All the stores close their registers, bolt their glass doors.
All the shoppers go home, except one who explores
the car park for hoof prints, for he’s hoping to find
the traces of reindeer. They have left him behind.
He’d stopped for one eggnog, and he had the worst luck,
for who should be sitting in the Feather and Duck?
His mate from the Navy, drinking sloe gin and lime.
They ranted old chanteys and he lost track of time.
They rejigged the hornpipe then they spliced the main brace.
As dusk came his buddy fell flat on his face.
He’d paid both their tabs from his good buddy’s cash,
left a note in his vest, ‘Don’t go throw up the sash.’
Now amok in the car park, casting light with his nose,
he attracts folks’ attention. They notice his clothes,
his felt-padded belly, fin de siècle high boots.
‘Hey, dude, you and Batman, are you two in cahoots?’
Déjà vu thoughts, history that’s happened before,
make him run to a diner, make him pound on its door.
‘Let me in. You will like me, for giving’s my bag.’
‘Come in, Hansel.’ His greeter’s a grotty old hag
who jerks him inside, saying, ‘You’re safe here from harm.
Oh, I so loved your sister, especially her arm.’
As gingerly, quietly, he breaks from her grip
to go dash up her chimney, surprised at his clip,
he notes he’s so agile it must be a gift.
‘Gift’ causes him panic as his redlined mind shifts
to the job he’s been trusted with: flying the skies
bringing presents to children. ‘My reindeer!’ he cries.
‘They’ve deserted me sadly. This evening will go
to the dogs like some royals I press-release know.
To the pits like some pols who this year gained their fat
by skinning poor peasants and avoiding the VAT.
I’m running on empty while the men who run guns
pay for adverts portraying them as better than nuns.
The guardians of Gaia have lost every round
this year to consumers, while sly pundits have found
silver linings invented to draw oohs and ahhs
from the rabble (that’s me) who could care less because
we can’t find clear targets for to focus our rage
and beliefs are derided. Pedestrian age!’
As his cri de cœur echoes through uncaring streets
an angel approaches, bearing kindness and sweets.
She embraces the sad man: ‘You’re muddled and lost.
All the chances we’ve sent you are toys you’ve tossed
from your crib into the river. You’ve tried not to soar.
You’re a raving lost tot. Never mind ‘never more.’
Here’s a new chance for Christmas (its meaning, you know).
Here’s a sleigh, brand new reindeer, and a leg up. Now go.
To the top of your courage, to the end of the mall,
to the places you dream of. I will let you fall,
but I won’t let it hurt you the grey, deadly way
that not caring shells you. Go out now, and play.’
As his angel departs him, he straightens his spine,
then whistles his eight deer, perhaps they are nine.
‘It’s Christmas, me hearties, and we’re ready for flight.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!’