The True Spirit Of Christmas

When they think of their holly-jolly season
have they not the wherewithal of reckoning or reason
to think of the jolly fat man with his rosy-cheeked smile
but an avatar of delusion, an effigy of denial?
Think back to our ancestors and their bitter winters
that bit with winds and snows, the icy splinters
of that fanged desolation with its arctic blasts
and the famine and the silence, the starvation that lasts
much overlong, as a cruel-clawed hag of want
whose every kiss leaves us shivering and gaunt;
and so do not deceive yourself with dazzling lights
or warm fireside carols, or candied chocolate bites,
nor smile in cheer of a frosty-bearded elf—
rather, see it from the distant ancestral self;
look back through the cold and the darkness
to see black and white, life and death, in all its starkness:
see this wendigo calamity of each passing year
returning round again with the gift of fear,
and humility, and the keen awareness of Death
as they huddled in huts together, their communal breath
heavy with cold, an apparition of prayer
frosting upon our lips, stillborn upon the air,
and recall, too, the jolly saint withered, frost-bitten,
his fingers fallen off after he has eaten each mitten
and his red suit now white with the furious blizzard
while he wanders, snowblind, like a deranged wizard.
See him burn down a whole forest of Christmas trees
to raise his body temperature by a few degrees,
and now he calls out to children, shakes his sleigh bells,
and hungers for youthful meat while the wind wails.
His reindeer shun him, for they all wisely know
not to trust a starving man, or his laughing “Ho ho ho…”
I suppose we ought feel merry for a bellyful of Christmas hog
rather than long-pig roasting over the cruel yuletide log.

The Threefold Veil

The funeral bell knelled
and threefold widows wailed,
though whether because he’d thrice wed
or woeful for the dead
wherefore none could reward him Hell
for herself, none could tell.
The Will that he willed, thus,
’twas split with much of fuss
for he willed that they each
should live within each other’s reach,
the three in the same home
or not one would but roam.
‘Twas much ado among the three
to which they said, “Fiend, O thee!”
and yanked benighted lace
away from one another’s face,
showing tears, at last, when
flowing belike forever then,
though for beloved spouse
or his wealthy farmhouse
the executor could not say,
disturbed unto dismay.
The widows raked and clawed
and did unto as ’twas outlawed,
scarring miens most meanly
so veils were needed most keenly.
None received house or land,
but naught in either hand
save lace and flesh and blood
which they chewed, like the cud.
The gravediggers later that night
laid the dead man out by moonlight,
but grabbed the box by a lax grip
so it did thereby slip,
tumbling down with a plop
and opening wide with the drop.
There he sprawled, all ‘a grin,
having tricked his wives, once again.

Acquiring Signal

He could tell she was breaking up
on the telephone line:
his terms
of service were not good
enough
and she always cut out on him
when she wasn’t the one talking.
He wished she paid
attention to him like he did to her,
but she didn’t seem to think
downloads
were as good as
uploads.
He walked around the field,
trying to get a better signal
but the distance,
(or the indifference)
was too great.
It was a clear night sky
but everything between them was
unclear, static-eaten; a bad
connection.
He had cut a
crop circle
in that field with his
frantic pacing
and was about to leave
when he saw a strange light overhead.
He was never very good at
picking up ladies,
but this girl picked him up so easily
that he felt like he was
walking on air,
head among the clouds
as she shone the limelight on him,
beaming him up to her flying saucer
as he stood stock-still,
frozen as if with stage fright.
She somehow elevated him
as she looked down upon him
and invited him into her
inner sanctum.
Once there, she picked his brain with
telepathy
and something similar to a
laser scalpel.
He opened his mind to her like a
canned ham,
and though his ex-girlfriend
thought it as unwanted as
Spam, she thought it
caviar.
She cared about what he thought
as she lit up his neurons with
so many deep questions and
so many sharp surgical instruments.
She took great care, too, with his
heart,
tenderly caressing it,
stroking it,
lovingly sealing it away
in a special, protective jar
during the dissection.
And even though she had
large black eyes
and long suction-cup fingers,
and legs that bent the wrong way,
she seemed genuinely interested in
everything about him,
her life now dedicated to him
like an extraterrestrial
Jane Goodall
so attuned to her Great Apes
that nothing else in the world mattered to her
as she brought him home
to meet her parents;
as she bragged about her
Grad school thesis experiment
on hominid males.
Looking out from his jar,
his disembodied brain
considered itself
very lucky
to have such a wonderful, immediate,
and uninterrupted
connection.

He mattered in her life.

Sympathy For The Devil

He wore a brimstone-black suit, pressed and clean,
and left his office always in the darkest witching hours,
grinning at his gold plaque with sharp teeth of equal sheen
to that golden name of his: CEO William Powers.

Arriving at the elevator, he pressed to go down
as if straight to Hell, his chauffeur smiling brightly
in the garage, to whom he told to take the limo downtown
because he had charity to give, as he always did—nightly.

They drove deep into the city, to the heart of the ghetto,
and Powers got out, going to the nearest, darkest alley
and, being a master manipulator not unlike Geppetto,
he gave an addict a fist full of money, not pausing to dillydally.

Grinning to himself, Powers then rode home for the night,
watching dark streets brighten from the limo’s window
and seeing all the seraphim lights arrayed like halos so white
that the ritzy part of the city was akin to Heaven’s glow.

‘So much wealth and greed in this place,’ he wryly thought,
‘and some people think it is Heaven.’ He laughed out loud,
imagining what Heaven really was, and how it easily brought
more happiness than this Hellish place ever allowed.

‘So many here would give their worldly treasure
just to glimpse its pearly gates, yet it can only buy a ticket
to the other place.” He then grinned without pleasure
as he thought of a camel and a needle and how one might stick it.

Going home, to his luxury townhouse in Manhatten,
William Powers ate a lavish meal, even saying a prayer
to himself, both for the food and the figure, glad he did not fatten
like so many other rich people who indulged without care.

Getting ready for bed, Will had his butler place a call
to an escort service, asking for a prompt employee
who was named Angel and who had a body built like a doll
made for pleasure, and a name that filled him with as much glee.

Afterwards, when she had been paid her love’s money,
and limped away with an exhausted smile on her face,
Will laid down as if he had been fed fully on milk and honey
and fell asleep to wistful dreams of a much better place.

The next day Powers woke up and went to the same alley
where he had given the addict thousands in crisp bills—
there were police there, and a crowd, all gathered as if to rally
the EMT’s to save the addict, now dead from too many pills.

“It’s so sad!” a woman remarked. “So sad and so cruel!”
William Powers laughed, then, and the crowd glared at him.
He was shameless, though, and so he said, “Don’t be a fool.
He died happier than any of you will.” His tone was not grim.

“You are a devil!” the woman said, turning away from his eyes.
William Powers nodded slowly, just as a dove flew into view—
so pure white, as if made of light, rising toward receptive skies.
Will watched it go, and sighed.

“You know, the Devil was an angel, too.”