Tag Archives: Christmas Poem

“Legacy” by Terry Severhill

We accumulate our past as though it were a treasure horde and we forget in the moments of passing down the family history to dust off the layers and the contributions of generations of liars and lawyers. We can’t seem to shake loose that thought that everything is important . . . to someone, so great-great Aunt Maggie’s recipes for stewed Uncle Franks hangover remedy is still passed around at Christmas gatherings . . . 1] Yell shrilly into either ear. . .  2] Bang pots and pans with a Metal spoon. . .  3] Serve two day old, ice cold bitter coffee . . .  4] Repeat until he gets his lazy ass up and working or until the sheriff stops by. The remnants of wedding dresses and military medals are enshrined in the collective attic of our family tree which no longer has leaves, although some think that the bats in the belfry are there to remind us to eat lots of garlic, some of us have a rational fear of vampires. We don’t have any generals in our family line. . . . none that we are allowed to speak of. . . . something about being on the wrong side of history. . . which may be akin to being on the wrong side of gravity. The best thing about having a family history is family . . . . if only we didn’t have to try and explain.

Terry’s work have been published in a variety of venues, awarded “Art Young’s Poetry Prize 2016.” He is pending publication in several journals and anthologies. His first collection, from West Vine Press, Beneath the Shadow of the Sun is due out late 2017. Terry is a member of the Veterans Writing Group of San Diego. He lives and writes in Vista, California, reads at several open mic events in San Diego County monthly.

 

“Of Things Past” by Lenny Lianne

A long time, too long, since we have done — this,
he said and plopped a fat bottle of Mateus
and two small paper cups from the bathroom
onto the table. He took out a maimed box
of Jolly Time Blast O Butter popcorn
from a grocery bag, and grinned at her.

She could tell that this was a campaign
to coax her to laugh, to forget
about the future. The distant past
would be the tactic tonight, the way
they used to take turns telling
each other about what had come before

— about those freakish Christmas gifts
from screwball aunts, sibling pranks,
his teen summer by a cirque-cupped pond.
And after a third refill of new wine,
they spilled out stories of lapsed romances
as though, by sharing their own secrets,

they’d earned whatever alighted afterwards.
Shag carpets, concrete block with wood
plank bookcases and black beanbag
chairs, each had departed by now,
passing away for better or worse,
like something familiar that’s lost its way.

     after a line by Lucia Perillo

Lenny Lianne is the author of four full-length books of poetry. She holds a MFA from George Mason University. Her poems have appeared in Rattle, California Quarterly, Third Wednesday, The Dead Mule of Southern Literature, and others.

“Barnwork We Didn’t Talk Much About” by Charles A. Swanson

Manure was the word we used, or barnyard
muck. Not that manure was elegant,
but more so in the cattle stalls.

I still remember Christmas holidays,
the manure spreader parked,
ready, between two open doors,

and long-shafted pitch forks,
one with four tines, one with five,
the wood worn smooth in the handles,

the metal burnished and gleaming,
and the litter (isn’t that a nice word)
mixed with hay coming up in layers,

almost like thin-rolled well-baked pastry.
Cow manure smells sunny
compared to pig. Cows eat grass,

breathe grass, pass grass,
and something, though faint, lingers
of clover and sun and vegetable life.

Outside, around the doors, where sweet rain
fouled manure—imagine such a thing!—
the cows’ stomping and milling

made a black mess, a true muck—
this is what shit looks like, I always
think, even now, something fetid,

fecal, foul, black as tar, suck-
deep and miry. I walked through that,
too, as barefoot country boys do,

in summertime. But in winter,
straining to pry and peel up
a thin layer, a towel-length sheet

of cow manure, I sang (whenever,
I could find, a breath, between forking,
and tossing) every Christmas carol I knew.

Charles A. Swanson teaches English in an Academy for Engineering and Technology.  Frequently published in Appalachian magazines, he also pastors a small church, Melville Avenue Baptist in Danville.  He has two books of poems:  After the Garden, published by MotesBooks, and Farm Life and Legend, from Finishing Line Press. 

 

 

“Rest Stop” by Allyson Whipple

~For Harrison Porobil

You’ve survived worse odds
than this: childhood,
hurricanes, homelessness.
This time it’s just a broken
lock that has you stuck
here, taking stock
of misfortune. What a way
to spend Christmas
morning, trapped on I-10.
Gas station toilet a stinking
pen. But no matter
how you turn and pull
and push until your muscles
burn you’re stuck with stale
air and stink and more time
than you’d like to think
about the turning of the year.

There’s sweat upon your brow
from fighting with the force
that holds you in. As it’s always been:
you’re a man of motion. Kick
the door open, get in the car.

Allyson Whipple has an M.A. in English and a black belt in Kung Fu. She is currently studying poetry through the UT-El Paso Online MFA Program. Allyson serves as co-editor of the Texas Poetry Calendar, and is the author of the chapbook We’re Smaller Than We Think We Are. She teaches at Austin Community College.

Texas Poetry Calendar 2016

“Like Her” by by J.D. Isip

Thirty-eight, maybe forty boxes—
how does that divide by nine marriages?
Old photo albums we don’t look through
stacked sideways, shut for years—
A hat box her third husband gave her
from Italy—where she said he died
At least to her—stuffed with Christmas cards
the old 70’s, foil kind—flimsy
And showy, now frail, like her

I’ve begged her to dump them, dump them all
but she protests, she pulls some trick—
A yellowed picture of my dad in a fading, brown suit
or my brother’s first card from his father (not mine)—
I digress. To me, it’s a waste
like being married nine times

To hold onto the crumbling pieces of a past
that rots away in a rented storage space
Each box as empty as they are full

Married nine times—unfathomable
as these old boxes, stuffed, overflowing
Contents far too daunting, too consuming to explore—
probably not enough to learn from, or care for
To me, it’s a waste—I’m not like her—
I’d throw them away
Clean up and move on.

J.D. Isip’s academic writings, poetry, plays, and short stories have appeared (or will appear) in a number of publications including The Louisville Review, Changing English, Revista Aetenea, St. John’s Humanities Review, Teaching American Literature, The Citron Review, Poetry Quarterly, Scholars & Rogues, Mused, and The Copperfield Review. He is a doctoral student in English at Texas A&M University-Commerce.