When country fiddlers held a convention in Danville,
the big money went to a barn dance artist who played
Turkey in the Straw, with variations...
— Carl Sandburg
Some say the first Americans had named it for its
Or that Chris called it “tuka” for a peacock he
(By Chris I mean Columbus; Tuka’s Tamil for
And Tamil is the language of Ceylon), but by the
The Brits declared it first and for all time the bird
While Science called it meleagris, out of
(Relating it to Guinea fowls, with Latin terms so
They get excused for making things perpetually
Each stop along the trade route added names to
The Palestinians dubbed the bird an Ethiopian
The Dutch decreed it kalkoen, a Malibarian
(From Calicut of Malibar in India, southwester).
The commonest of turkey tags, for Turks and
Is Indian Chicken, for the land Columbus
Thus hindi, dindon, indyk, indjuk, hindishga, all
Of the nascent New World Order of the Turkey.
In India, some Indians have christened it
Deferring to the name their Portugallan traders
But Peru never knew the bird until the Spanish
They called it gallopavo, for the peacock Chris descripted
(By Chris I mean Columbus; pavo’s peacock;
And Portugallans are the chicken-trading
And so this story goes: the plot unwinds, the titles
But dinner’s on the table; you can call it what you please.
There is no grand denouement in the course of
And from the very start the turkey’s oldest
Presented by the Aztecs in their native
Has been a word the world could never say: