Monday, July 3, 2017

Donal Mahoney writes

July 4th Barbecue

     for Kermit Gosnell, M.D.

Every year Dr. Gluck, 
the famed gynecologist,
invites his nurses to his ranch
for his July 4th barbecue.

The nurses and their husbands 
drive miles to watch the doctor 
twist the necks of 20 chickens 
before he dips the fowl, some 
still wriggling, in a big vat 
of boiling water to remove 
the feathers before he tears 
the legs and wings off 
and places the parts 
neatly on the grill.

Everyone agrees the meat  
is wonderful, as is the sauce. 
No knife is needed except 
to butter the fresh-baked rolls.
The slaw and potato salad 
have no peer, the nurses say. 
They claim the same is true 
of his ice cream and pecan pie.

The perfection of this feast 
is no mystery, really.
Every July 4th Dr. Gluck
celebrates America and
demonstrates outdoors 
the skills he's honed 
indoors for 30 years. 
The nurses agree, however, 
the fetuses don't wriggle 
as much as the chickens do 
and it's nice the fetuses 
go in a bucket 
and not on a grill.
 Image result for barbecue babies paintings
A 1583 engraving of a barbacoa by Theodore deBry based on a 1564 painting by Jacques LeMoyne.


  1. Barbecuing, cooking directly over a fire, is probably the world's oldest cooking method. The word is derived from "barbacoa," as the Taino tribes in the Caribbean called an elevated wooden rack on which they slow smoked at low temperatures various game; the smoked, salted, or dried meats were often reconstituted weeks later and eaten in stews.(Hogs were not introduced into the Americas until 1539.)("Barbacoa" also meant a storage device, a bedlike device, a shelter, and perhaps even the food cooked on the structure, though that would be more like what we refer to as jerky.) The word first appeared in print in Spain in 1526, still describing the structure. In 1755 Samuel Johnson defined barbecue as a verb "for dressing a hog whole; which, being split to the backbone, is laid flat upon a large gridiron, raised about two foot above a charcoal fire, with which it is surrounded." In the US, from colonial times through the Civil War, "barbecue" came to mean cooking a whole large animal, especially a pig; a spit was built a few feet to the side of a stack of logs, and the animal was turned slowly over a fire. In 1830 Noah Webster defined barbecue, still a verb, as "To dress and roast a hog whole; to roast any animal whole." This usage led to the American idiom "whole hog," meaning to go all the way. (In 1829 Daiel Webster specualted about what the new president, Andrew Jackson, would do, predicting, "He will either go with the party, as they say in New York, or go the whole hog, as it is phrased elsewhere, making all the places he can for friends and supporters, and shaking a rod of terror at his opposers." In 1844 "The Daily Picayune" of New Orleans defined "A Barbecue" as a large public feast: "First a good site is selected at which to hold a public meeting -- generally some natural amphitheatre, well shaded by forest trees. In the neighborhood large trenches are dug, some three feet wide by four feet deep. In this dyke large wood fires are kindled at the proper time, poles are laid across it, and those oxen, deer, sheep, pigs, &c., are roasted whole. The planters or farmers in the neighborhood furnish bread, turkeys, geese, ducks, and other fowl, dressed in a variety of ways, and, indeed all the condiments necessary for a great public feast. A temporary table of pine planks, sufficient to accommodate thousands of people, is laid, and generally in the midst of the business of a public meeting, they adjourn. They take a respite from the discussion of politics, and proceed to discuss the good things of life.... After partaking of the creature comforts so liberally spread before all, the business of the meeting is resumed and concluded." In the same year, "The Improved Housewife or Book of Receipts by A Married Lady," one of the first American cookbooks, had a recipe "To Barbecue Shoat. - A Southern Dish": "Shoat means a fat young hog, headless and footless, cut into four quarters, each weighing six pounds. Make several incisions between the ribs of a fore quarter, and stuff it with rich force meat [sausage without the casing]; put it in a pan with a pint of water, salt, pepper, two cloves of garlic, a tumber of good red wine, and one of mushroom catsup [a sauce that was then made out of a vriety of items, such as ancovies or mushrooms, not just tomatoes]; bake it, and thicken the gravy with brown flour and butter. To facilitate the carving, joint and cut the ribs before cooking [jointing was cutting the ribs free of the bacbone at the joint]. Lay the ribs up in the dish. If not sufficiently brown, add a little burnt sugar to the gravy. Garnish with balls." (A ball was chopped meat mixed with onion, egg, and break crumbs, then rolled in flour and deep fried in lard.)

  2. On 2 July 1776 the Continental Congress voted in favor of Richard Henry Lee's 7 June resolution "That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved." John Adams predicted that the date “will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival” featuring “Pomp and Parade … Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other.” Two days later the New York delegation, which had abstained on the resolution since New Tork city was under British ocupation, joined the other states in approving the Declaration of Independence mainly written by Thomas Jefferson, with an assist from Adams, though his authorship was generally unknown until he began actively harboring presidential ambitions in the 1790s; Adams, his political rival, repeatedly turned down invitations to appear at 4th of July events in protest. (Ironically, both Jefferson and Adams died 50 yeras later, on 4 July 1826.) By the time the Congress had decided to honor the first anniversary of independence, 2 July had already passed, so 4 July was chosen by default. Philadelphia, where the Congress met, did not hold a 4th of July commemoration until 1777. The following year George Washington issued double rations of rum to all his soldiers to mark the anniversary. In 1781 Massachusetts became the first state to make July 4th an official state holiday. By the 1790s the two major parties, centered on Adams and Jefferson, began holding separate Fourth of July celebrations in many large cities to promote their poltical agendas. The practice became more widespread after the next Anglo-American war (the War of 1812, which was known by the British merely as “the American War of 1812,” a minor accompaniment to the existential conflict against Napoleon's France, and which even the Americans referred to as the uncapitalized “war of 1812” for a century; however, it provided the US with its eventual national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner," adopted by congressional resolution in 1931). In 1870 Congress made July 4th a federal holiday but did not grant a paid holiday to all federal employees until 1941.

  3. Kermit Gosnell operated the Women's Medical Society clinic, an abortion provider, in Philadelphia. He spent decades practicing medicine among the poor, including opening in 1972 the Mantua Halfway House, a rehab clinic for drug addicts in the impoverished neighborhood of West Philadelphia near where he grew up. In 1972 he performed 15 televised second-trimester abortions using an experimental "Super Coil" method, in which the coils were inserted into a uterus to provoke irritation leading to the expulsion of the fetus; the experiment was dubbed the "mother's day massacre." Over 32 years, 46 lawsuits were filed against him for irregularities, and he had been cited and fined for not having any nurses in the recovery room, employing unlicensed personnel, and failing to maintain adequate logs. When authorities raided his clinic in 2010, they found padlocked emergency access and exit routes, blood on the floor, cat feces on the stairs, and a flea-infested cat wandering through the facility, and sedated women scheduled for abortions moaning in the waiting room or the recovery room, where they sat on dirty recliners covered with blood-stained blankets. Many of the medications in inventory were past their expiration dates, the surgical procedure rooms were filthy, instruments were not sterile, equipment was rusty and outdated. Oxygen equipment was covered with dust and had not been inspected, and the only tubing available for breathing assistance was the same corroded suction tubing used for abortions. Forty-five fetal (including amputated feet) remains were stored in bags, milk jugs, orange juice cartons, and cat-food containers. A grand jury estimated that his practice "took in $10,000 to $15,000 a night" plus his charges for more than 500,000 pills containing oxycodone, more than 400,000 pills containing alprazolam, and more than 19,000 ounces of cough syrup containing codeine. Gosnell and his co-defedants (his wife and eight others, who pled guilty and testified against him) were charged with 8 counts of murder, 24 counts of performing illegal abortions (beyond the state's 24-week time limit), and 227 counts of violating a 24-hour informed-consent law, failing to counsel patients, and racketeering. The eight deaths were those of Karnamaya Mongar, a refugee from Bhutan who died from an overdose of Demerol (meperidine hydrochloride, a cheap opioid analgesic), following an abortion procedure in 2009, and seven newborns who had their spinal cords severed with scissors; a clinic employee testified that he himself had snipped the spines of more than 100 infants after they had been born alive, and that this was considered "standard procedure" at the clinic. In 2012 Gosnell was convicted of the murders of three infants, the involuntary manslaughter of Mongar, 21 felony counts of illegal late-term abortion, and 211 misdemeanor counts of violating the informed-consent law. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole after waiving his right to appeal in exchange for not being executed. Three of his co-defendants were sentenced to 20- to 40-year terms for third-degree murder; his wife was sentenced to 7 to 23 months for performing abortions at 24 or more weeks, conspiracy, and participating in a corrupt organization.

  4. Very few editors would have published this poem and none that I know of would have provided the insightful commentary by Duane that follows it. That's why this site is unique in the true meaning of that word and thank God for it.

  5. Donal, I agree 100% with your comment.

    The powerful ending of this poem both caught me by surprise and still echoes in my memory.

    Good work!


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