Monday, November 19, 2012

Monday's Poetry: Turnkey Day (A Poem for Leonard Peltier)

by Pa Rock
Poetry Appreciator

My goal for today's poem was to find something regarding Thanksgiving from an American Indian perspective.  I was sorting through the beautiful words and thoughts of Chief Seattle, which relate to the importance of honoring and preserving the earth, when I suddenly came across the following ode to Indian activist and long-term federal prisoner, Leonard Peltier.  It contains references to Thanksgiving, and the title would appear to be a word play on "turkey day."    In actuality, Leonard Peltier would seem to have little to be thankful for, but I felt that this poem needed to be shared.

Leonard Peltier is one of the best known inhabitants of America's vast prison system.  The Indian activist was convicted of the murders of two FBI agents in the 1970's.  He maintains his innocence, and his conviction has always been the subject of controversy.

Mr. Peltier, who was incarcerated at Leavenworth at the time this piece was written, is now residing in a federal penitentiary in Florida.  He is a 68-year-old grandfather.

The somewhat quirky poem was written by Jonathan Stevens who is described on the Internet as "a songwriter, musician, and baker" living in Massachusetts.    His aim in crafting these lines appears to have been to disturb - and his aim was true.

Turnkey Day  (a Poem for Leonard Peltier)
by Jonathan Stevens

I drove my Plymouth across to Alcatraz to see
if it could rock.
I mean, the only thing to do with such a sitting duck
is baste and roast it 'til it cries
Bury yr wounded knee in sweetened cranberry sauce
and count the dimpled Mayflowers chasing shad in the
shallows of Palm Beach.
This is your Squanto, here in the heartland of Kansas
ripening like indian corn in the dungeons of Leavenworth:
His name is Leonard Peltier.
Give thanks that your feast has yet to consume him entirely.
Give thanks that his prayers echo in canyons far beyond your
Pontiac pilgrimages.
Give thanks that the wild rice of his spirit may yet forgive and
feed your children something more than guilty pleasure.
Take that quill out of your cap and sign his walking papers:
You can call it justice
-I call it stale macaroni.

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