Years ago—I still remember: final Thursday in November,
I was in my kitchen cooking food to rival feasts of yore;
To and fro sashaying, hopping, slicing, dicing, mincing, chopping,
Dish by dish—no time for stopping, for so daunting was the chore:
Playing hostess for Thanksgiving—such a monumental chore
____I had never faced before.

Busying myself with basting, reading recipes, and tasting,
I was filled with gratitude for all the things that I adore.
Blithely counting every blessing, I prepared some cornbread dressing,
Barely wond’ring, never guessing what the future had in store;
Thankful for both past and present, what the future had in store
____On this day I could ignore.

When at last I’d finished baking, how my lower back was aching!
Yet my heart was filled with gladness, and my face a smile wore:
After hours of preparation, it was time for celebration,
And with great anticipation I received folks at the door;
Jubilant anticipation as I opened wide the door
____To the guests I’d labored for.

Round the table, bright and perky, we all dined on roasted turkey,
Squash, potatoes, stuffing, gravy, bread, and casseroles galore.
Soon our appetites were slowing; nonetheless we kept on going,
In our swelling bellies stowing two desserts, or three, or four—
So much succulent dessert, we had to eat, like, three or four,
____Till our stomachs were quite sore.

Then all those who still were able helped me—clearing off the table,
Bringing back into the kitchen ample leftovers to store.
Next: what could be fitter closing than to celebrate by dozing?
Soon the guests were all reposing on the sofas and the floor,
Nodding, napping, sweetly dreaming on the sofas and the floor.
____Who could ever ask for more?

This I pondered, reminiscing: not one thing desired was missing;
Such abundance chased away the slightest thought of being poor.
Suddenly, I had the notion there was something still in motion
‘Mid the softly slumbering ocean and its low collective roar;
Yes, I thought I’d heard a noise above the low collective roar
____That was not just one more snore.

Then—most clearly—something rustled; to my feet I leapt and hustled
(Or I tried to hustle, rather, dodging dreamers on the floor)
To the kitchen, quickly bounding, stopping short with heart a-pounding
When I spied the most astounding sight before my icebox door:
An enormous turkey vulture tugging at my icebox door
____Was the sound I’d heard before.

Ah, this bird was sure no craven (out-sized any crow or raven
That had ever fluttered through the grandest poetry of yore)—
Wasting not a moment perching, awkwardly the thing was lurching
Through my kitchen, bobbing, searching for some carcasses to score;
Just a bold, brash buzzard seeking some fresh carcasses to score—
____Or, perhaps, a petit four?

Bothered by this home invasion; loath to let it spoil th’ occasion—
Such were my conflicting feelings as I viewed the brutish boor.
So I mustered up some caring, genuine, unselfish sharing
For this feathered fowl, whose daring search had brought it to implore;
This vile vulture, which had come some light refreshment to implore—
____How could I his plight ignore?

There he stood, his feathers puffing, watching as I served him stuffing,
Bones, and giblets heaped together (to resemble natural gore),
And, when I had finished styling thus the food that I was piling,
I could swear the bird was smiling as he ravenously tore—
With a shocking lack of manners—through those turkey scraps he tore.
____Then that beast said, “Gimme more!”

“Please and thank you, bird,” I grumbled, and some more choice words I mumbled,
But the creature, quite unflustered, could not grasp why I was sore.
Then, ere I had finished scolding, that large vulture, wings unfolding,
Offered me what he’d been holding—dumped it, rather, on the floor:
Ads and flyers, discounts, coupons, scattered there upon my floor
____With their message: Gimme more!

Such obnoxious advertising on this day was most surprising
(This day, set apart for stating all that we are thankful for);
Every miracle of science, every gadget and appliance,
Dazzling in their defiance of my gladness heretofore;
Countless items challenging the gladness I had heretofore,
____Whisp’ring to me, “gimme more.”

Shocked into dissatisfaction (yet ashamed of my reaction),
Paralyzed, I stood and ogled ads from every shop and store,
Till a drowsy guest, half-waking from the nap that she was taking,
Spoke, the wretched silence breaking—spoke the words that could restore;
Though she murmured, still half-sleeping, yet my sense she could restore—
____“Thanks,” she sighed, “I need no more”—

Uttered out of peaceful dreaming, welcome words, like beacons, beaming,
Shining, scattering the darkness of the greed I so abhor.
“This is more than I can swallow: having things, but feeling hollow.
Out they go, and you will follow!” said I, as each ad I tore—
Each and every advertisement littering my floor I tore.
____Still the bird croaked, “Gimme MORE!”

“Beastly bird!” Now I was yelling, “I don’t want a thing you’re selling.
I’m quite satisfied, I tell you; I am happy to the core!
All this junk, although you love it, I am in no mood to covet—
You can take your greed and shove it! You’re becoming quite a bore.”
And that rude, red-headed buzzard (who was really quite a bore)
____Yet protested, “Gimme more!”

“Liar,” howled I, “foul deceiver!” and I wildly waved my cleaver,
“Take your greedy ‘gimme’ gospel to some far off, distant shore.
I am through with being bullied! Leave my happiness unsullied,
Disappear from my life fully—darken nevermore my door.
Take your greed from out my house, and take yourself out through my door;
____Bring your ‘gimme more’ no more!”

Only thus—with threats and shouting, and some fierce invective spouting—
Did I manage to escort the feathered felon out the door.
Rid of his repulsive squealing, my attention turned to healing
And recovering the feeling of contentment from before—
All the peace and satisfaction that was filling me before
____He first grunted, “Gimme more.”

Off he flew into the morrow, luring folks to spend and borrow,
So this holiday I merely nearly managed to restore:
Ever since—it’s most appalling—once a year the bird comes calling,
And its flight on Friday falling clouds the day we’re thankful for—
Yes, its evil shadow falling back on all we’re thankful for
____Shall be lifted—nevermore.

 

 

Anna J. Arredondo grew up in Pennsylvania, where she fell in love with poetry from a young age. After living in Mexico for six years, during which time she met and married her husband, she returned to Pennsylvania for one more decade. An engineer by education, home educator by choice, and poet by preference, she relocated in 2017 and currently resides in Westminster, CO with her husband and three school-age children. Anna has recently had poems published in The Lyric and Time of Singing.


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18 Responses

  1. Rod

    I absolutely love this – a true work of art Anna. Thank you for sharing – I imagine you enjoyed writing it ! Kindest regards to you. Rod

    Reply
    • Anna J. Arredondo

      Thank you, Rod. I certainly did enjoy writing it! It is a fun and challenging meter to work with.

      Reply
  2. James A. Tweedie

    A witty, inspired, well-written poetic riff on Thanksgiving and Black Friday? Who’da thunk it! I’m glad you did. A winning start to my day, fer sure!

    Reply
    • Anna J. Arredondo

      Thanks to all for your comments!

      James, I’m glad you caught my reference there; I regret that I didn’t have it finished in time to submit before Thanksgiving…

      Reply
  3. Amy Foreman

    Terrific, Anna: the rhythm, the satire, the wit. And your internal rhymes are perfect! This was brilliantly done!

    Reply
  4. Waldeci Erebus

    As I mentioned on another strand, I am sorry I could not have gotten to Ms. Arredondo’s striking “The Turkey Vulture” earlier than I have. Time passes so quickly, and there is so much to do—most of it never being accomplished. But “The Turkey Vulture” is certainly accomplished. The richness of her diction is exactly what I am striving for in my own poetry. And Poe’s experiments in meter, are exactly what is needed here in the New Millennium. Are we up to the task?

    For me, Poe is the first great American Poet, and “The Raven” the foremost American Poem. I feel many other American poets are superior to Poe, like T. S. Eliot, but he remains for me, one of our most powerful literary figures for his short stories, his criticism, and “The Raven”. I think Poe fails everywhere else in his poetry; but in “The Raven” he hits, what Reid McGrath would call, a home run. A recent poem of mine on the latest coronavirus, actually drew from Poe’s Prose, remarkable in so many of his extraordinary tales, like “The Sphinx”, which I drew from, and masterpieces, like “The Fall of the House of Usher”.

    Reply
  5. Monty

    I’m currently in Nepal for my winter sabbatical, and one of the consequences of being in such a deliciously-primitive country is the primitivism of its internet. Not being a big internet user, and a non-user of any social-media, it ain’t a problem for me. But I usually go off to find a bit of wifi somewhere once a week or so . . just for a few hours, to do some emails, etc, and have a peek at SCP. As such, it’s purely by chance as to what I see on these pages.. and what I miss. Hence, I can’t tell you how grateful I am, Anna, that I managed to catch your stunning masterpiece above; I shudder to think of how easily I could’ve missed it.

    We sometimes hear of one as having ‘a good command of our language’, but yours is off the scale! To write such a lengthy piece as this, and yet consistently maintain the unerring musical flow throughout – and all within the complexities of an internally-rhyming poem – can only be achieved by one with an exceptionally extensive vocabulary such as yours. I used the above word ‘stunning’ not as a polite superlative, but in response to the stunning extent of your use of language and phraseology. What a gift you’ve been blessed with.

    This piece deserves the widest possible audience, Anna: and I hope it somehow finds it. There must be any number of humorous-poetry-anthologies out there whose pages would be graced by your poem.

    With my highest praise . .

    p.s. Of course you don’t have to tell me, but I find myself mildly curious as to how long it took you to compose your poem: from the very start to the absolute finish.

    Reply
    • Anna J. Arredondo

      Thank you, Monty, for such high praise. I admit I was very pleased with this one. It’s the poem I’ve put the most actual “work” into out of all of them.

      I went back to my little pocket notebook to track down the timeline of the composition of my poem:

      I was on a mission to write an excellent poem to submit to the SCP poetry contest when, on October 23 it seems, the idea first popped into my head to do a parody of The Raven. Since November was around the corner, I thought I would pen “The Turkey” in honor of Thanksgiving. After brainstorming lists of rhyming words and writing a couple random pairs of lines, I realized I was stuck without a storyline.

      The idea bounced around in the back of my mind for a few weeks until I hit on the idea of the turkey vulture in mid-November, and a little story began to form. I did some online research about turkey vultures (of which the only fact I used was that they have red heads), read and re-read The Raven several times, and jotted down a few lines here and there.

      It wasn’t until Thanksgiving had passed that I finally had opportunity to sit down and “go at it”. On two successive evenings in the beginning of December I churned out all 18 stanzas and had my first draft completed on December 6. I shared the poem with a handful of people and then just let it sit and proof for a few days.

      I did one major revision, let it sit, tweaked it some more, had someone read the entire thing aloud to me to make sure it really sounded like it did in my mind, and did one last tiny edit. Then I submitted it on December 17.

      So, a little over a month and a half from the seed of the idea to its ultimate fruition. This answer is probably more than you were looking for, but I was curious to answer that question quantitatively for myself.

      Reply
      • Monty

        No, the answer is NOT more than I was looking for, Anna. In fact, I’d like more; but in the sense of the actual composure time. I know you said the concept had been floating around in your mind for a month or so, and you were writing notes/ doing research, etc . . but what I was getting at was the amount of time you were actually sat down composing the poem itself. You mentioned the two nights in December, and some revising thereafter; but for roughly how long (in hours) do you think you were actually sat down composing/revising the piece? 10 hours, 20, 30, more?

      • Anna J. Arredondo

        Hi Monty,

        Looking more closely at the actual time spent composing, it turns out it was the during the evening of December 5 and then the morning of the next day. Midday on the 6th I sent that first draft out to a couple people by email.

        I think I spent roughly between an hour or two each on the 5th and 6th churning out all the stanzas.

        Probably another hour or two total on rereading and revising? Good thing I did so, because I caught myself in one stanza having rhymed “more” with itself three times!

        So maybe around six hours in all with pen in hand?

      • Monty

        What? It’s difficult for me to comprehend that, Anna; a lengthy, internally-rhyming poem composed in only 6 hours! If that was me, I’d be satisfied to complete three stanzas in that time. You’re so lucky; words must pour out of you like sweat in a sauna.

        Keep sweating . .

  6. Paul Oratofsky

    This was very clear and well-written, and very interesting – to me. Thanks for this, Anna. It shows skill, fortitude, organization, ingenuity, poetic intuition, experience, brilliance, love of the art, and much more. Certainly charm.

    Reply

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