Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #333, Theme: Exhaustion

The Day after Christmas

Twas the day after Christmas,
when all through the world,
everyone lay a-sleeping,
exhausted from too much holiday keeping.

The Northern Lights are like a cloud of magic
beckoning him home to the North Pole,
the reindeer leaving behind lumps of coal.
It has been a long night of noshing,
crawling up and down fireplaces in snowy wonderlands,
and in and out of windows in rainy summerlands.

He was an old man—
this giver of gifts—
when he was given everlasting life
almost two thousand years ago.
With the help of his elves,
he crafted the cradle
for the Baby King in the manger;
his wife, Ella, had sewn the blanket
He was wrap’t in—
a shroud of Bethlehem.

When he and the Missus
had touched the Babe’s head,
death was swallowed up whole,
and they were given a task—
to be not the masters,
but the servants of the least among them.

He feels his light fading at times,
for fewer children believe now,
but the younger ones do,
for the Kingdom of Heaven
is made up of such.

All the families, he knew by name—
the ones who leave rummy eggnog in punch mugs
and brandied fruitcake on tea plates;
the ones who leave reindeer treats,
and sugar cookies shaped like stars and snowflakes;
the ones with nothing to give
but letters of wishes and thank you cards
and handmade keepsakes.

It wasn’t till centuries later that
the young Norman had captured his essence,
for the boy had caught him unawares
the year he’d left him a box of colors
with which he’d painted the world—
capturing the spirit of Americana,
of happy times and auld lang syne.
Norman had brought him to life through memory—
imagination filling in the rest,
capturing the awe and wonder
so many children possess.

As Santa nears home,
the reindeer skating over the ice,
he whispers to the midnight clear,
“Happy Christmastide to all,
and to all, a Happy New Year!”

Boxing Day

boxing-day-snow-globe-1.jpg

The shelves in the shops have been ransacked—
all but the candy,
which won’t be on clearance for another week.
There is glitter everywhere,
coating every surface like fingerprint powder—
the aftermath of consumerist crimes.

Packs of wild-eyed women grab and toss,
their carts queueing up like battering rams,
juxtaposed against a mass regurgitation of goods—
a symptom of the holiday hangover.

The joy of the season has smoked like a pipe dream,
and all that was so prettily placed
has been leveled to plastic ruins.
Broken glass,
like Kristallnacht,
has been swept under the now skeletal fake firs;
the silver has worn off the angels,
the gold off the goody tins.
None of it was real after all.
Time broke the spell.

The tableau is reminiscent of a post-apocalyptic surreality,
following the celebration of a divine birth—
ushering in the red death of retail.
Santa is hungover somewhere under the Northern Lights,
hatching his next Socialist experiment.

Few got what they wanted,
for most buy for themselves throughout the year.
The unwanted little darlings that ended up under their evergreens
are regifts for next year’s “Dirty Santa” parties.

Congealed gravy sits in the fridge,
and ham bones star in crock pot Yankee Bean Soup.
There is one last slice of pie that no one wants;
a cranberry has been crushed into the carpet.
The rubbish bins runneth over with the corpses of dead trees.

The carols have gone silent,
the bells have stopped ringing,
the lights have went out,
and the bleakness—
known as Christmas Come and Gone—
has become an oppressive presence.

Churches will be half-full (optimistically) once again,
and the snow will no longer glisten red and green.
The metallic tinsel dangles from the chandelier
like an instrument of flagellation and strangulation,
choking the life out of the year,
as it breathes its last breaths.

The lustre of Christmas is pined for,
for Christmas is a stopping place;
the New Year marks a start few of us want to make
but feel we must,
for the quest of self-improvement is a road that never dead ends,
always leaving us empty,
wanting more.