Thursday, December 20, 2012

Poem 30 - Christmas party at the South Danbury Church

This week, we’ll do a Christmas poem—a little early. In the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, a poem about children at Christmastime seems a good remedy for broken hearts.

I remember those church programs. We’d work for weeks on the rehearsal. The program was the same every year, and you’d move up from misc. angel (or. misc. shepherd or wise man) to Mary (or Joseph) to narrator as you moved through the grades. After hearing the gospel story of Jesus’s birth read so many times, I now have it memorized: In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled….

But only after reading this poem do I remember, too, the years that Alvin Quarne dressed up in a Santa suit to hand out brown paper lunch sacks filled with peanuts in the shell, hard candy, and oranges. I remember, now, thinking as a kid, Santa really shouldn’t be in church. Not yet knowing the word “secular,” I certainly understood the idea.

Christmas party at the South Danbury Church
Donald Hall

December twenty-first
we gather at the white Church festooned
  red and green, the tree flashing
green-red lights beside the altar.
 After the children of Sunday School
recite Scripture, sing songs,
  and scrape out solos,
they retire to dress for the finale,
 to perform the pageant
again: Mary and Joseph kneeling
   cradleside, Three Kings,
shepherds and shepherdesses.  Their garments
   are bathrobes with mothholes,
cut down from the Church’s ancestors.
   Standing short and long,
they stare in all directions for mothers,
   sisters and brothers,
giggling and waving in recognition,
   and at the South Danbury
Church, a moment before Santa
   arrives with her ho-hos
and bags of popcorn, in the half-dark
   of whole silence, God
enters the world as a newborn again.

from The New Criterion (Jan. 1995)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Poem 29 - A. M. Report & Mutual

We had our first big snowfall here in Wisconsin. We received at least a foot of the stuff, so I went in search of a nice snow poem. Here are two very similar poems about snow and birds.

A. M. Report
Bob Arnold

Snow overnight—
Every bird at the feeder
Looks a hobo

from Blink
Volume 3, Number 3, November-December 2003

Jean L. Connor

After the snow, in plunging
cold, goldfinches flock
to my feeder and I,
at the window, feed
and feast on the sight—
the world up-righted again
by so slight a thing
as thistle seed and favor.

from Passager
Issue 34, 2001

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Poem 28 - Lending Out Books

Here’s a charming little poem about a better way to meet people—with an obvious metaphor/lesson: take from those who are ready to give.

Lending Out Books
Hal Sirowitz

You’re always giving, my therapist said.
You have to learn how to take. Whenever
you meet a woman, the first thing you do
is lend her your books. You think she’ll
have to see you again in order to return them.
But what happens is, she doesn’t have the time
to read them, & she’s afraid if she sees you again
you’ll expect her to talk about them, & will
want to lend her even more. So she
cancels the date. You end up losing
a lot of books. You should borrow hers.

from My Therapist Said, 1998