Archive for ‘Christmas’

Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Boxing Day, Campbell Parade by Adam Aitken

I step out into the sun and traffic chaos
of a beach in an obscure developing country.
Doorsteps of exotic eateries where child labour
sweeps spice dust into pyramids.
There are drums, the economy in hysterical trance.
Talismans glitter, shamans, crystals.
Boulevarde life. Potential film extras filing past,
drunks collect guilt money.

I stop, I know it’s Christmas.
An agent of perfection unflips her briefcase of safaris.
I yearn for the quiet birth of metaphysics
and invite her to partake with me
the wild ecology beyond whitewater.

Later that evening a Pizza boy arrives
sweltering with a stack of two-for-ones.
And in the morning the beer’s worn off.
I jog to the shark tower’s siren,
and read a blackboard with the sea’s numerology.

I want Boxing Day to end without strain,
it’s not too late in life to be a Weetbix Kid
riding waves of traffic generated deep and distantly
from suburbs that flounder in the heat.

My box of concrete fire rated,
fully secure. I miss my friends.
My lover goes back to her parents.

I miss her kind of Christmas,
turkeys, smoked hams, and not
a single regret in the world.
The southerly begins to blow.
A humble star arrives, it’s late but I don’t mind;
its pinpoint of light
leading me home.

From: https://www.poetrylibrary.edu.au/poets/aitken-adam/boxing-day-campbell-parade-0579050

Date: 1996

By: Adam Aitken (1960- )

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Tuesday, 25 December 2018

Christmas: 1915 by Percy MacKaye

Now is the midnight of the nations: dark
Even as death, beside her blood-dark seas,
Earth, like a mother in birth agonies,
Screams in her travail, and the planets hark
Her million-throated terror. Naked, stark,
Her torso writhes enormous, and her knees
Shudder against the shadowed Pleiades
Wrenching the night’s imponderable arc.

Christ! What shall be delivered to the morn
Out of these pangs, if ever indeed another
Morn shall succeed this night, or this vast mother
Survive to know the blood-spent offspring, torn
From her racked flesh?—What splendour from the smother?
What new-wing’d world, or mangled god still-born?

From: https://poems.khutchins.com/poem/489_christmas-.html

Date: 1917

By: Percy MacKaye (1875-1956)

Monday, 24 December 2018

Christmas Eve: My Mother Dressing by Toi Derricotte

My mother was not impressed with her beauty;
once a year she put it on like a costume,
plaited her black hair, slick as cornsilk, down past her hips,
in one rope-thick braid, turned it, carefully, hand over hand,
and fixed it at the nape of her neck, stiff and elegant as a crown,
with tortoise pins, like huge insects,
some belonging to her dead mother,
some to my living grandmother.
Sitting on the stool at the mirror,
she applied a peachy foundation that seemed to hold her down, to trap her,
as if we never would have noticed what flew among us unless it was weighted and bound in its mask.
Vaseline shined her eyebrows,
mascara blackened her lashes until they swept down like feathers;
her eyes deepened until they shone from far away.

Now I remember her hands, her poor hands, which, even then were old from scrubbing,
whiter on the inside than they should have been,
and hard, the first joints of her fingers, little fattened pads,
the nails filed to sharp points like old-fashioned ink pens, painted a jolly color,
Her hands stood next to her face and wanted to be put away, prayed
for the scrub bucket and brush to make them useful.
And, as I write, I forget the years I watched her
pull hairs like a witch from her chin, magnify
every blotch—as if acid were thrown from the inside.

But once a year my mother
rose in her white silk slip,
not the slave of the house, the woman,
took the ironed dress from the hanger—
allowing me to stand on the bed, so that
my face looked directly into her face,
and hold the garment away from her
as she pulled it down.

From: http://www.persimmontree.org/v2/tag/toi-derricotte/

Date: 1989

By: Toi Derricotte (1941- )

Sunday, 23 December 2018

Christmas Eve by Ella Rhoads Higginson

Straight thro’ a fold of purple mist
The sun goes down―a crimson wheel―
And like an opal burns the sea
That once was cold as steel.

With pomp of purple, gold and red,
Thou wilt come back at morrow’s dawn. . .
But thou can’st never bring, O Sun,
The Christmas that is gone!

From: https://ellahigginson.blogspot.com/p/christmas-eve_16.html

Date: 1898

By: Ella Rhoads Higginson (1862-1940)

Saturday, 22 December 2018

Johnnie’s Christmas by Elizabeth (Libbie) Caroline Riley Baer

Papa and mama, and baby and Dot,
Willie and me—the whole of the lot
Of us all went over in Bimberlie’s sleigh,
To grandmama’s house on Christmas day.

Covered with robes on the soft cushioned seat,
With heads well wrapped up and hot bricks to our feet,
And two prancing horses, tho’ ten miles away,
The ride was quite short, on that bright Christmas day.

When all were tucked in and the driver said “Go!”
The horses just flew o’er the white, shining snow;
The town it slipped by us and meadow and tree,
And farm house till grandmama’s house we did see.

Grandmama was watching for us, there’s no doubt;
She soon come to meet us, and helped us all out;
And kissin’ and huggin’ said how we boys growed,
And big as our papa we’d soon be, she knowed.

And Dot she called handsome and said: “Ah! I guess
Grandmama’s woman has got a new dress.”
And said that the baby was pretty and smart;
“Dod b’ess it and love its own sweet ’ittle heart.”

And O, the red apples, and pop-corn on strings;
And balls of it, too, and nuts, candy and things;
And O, such a dinner and such pumpkin pie;
I eat and I eat till I thought I would die.

And grandmama urgin’, “Now, Johnnie, my man,
I wants you to eat; just eat all you can.”
When I eat all I could then I eat a lots more,
And I didn’t feel good as I had felt before.

At last it came time for us all to go back,
And into the sleigh again, all of us pack;
With grandmama kissin’ and sayin’ good byes,
With smiles on her lips, but the tears in her eyes.

We seemed much more crowded, and Bimberlie’s sleigh
Kept jerkin’ and hurtin’ me most all the way;
The robes were so stuffy I couldn’t get breath,
And Dot and the baby most squeezed me to death.

All night I kept tumblin’ and tossin’, ma said,
And frowed all the cover half off of the bed;
I dreamed of roast turkey and pop-corn and pie,
And fruit cake and candy, piled up to the sky!

And I dreamed I was sick and just lookin’ at it,
A wantin’ and yet I could not eat a bit;
And grandmama urgin’, “Now, Johnnie, my man,
I want you to eat, just eat all you can.”

From: https://m.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/johnnies-christmas

Date: 1902

By: Elizabeth (Libbie) Caroline Riley Baer (1849-1929)

Monday, 17 December 2018

The House-Goblin (Tomten) by Abraham Viktor Rydberg

Cold is the night, and still, and strange,
Stars they glitter and shimmer.
All are asleep in the lonely grange
Under the midnight’s glimmer.
On glides the moon in gulfs profound;
Snow on the firs and pines around,
Snow on the roofs is gleaming.
All but the goblin are dreaming.

Gray he stands at the barnyard door,
Gray by the drifts of white there,
Looks, as oft he has looked before,
Up at the moon so bright there;
Looks at the woods, where the fir-trees tall
Shut the grange in with their dusky wall;
Ponders — some problem vexes,
Some strange riddle perplexes —

Passes his hand o’er beard and hair,
Shaking his head and cap then:
“Nay, that riddle’s too hard, I swear,
I’ll ne’er guess it mayhap then.”
But, as his wont is, he soon drives out
All such thoughts of disturbing doubt.
Frees his old head of dizziness.
And turns him at once to business.

First he tries if the locks are tight,
Safe against every danger.
Each cow dreams in the pale moonlight
Summer dreams by her manger.
Dobbin, forgetful of bits that gall,
Dreams like the cows in his well-filled stall,
Leaning his neck far over
Armfuls of fragrant clover.

Then through the bars he sees the sheep,
Watches how well they slumber.
Eyes the cock on his perch asleep,
Round him hens without number.
Carlo wakes at the goblin’s tread,
Wags then his tail and lifts his head;
Well acquainted the two are,
Friends that both tried and true are.

Last the goblin slips in to see
How all the folk are faring.
Long have they known how faithfully
He for their weal is caring.
Treading lightly on stealthy toes,
Into the children’s room he goes,
Looks at each tiny treasure:
That is his greatest pleasure.

So has he seen them, sire and son,
Year by year in that room there
Sleep first as children every one.
Ah, but whence did they come there?
This generation to that was heir,
Blossomed, grew old, and was gone — but where?
That is the hopeless, burning
Riddle ever returning.

Back to the barn he goes to rest,
Where he has fixed his dwelling
Up in the loft near the swallow’s nest,
Sweet there the hay is smelling.
Empty the swallow’s nest is now,
Back though he’ll come when the grass and bough
Bud in the warm spring weather,
He and his mate together.

Always they twitter away about
Places through which they’ve travelled,
Caring naught for the goblin’s doubt,
Though it were ne’er unravelled.
Through a chink in one of the walls
Moonlight on the old goblin falls,
White o’er his beard it wanders;
Still he puzzles and ponders.

Forest and field are silent all,
Frost their whole life congealing,
Save that the roar of the waterfall
Faintly from far is stealing.
Then the goblin, half in a dream,
Thinks it is Time’s unpausing stream,
Wonders whither ‘t is going,
And from what spring ‘t is flowing.

Cold is the night, and still, and strange,
Stars they glitter and shimmer.
All yet sleep in the lonely grange
Soundly till morn shall glimmer.
Now sinks the moon in night profound;
Snow on the firs and pines around,
Snow on the roofs is gleaming.
All but the goblin are dreaming.

From: Stork, Charles Wharton (ed. and transl.), Anthology of Swedish Lyrics From 1750 to 1915, 1917, The American-Scandinavian Society: New York, pp. 114-117.
(https://archive.org/details/anthologyofswedi00stor/)

Date: 1881 (original in Swedish); 1917 (translation in English)

By: Abraham Viktor Rydberg (1828-1895)

Translated by: Charles Wharton Stork (1881-1971)

Sunday, 2 December 2018

The Meeting Place by Christopher Pilling

(after Rubens: The Adoration of the Magi, 1634)

It was the arrival of the kings
that caught us unawares;
we’d look in on the woman in the barn,
curiosity you could call it,
something to do on a cold winter’s night;
we’d wished her well—
that was the best we could do, she was in pain,
and the next thing we knew
she was lying on the straw
—the little there was of it—-
and there was a baby in her arms.

It was, as I say, the kings
that caught us unawares…
Women have babies every other day,
not that we are there—
let’s call it a common occurrence though,
giving birth. But kings
appearing in a stable with a
‘Is this the place?’ and kneeling,
each with his gift held out towards the child!
They didn’t even notice us.
Their robes trailed on the floor,
rich, lined robes that money couldn’t buy.
What must this child be
to bring kings from distant lands
with costly incense and gold?

And what were we to make of
was it angels falling through the air,
entwined and falling as if from the rafters
to where the gaze of the kings met the child’s
—assuming the child could see?
What would the mother do with the gifts?
What would become of the child?
And we’ll never admit there are angels
or that somewhere between
one man’s eye’s and another’s
is a holy place, a space where a king could be
at one with a naked child,
at one with an astonished soldier.

From: https://talesfromthelandingbookshelves.com/tag/christopher-pilling/

Date: 1982

By: Christopher Pilling (1936- )

Saturday, 1 December 2018

Advent by Heather Derr-Smith

Birds pulse above the blood-black line of horizon.
I walk out through the sliding glass door into the backyard,

hoarfrost on the fallen leaves like thrush on a baby’s tongue.

Over the chain-link fence, three bald eagles fight for their kill
on the train tracks. My brother writes a postcard

from someplace near Bagram, fog veiling and unveiling
the Hindu Kush. In a dream he lifts his arm to cover his eyes

and I kiss the top-stitch scars along his mended wound.

In the middle of the night, a child screams awake.
But it’s only the engine of the refrigerator, faintly.

The neighbor is a mystery, a stranger to us. He lives alone,
blinds shut at all times. I suspect what we all suspect.

Sometimes I stand in the dark of my window, facing the dark of his.

From: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/advent

Date: 2016

By: Heather Derr-Smith (1971- )

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Merry Christmas! Happy Kwanzaa! by Lawrence S. Pertillar

From the shallow shopping days,
Of Christmas spent.
And gifts selected …
To induce an increased seduction.
With the onslaught of ornament productions.
May they take these memories …
And wish those feelings that excited them,
Remain.
Especially during times …
That find all who cherish these “things.”
Keep within their hearts to discover …
The thankfulness and joy, Others to them bring!
Merry Christmas! Happy Kwanzaa!
And joyous times to those,
Who are grateful and know …
They are among the blessed!
However this tradition is done,
That brings those around the world …
To address their happiness!
And fun shared with everyone.

From: http://www.ibtimes.com/kwanzaa-poems-2016-famous-poetic-verses-african-american-holiday-2464520

Date: ?2008

By: Lawrence S. Pertillar (1947- )

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Boxing Day by Julian Stannard

The dogs are going crazy.
I think Mother slipped them
some amphetamines.

A truly enormous ham
is being cooked

and the dogs are becoming idiotic and psychotic.

My ex-wife is late which is good
and not so good. Mother pulsates.

Welcome, ex-wife, have some ham.
I watch Mother slicing slicing slicing.
Two pieces of ham for ex-wife,
and three pieces of ham for me.

O Bethlehem!

O Bethlehem!

In England we eat boiled ham, Mother says.
Do you like boiled ham? Mother asks ex-wife.
Ex-wife says, I have been to West Ham,
I may have taken the wrong line.

After the enormous ham
Mother shouts, Pudding!
and off she walks to the special shed.

I am left with ex-wife.
Shall we dance? No.

Water has flowed under the bridge,
says ex-wife. Not enough, I’m thinking.

Flee whilst you can, ex-wife! Flee!

Mother’s walking back to the house,
the dogs have conked out
in some post-amphetamine afternoon lockdown.

Mother appears with a trifle.
An enormous trifle.
In England, Mother says, we eat trifle.

From: http://poems.poetrysociety.org.uk/poems/boxing-day/

Date: 2017

By: Julian Stannard (19??- )