You’ve Got to Hear William S. Burroughs’ Thanksgiving Prayer

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Everyone’s favorite heroin addict and wife killer¬†William S. Burroughs¬†reminds us of the real meaning of Thanksgiving in his poem, “Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28 1986.” The ever lovable Burroughs takes apart the lie of the happy American first supper and supplants it will the horrors of the founding of our great country. Let’s all make it a household tradition. After gorging on turkey, gather your racists aunts and uncles around the kitchen table during dessert and blast this gem on the stereo.

Thanks for the wild turkey and / the passenger pigeons, destined / to be shat 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 / carcasses to rot. / Thanks for bounties on wolves / and coyotes. / Thanks for the American dream, / To vulgarize and to falsify until / the bare lies shine through. / Thanks for the KKK. / For nigger-killin’ lawmen, / feelin’ their notches. / For decent church-goin’ 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’s allowed to mind the / own business. / Thanks for a nation of finks. / Yes, thanks for all the / memories– all right let’s 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.

Gus Van Sant made the above video for the poem, which first appeared in a chapbook of Burrough’s writings called Tornado Alley. The original recording is from his 1990 album Dead City Radio, a Burroughs collaboration with Keith Haring, John Cale, Donald Fagan, and Sonic Youth. It features tracks like Burroughs reading the Sermon on the Mount and adding in his commentary. The full album is below.