The Best Christmas Poem of All Time

You won’t find the Christmas place

in a box sporting eight tiny reindeer wrapping paper

though a close examination of

the fingerprints on that paper

will lead you

down the proper path.

Not in the twinkling lights on the neighbor’s lawn

but perhaps in the basement of the power plant

that drives all those twinkles where someone

waits for the shift to end and daydreams

of the way those nightshirts smell

as the children sleep in a pile

on the leather armchair by the tree.

Maybe a wicked soul dressed in fine wools and leathers

or an angry man with a weapon and a purpose

or the Lonely One with the disordered mind

will rest on Christmas Eve

and do the work of greed, madness and sorrow on another day.

Forget for a moment that

a tiny child in swaddling clothes,

his parents huddled near and breathing

in shallow unison on the dusty hay,

will make cups and chairs and tables

when he grows to do the hard work of adults.

Forget for yet another fleeting moment

that as his compensation

for working hard and making

things and providing wise counsel,

the same tiny child will one day

be nailed to a pair of trees through his palms

and lanced by careless men with swords

until he calls out to his emotionally distant

father to complain.

All this makes a fine story

but a story lived by many among us

without such excellent public relations

and much smaller fan clubs.

At some juncture in that state of mind

which is Christmas proper

we should take note

of the man hunched at the end

of the bar,

his hands beautiful with crimson lacerations,

scarred and stained

and burning matches one by one

dropping them to the ash tray and

drinking with a purpose.

He has shavings of white oak and

black maple and Honduras mahogany in the cuffs

of his overalls, but that

is another matter altogether.

Look down the bar again and recall the words:

“The Son of Man came eating and drinking,

and they say,’ Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard,

a friend of tax collectors and sinners!

But wisdom is justified by her children.”

and his grin spreads wider

when a stranger recalls him from

his reverie along the lost highway of the mind

with the offer of

a drink to share.

It is always on the walk home through

the snow, the air itself crackling with chilly, distant

unintelligible voices

that it comes to you in a rush

some feeling to do with

wood shavings and the smell

of burning candles but not a feeling

you can keep in a box

or dress in eight tiny reindeer wrapping paper.

And so this is the way of the world,

and a hard way by all accounts,

but decorated also with

delicate ornaments seen through the gauzy haze

of youth and memory.

The way the lights diffused

through the screened porch door

with the Christmas spruce behind it

and those people casting shadows on the floor

a beacon to the Christmas seeker.

But near the end of the

journey to the Christmas place

look to the women

as they seem to hold

some ineluctable droplet

in their hands

which on the closest inspection

can be seen the inverted

reflection of snowflakes falling outside

and of tawny loaves

upon the kitchen counter…

Merry Christmas From

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