Pie for Obama
* Peace Pie
This just came in from Truthout
Obama Hands Out Food, Visits School on South Side
Wednesday 26 November 2008
by: Abdon M. Pallasch, The Chicago Sun-Times
President-elect Barack Obama and his family spent an hour handing out chickens, potatoes, bread and other Thanksgiving food to poor families on Chicago's South Side Wednesday morning after Obama introduced his latest economic advisors. Then he shook hands with Catholic grade school students ecstatic to see him.
Many of the poor and homeless - some of whom come for food every Wednesday - screamed in disbelief as they entered the parking lot of St. Columbanus church at 71st and Calumet and realized the reason they had been wanded by the U.S. Secret Service was because Obama, his wife and daughters, were standing there ready to pass out the food usually handed out by volunteers.
"At Thanksgiving, it's important for us to remember people in need," Obama said. "They told me the number of people coming here is up 33 percent from last year."
About 600 families got food, said Kate Maehr, executive director of the Greater Chicago Food Depository. That's up from 270 families last year, said the Rev. Matt Eyerman.
This is the fourth year in a row Obama has handed out food before Thanksgiving. Last year, he did it in New Hampshire.
"We started seeing increases as early as last year January," Maehr said. "In April, we started seeing double-digit increases.
"Happy Thanksgiving - hey, don't forget your chicken," Obama said after hugging one woman who screamed when she saw him. Declining to give an autograph, he said, "If I sign autographs, I can't pass out my chickens."
Michelle Obama and their daughters, Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7 , stood beside their father also handing out food in the 43-degree weather beneath the elaborate 99-year-old stained glass windows of St. Columbanus church. Obama wore a leather jacket while Michelle and the girls were bundled in winter coats and hats.
Obama said it was important to bring his daughters because, "I want them to know how fortunate they are and that they have to give back," Obama said.
As he finished handing out the chickens, Obama turned and looked up at the windows of St. Columbanus School where the pre-K through 8th graders were furiously waving and screaming from their second- and third-floor windows, their screams barely audible through the closed windows.
"Hey Michelle, look," he pointed as she waved back.
"We've got to go in there and say 'hi' to those kids," he told his wife, much to the chagrin of the Secret Service, which frowns on spontaneity.
The Secret Service asked school officials to bring the school's 300 students down to the assembly hall.
"Secret Service for Barack Obama said we'd better gather the children quickly. It was like a fire drill. They said, 'can they make it down in five minutes?'" Eyerman said. "For Barack Obama, they could make it down in five minutes."
The enthusiasm was off the charts as Obama entered the room and attempted to shake hands with the children as young as five and pre-Kindergarten. Some grabbed onto his leather jacket sleeves and would not let go, trying to climb up in his arms.
"I just wanted to come by and wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving," Obama said. "What I'm thankful for is my family, my friends, my community."
He asked the kids who would be having turkey and macaroni and cheese. Prompted by Michelle, he asked, "Who's getting good grades?"
"Listen to your teachers," Obama said. "One of you might end up being president."
"Who likes math?" Obama asked the students. His daughter Malia did not raise her hand until her mom gave her a playful slap and she raised her hand.
Obama took two questions from the kids. One asked what it was like to be president.
"I'm not the president yet ... once I'm president I'll let you know what its like," he said.
A girl asked him what it was like to have so many people following him.
Obama said he appreciated the members of the Secret Service and the press who he said were missing spending time with their families so they could accompany him.
He and Michelle jokingly asked members of the Secret Service to identify themselves by raising their hands. They did not.
Ice water. Two silver knives to work through the flour and shortening, add salt. It is an old art. Do not work late into the night, with sleep nipping at your sleeves, you will fall off, wake up at three a.m. to a room full of smoke, two black disks in the oven, bad smell. Do not think about business, or the wave of darkness spreading through the Arts, do not think about depression looming on the horizon or the rhetoric and nonsense our leaders toss into its mouth, or the prospect of revolution in America. Zen. Concentrate on the art of pie. It is an old art. Ingredients spread through the house like a layer of snow, later people say: O, Pie. Pie. We love pie. It is a good art. No one will say, Make this pie with only one silver knife, or no ice, or make it with chalk instead of flour. Fill pie with ingredients at hand, cans of things, fresh fruit, cheese. Add it to a feast. Eat leftovers for breakfast the next day, the celebration begins again, pie filling the recesses of the body, exhilaration. Pie, it is an old art. If we lose it, infants will wither in their mothers’ stomachs, writhe at sunken nipples, men will lose direction, US Steel will manufacture rubber and the pillars of society will flop around like spangles on a half-mast flag. Pie. The planets are lined up—Saturn, Uranus, Mars, Jupiter pull earthquakes, pull poison from beneath the surface. Pie, cut through the mix gently, roll out on a layer of wood and flour, pie. Flute the edges, pour in apples and cinnamon and spices. Pie. Zen. Concentrate on the art of pie. The rites of passage pull us through the gates of depression and war. We shall make pie. Cannot resist. We shall celebrate Christmas, Thanksgiving, the Fourth of July; holidays shall find us traversing the continent in search of heritage. No one makes pie like Mother does. Pie. No one says one pie should represent all pies. Pie is like a thumb print. Some are sour. Pie is silent, making only a light simmering noise as it bakes in the oven. It spreads scent gently into our hearts. There is ceremony as pie is lifted out of the heat. They gather. O, Pie. The clutter is swept away, space around pie is brought to sharp focus. Light pours down on pie. Concentrate. The art of pie is an old one. Try to imagine life without it. Like the unveiling of a great painting, breaking a champagne bottle over the bow of a ship going off to sea, the ceremony as a cornerstone is laid, pie. Do not roll the crust too thick, roll gently or the center will unfurl, rub extra flour on the rolling pin every fourth stroke, remember these things. Create pie often so the art is not lost. Do not forget temperature. Cold is essential, then heat. You must have an oven, cannot make pie over an open fire or in a barbecue pit. Be firm with those who insist pie can be made in a crockpot or on the back window ledge of a Pontiac left out in August sunlight. Respect the rules of pie.
Sing a song of six pence/ A pocket full of rye/ Four and twenty black birds/ Baked in a pie./ When the pie was opened/ The birds began to sing—
©Susan Bright, 1983
Susan Bright is the author of nineteen books of poetry. She is the editor of Plain View Press which since 1975 has published one-hundred-and-fifty books. Her work as a poet, publisher, activist and educator has taken her all over the United States and abroad. Her most recent book, The Layers of Our Seeing, is a collection of poetry, photographs and essays about peace done in collaboration with photographer Alan Pogue and Middle Eastern journalist, Muna Hamzeh.
You can listen to an audio performance of Pie here. Pie was first written in the late 70s. It is published in Tirades And Evidence Of Grace and is part of an audio CD of selected poems from that collection. Copies can be ordered from firstname.lastname@example.org. Claudia Schmidt has recorded it on her CD Roads.
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