Thanksgiving 2016 may well be a different version of a favorite national holiday. As a little kid, I used to enjoy bringing up politics at that meal, causing a great uproar among the tipsy Republicans, Democrats and know-nothings in my mother’s extended family. This year there is no need for a mischievous little kid to stir things up. This year, everyone is stirred up, for better or for worse. For this week’s blog, I looked for an apt poem for Thanksgiving; among the sentimental, harsh and inscrutable poems on the internet, I discovered this gem by Alberto Rios, Poet Laureate of Arizona. As with most poems, it can be taken at face value or appreciated as a metaphor for life.
PERFECT FOR ANY OCCASION
A Poem by Alberto Rios
Pies have a reputation.
And it’s immediate—no talk of potential
Regarding a pie. It’s good
Or it isn’t, but mostly it is—sweet, very sweet
Right then, right there, blue and red.
It can’t go to junior college,
Work hard for the grades,
Work two jobs on the side.
It can’t slowly build a reputation
And a growing client base.
A pie gets one chance
And knows it, wearing as makeup
Those sparkling granules of sugar,
As a collar those diamond cutouts
Bespeaking Fair Day, felicity, contentment.
I tell you everything is great, says a pie,
Great, and fun, and fine.
And you smell nice, too, someone says.
A full pound of round sound, ah ahh, all good.
Pies live a life of applause.
But then there are the other pies.
The leftover pies. The ones
Nobody chooses at Thanksgiving.
Mincemeat? What the hell is that? people ask,
Pointing instead at a double helping of Mr.
“I-can-do-no-wrong” pecan pie.
But the unchosen pies have a long history, too.
They have plenty of good stories, places they’ve been—
They were once fun, too—
But nobody wants to listen to them anymore.
Oh sure, everybody used to love lard,
But things have changed, brother—things have changed.
That’s never the end of the story, of course.
Some pies make a break for it—
Live underground for a while,
Doing what they can, talking fast,
Trying to be sweet pizzas, if they’re lucky.
But no good comes of it. Nobody is fooled.
A pie is a pie for one great day. Last week,
It was Jell-O. Tomorrow, it’ll be cake.