feels flat when no leaves fall,

when palms stand with all spikes still

proud as the sun sinks blazing into a golden

sea of teeming life dynamic. It’s not

the same. It’s not like this


back home, where crinkled leaves

litter fields thick under thick clouds and thick

boots, where sun feebly trembles wisps of warmth

and dry wood-fire heat blasts from vents

at Grandpa’s old farm house.


We always gathered there,

always in old jeans and sweatshirts, always

chatting through pregame banter and Friday sale bills,

always smelling the roasting fat come drip

by sizzling drip to us. Anticipation


blossomed into feasting: more

potatoes, hand me butter, have some salad.

grab a drumstick, toss the rolls, spread the gravy

far and broad and thick over corn, over

beans, over all the life in moments


of belly laughs and refilled cups

and retreating to the den to groan and glory

as sanctioned gluttons. The nap awaits. Football

rushes, passes, punts unheeded—heavy lids

prevail as always, as always


at Grandpa’s. The late-noon came

and young cousins coaxed us all outside

again this year. We always complained but always

yearned to snag that same worn pigskin

wobbling through the chill air,


smashing through your fogged breath

and slamming into cracking cold hands in time

for one more stumble of a slogging belly up the field. Always

happened this way, and always never ended

till light burned too low to see.


All inside again, round the table

for another round—plenty of fixings all

spread for plenty of hands. Grandma radiant in simple

joy at worn house full of grandkids, kids, and

this day of bliss, of shining teeth, of thank-


ful tears welled in worn eyes when Dad prayed

an earnest prayer saying this was all too good

to taste here on this earth. Goodbyes came hard, dragged

out unwilling throats after rounds of pie, and

rounds of laughter rang sagging walls


of a farmhouse built a hundred

years ago: Grandpa’s great-grandpa’s hands

built this. We’re thankful. It was always well with us. It



isn’t any more.



It isn’t

anyone’s fault

Grandpa can’t see,


had to sell the farm,

move to small house

on small concrete street

of comfortable homes:

All efficient, all




to be thankful for.



I can’t have Thanksgiving here,

Grandma says, after her


heart surgeries.


It’s too small.


Today it is

Thanksgiving in Jakarta.

but I have to work

just like any other day


Alarm clock.

oatmeal breakfast.

cold lunch in a plastic box.


no one here gets it.



I haven’t seen Thanksgiving with family for four years now.

Four years since it moved.

Then I did.

And now I am sharing


Pad Thai noodles a half-world

away under palms and tropic sun. I say my prayers

of thanks and almost tear

up seeing the glowing orb sink

blazing to the golden sea

and think of all I’m missing


back there. Back when.


I think of feast days under thick sweeps of clouds over Missouri, the old

farmhouse still breathing, still vivid.

Now empty, now cold, now

turning back to the dust of the land from which it rose.



Today I’m thankful for chopsticks

and Pad Thai

and a graceful wife

who gets my Thanksgiving



and my memories


who hugs me and stays silent


in the thanks.


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