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A Thanksgiving Offering

We offer thanks to You who made this Earth
The sun and stars, for health and love and mirth.
For granting us the sacred gift of life
Along with faith to overcome all strife;
For dignity and grace beyond all measure;
And freedom—something righteous people treasure.

We thank You for Your laws, for inspiration
And for the founding of this blessed nation.
For rivers forged, the plains our forebears crossed;
For battles won despite their awful cost.
For willingness to shout, to raise a sword;
To dance like David danced before the Lord.

We thank You for the gift of eyes that see,
For ears which sift through noise and harmony.
For hands that can create, for minds that reason;
For celebrations every month and season;
For splendid beauty everywhere we look,
And drowsy evenings with a well-loved book.

We thank You for our families and friends,
For tough debates, for those who make amends;
For publishers and poets, those who read,
And researchers uncowed by where facts lead.
For giving us the words to praise or rail,
Or write of knights who seek the Holy Grail.

We thank You for the beasts that fly and crawl
For each amazing creature great and small;
For peacock feathers and the owl’s hoot,
Sequoia trees, carnations, ginger root;
For Winter shivers and for Summer heat.
For stubbornness that won’t bow to defeat.

For newborn babies nursing at the breast
And poppy fields of red for final rest.
We’re grateful for much more than pumpkin pies
Roast turkey and the bounty money buys:
For all the gifts You’ve graced us with we pray
With humble thanks on this Thanksgiving Day.

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Homestead

The winters here are cold and dreary;
The spring’s too wet, the fall’s too gray.
The summer heat can leave you weary,
But I can’t simply walk away.

We’ve farmed this land two hundred years.
This house is where you kids were born.
These rooms have known good times and tears.
See here? My name carved, old and worn.

The kitchen’s small, the stairway creaks,
The wood is rotting in the floor;
The walls are thin, the ceiling leaks;
The lock is rusted on the door.

The Christmas tree stood by that wall
And here we ate our Easter dinner.
I see your grandma in her shawl.
I see your mother growing thinner.

See past the cornfields, by the lake?
The pastures where our cattle feed.
Those highway engineers can’t break
Our roots or make me sign their deed.

My friends are gone, their houses sold;
But this is home, our hard-earned land.
To hell with all their bonds and gold.
I’m staying. Here I make my stand.

Don’t think I’m muddled, old and gray;
These eyes of mine are sharp and dry!
I love this homestead more each day.
I’ll never leave it till I die.

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Brian Yapko is a lawyer who also writes poetry. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.


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24 Responses

  1. jd

    The best Thanksgiving poem I’ve ever read, Brian. Thank you for a perfect beginning read of the day.
    “Homestead” resonates too.

    Reply
  2. Roy Eugene Peterson

    Your Thanksgiving poem is wonderful and heartwarming. We all should be thankful not only on this day but throughout the year and give thanks to the one who made it possible. I really feel the “Homestead” poem, especially since I sometimes yearn for it. Thank you for sharing these two.

    Reply
    • Brian Yapko

      Thank you, Roy! I agree — gratitude to our Creator is something we can share always. I’m glad you liked “Homestead.” This expresses, in part, the longing I’ve also had for a rural life.

      Reply
  3. Jeff Eardley

    Brian, three poems from you in a week is a bountiful bonus. “Thanksgiving” is a joy to read ( we should adopt this in the UK) and “Homestead” is a heartwarming piece for these dark days. Hope your turkeys haven’t all gone down with bird flu, like ours. I have loaded up the shotgun as I pay more attention to the pheasant that visits my garden daily, curious as to why I keep feeding him.

    Reply
    • Brian Yapko

      Thank you for this generous comment, Jeff! The Thanksgiving poems were planned; the terrorism poem was quite spontaneous. Still, I’m glad to hear that my work is a bonus! I’ve only had pheasant once in my life and I’m quite sure I prefer turkey. However, I love the image of you chasing after that pleasantly plump pheasant and I wonder if there’s a poem hiding there somewhere…

      Reply
  4. Patricia Redfern

    I was so moved by “Thanksgiving Offering”, dear Brian. One line of verse outdid the other. A cornucopia of veritable humility and beauty. You made this a day of true introspection for me!
    Thanksgiving blessings to you, for this gift of a poem!

    Patricia Redfern

    Reply
    • Brian Yapko

      Thank you, Patricia — you are so incredibly kind! I’m glad I could contribute positively to your holiday and am very grateful for your comment. I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving!

      Reply
  5. Joshua C. Frank

    Both of these are wonderful! The first is a Thanksgiving blessing that really lives up to the name, and the second is an excellent homage to living in the farmhouse of one’s forefathers.

    Reply
    • Brian Yapko

      Thank you very much, Josh. I do indeed feel great gratitude for my life. God has blessed me in too many ways to count or measure. As for Homestead, I believe that family roots and traditions are important.

      I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

      Reply
  6. Margaret Coats

    Two poems of deep feeling. The “Offering” is a cornucopia of thanks, recognizing that we receive an unending stream of gifts. Yes, we should be grateful in celebrations every month and season. “Homestead” touches a nerve for anyone who’s ever been threatened with communal practicality, and it can be read allegorically for anything that is a long-valued, carefully developed fixture in our lives that we rightfully refuse to leave.

    Reply
    • Brian Yapko

      Thank you very much, Margaret! As I mentioned to Josh, I do indeed feel blessed beyond measure and I greatly enjoy writing poetry which expresses that fact! And I love the way you’ve read between the lines in “Homestead.” The subtext here is the encroachment of a modern, uncaring world on someone who values his family roots and traditions. One is allowed to say “no” even if tempted with financial gain. Family, roots, and traditions all matter deeply.

      I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, Margaret!

      Reply
  7. C.B Anderson

    Both poems, Brian, evoked sentiments without ever being mawkish, and the rhymes were as tight and apposite as leather stockings. It’s not what I would call Whittier or Longfellow exactly, but the poems were not without elements of what one expects from those two.

    Reply
    • Brian Yapko

      Thank you very much, C.B. I wanted to throw a little savory in there along with the sweet. Glad it worked, I’m intrigued by your reference to leather stockings (which I never knew existed) and I hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

      Reply
  8. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Brian, these are two beautiful poems full of love, respect and gratitude for the wonders we have in our lives… and so much more. In ‘A Thanksgiving Offering’ (great title) I particularly like your mention of poets (of course) and the significance that reading, writing, and research play in our lives… all this in admirably wrought, mellifluous language to boot. I also like your nod to those who stand up for what they believe in – that “freedom—something righteous people treasure.” I see the SCP shining from the lines of a poem that beams with gratitude. 🙂

    “Homestead” is my favorite. For me, it brings to mind that term, “A man’s home is his castle” – a safe haven for his family. A place where memories are made. A place where traditions are upheld. A place of love, growth, beauty, freedom, and solace… a place today’s ideologies are keen to tear down because it represents everything today’s society abhors.

    Brian, thank you for these Thanksgiving treats!

    Reply
    • Brian Yapko

      Thank you very much, Susan! I’m glad you like both poems and, yes, there is a lot of influence from the SCP in my Thanksgiving poem — freedom, gratitude for poets and readers and those researchers who face facts based on evidence rather than ideology!

      I’m especially glad you like “Homestead” because I read it just the way you do — a place which is far from idealized, with that rotting wood and leaky ceiling. but where a person can be free to live on his own terms. Such places are absolutely threatened — and not just by highway builders invoking eminent domain. Our freedom to make decisions about how we want to live, what we want to think, how to raise our children, what to do with our property, is being attacked from all sides sometimes with threatening words, sometimes with cancellation, sometimes with tax incentives.

      Reply
  9. James Sale

    Gratitude is perhaps the most healthy of all psychological emotions, and this wonderfully expresses it. Fabulous Brian – we need to chew on this poem a long while!

    Reply
    • Brian Yapko

      Thank you very much, James! I, too, believe that gratitude is the healthiest of emotional states. An “attitude of gratitude” certainly has considerable bearing on my own spiritual fitness.

      Reply
  10. Dan Tuton

    Beautiful work, Brian! I especially loved the Homestead poem–it poignantly brings us back to revisit invaluable, deeply lived-in spaces in our lives.

    Reply
    • Brian Yapko

      Thank you very much, Dan! I love your comment about “deeply lived-in spaces.” It’s so true. Home means so much more than four walls and a place to hang your hat!

      Reply

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