Archive for ‘Christmas’

Monday, 26 December 2022

Boxing Day at Gerroa by Andrew Hamilton

Smoke today was in the air,
scratching at the eyes and nose.
The declining sun was tomato red,
burning from a hundred fires,
grieving for a land turned black.


Date: 2020

By: Andrew Hamilton (1938- )

Sunday, 25 December 2022

The First Christmas by Marian Swinger

It never snows at Christmas in that dry and dusty land.
Instead of freezing blizzards, there are palms and drifting sands,
and years ago a stable and a most unusual star
and three wise men who followed it, by camel, not by car,
while, sleepy on the quiet hills, a shepherd gave a cry.
He’d seen a crowd of angels in the silent starlit sky.
In the stable, ox and ass stood very still and calm
and gazed upon the baby, safe and snug in Mary’s arms.
And Joseph, lost in shadows, face lit by an oil lamp’s glow
stood wondering, that first Christmas Day, two thousand years ago.


Date: 2020

By: Marian Swinger (19??- )

Saturday, 24 December 2022

The Christmas Letter by John N. Morris

Wherever you are when you receive this letter
I write to say we are still ourselves
In the same place
And hope you are the same.

The dead have died as you know
And will never get better,
And the children are boys and girls
Of their several ages and names.

So in closing I send you our love
And hope to hear from you soon.
There is never a time
Like the present. It lasts forever
Wherever you are. As ever I remain.

From: Morris, John N, “The Christmas Letter” in Poetry, February 1977, Volume 129, Issue 5, p. 269.

Date: 1977

By: John N. Morris (1931-1997)

Friday, 23 December 2022

Losing Faith by Mary McLaughlin Slechta

In second grade I had the braids,
the name and faith
to play the mother of Christ
Instead they gave the part to white Patty
and meant to appease me
with “conductor of the ho-ho-ho choir”

I scraped and bowed the verses
in a party dress that rose and fell
with applause and laughter
Even my mother and sister saw the joke
inside a saggy pair of bloomers

Who among them understood
how the role of “Mary”
suited me better
How it still does
thirty years later
with only a name
to recommend me


Date: 20??

By: Mary McLaughlin Slechta (19??- )

Sunday, 27 November 2022

The Angel Gabriel Talks Annunciation to Mary by Margaret Benbow

Before he’s said a word,
even as he bends the knee and rears his
wings in golden branches that wow them every time
(the more the little peasant is impressed, the faster this will be)
his eye is mournfully absorbed in what he sees.
She’s still a child, he can smell
honey and dairy on her, and just now she secretly
put out a finger in wonder to touch a feather.

Gabriel lugs the huge gold nugget words Messiah baby
into the conversation early, dazzles those big eyes:
but he saves the awkward
Crucifixion, with its spiky thorns,
for later, or never. Also, wrong time to mention
five wounds, or drop those bricks
lash, wood, nail, storm, tomb.

Leave it to life to tell her. After all, he’s not lying:
she will bear the main earthman of all time.
She’ll lose him, but
time chars all our beloveds.
Gabriel sighs just once.
Then like the whip-length of snake who first sold Eve the apple
he fixes Mary with a gaze
bright and old as quartz in granite:

Have I got a sweet deal for you.


Date: 2018

By: Margaret Benbow (19??- )

Sunday, 26 December 2021

Just Doing My Job by Clare Bevan

I’m one of Herod’s Henchmen.
We don’t have much to say,
We just charge through the audience
In a Henchman sort of way.

We all wear woolly helmets
To hide our hair and ears,
And Wellingtons sprayed silver
To match our tinfoil spears.

Our swords are made of cardboard
So blood will not be spilled
If we trip and stab a parent
When the hall’s completely filled.

We don’t look very scary,
We’re mostly small and shy,
And some of us wear glasses,
But we give the thing a try.

We whisper Henchman noises
While Herod hunts for strangers,
And then we all charge out again
Like nervous Power Rangers.

Yet when the play is over
And Miss is out of breath
We’ll charge like Henchmen through the hall
And scare our mums to death.


Date: 2004

By: Clare Bevan (19??- )

Saturday, 25 December 2021

A Christmas Letter from Australia by Douglas Brooke Wheelton Sladen

’T is Christmas, and the North wind blows; ’t was two years yesterday
Since from the Lusitania’s bows I looked o’er Table Bay,
A tripper round the narrow world, a pilgrim of the main,
Expecting when her sails unfurled to start for home again.

’T is Christmas, and the North wind blows; to-day our hearts are one,
Though you are ’mid the English snows and I in Austral sun;
You, when you hear the Northern blast, pile high a mightier fire,
Our ladies cower until it’s past in lawn and lace attire.

I fancy I can picture you upon this Christmas night,
Just sitting as you used to do, the laughter at its height:
And then a sudden, silent pause intruding on your glee,
And kind eyes glistening because you chanced to think of me.

This morning when I woke and knew ’t was Christmas come again,
I almost fancied I could view white rime upon the pane,
And hear the ringing of the wheels upon the frosty ground,
And see the drip that downward steals in icy casket bound.

I daresay you ’ll be on the lake, or sliding on the snow,
And breathing on your hands to make the circulation flow,
Nestling your nose among the furs of which your boa ’s made,—
The Fahrenheit here registers a hundred in the shade.

It is not quite a Christmas here with this unclouded sky,
This pure transparent atmosphere, this sun midheaven-high;
To see the rose upon the bush, young leaves upon the trees,
And hear the forest’s summer hush or the low hum of bees.

But cold winds bring not Christmastide, nor budding roses June,
And when it’s night upon your side we ’re basking in the noon.
Kind hearts make Christmas—June can bring blue sky or clouds above;
The only universal spring is that which comes of love.

And so it’s Christmas in the South as on the North-Sea coasts,
Though we are starved with summer-drouth and you with winter frosts.
And we shall have our roast beef here, and think of you the while,
Though all the watery hemisphere cuts off the mother isle.

Feel sure that we shall think of you, we who have wandered forth,
And many a million thoughts will go to-day from south to north;
Old heads will muse on churches old, where bells will ring to-day—
The very bells, perchance, which tolled their fathers to the clay.

And now, good-night! and I shall dream that I am with you all,
Watching the ruddy embers gleam athwart the panelled hall;
Nor care I if I dream or not, though severed by the foam,
My heart is always in the spot which was my childhood’s home.


Date: 1885

By: George Brooke Wheelton Sladen (1856-1947)

Friday, 24 December 2021

Model-Train Display at Christmas in a Shopping Mall Food Court by James Arthur

These kids watching so intently
on every side of the display
must love the feeling of being gigantic:
of having a giant’s power
over this little world of snow, where buttons
lift and lower
the railway’s crossing gate, or switch the track,
or make the bent wire topped with a toy helicopter
turn and turn
like a sped-up sunflower. A steam engine
draws coal tender, passenger cars, and a gleaming caboose
out from the mountain tunnel,
through a forest of spruce and pine, over the trestle bridge,
to come down near the old silver mine.

Maybe all Christmases
are haunted by Christmases long gone:
old songs, old customs, people who loved you
and who’ve died. Within a family
sometimes even the smallest disagreements
can turn, and grow unkind.

The train’s imaginary passengers,
looking outward from inside,
are steaming toward the one town they could be going to:
the town they have just left,
where everything is local
and nothing is to scale. One church, one skating rink,
one place to buy a saw.
A single hook-and-ladder truck
and one officer of the law. Maybe in another valley
it’s early spring
and the thick air is redolent of chimney smoke and rain,
but here the diner’s always open
so you can always get a meal. Or go down to the drive-in
looking for a fight. Or stay up
all night, so tormented by desire, you can hardly think.

Beyond the edges of the model-train display, the food court
is abuzz. Gingerbread and candy canes
surround a blow mold Virgin Mary, illuminated from within;
a grapevine reindeer
has been hung with sticks of cinnamon. One by one, kids
get pulled away
from the model trains: Christmas Eve is bearing down,
and many chores remain undone.

But for every child who leaves, another child appears.
The great pagan pine
catches and throws back wave on wave of light,
like a king-size chandelier, announcing
that the jingle hop has begun,
and the drummer boy
still has nothing to offer the son of God
but the sound of one small drum.


Date: 2018

By: James Arthur (1974- )

Wednesday, 8 December 2021

Before Christmas by John Corben

The year tips, the sun
slips towards the sky’s edge, and
dark bites at the day.

Shopping after dark:
hands clutching carrier-bags
stuffed with surprises.

The pillar-box’s
smiling mouth swallows our cards,
cheered by the greetings.

Christmas cards snow through
the letter-box. Open them
and brightness thaws out.

Lying awake I
hear clattering hooves: reindeer
landing on the roof.

From: Harrison, Michael and Stuart-Clark, Christopher (ed.), The Oxford Treasury of Christmas Poems, 2008, Oxford University Press: Oxford, p. 13.

Date: 1991

By: John Corben (19??- )

Sunday, 28 November 2021

Advent Days by Kate Seymour MacLean

The centuries grow old; one after one
The circle rounds into the perfect orb,
Forging the silver links that backward run
Along the twilight slopes of hoary time,
(Which the past darkness cannot quite absorb).
To that first day of Eden’s rosy prime,
When stars and seraphs, and the crystal spheres,
In the pure ether turning, sang the world’s first morn.
In music still the slow-revolving years
Turn in their silver chain, unheard of men,
Bringing the birthday of the world again, —
Bringing the infant Christ which should be born.

Once more bright angels gather in the sky,
And the dull ear of night awakes to hear
The far-off sound of heavenly pinions furled,
And glad hosannas singing sweet and clear —
Peace, peace on Earth— glory to God on high,
In the new birth-song of the ransomed world.
O day sublime to which all other days
Flow down convergent since earth’s days begun,
And all their separate and scattered rays,
Down the vast space, unmeasured of the sun —
The twilight of the ages— merge in one,
To kindle in these later alien skies
The white lamp of that earlier paradise!

From: MacLean, Kate Seymour, Advent Days and Poems of Remembrance, 1902, The Jackson Press: Kingston, p. [unnumbered].

Date: 1902

By: Kate Seymour MacLean (1829-1916)