Published on Academy of American Poets (

Deflated Rubber Turkey

There is one atop each of the Girls’ heads. Clearly they have been playing this game for a while. There is only one girl whose turkey is still full of air, and that girl is Girl D. The game is called Duck, Duck, Turkey. They go through the motions of having an “it,” and having that “it” walk around the outside of the circle of sitting girls, tapping them on their turkey heads while saying, “duck, duck, duck, duck...” until they say “turkey!” while hitting the turkey on the head of a girl and then running around the circle, trying to sit down in the open spot in the circle before getting tagged. The general stance over here is based on the unshakeable belief that playing this game is going to lead to a better, more just society for all, once everybody’s turkey is equally deflated. And although most of the turkeys are, indeed, mostly deflated, none of the girls can keep themselves from glancing furtively at the head of Girl D, her hair positively radiant in the light bouncing off of the almost fully inflated rubber turkey on her head. How can this be? What is wrong with everyone else’s turkey? Did Girl D get a refill? Or more air than others to begin with? Is that really a turkey? Maybe Girl D’s turkey is not made out of rubber like the rest. What if the rubber turkey of Girl D was filled with turkey? 


Copyright © 2018 by Sawako Nakayasu. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 21, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“I wrote this poem in November of 2017, a time in my life when I was thinking about people and systems, haves and have-nots, and the elusive notion of keeping it ‘real.’ The poem was also sparked by an entry from Sarah Galvin’s now-defunct blog, The Pedestretarian, which featured ‘reviews of food found on the street.’ This particular entry was called, and included a photo of, an ‘inflatable turkey on 26th and Alder.’”
—Sawako Nakayasu


Sawako Nakayasu

Sawako Nakayasu is the author of several poetry collections, most recently The Ants (Les Figues Press, 2014), Texture Notes (Letter Machine, 2010), and Hurry Home Honey (Burning Deck, 2009). 

Date Published: 2018-11-21

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