Thanksgiving In The Anthropocene, 2015

By Craig Santos Perez

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 apple pie à la mode later. Thank you, indigenous 
migrant workers, for picking the beans in Mexico’s farm belt, 
 
may your children survive the season. Thank you, NAFTA, 
for making life dirt cheap. Thank you, Butterball Turkey, 
 
for the word, butterball, which I repeat all day butterball
butterballbutterball 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 during the holidays. 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 the table 
of this poem. Please join 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.”
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