’s true it can make you weep

to peel them, to unfurl and to tease   

from the taut ball first the brittle,   

caramel-coloured and decrepit

papery outside layer, the least


recent the reticent onion

wrapped around its growing body,   

for there’s nothing to an onion

but skin, and it’s true you can go on   

weeping as you go on in, through   

the moist middle skins, the sweetest


and thickest, and you can go on   

in to the core, to the bud-like,   

acrid, fibrous skins densely   

clustered there, stalky and in-

complete, and these are the most   

pungent, like the nuggets of nightmare


and rage and murmury animal   

comfort that infant humans secrete.   

This is the best domestic perfume.   

You sit down to eat with a rumour

of onions still on your twice-washed   

hands and lift to your mouth a hint


of a story about loam and usual   

endurance. It’s there when you clean up   

and rinse the wine glasses and make   

a joke, and you leave the minutest   

whiff of it on the light switch,

later, when you climb the stairs.

.     .     .     .     .

Thanksgiving Poems – 10 / 10 / 2011


Alexander Best



Green  growth  in  a  clay  pot,  citrus  peel,

cat’s  paw.

Rakes,  staves,  a  busted  clock.

Clackety  spinning  of  rusty  wheels.

Nuts  and bolts  in  a  bashed-up  box,

kicked  across  the  floor.

Hair-raising  feelings.   A  bare  ass  to  the  world.


Cool  air,  and  straight-back  chair.

Cat’s  ear.   Basket,  of  rough  weave,  trumpet-shaped.

Heavy  tasks.   Leaves,  a  stump,  some  stuff.

Unknown  Men  and  Women.

Hammered  tray and  coffee  pot  of

brass / wood,  looks  like  a

sputnik  with  minaret.

Cat’s  chin,  offered  upward.

A pyramid of lemons.  A  big-wide

cracked  maple  bowl

(flung  as  the  lover  fled,  spent  winter

face-down  in  puddle-deep  yard).

Cat  sleeping,  after  the  hunt…

no  longer  hot  and  full  of  craft.

Cotton,  wool,  gravel,

soil  of  several  consistencies.

Sandy-shale  pumice  for  ‘seasonal’  foot.

Rain,  sun  and  cloud,

of  course.   Remorse.

Being  human.

All  cats,  contented  and  cross.

Agéd  treetrunks  whose  bark  suffers  loss,

cement  and  copper,  dross.

Stones  in  groups,  free-thinking  boulders,

grasses  tufted  tiny  and  tall.


And,  put  to  no  purpose:

wedges,  clods,  mud.

Fragrance,  the  Body.

Cats-as-judges.  Purring-song.

Pig  and  cow,  fowl,

Sardines  grilled,  and  memory  of

flash-fried  scallops.

A  meal  set  down  before  me.

Snoozes.   Solitude.

Ripe  hollering,  and


Kind  people.

Passionate  ones.

Sad  or  angry  anybodies.

Cat’s  nose.



The  cast-iron  gate  at  the  top  of  the  fire  escape  swings  open,  swings  shut.   The  skinny  girl  who  lives  across  the  way  skips  down  the  metal  stairs  in  her  hideous,  clunking  platform  shoes.

The  ugly,  charming  bulldog  scampers  around  the  flat  tar-and-pebble  roof;   sniffs,  snorts,  and  whines.   Its  master  opens  the  door  a  sliver;  inside’s  a  muddle  lit  by  two  computer  screens.   The  dog  walks  itself  in  a  cold  dark  built  of  specific  small  noises;   scratches  at  the  door  then  disappears.

The  clunking  girl  returns;  dances,  graceless  and  free,  up  the  fire  escape;   the  gate  talks  on  its  hinges.

Voices  banter,  in  burnt  or  polished  tones.   Footfalls  approach,  on  ice,  mud  and  trash;

boots  crunch  over  starchy  snow.   Regular  strangers,  alley  trudgers.

These…the  night  sounds  through  a  gap  in  my  window.

Is  my  face  neutral – or  grim ?

My  face  shows  nothing,  as  I  sink  and  rise  into  the  hours  of  sleep.

Smiling,  I  am  smiling;   borne  along  these  sounds  of  night,

glad  to  be  here,  exactly  now.






Curls  of  incense,  gusts  of  cold  air,  meet  in  a  little  room.

Means  the  world  to  me,  this  space;   and  all  objects  in  it

–  broken,  brassy  –  are  beautiful.

Here,  the  eye  everywhere  falls  on

Something  that  soothes  the  human  animal.

And  you,  my  darling,  are  come  to  me – at  last –

And  you  came  in  your  own  way,  taking  me  by  surprise,

Like  the  tender  return  of  the  wanderer-cat;   or  the

Kind  face  of  the  January  sun.

And  a  crow’s  voice  tells-it-like-it-is  this  visionary  morning.

You’ve  let  me  touch  your  body…and  it’s  a

Reaching-Home  after  long  absence;  a

Perfect  walk  in  darkness,  the  jig  of  a  blind  man  with  his  sugar  cane.

You  and  I,  we  can  still  speak !

Your  field-and-forest  feet  cover  mine  richly,

and  the  whole  of  us  is  a  vigorous  stalk.

You  laid  your  head  on  my  thigh,

Remembered  my  body’s  health  to  me.

And  like  a  great  journey  in  progress,

Being  is  strong  throughout  my  limbs.

Lying  a-bed  after  pure-ancient  Moment,  our

Body  arrives  at  the  place  of  the  Soul.   And

It’s  happened  together.

Shall  we  rest ?

Upon  a  chunk  of  earth,   Heart  takes  its  ease.

Home  is  invisible,  but

Today  I  caught  a  glimpse.  And

I’m  gonna  ’scribe  it

Before  the  vivid  picture  fades.



Can’t  put  IT  in  words  but  I’ll  try…

Didn’t  mind  being  had,  hung  out  to  dry.   There

Is  food  in  mouldbread,   good’s  come  of  bad,   I’ve  no

Beefs / bitter  gripes.   And  besides:

’T’were  a  suspect  load  I  dragged.

We’re  grown  now…berry’s  bit,  dice  sown,  and  how.

Are  green  and  grey;  in  places,  brown.

My  chores ( + questionable  deeds )  are  done.

Was  clever  as  a  knife…carved  a  jigsaw  life.

Spat  nails  in  righteousness,  squandered  hate

(wrong, delicious)  down  to  the

Last  hot  penny,  glad  it’s  spent.

Cried  a  great  cry,  very  late  in  the  day,

And  dipped  a  biscuit  in  water.

And  something  worthwhile,  many-hued-and-fine,

Came  clean  via  palm-packed  cakes  of

Sand,  peppered-pinecones,  ashes  and  fat.

Crush  my  spirit,  there’s  more  of  us  yet,  and

Whisk  the  thick-and-thin  mix.

Will  not  keep  telling  lies.   There’s  a  mouthful.

Crows:   be  commas,  colons,  punctual  dots.

Underscore  me,  and  lend  me  your  sceptical  weight.

Some  plans  won’t  fly.

Dearly  beloved / abandoned,  we  are

Scattered  here  today…

Can’t  put  IT  in  words  but

I’ll  try.




Poema para El Día de Acción de Gracias


Olga García Echeverría:

“Quemando Tortillas”


Corazón, no esperes tortillas

recién hechas a mano, redondas

y perfectas como la cara de la luna

las mías, si algún día llego a hacerlas

saldrán cuadradas como hojas de papel


dices tú que en otros tiempos

las mujeres enamoraban con el sudor

el calor y la energía de sus manos

tantas gotas de deseo

envueltas en masa de maíz


de niña me gustaba hacer tortillas

de tierra, me gustaba lo húmedo del olor

y lo negro que se me metía bajo las uñas

mi cocina ideal era un mundo sin paredes

un lugar entre plantas y hierbas, bajo un cielo

que parecía espejo del mar


ahora de mujer

quiero darte mi esencia de comer

que me sientas viva en tu boca


pero la idea de hacer tortillas a mano

¡me choca! aburrida quemaría

una tras otra

una tras otra


lo que quiero es entregarme entera

caminar descalza

bailar bajo un cielo

chorreado de estrellas


en vez de tortillas

haré poema tras poema

recién hechos a mano de mujer

calientitos y blanditos

color chichiltic

sabor a mango

tamaño a luna entera

redondos y perfectos

como la espiral

de tu ombligo


la palabra, como el maíz, mi amor

también es indígena




Olga García Echeverría es una escritora, también una maestra.

Vive en Los Angeles, California.

Olga nos muestra que ¡La Poesía es Comida del Alma!




“Burning Tortillas”


Darling, don’t expect

fresh, hand-made tortillas,

perfect circles like the face of the moon

Mine, if one day I

get around to making them, will come out


like sheets of paper


You tell me that in olden times

women used to fall in love with the

sweat – heat – the energy of their own hands

so many drops of desire

enveloped in that cornflour


As a little girl I loved making “mudpies” out of

earth, loved the damp smell

and the black that got under my fingernails

my ideal kitchen was a world without walls

among plants and herbs, a sky above me

that seemed like a mirror of the sea


Now as a grown woman

I want to give you my essence – to eat – so that you’ll

feel me – alive – in your mouth


But the very idea of making tortillas – and by hand –

well, it annoys me !   Bored, I’d burn the lot,

one after another

after another


What I really want is to

give myself over entirely to

walking barefoot

dancing under a sky

gushing with stars


Instead of tortillas you’ll get

poem after poem – hot off the press – made of

A Woman who’s a little sizzler and kind-a tender,

chichiltic-coloured, mango-flavoured


Poems full-moon-sized, round and perfect like the

spiral of your navel

Because words, like corn, my love,

are also Native in us…




Olga García Echeverría is a writer and teacher, in Los Angeles, California.

She demonstrates that:  Poetry is Food for the Soul !

Translation/interpretation from Spanish into English by Alexander Best


“Sopa Azteca”– receta en forma de una décima

Josefina Beverido de Risso

“Sopa Azteca”



Diez tortillas en tirita,

de preferencia atrasadas,

epazote, hojas moradas,

caldo, un litro necesita.

Crema espesa, una tacita,

ajo, aceite, Knorr y sal,

chipotle seco, tal cual,

tres cuartos de jitomate,

media cebolla, aguacate,

queso jarocho es usual.



Si quiere una sopa azteca

que sepa y se vea exquisita,

le daré unos tips ahorita

y no esté batida o seca.

Fría la tortilla en manteca

o en aceite del normal,

escurra junto al comal.

Mientras, en cazo muy hondo,

con algo de grasa al fondo,

cueza recaudo habitual.



Ponga jitomate, un ajo,

cebolla, todo molido,

a dejarlo convertido

en un puré de agasajo.

Cuélelo, tire el cascajo,

hierva bien a fuego lento,

y ya llegado el momento

el caldo de pollo añada,

la yerba muy bien lavada

y sazone al cien por ciento.



Aparte para el final

la tortilla ya dorada

y, por cierto, desgrasada,

a que esté en su punto ideal.

Luego prepare el total

de ingredientes del listado,

coloque queso rallado,

chipotle seco, aguacate,

media crema desenlate,

en trastes por separado.



En sopero muy vistoso,

justo en el fondo, hasta abajo,

ponga de tortilla un fajo,

cubra con caldo sabroso.

Preséntelo apetitoso,

con adornos exprofeso:

bañe primero con queso,

agregue aguacate en raja,

encima un chipotle encaja,

crema da fin al proceso.



Así, calientita, humeante,

perfectamente adornada,

será bastante adulada

por sencilla y elegante.

Hasta el mejor restaurante,

invita a la maravilla

que es la sopa de tortilla;

con ella entera, crujiente,

sin batir, tan sugerente,

que al mejor comensal pilla.




“Sopa Azteca” es un poema-receta por Josefina Beverido de Risso,

de su libro:  “Recetario de cocina en décimas espinelas”

(Instituto Veracruzano de Cultura, 2007).

Josefina nos muestra que  !La Comida es Amor!