Thanksgiving Exeunt by Rodney Wilder

Painting by Elizabeth Mayville | Website | Etsy Shop | Instagram

Thanksgiving Exeunt

Is this the year it finally tired
of the fictions seasoned over its gristle?
Because turkey and aroma have never been
such unveiled sacraments, mouths
straining to carve grenade…teargas
where wishes would shawl with poultry.

There never has been room for indigenous skin
between tablescapes,
but Standing Rock is coughing something
acrid and black across these platters,
and where’s the throat glutted enough to not
notice this shameful resemblance? Revisionism

                                b  u  r  n  s
beneath the firebrand-coils
glowing molten to show the pyres lying no
outgrown cinder in the reciped script of tradition;
they are here, today. Their smoke,
a stolen mist sicced on nations once again
told their place and gifted with wounds to prove it.
Disneyfied renditions of theft and beheading wax
translucent today, as this country
once more assumes ownership of soil that, if
it could be bought, already has been by
the ancestral bodies returned to its inertia.

But the water-cannons come,
an inhumanity true to the day’s predecessors in
the morbid fork it foists on those only offered water
as weapon or as petroleum backwash. Neither
option spoken without a throat of funibrial wood

insinuated behind it.

And we are seeing now that glint of westward teeth
our need for clean hands would deem
a younger country’s problem.
What necessity, this sickly river,
the stink of these white-diverted waters.
What justice, these hypothermic proponents of
not swallowing what Bismarck knew a poison
and was weighed American-enough to be listened to.
We are seeing the colonial dream’s misbegotten admen
twist their tongues toward treatied waters, laws
tossed overhead like overgnawn tibiae while

the White House chooses its side. A pardon
wings our country’s preference across the lawn,
as the fable’s cornucopia-knolled legacy
             s      t      r      a      i      n      s
to stave off the wake
of this squandered mercy,
the allegiance of its brawn.

May our entrees continue to sour.
May our traditions bitter, our dishes
burn and burn further until this chosen sleep
doles no more the kind of comfort that thumbs
for a bloodline to snuff,
that ladles coincidence over the history retching our
bloodiest tendrils back atop a tablescape
tidied of their upheaval.
When a people
as intimate with this land as to
know its sustenance something holy,
when they can call a water source sacred and not
get proselytized by the pepper-spray response
of a more suicidal theology,
when survival stops being read like a temper tantrum,
when we can prioritize compassion over profits,
we will have a day that deserves the joy we’ve twined
to our complicit celebrations.

Then, this sleep might actually be the peace
pretended by these blood-drunk solemnities.

Rodney Wilder

Rodney Wilder is a biracial nerd who bellows death-metal verse in Throne of Awful Splendor and writes poetry, with previous work appearing in FreezeRay, Tales of the Talisman, and his first collection of poetry, 2012’s Ars Golgothica. Currently writing his fandom-fueled followup, he likes nachos and analogizing things to Pokémon.