April 3, 2017

Craig Santos Perez

THANKSGIVING IN THE ANTHROPOCENE, 2015

Thank you, instant mashed potatoes, your bland taste 
makes me feel like an average American. Thank you, 

incarcerated Americans, for filling the labor shortage 
and packing potatoes in Idaho. Thank you, canned 

cranberry sauce, for your gelatinous curves. Thank you, 
Ojibwe tribe in Wisconsin, your lake is now polluted 

with phosphate-laden discharge from nearby cranberry 
bogs. Thank you, crisp green beans, you are my excuse 

for eating dessert later. Thank you, indigenous migrant 
workers, for picking the beans in Mexico’s farm belt, 

may your children survive the journey. Thank you, NAFTA, 
for making life so cheap. Thank you, Butterball Turkey, 

for the word, butterball, which I repeat all day butterball
butterball, butterball because it helps me swallow the bones 

of genocide. Thank you, dark meat for being so juicy 
(no offense, dry and fragile white meat, you matter too). 

Thank you, 90 million factory farmed turkeys, for giving 
your lives this holiday season. Thank you, factory farm 

workers, for clipping turkey toes and beaks so they don’t scratch 
and peck each other in overcrowded, dark sheds. Thank you, 

genetic engineering and antibiotics, for accelerating 
their growth. Thank you, stunning tank, for immobilizing 

most of the turkeys hanging upside down by crippled legs. 
Thank you, stainless steel knives, for your sharpened 

edge and thirst for throat. Thank you, de-feathering 
tank, for your scalding-hot water, for finally killing the last

still conscious turkeys. Thank you, turkey tails, for feeding 
Pacific Islanders all year round. Thank you, empire of 

slaughter, for never wasting your fatty leftovers. Thank you, 
tryptophan, for the promise of an afternoon nap—

I really need it. Thank you, store bought stuffing, 
for your ambiguously ethnic flavor, you remind me 

that I’m not an average American. Thank you, gravy, 
for being hot-off-the-boat and the most beautiful 

brown. Thank you, dear readers, for joining me at this 
table. Please hold hands, bow your heads, and repeat

after me: “Let us bless the hands that harvest and butcher 
our food, bless the hands that drive delivery trucks 

and stock grocery shelves, bless the hands that cooked 
and paid for this meal, bless the hands that bind 

our hands and force feed our endless mouth. 
May we forgive each other and be forgiven.

from Rattle #54, Winter 2016
2016 Rattle Poetry Prize Finalist

[download audio]

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Craig Santos Perez: “I am a native Chamorro poet originally from the Pacific Island of Guam, and I currently live and teach in Hawai’i. I write poems to raise awareness about cultural, political, social, and environmental issues. I hope my Thanksgiving poem ruins your appetite.” (website)

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