William S. Burroughs’ unbelievable Thanksgiving Prayer—by Gus Van Sant.

Via Waylon Lewis
on Nov 25, 2010
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My review: wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow.

Thanksgiving Day, Nov 28,1986 first appeared in the chapbook Tornado Alley, with illustrations by S. Clay Wilson. Gus Van Sant then made a short film of Burroughs reading the text.
This poem resonates today as exposing what has gone horribly wrong in the USA, or maybe what has always been wrong.
Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28, 1986

William S. Burroughs
For John Dillinger
In hope he is still alive
Thanks for the wild turkey and the Passenger Pigeons, destined to be shit out through wholesome American guts
thanks for a Continent to despoil and poison
thanks for Indians to provide a modicum of challenge and danger
thanks for vast herds of bison to kill and skin, leaving the carcass to rot
thanks for bounties on wolves and coyotes
thanks for the AMERICAN DREAM to vulgarize and falsify until the bare lies shine through
thanks for the KKK, for nigger-killing lawmen feeling their notches, for decent church-going women with their mean, pinched, bitter, evil faces
thanks for Kill a Queer for Christ stickers
thanks for laboratory AIDS
thanks for Prohibition and the War Against Drugs
thanks for a country where nobody is allowed to mind his own business
thanks for a nation of finks — yes,
thanks for all the memories all right, lets see your arms you always were a headache and you always were a bore
thanks for the last and greatest betrayal of the last and greatest of human dreams.


About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now elephantjournal.com & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


12 Responses to “William S. Burroughs’ unbelievable Thanksgiving Prayer—by Gus Van Sant.”

  1. elephantjournal says:

    Take Mark Twain's ''War Prayer'', this and ''The Addams Family" movie Thanksgiving play and you have a perfect trilogy for the holiday

  2. elephantjournal says:

    Remember to sign off, whoever you are! ~ Waylon

  3. There is so much negativity in the world around us. I see Thanksgiving as at least one day a year that the collective consciousness might re-focus on the positive. While this poem is full of truth, and I love irony and sarcasm, I find it something I would avoid on Thanksgiving.

  4. elephantjournal says:

    Rachel Langsam Well that woke me up from my (veggie) Thanksgiving feast stupor- loved it!

    Danbo Thirstblood Yeah, what he said!

    elephantjournal.com Coolest thing I've seen in forever. ~ Waylon

    Rachel Langsam It's "in-your-face" truth is ballsy and admirable. Thanks for sharing it!

  5. elephantjournal says:

    Great point. I found his voice amazing and the images amazing…but you're right, I love what Thanksgiving has become—a day to gather and eat together as we used to do.

  6. genny says:

    Cool, a bit morose, definitely can hear the echo of Alan Ginsberg in his candor. Reminds me of Howl…Maybe howl is the after effect. Like PTSD.

  7. diana says:

    I love this. Anger and sarcasm have a place in this world. I believe that literature is one of the best places for them.

  8. harmony o. says:

    i was lucky to get to go to one of mr. burroughs' classes once. i think of him as a cynical realist. he inspired my own cynica realism. happy thanksgiving, people….

  9. harmony o. says:

    cynical. i meant to say cynical.

  10. cynthia says:

    I agree and I think you put it well. Cynthia

  11. Kate Southward says:

    Imagery is incredible! Thanks for sharing x

  12. Anne says:

    What does he mean by "laboratory AIDS" ???? Anyways, I feel sad that he had nothing he was truly grateful for.