What I Am Thankful and Not Thankful For

Thanksgiving is a very charming holiday that most of us love and the one that makes us reflect about what we are thankful for. I am writing this on Black Friday — the day that should be named National Shopping Frenzy Day (NSFD — too many consonants, I think, for it to “fly”) in which I have never participated and do not intend to do so in the future. It is the day close enough to Thanksgiving and far enough from its spirit that I feel free to write not only what I am thankful for, but also what I am NOT thankful for. I will not bore you with the obvious and obligatory statements about my health, my family, and other fortunate things I should be thankful for.

I am not thankful for Black Friday which is expanding its commercial grip towards Thanksgiving Day — this year some shopping malls were open on Thanksgiving evening to encourage walking (in them) and shopping after Thanksgiving dinner. How very healthy! Yuk….

I am very thankful for the numerous comments made by the readers of my blog — they motivate me to continue my writing. Thank you!

I am thankful for the beautiful blue skies of Arizona while so many states’ skies were gray and rainy on this Thanksgiving Day. In Arizona even clouds are pretty — especially during sunsets — but there is some darkness in them as well.

Arizona sky Arizona clouds

That darkness in the clouds symbolizes for me the darkness of this state’s politics. Arizona is becoming more and more conservative and adopting the psyche of a police state. I am definitely not thankful for the results of our last election and especially of the “great” victory of Governor Jan Brewer. Her popularity raised up on publicity politicizing the divisive Arizona Immigration Law SB 1070. I wrote about that matter — SB 1070 — in my July blog entry. Today I would like to stress only how unthankful I was to receive in the mail Governor Brewer’s campaign literature. The choices of the images used in that literature were embarrassing. Seeing such pictures as below, I had to pinch myself to remember that I am still in the same country that I immigrated to years ago!

Arizona governor Jan Brewer Captive illegal immigrants

Jan Brewer campaign flyer

What I am thankful for is the continuing existence of the Independent Press in Arizona, the kind that Tucson Weekly represents, the publication where readers still can find well researched information as well as strong and not shy opinions about current political issues in this state and in this country as well.

I am also very thankful for the writings of Arizona poets, poets like David Ray who are able with their well crafted words to touch the hearts and minds of others.

Please feel it for yourself.

The Sleepers
by David Ray

Bodies of two illegal migrants were found
this morning on the Southern Pacific tracks.
— Tucson Citizen

What they have endured, making it north
from deep in the belly of Mexico,
would make a great novel, picaresque,
the two companions trembling with hope.

After many perils they make it across
the border, manage to survive the desert,
search squads, spotlights, police dogs,
helicopters, klieg lights, and armed vigilantes.

But there is a great weariness after such
a journey, and rest is essential. Exhausted,
they lie down between rails, safe from
the hazards of snakes and scorpions.

The rotten rail ties called sleepers are like
slats of a bed, their frayed surface soft as flannel,
and perfume of the creosote is familiar,
like brush growing along barrancas back home.

If the last breath is inhaled in the new land
it mingles with pollen from home, and scent
of smog joins toxins acquired in the past
as if there has been no border at all to dispute.

As the two lie down in the night between tracks
they dream of how soon they will pick oranges
or lay tiles, trim trees and clip hedges. But a train
not expected is sometimes the one that arrives.

Copyright © 2009 by David Ray


Thank you, David, for letting me use your poem in this blog.

* * *

Copyright © 2010 by Alicja Mann

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3 Comments on “What I Am Thankful and Not Thankful For”

  1. George Says:

    Terrific!! thank you, Alicja Mann and David Ray

  2. Matt Says:

    I just wanted to write and let you know that I read your blog and really like what you had to say. Especially during this time when the greatest, best hope of human spirit should be shining through, it is discouraging to see what a strong foothold narrow-mindedness and materialism have in the dark corners all around us. But I am inclined to think that it has always been like this, that during other periods the great threats, whether they be racism, fascism, nuclear holocaust or whatever, have always seemed appeared to be an insurmountable foe of everything that is good, but still ends up receding with the passing of time. Of course it takes the unfortunate sacrifice of untold numbers of people, in small ways and large ones, but always meaningful ones, to combat these forces and keep us moving towards a better future. But that’s what gives me heart, that the collective narrative of the more admirable aspects of the human spirit eventually prevail, and that thoughtful people such as yourself take the time to make their own contributions. So thank you, and nice job!

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