Poem: A Day for Gratitude (and Greed)

In a hushed and reverent tone
he asked us to bow our heads
in gratitude for those who sacrificed
so much for our prosperity.

We took a moment to remember
those who lost their lives and
their land to the invaders
euphemistically known as settlers.

We whispered muted prayers
of thanks to those who lost
their lives and liberty to traders
paradoxically called masters.

We mumbled appreciation
for those who acquired
resources from abroad while
posing as freedom fighters.

We thanked Providence for all
the blood shed on our behalf.
We raised our heads with ravenous
relief and set tooth to bone.

If Gratitude Were Horses, We’d Never Fear a Stampede (#poem #NaPoWriMo)

free-giftToday’s NaPoWriMo prompt is to write a contemplation on gifts and giving. I read Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay on gifts when I was in high school, and it has stayed with me all these years. Emerson definitely had his moments as an essayist.

Prologue

“The only gift is a portion of thyself. Thou must bleed for me.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Exposition

The gift is always some sort of recrimination,
At least this is the way I see it.
The gift tells what you think of me,
Or whether, indeed, you think of me.
Upon receipt, I am immediately filled
With guilt, shame, anger, sadness or—
Most likely—unworthiness,
At least for gifts from you.
Others may give gifts that
Only reaffirm my deeply held
Belief that I may not be worth
The second thought required
For a gift, but you are different,
Are you not?

And it should be easier to give than receive,
But what is it like to be too painfully
Aware that a thoughtless gift
Will make someone feel
Unworthy of thought, of value?
Paralyzed by caution, we givers
Fail ourselves and our fellow humans
Regularly. If only we’d had more time,
The gift would have been better.
A gift receipt is included, in case
You don’t like it.

Epilogue

“We do not quite forgive a giver. The hand that feeds us is in some danger of being bitten.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson