Thanksgiving Poems

A broad collection of Thanksgiving poetry....

Blessed are those who remain grateful in all of life's circumstances










The Pilgrims Came
by Annette Wynne

The Pilgrims came across the sea,
And never thought of you and me;
And yet it's very strange the way
We think of them Thanksgiving day.

We tell their story, old and true
Of how they sailed across the blue,
And found a new land to be free
And built their homes quite near the sea.

Every child knows well the tale
Of how they bravely turned the sail
And journeyed many a day and night,
To worship God as they thought right.


The Landing of the Pilgrims
by Felicia Dorothea Hemans

The breaking waves dashed high,
On a stern and rock-bound coast,
And the woods against a stormy sky
Their giant branches tossed;

And the heavy night hung dark
The hills and waters o'er,
When a band of exiles moored their bark
On the wild New England shore.

Not as the conqueror comes,
They, the true-hearted came;
Not with the roll of the stirring drums,
And the trumpet that sings of fame;

Not as the flying come,
In silence and in fear;--
They shook the depths of the desert gloom
With their hymns of lofty cheer.

Amidst the storm they sang,
And the stars heard, and the sea;
And the sounding aisles of the dim woods rang
To the anthem of the free!

The ocean eagle soared
From his nest by the white wave's foam;
And the rocking pines of the forest roared--
This was their welcome home!

There were men with hoary hair
Amidst that pilgrim band:
Why had they come to wither there,
Away from their childhood's land?

There was woman's fearless eye,
Lit by her deep love's truth;
There was manhood's brow serenely high,
And the fiery heart of youth.

What sought they thus afar?
Bright jewels of the mine?
The wealth of seas, the spoils of war?--
They sought a faith's pure shrine!

Ay, call it holy ground,
The soil where first they trod.
They have left unstained what there they found--
Freedom to worship God.


Thanksgiving Day
by Lydia Maria Child

Over the river and through the wood,
To Grandfather's house we go;
The horse knows the way
To carry the sleigh
Through the white and drifted snow.

Over the river and through the wood,
Oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes,
And bites the nose,
As over the ground we go.

Over the river and through the wood,
Trot fast, my dapple gray!
Spring over the ground,
Like a hunting hound,
For this is Thanksgiving-Day.

Over the river and through the wood,
And straight through the barnyard gate!
We seem to go
Extremely slow,
It is so hard to wait!

Over the river and through the wood;
Now Grandmother's cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun!
Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie


One Blessed, Single Plateful

by Deborah Ann Belka

On Thanksgiving day this year,
before the turkey starts roasting
my thanks, I will be singing
for the dinner I’ll be hosting.

I will set the dining table,
with the gratitude I feel
before anyone comes
to feast upon the meal.

I will spread the hope,
that I’m feeling inside
before I even serve . . .
the food that God supplied.

I will polish up on all,
the reasons I’m thankful
before I even dish up
one blessed, single plateful.

On Thanksgiving day this year,
before the food I present
I will let everyone know . . .
just why it is I'm so content


Highest Thanks
by Douglas Knighton

O God Most High, you reign supreme above
While petty sovereigns squabble here with claims
About their mighty powers to push and shove
Their rivals, hoping to enhance their names.
Earth’s kings preside with bluster and profane
Attempts to garner praise for fleeting fame;
But all their pomp is ultimately vain,
For you, Most High, deserve the most acclaim.
O God Most High, your name evokes our praise,
For righteousness adorns your gracious reign;
Your faithfulness flows into all our days
And kindness fills the breadth of your domain.
So as your righteous, godly saints we raise
Our thanks with joy in grateful songs of praise


What Happened To Thanksgiving Day?

by Margaret Cagle

The family gathered at Grandma's house.
It was the tradition year after year.
When Thanksgiving Day rolled around,
They all were expected to be here.

They sat down to a Thanksgiving meal,
And Uncle John gave thanks for the food.
Some wanted the meal to be over,
But they really didn't want to be rude.

They enjoyed the turkey and fixings
As they chattered about family news.
Then the ladies brought out desserts,
So many from which they could choose.

Then Cousin Jane arose to excuse herself.
"Grandma, your pies look really swell,
But Black Friday has already started,
And I am now late for a special sale."

Soon Cousin Tim slipped from his chair.
He said "Goodbye" to one and all.
"I am meeting my friends at the movies.
There's a new one showing at the mall."

Then Uncle Jim heard a honking horn.
"That must be my co-worker, Nate.
We're hunting for the rest of the day.
Grandma, the meal was just great!"

At the day's end, Grandma was alone,
And she got down on her knees to pray.
"I love You, Lord, and I give You thanks,
But what happened to Thanksgiving Day?"


Grace of Gratitude
by Kittredge

The day has dissipated into dusk,
and we have come together.
Each one of us our path has run,
and returned unhurt with setting sun
to enjoy our bonds that tether.

We thank you Lord for this reunion
and food that soon will satiate.
Continue to guard us through the night
until dark recedes from morning's light.
Our blessings we shall contemplate.

In the taking of this sustenance,
we express thanks for this good meal,
and remember Jesus who shared His plate
while telling of His pending fate.
May He know the gratitude we feel.



Thank You Lord

by Roger Horsch

I thank you Lord for hearing me
When I get on my knees to pray
I thank you Lord every day for life
As I go from day to day.

I thank you Lord for your sacrifice
When you died on the cross for me
I once walked through life being blinded
But, because of you I now can see.

I thank you Lord for the miracles you send
Your love, forgiveness and grace
I thank you Lord for carrying me
When I could no longer set the pace.

I thank you Lord for lifting me
My spirit you lift so high
I thank you Lord when I'm feeling down
'cause you give me the will to try.

You gave me the path to eternal life
And, only you my Lord know when
The day I can thank you face to face
In Jesus name, Amen


Day Star
by Deborah Ann Belka

My Day Star arises,
with the morning light
He shines in dark places
all through the night.

When the dawn breaks,
He gets up with me
and all of His splendor
my eyes, open to see.

He enlightens my soul,
with His glory and grace
and His love I can feel
bringing joy to my face.

His Spirit rests on me,
in my soul, He quakes
when I read His Word
my heart to Him shapes.

I seek Him each morn,
His wisdom He bestows
the Light of the world
in my life, forever glows


Thanksgiving In The USA

by Margaret Cagle

Near the end of November in the USA
Is our national Thanksgiving Day.
We close stores, schools, and banks
And give to God our special thanks.

It is a time for us to celebrate
From coast to coast and state to state.
We think of when the Pilgrims came
To these shores in freedom's name.

The first Thanksgiving was long ago.
This bit of history we all know.
A time for thanking their God above
Was set aside to show their love.

When blessings came, they had a feast.
They were not sorry in the least
For coming to this vast, barren land.
For freedom to worship, they did stand.

From that first Thanksgiving Day
Until the present one we can say,
"Thank you, God, for blessings great!
You are the reason we celebrate!


My Mayflower Adventures
by Margaret Cagle

In November of sixty-seven,
We decided to take a trip.
We wanted to see the replica
Of the famous Mayflower ship.

My husband worked near Boston,
So Plymouth was not far away.
We could drive over to the ship
And return home that same day.

David was in the first grade.
Our son was just six-years-old.
"Pilgrims came on the Mayflower,"
In school he had been told.

In order to go on the Mayflower,
We'd have to pay an entrance fee,
And we only had a dollar in cash,
Not enough for a group of three.

"I really don't feel like going
On the Mayflower," I did declare.
I was expecting our second child,
So I could not climb on there.

"If I take David on the ship,
I have to have one dollar more."
My husband seemed discouraged
As we walked along the shore.

I silently prayed that the Lord
Would somehow provide a way
For my husband to take our son
On the Mayflower ship that day.

A breeze was blowing the leaves
As we continued walking that day.
I looked down to see a dollar
Blowing straight toward my way.

I picked up the God-sent dollar.
We rejoiced for answered prayer.
David said as he went with his dad,
"Mom, one day you can go on there."

It was thirty-four years later,
After my husband had passed away,
I took a trip with my family.
We went to Plymouth one day.

We all went on the Mayflower ship.
I remembered what David had said.
I was astonished at the amazing way
That our awesome Lord had led


A Thanksgiving Blessing
by Margaret Cagle

Greta was a single parent.
She had one little boy.
She had a son named Kevin.
He was her pride and joy.

Kevin came home from school.
Thanksgiving was a day away.
He asked, "Will we have turkey
To eat on Thanksgiving Day?"

"No, Son, there's no turkey.
Rent was due; I had to pay it.
The late fee is too high to pay,
So I really couldn't delay it."

"We have some turkey hot dogs,
Corn, potatoes, and pudding too.
We'll have enough to eat, Son.
There's plenty for me and you."

"Mom, I'm praying for a turkey."
So Kevin dropped to his knees.
"Lord, please send us a turkey
To eat on Thanksgiving, please."

Nightfall came, and little Kevin
Was getting ready to go to bed.
"Mommy, I am still praying for
God to send a turkey," he said.

"Okay, Kevin dear," said Greta.
She felt worse than ever before.
Then Greta became very startled
By a knock on the front door.

It was her next door neighbor.
It was friendly Mister Foxx.
He was holding something heavy
In a hugh, clumsy cardboard box.

"Do you all have a turkey, Greta?"
"No, Kevin is praying for one."
"Well, now his prayer is answered.
Here's one for you and your son."

"Thank you so much, Mr. Foxx!
I'm thankful for those who care!"
"Praise the Lord!" yelled Kevin.
I know the Lord answers prayer!


Age of Entitlement
by Janet Martin

What spurs the seasons of this life
Which bleed upon the sod?
We squander love and hate alike
To serve lust's lesser god

Freedom is not entitlement
To please our shallow pride
On autumn's crimson diadem
Brave men of honor died

Beneath the gray November sky
Beneath the warm spring sun
Beneath the fireworks of July
Our freedom has begun

Dare we to spill one hallowed breath
In thoughtless chivalry,
Or live as though we own the earth
Bought once through history?

Seasons and mankind mark the soil
Where soldier's blood-drops fell
If freedom's cost evades our toil
Then we are bound for hell

What spurs the seasons treading time?
Tis not entitlement
That brings the rain or sun to shine
On meadows that we plant

We gather harvest of the field
Yet, who evokes the sod?
Can we preserve our freedom's shield
Yet spurn the hand of God?

Excess of things leaves senses dulled
To need and poverty
Our reckoning is not annulled
By our prosperity

Winter, spring, summer and fall
Will we be diligent?
Or blindly stumble through them all
Pleading entitlement?


Thanksgiving in Minnesota
by George Cuff

We would wake up early Thanksgiving morn to special kitchen sounds.
Mom was preparing to roast the stuffed turkey
until it was golden brown.
The kitchen looked like a surgical suite with knives
and utensils galore.
There were potatoes to peel, pies to be cut
and cranberries from the store.

"It's cereal for you my boys," she said,
"and then you can play outdoors.
But first get dressed and help your dad finish the morning chores.
Gather the eggs and feed the chickens; dress warm; its cold out today.
After breakfast there will be time to go outside and play."

We had a big barn with hay stored up top to feed our livestock cattle.
We played war in hay-bale mountains winning many a battle.
After the hay was cleared on one end, we created a basketball court.
Minnesota boys playing in the barn enjoying a winter sport.

The weather may be chilling outside but
 the livestock kept the barn warm.
Inside the lighted basketball hoop; outside a white winter storm.
Grandpa and Grandma arrived before noon to join the celebration.
Aunts and uncles and cousins would come
to stay for the day's duration.

Uncle Jack would play basketball with the older girls and boys.
The basketball court up in the barn was filled with joyful noise.
Dad and Grandpa and Uncle Bob would watch the Macy's parade,
While Mom and Lois, Eldora and Grandma
prepared a feast homemade.

Pretty soon we would hear the call that it was time to enjoy the feast.
Grandpa would pray thanking the Lord
 for blessings that had increased.
Then we would eat an incredible meal of turkey, potatoes and gravy,
Yams, green beans and cranberry sauce with flavor tart and savory.

The parents would talk about the pies and decide to serve it later.
All the cousins would go outside to show their skill as skaters.
Home-made ice rinks are easy to make in a cold Minnesota clime.
Ice skates and hockey are a great way to enjoy the winter time.

After some skating the tables were cleared and games set out to play.
Many a fierce Monopoly game took place on Thanksgiving Day.
Some played dominos, the girls played Rummy,
and some would read a book,
But my favorite game (and it's not for dummies)
is a game called Rook.

Somewhere in the middle of all this wonderful family activity
The moms would serve the various pies,
which only enhanced the festivity.
Pie and turkey and left over feast were laid out for the taking.
We would eat and indulge ourselves until our stomach was aching.

Grandpa and Grandma, Mom and Dad, Aunt Lois and Uncle Jack,
Bob and Eldora, Cherrie and Bobbie and Sheila coming last,
Brian and Greg and Bradley Todd, my infant baby brother,
What a blessing to have a family that loves and enjoys each other!

The years have passed and were far apart
 but our memories are alive.
Each year we recall them affectionately when the holidays arrive.
So here's a greeting to all my kin with love
 from the depths of my heart.
I remember you warmly with love today
even though we're miles apart



by Paul Zimmerman Jr.

It's that time of year again
The leaves scattered on the ground
To give thanks to God, Amen !
For our loved ones all around

I know I haven't said it much
And not very often sad to say
But I sure love my mom and dad
And my sister every day

I'm grateful for my nieces too
Seeing them grow up was a blast
The early years just moved so slow
The latter much too fast

God has blessed us one and all
Through good times and the bad
Sometimes the only ones to call
Were the family that we had

So I come before you now
With gratitude and prayer
That we are gathered once again
All together here

To thank the Lord for all we have
And for those of whom we care
For all of our provisions now
At this most special time of year

Bless this time and bless our food
And bless us when we go
Thank you for the memories of
Another year we've come to know


The Voice of Thanksgiving
by Deborah Ann Belka

May the voice of thanksgiving,
be heard joyfully today . . .
may words of gratefulness
be sung heartily as we pray.

May our heartfelt thoughts,
offer God His due praise
may we be grateful
as our thanks to Him we raise.

May the voice of gratitude,
be heard loud and clear
may our humble thanks
be detected by every ear.

May our praises be told,
at our dinner tables
may our thanks go beyond
Thanksgiving Day staples.

May the voice of thanksgiving,
be our joyful noise today . . .
may our words of gratitude
be heard by God everyday


Beyond Thanksgiving Day

by Deborah Ann Belka

Thanksgiving is more,
than food and football
it goes way beyond . . .
turkey on the table.

Thanksgiving isn't about,
just one meal we share
it goes way further . . .
then a dinner prayer.

Thanksgiving is about,
each day of the year
making sure our praise
God is able to hear.

Thanksgiving isn't about,
a single day with family
it goes way past . . .
our sated apathy.

Thanksgiving is about,
being thankful for all things
no matter what in this life . . .


 Heartfelt Graditude
by Deborah Ann Belka

Lord, may I always have,
an appreciative attitude
one filled with adoration
thanksgiving and gratitude.

May I always be grateful,
whether sick or healthy
may I always be thankful
be I penniless or wealthy.

Lord, may I be thankful,
to You, for all things
happy with the provision
Your daily grace brings.

May I always be glad,
to receive Your benefits
may my praise to You
to the world be evident.

Lord, may I always have,
a heartfelt gratitude . . .
coursing through my life
gushing out in my attitude


Fire Dreams

by Carl Sandburg

I remember here by the fire,
In the flickering reds and saffrons,
They came in a ramshackle tub,
Pilgrims in tall hats,
Pilgrims of iron jaws,
Drifting by weeks on beaten seas,
And the random chapters say
They were glad and sang to God.

And so
Since the iron-jawed men sat down
And said, “Thanks, O God,"
For life and soup and a little less
Than a hobo handout to-day,
Since gray winds blew gray patterns of sleet on Plymouth Rock,
Since the iron-jawed men sang “Thanks, O God,"
You and I, O Child of the West,
Remember more than ever
November and the hunter’s moon,
November and the yellow-spotted hills.

And so
In the name of the iron-jawed men
I will stand up and say yes till the finish is come and gone.
God of all broken hearts, empty hands, sleeping soldiers,
God of all star-flung beaches of night sky,
I and my love-child stand up together to-day and sing: “Thanks, O God"


Thanksgiving Time
poem by Langston Hughes

When the night winds whistle through the
 trees and blow the crisp brown leaves a-crackling down,
When the autumn moon is big and yellow-orange and round,
When old Jack Frost is sparkling on the ground,
It's Thanksgiving Time!

When the pantry jars are full of mince-meat and
 the shelves are laden with sweet spices for a cake,
When the butcher man sends up a turkey nice and fat to bake,
When the stores are crammed with everything ingenious cooks can make,
It's Thanksgiving Time!

When the gales of coming winter outside your window howl,
When the air is sharp and cheery so it drives away your scowl,
When one's appetite craves turkey and will have no other fowl,
It's Thanksgiving Time!




Gettin’ together to smile an’ rejoice,
An’ eatin’ an’ laughin’ with folks of your choice;
An’ kissin’ the girls an’ declarin’ that they
Are growin’ more beautiful day after day;
Chattin’ an’ braggin’ a bit with the men,
Buildin’ the old family circle again;
Livin’ the wholesome an’ old-fashioned cheer,
Just for awhile at the end of the year.

Greetings fly fast as we crowd through the door
And under the old roof we gather once more
Just as we did when the youngsters were small;
Mother’s a little bit grayer, that’s all.
Father’s a little bit older, but still
Ready to romp an’ to laugh with a will.
Here we are back at the table again
Tellin’ our stories as women an’ men.

Bowed are our heads for a moment in prayer;
Oh, but we’re grateful an’ glad to be there.
Home from the east land an’ home from the west,
Home with the folks that are dearest an’ best.
Out of the sham of the cities afar
We’ve come for a time to be just what we are.
Here we can talk of ourselves an’ be frank,
Forgettin’ position an’ station an’ rank.

Give me the end of the year an’ its fun
When most of the plannin’ an’ toilin’ is done;
Bring all the wanderers home to the nest,
Let me sit down with the ones I love best,
Hear the old voices still ringin’ with song,
See the old faces unblemished by wrong,
See the old table with all of its chairs
An’ I’ll put soul in my Thanksgivin’ prayers


Thanksgiving Magic

Thanksgiving Day I like to see
Our cook perform her witchery.
She turns a pumpkin into pie
As easily as you or I
Can wave a hand or wink an eye.
She takes leftover bread and muffin
And changes them to turkey stuffin’.
She changes cranberries to sauce
And meats to stews and stews to broths;
And when she mixes gingerbread
It turns into a man instead
With frosting collar ’round his throat
And raisin buttons down his coat.
Oh, some like magic made by wands,
   And some read magic out of books,
And some like fairy spells and charms
   But I like magic made by cooks


First Thanksgiving

When she comes back, from college, I will see
the skin of her upper arms, cool,
matte, glossy. She will hug me, my old
soupy chest against her breasts,
I will smell her hair! She will sleep in this apartment,
her sleep like an untamed, good object,
like a soul in a body. She came into my life the
second great arrival, after him, fresh
from the other world—which lay, from within him,
within me. Those nights, I fed her to sleep,
week after week, the moon rising,
and setting, and waxing—whirling, over the months,
in a slow blur, around our planet.
Now she doesn’t need love like that, she has
had it. She will walk in glowing, we will talk,
and then, when she’s fast asleep, I’ll exult
to have her in that room again,
behind that door! As a child, I caught
bees, by the wings, and held them, some seconds,
looked into their wild faces,
listened to them sing, then tossed them back
into the air—I remember the moment the
arc of my toss swerved, and they entered
the corrected curve of their departure


Thanksgiving for Two

The adults we call our children will not be arriving
with their children in tow for Thanksgiving.
We must make our feast ourselves,

slice our half-ham, indulge, fill our plates,
potatoes and green beans
carried to our table near the window.

We are the feast, plenty of years,
arguments. I’m thinking the whole bundle of it
rolls out like a white tablecloth. We wanted

to be good company for one another.
Little did we know that first picnic
how this would go. Your hair was thick,

mine long and easy; we climbed a bluff
to look over a storybook plain. We chose
our spot as high as we could, to see

the river and the checkerboard fields.
What we didn’t see was this day, in
our pajamas if we want to,

wrinkled hands strong, wine
in juice glasses, toasting
whatever’s next,

the decades of side-by-side,
our great good luck


Perhaps the World Ends Here

The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.

The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table.
So it has been since creation, and it will go on.

We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners.
They scrape their knees under it.

It is here that children are given instructions on what it
means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.

At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.

Our dreams drink coffee with us as they
put their arms around our children. They laugh
with us at our poor falling-down selves and as we
put ourselves back together once again at the table.

This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella in the sun.

Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is a place
 to hide in the shadow of terror. A place to celebrate the terrible victory.

We have given birth on this table, and have prepared
our parents for burial here.

At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering
and remorse. We give thanks.

Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table,
while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite


When the Frost is on the Punkin


When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock,
And you hear the kyouck and gobble of the struttin’ turkey-cock,
And the clackin’ of the guineys, and the cluckin’ of the hens,
And the rooster’s hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence;
O, it’s then’s the times a feller is a-feelin’ at his best,
With the risin’ sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest,
As he leaves the house, bareheaded, and goes out to feed the stock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock.

They’s something kindo’ harty-like about the atmusfere
When the heat of summer’s over and the coolin’ fall is here—
Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossums on the trees,
And the mumble of the hummin’-birds and buzzin’ of the bees;
But the air’s so appetizin’; and the landscape through the haze
Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days
Is a pictur’ that no painter has the colorin’ to mock—
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock.

The husky, rusty russel of the tossels of the corn,
And the raspin’ of the tangled leaves, as golden as the morn;
The stubble in the furries—kindo’ lonesome-like, but still
A-preachin’ sermuns to us of the barns they growed to fill;
The strawstack in the medder, and the reaper in the shed;
The hosses in theyr stalls below—the clover over-head!—
O, it sets my hart a-clickin’ like the tickin’ of a clock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock!

Then your apples all is gethered, and the ones a feller keeps
Is poured around the celler-floor in red and yeller heaps;
And your cider-makin’ ’s over, and your wimmern-folks is through
With their mince and apple-butter, and theyr souse and saussage, too! ...
I don’t know how to tell it—but ef sich a thing could be
As the Angels wantin’ boardin’, and they’d call around on me—
I’d want to ’commodate ’em—all the whole-indurin’ flock—
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock


Signs of the Times

Air a-gittin' cool an' coolah,
   Frost a-comin' in de night,
Hicka' nuts an' wa'nuts fallin',
   Possum keepin' out o' sight.
Tu'key struttin' in de ba'nya'd,
   Nary step so proud ez his;
Keep on struttin', Mistah Tu'key,
   Yo' do' know whut time it is.

Cidah press commence a-squeakin'
   Eatin' apples sto'ed away,
Chillun swa'min' 'roun' lak ho'nets,
   Huntin' aigs ermung de hay.
Mistah Tu'key keep on gobblin'
   At de geese a-flyin' souf,
Oomph! dat bird do' know whut's comin';
   Ef he did he'd shet his mouf.

Pumpkin gittin' good an' yallah
   Mek me open up my eyes;
Seems lak it's a-lookin' at me
   Jes' a-la'in' dah sayin' "Pies."
Tu'key gobbler gwine 'roun' blowin',
   Gwine 'roun' gibbin' sass an' slack;
Keep on talkin', Mistah Tu'key,
   You ain't seed no almanac.

Fa'mer walkin' th'oo de ba'nya'd
   Seein' how things is comin' on,
Sees ef all de fowls is fatt'nin'—
   Good times comin' sho's you bo'n.
Hyeahs dat tu'key gobbler braggin',
   Den his face break in a smile—
Nebbah min', you sassy rascal,
   He's gwine nab you atter while.

Choppin' suet in de kitchen,
   Stonin' raisins in de hall,
Beef a-cookin' fu' de mince meat,
   Spices groun'—I smell 'em all.
Look hyeah, Tu'key, stop dat gobblin',
   You ain' luned de sense ob feah,
You ol' fool, yo' naik's in dangah,
   Do' you know Thanksgibbin's hyeah



Show's over, folks. And didn't October do
A bang-up job? Crisp breezes, full-throated cries
Of migrating geese, low-floating coral moon.

Nothing left but fool's gold in the trees.
Did I love it enough, the full-throttle foliage,
While it lasted? Was I dazzled? The bees

Have up and quit their last-ditch flights of forage
And gone to shiver in their winter clusters.
Field mice hit the barns, big squirrels gorge

On busted chestnuts. A sky like hardened plaster
Hovers. The pasty river, its next of kin,
Coughs up reed grass fat as feather dusters.

Even the swarms of kids have given in
To winter's big excuse, boxed-in allure:
TVs ricochet light behind pulled curtains.

The days throw up a closed sign around four.
The hapless customer who'd wanted something
Arrives to find lights out, a bolted door


My Triumph


The autumn-time has come;
On woods that dream of bloom,
And over purpling vines,
The low sun fainter shines.

The aster-flower is failing,
The hazel’s gold is paling;
Yet overhead more near
The eternal stars appear!

And present gratitude
Insures the future’s good,
And for the things I see
I trust the things to be;

That in the paths untrod,
And the long days of God,
My feet shall still be led,
My heart be comforted.

O living friends who love me!
O dear ones gone above me!
Careless of other fame,
I leave to you my name.

Hide it from idle praises,
Save it from evil phrases:
Why, when dear lips that spake it
Are dumb, should strangers wake it?

Let the thick curtain fall;
I better know than all
How little I have gained,
How vast the unattained.

Not by the page word-painted
Let life be banned or sainted:
Deeper than written scroll
The colors of the soul.

Sweeter than any sung
My songs that found no tongue;
Nobler than any fact
My wish that failed of act.

Others shall sing the song,
Others shall right the wrong,—
Finish what I begin,
And all I fail of win.

What matter, I or they?
Mine or another’s day,
So the right word be said
And life the sweeter made?

Hail to the coming singers!
Hail to the brave light-bringers!
Forward I reach and share
All that they sing and dare.

The airs of heaven blow o’er me;
A glory shines before me
Of what mankind shall be,—
Pure, generous, brave, and free.

A dream of man and woman
Diviner but still human,
Solving the riddle old,
Shaping the Age of Gold!

The love of God and neighbor;
An equal-handed labor;
The richer life, where beauty
Walks hand in hand with duty.

Ring, bells in unreared steeples,
The joy of unborn peoples!
Sound, trumpets far off blown,
Your triumph is my own!

Parcel and part of all,
I keep the festival,
Fore-reach the good to be,
And share the victory.

I feel the earth move sunward,
I join the great march onward,
And take, by faith, while living,
My freehold of thanksgiving


Praise Song for the Day


Each day we go about our business,
walking past each other, catching each other’s
eyes or not, about to speak or speaking.

All about us is noise. All about us is
noise and bramble, thorn and din, each
one of our ancestors on our tongues.

Someone is stitching up a hem, darning
a hole in a uniform, patching a tire,
repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere,
with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum,
with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.
A farmer considers the changing sky.
A teacher says, Take out your pencils. Begin.

We encounter each other in words, words
spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed,
words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark
the will of some one and then others, who said
I need to see what’s on the other side.

I know there’s something better down the road.
We need to find a place where we are safe.
We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain: that many have died for this day.
Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,
who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges,

picked the cotton and the lettuce, built
brick by brick the glittering edifices
they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle, praise song for the day.
Praise song for every hand-lettered sign,
the figuring-it-out at kitchen tables.

Some live by love thy neighbor as thyself,
others by first do no harm or take no more
than you need. What if the mightiest word is love?

Love beyond marital, filial, national,
love that casts a widening pool of light,
love with no need to pre-empt grievance.

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air,
any thing can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,
praise song for walking forward in that light.

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