Thanksgiving with Kerouac

By Bonnie Proudfoot

Featured Art: Uzbek Folklore by Fatima Taylor

“I felt free and therefore I was free” – Dharma Bums, by Jack Kerouac

We pooled money and food stamps,
bought the largest turkey
we could afford, also, cigarettes,
baking potatoes, a baggie of reefer,
a bottle of Jack Daniels and Mateus,
because those bottles made
cool candle holders. Someone
had a blue and white enamel pot,
and since the bird was frozen,
we kept the lid on. Someone else said
turkeys were best roasted slow,
so we set the oven at 300 degrees,
put in potatoes, set the table for four.
Four hours, five hours, the room
started to smell like dinner,
though with each stab we saw
the bird had refused to thaw.
The potatoes were good and hot,
and off we shot into the icy night,
streetlights solemn and glazed,
the whole silent city tucked behind
parked cars and glowing blinds.
On the swings in a playground
beside some railroad tracks,
we passed the bottle of Jack,
gazed up at Orion, Betelgeuse,
the glow of Bethlehem Steel edging
the southern sky orange.
Back home, the turkey was bronze,
the wine was sweet, WBFO
swung red-hot jazz after midnight,
and we played scrabble until
the sun rose over the Trico plant,
letters and words strung across
the board like an epic
yet to be told, a cluster
of constellations.

Born in NY, Bonnie Proudfoot moved to WV in 1979, then to Athens in 1996. She was an Associate Professor at Hocking College for two decades, and still teaches part-time for the Department of English at WVU. Her poetry, fiction, and essays have appeared in many literary journals and anthologies, including Women Speak, and I Thought I Heard a Cardinal Sing. Her novel, Goshen Road, published by OU’s Swallow Press, was selected WCONA’s Book of the Year and long-listed for the 2021 PEN/ Hemingway. Her poetry chapbook, Household Gods, was published in September 2022 by Sheila-Na-Gig.

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