“[The] modern version of Thanksgiving would horrify the devout Pilgrims and Puritans who sailed to America in the 17th century. The holiday that gave rise to Thanksgiving - a "public day" that they observed regularly - was almost the precise opposite of today's celebration. It was not secular, but deeply religious. At its center was not an extravagant meal, but a long fast. And its chief concern was not bounty but redemption: to examine the faults in oneself - and one's community - with an eye toward spiritual improvement.

“When President Washington designated Nov. 26 a national thanksgiving day in honor of the new Constitution in 1789 to thank God "for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed," he also called upon Americans to "unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions."
-Eve LaPlant, Boston Globe, Nov. 18, 2007


It’s time to talk turkey about transgressions,
      to pray for pardons over the mashed
              potatoes, and to consider
sin, seriously, as we serve up the stuffing, for

 today is a day for supplication along with
             squash, for community redemption
  ‘midst the cranberries, for fasting
       between football games, and so,

we do finally (burp!) sincerely apologize

 to Ethel and Julius Rosenberg,
who will not be able to eat
   for two whole eternities,

to Joe Hill, who will write no more
  songs for our outsourced
       proletariat, to

Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Geronimo,
       whom we have not forgotten, neither you
   nor your vanished nations, which brings

to mind two very vanished Italians,
      Sacco and Vanzetti, whose lives ended just a cell
                 block away from where
           the Pilgrims first landed with
a thud,

not to mention that little matter
    of Vietnam, three million dead, ok,
   we all make mistakes, which
I guess, explains what happened to those millions of
         Black folk, a coffle enchained, wanting
   only to cross their Jordan River so “chilly

& cold,” so too Filipinos massacred, Guatemalans
overthrown, Iranians tortured, Chicanos dispossessed,
assassinations, coups, the renditions of late,

and always Salvador Allende, dying, gun in hand in that bombed-
-out palace (yes, it happened one September…I remember),

and let’s not forget Susan B. Anthony busted for
voting, those Issei and Nissei exiled far from home, or
Matthew Shepard dying there, alone, by that fence,

and while we’re at it, let’s spare a thought for

Eugene Debs imprisoned for calling war by its proper name,
Anne Hutchinson clothed in the garments of absolute integrity,
the Scottsboro Boys forced to watch their imprisoned boyhoods,
                all those who still go hungry, homeless–utterly broken,
                        with nothing (not even a subway token)
               in America, with its foreclosures, fears­–its forgotten,,

so I do beseech You to “to pardon our national and
and other transgressions,” and to please,
please, pass the pecan pie.

September 21, 2007


All written material © Bill Schechter, 2016
Contact Bill Schechter