Happy Thanksgiving!


Illustration: Zombie Research Society

The Americans have established a Thanksgiving Day to celebrate the fact that the Pilgrim Fathers reached America. The English might very well establish another Thanksgiving Day; to celebrate the happy fact that the Pilgrim Fathers left England. G. K. Chesterton, Sidelights (1932)


Happy Thanksgiving!

Despite the United States of America’s self-mythologizing
Its megalomaniac Empire began its career
By eating the freshly killed corpses of those whose country it was:
The settlers made their State from transgressive horror.

Upon landing, the Pilgrim Fathers – the colonists’ Special Forces,
Some religious fundamentalists from Europe –
Ran out of food, but judging the indigenous people to be “savages”,
They arrogantly spurned their offers of help.










 Instead the settlers hunted the local game to extinction,
And, having no idea of the proper crops to plant,
Were unprepared for what they called the “starving time”.
In 1609 they faced famine, as well as drought.

They ate their horses, their dogs, their cats and their mice;
They made stews out of the Mayflower’s rats.
Having fished out the rivers, they sought nutrition in leather,
And in desperation chewed their own boots.

One settler named George Percy would leave an account
Of the Pilgrim Fathers’ life in Jamestown:
“…notheinge was Spared to mainteyne Lyfe and to doe
 those things which seame incredible,

As to digge upp deade corp[s]es outt of graves
And to eate them. And some have Licked upp the Bloode
Which hathe fallen from their weake fellowes…”
Percy claimed his fellow Americans “could not wait

For their fellows to die before drinking their blood.”
And he recorded that the “Extremety of hunger”
 Forced them “secrettly in the night
 to Cutt downe Their deade fellowes

 From off the gallowes and to bury them
 in their hungry Bowelles.” [1]
The US venerates its Pilgrim Fathers as brave pioneers,
But the country was created by zombie cannibals.

The settlers being incompetent at growing any food,
Regarded the Indians as a source of protein,
And those they killed in conflict didn’t stay buried long.
The settler, Captain John Smith, described the scene:

“Nay, so great was our famine, that a Savage we slew,
And buried, the poorer sort tooke him up againe
 And eat him, and so did divers  others.. One another  boyled
 And stewed him with roots and herbs.” [2]

The early Americans’ passion for eating Indians was widely known:
In a letter from Don Alonso de Velasco to the King of Spain
He describes how they  “eat the dead, and when one of the natives died fighting,
They dug him up again, two days afterwards, to be eaten.” [3]

Again, one Robert Beverley tells how, “They eat the Bodies of the Indians
They had killed; and sometimes also upon a Pinch they wou’d not disdain
To dig them up again to make a homely Meal of [them] after they had been buried.” [4]

Early records show that the first Thanksgiving was held to celebrate
Some settlers’ escaping from the native population –
From some Pecquod Indians angered at their burial sites being robbed
By settlers stealing Indian flesh for their delectation.
















To justify the United States stealing someone else’s territory
Its early spin doctors would misrepresent the Indians
And, just as the US’s terrorist Empire now calls others terrorists,
The Native Americans were falsely claimed to be cannibals

The US hasn’t lost its taste for devouring human flesh:
From its thousand bases worldwide
Their horrific Empire’s killed thirty million since world War Two
Then enjoyed their valuable resources on the side.

Every year America comes together to celebrate
Its good fortune at Thanksgiving meals.
It eats tons of white flesh smeared with crimson sauce,
And is certain its God’s blessing how it feels.


Thanks to years of PR the Pilgrim Fathers belong not to history,
But to a quasi-religious ideal.
Established in wartime as a national holiday, Thanksgiving
Now spawns a patriotic fervor that’s unreal.

“There is one day that is ours,”
Said an excited O.Henry,
“Thanksgiving Day is the one day that is purely American.
“It’s America’s defining holiday.”

But to a less gulible cultural pundit it’s “nothing
But a toast to genocide.” [5]
A day for indulging in American exceptionalism,
And in an overweening national pride.

America eats 45 million turkeys on Thanksgiving
(Its President spares one in a facetious ritual).
Thanksgiving day is spent eating, and drinking, and eating
And the gross-out prompts a modest proposal.

Modern America’s callous division between its rich and its poor
Has led to 49 million of its citizens being in poverty,
Yet were it to honor its own traditions, it might dig out its rich,
And it might cook them, then eat them with impunity.

Heathcote Williams


[1] George Percy, A Trewe Relacyon of the p[ro]cedeings and ocurrentes of Momente w[hi]ch have hapned in Virginia from the Tyme S[i]r Thomas Gates was Shippwrackte uppon the Bermudes An[n]o 1609 untill my dep[ar]ture owtt of the Cowntry w[hi]ch was in An[n]o D[omi]ni 1612; first published in 1922; original mss. in the Elkins Collection of the Free Library of Philadelphia, transcribed by Mark Nicholls, and published in the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 2005; cf also, Rachel B. Herrmann. The “tragicall historie”:Cannibalism and Abundancein Colonial Jamestown, William and Mary Quarterly 3d ser.,68, no.1,January 2011DOI:10.5309/willmaryquar.68.147

[2] Karen Ordahl Kupperman, ed.,Captain John Smith: A Select Edition of His Writings (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1988), 130.

[3] Letter dated in London, June 14, 1610; cited in Alexander Brown, The Genesis of the United States: A Narrative of the Movement in England, 1605–1616, Which Resulted in the Plantation of North America by Englishmen, Disclosing the Contest between England and Spain for the Possession of the Soil Now Occupied by the United States of America . . .(Cambridge,Mass., 1890), 1: 392.

[4] Robert Beverley, The History and Present State of Virginia, 1710, ed. Louis B. Wright(Chapel Hill, N.C., 1947), see also Karen Ordahl Kupperman, Settling with the Indians, London, J.M.Dent, 1980, p. 173

[5] Stephen Evans







By Heathcote Williams

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12 Responses to Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. Charming!

      Comment by Mike Hamblett on 5 December, 2013 at 1:39 pm
    2. […] ….. and also a movie idea to pitch here. […]

      Pingback by NOTES » Another Modest Proposal on 5 December, 2013 at 2:30 pm
    3. Very nasty! – and so now we get all their highly refined toxins; the Acquisitive philosophies, the lousy, contaminated Buck, the Drones, the cannibal banks, the Multinational mind-sets all feeding the Pornographic tsunami that bubbles up and away from gruesome vents by a certain cracked sign up in ‘Thar in the Hollywood Hills!’ …………Highly necessary back-story! Great stuff!

      Comment by Fred Proud on 5 December, 2013 at 3:53 pm
    4. Charming indeed!
      Is the American Dream a cover up for this American Nightmare?
      A horrific form of genocide, desperately not to be reminded of.

      Comment by Josefine Speyer on 5 December, 2013 at 8:02 pm
    5. Amazing we hear so much of the Nazi genocide of 6 million Jews yet the barbaric slaughter of 30 million peaceful spiritual indigenous people is rarely mentioned in the anals of modern history, obscured by Hollywood’s propaganda machine. Truly one of the greatest crimes of all time. Karma surely still has yet to play its card.

      Comment by Claire on 5 December, 2013 at 8:39 pm
    6. […] Dec. 6 — Here’s a late-breaking “Happy Thanksgiving” by Heathcote Williams which from here on in will be part of the Straight Up tradition. It’s one more proof in the […]

      Pingback by Straight Up | Herman | A Thanksgiving Team: Burroughs & Mustill, Redux on 6 December, 2013 at 12:59 pm
    7. Tasty! From here on in, “Happy Thanksgiving” will be part of this Straight Up tradition.

      Comment by Jan Herman on 6 December, 2013 at 1:03 pm
    8. It is interesting to note how many incidences of survival are surrounded by the horror of having to turn to cannibalism. It must have been a completely unbearable situation to find yourself in. As a Christian person it must have flown in the face of all your dearly held beliefs. I would not wish this type of hunger on anyone or any thing.

      Comment by Evangeline on 8 December, 2013 at 6:09 am
    9. the author refers to the pilgrims, “Percy claimed his fellow Americans,” isn’t this around 1630, how does he figure these are Americans? Aren’t they still very much Europeans?
      Also, to think the Pilgrims are surprised by winter, the “starving time”, these Pilgrims were from Europe not Hawaii, so they were familiar with winter, and certainly with hunger and starvation, I am not sure where they learned cannibalism, maybe the catholics? I don’t know.

      Comment by Rex Lesicka on 13 December, 2013 at 8:54 pm
    10. Good points, Rex. Certainly English winters could be brutal: the Thames froze in 1620. But I think the Puritans rejected transubstantiation (I always wonder how vegetarian Catholics deal with that).

      Comment by Tom Raworth on 16 December, 2013 at 8:36 am
    11. They perhaps partake of the new “soy-based Jesus”, whereas before they could only nibble, now they too can chomp right down, let the crumbs fly, it’s soy oy and natural.

      Comment by Rex Lesicka on 17 December, 2013 at 9:29 pm
    12. […] First published in International Times 5 December 2013 http://internationaltimes.it/happy-thanksgiving/ […]

      Pingback by Redux: Dear Cannibals, Have a Happy Thanksgiving | IT on 26 November, 2015 at 1:48 am

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