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A poem for Thanksgiving by Joseph O’Brien

Thanksgiving

et nihil mihi deerit.

The living room is over-heated, like a gaping kitchen oven-door,

Long past the payoff in savory odors resulting from bowls of color.

The back parlor launches its many campaigns of hushed conversation.

Sunlight glistens farewells through liquor decanters on the piano top,

A gamut of ambers standing at attention, surrounding one deep purple port.

The house slows down to siphon from the levels of these,

Registering like primitive thermometers, exhibited like an exquisite

Array of laboratory devices experimenting with alien elements,

Measuring fevers and hungers, reducing all of November

To a memory the moment all time stops: 4 p.m., Thanksgiving Day.

Then, the clocks charge on, the last plate begins to shine again

And teacups and saucers collect like seashells in children’s arms.

We give thanks the fading sun is freezing the air on the front porch

Where the crisp twinge of nicotine allows us to ignore

The somnolent effect of tryptophane in our veins—give thanks

For the play of alcohol in our brains, for lack of want—and loss of wit

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On our various lusts. We move inside, through a relative crowd, to her:

And remind ourselves that, safe and long ago, her pearled neckline

And those mermaid eyes, almond-shaped, swimming rich with emerald,

Were once the subject of grave adolescent scrutiny;

That when brother brought her home from college one November,

She would someday be his wife. Now, from behind curtains of smoke

Rising from ashtrays, old men recall their small scenes of industry—

As if their knuckled cigars would become the mercurial actions

Of history. Soon enough, aunts, cousins, in-laws, all tramp to the front door

And march themselves into coats and hats. Yes, we give thanks,

Clean to the bone, for remnant drops in brandy snifters,

For joking with sister-in-law about her pregnant belly,

And for that same brother on the phone, long-distance, telling us

About his eating a turkey in the Middle East with the President.


Joseph O'Brien


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et nihil mihi deerit.

The living room is over-heated, like a gaping kitchen oven-door,

Long past the payoff in savory odors resulting from bowls of color.

The back parlor launches its many campaigns of hushed conversation.

Sunlight glistens farewells through liquor decanters on the piano top,

A gamut of ambers standing at attention, surrounding one deep purple port.

The house slows down to siphon from the levels of these,

Registering like primitive thermometers, exhibited like an exquisite

Array of laboratory devices experimenting with alien elements,

Measuring fevers and hungers, reducing all of November

To a memory the moment all time stops: 4 p.m., Thanksgiving Day.

Then, the clocks charge on, the last plate begins to shine again

And teacups and saucers collect like seashells in children’s arms.

We give thanks the fading sun is freezing the air on the front porch

Where the crisp twinge of nicotine allows us to ignore

The somnolent effect of tryptophane in our veins—give thanks

For the play of alcohol in our brains, for lack of want—and loss of wit

Sponsored
Sponsored

On our various lusts. We move inside, through a relative crowd, to her:

And remind ourselves that, safe and long ago, her pearled neckline

And those mermaid eyes, almond-shaped, swimming rich with emerald,

Were once the subject of grave adolescent scrutiny;

That when brother brought her home from college one November,

She would someday be his wife. Now, from behind curtains of smoke

Rising from ashtrays, old men recall their small scenes of industry—

As if their knuckled cigars would become the mercurial actions

Of history. Soon enough, aunts, cousins, in-laws, all tramp to the front door

And march themselves into coats and hats. Yes, we give thanks,

Clean to the bone, for remnant drops in brandy snifters,

For joking with sister-in-law about her pregnant belly,

And for that same brother on the phone, long-distance, telling us

About his eating a turkey in the Middle East with the President.


Joseph O'Brien


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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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