Friday, December 17, 2010


Image borrowed from Bing


Jesus wept as he said, “Whoever shall humble himself
as a little child is great in kingdom.” (Matthew 18:4)

Those logs of Yule,
cohorts of candy canes,
and devastated forests
are upon us; many of the
children are hushed, awed, and frightened
by the raw pain found in the faces
of Christ on those multi-cultural crucifixes,
grimacing in silver, ivory, and gold.

Confusion reigns as myths and scripture
mingle like newts and mushrooms
in a Celtic Germanic Middle Eastern pastiche,
as every year concludes under an aluminum,
plastic, or dying rootless tree, flocked, bound
in popcorn, icicles, blinking lights, hallmark bulbs,
and wooden ornaments, on a designated day
linked mysteriously to St. Nicholas,
Father Christmas and Tannenbaum,
then catapulted into the sands of Judea--
to shepherds in rags with their sheep,
and spindle-legged camels carrying kings
to a sky full of angels humming hosannas
and bending the light, to wise men mantled
in bright silks standing in animal dung, kneeling
in it while extending their gifts at the feet
of a strangely silent babe sitting up
in its roughly-hewn wooden cradle, while
his mother shivered in the straw, cold and weak
in the shimmering pinlight with the strangers.

Behold as Santa Claus cracks a cruel whip
and magical reindeer from Lapland,
freshly castrated by the teeth of unblushing
virgins, defy gravity, fold back time
and pull a great silver sled across the skies
of the world, everywhere on the planet,
in one night.

Jocular St. Nick always wears his red suit,
fringed in white ermine and baby seal fur,
stretched tight over his girth
like the skin on a German sausage,
the stark white of melting polar caps
and the red drenched in blood,
the red of revolutions, of grievous wounds
of flapping flags, of opium poppies,
and of the Christ to come,
his hot blood wine becoming the chosen elixir
of priests, ministers, and evangelists;
the identical crimson stuff scourged from sinners
and infidels during a myriad of Christmas Crusades,
not that long after it had been raked into the parched
earth of Roman arenas before and after
his thirty-three birthdays, where men enslaved
were prodded with hot irons to do battle
with other men and with beasts, and those other
crucified ones could see from their own crosses
the steel meathooks plunged into heels, attached
to plumed braying burros who dragged
the corpses of the cowardly and the fallen
out the Porta Libitina, no bellicus
on their blackened bleeding lips,
no dirges or prayers, as the corpulent crowds
sat peeling grapes
and waving holiday handkerchiefs.

The frozen Popsicle in the festive stocking cap
standing next to that red tub ringing a tiny bell
outside Safeway said, “A little child shall lead them
in purity and humility.” But I still wonder
if the child won’t lose its way subsisting
on fairy tales, lies, and madness.

Glenn Buttkus

December 2010

Listed as #78 over on Magpie Tales 45

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Tess Kincaid said...

A rocky road of symbolic Christmas red, much like the bits of red John Box wove through the palette of the film version of Doctor Zhivago. Thought provoking piece, Glenn.

Jinksy said...

But I still wonder if the child won’t lose its way subsisting
on fairy tales, lies, and madness

It won't happen as long as they can differentiate between fact and fantasy - and that's a skill we all need...

Susan Gilmour said...

I liked your poem. Thank you for the gift. You prodded a vivid picture to open in my mind of Sunday school illustrations and nasty Roman Coliseum contests in the round of yore.

Jannie Funster said...

Castrated reindeer, ouch.

fairytales, lies and madness.

I think we will rise above and shine.


Jim Swindle said...

This is amazingly creative, but seems bitter. There's a sweetness in the birth of Jesus.

kathew said...

Crass Christmas Commercialization
captured in devastating precise words. Well done

Jean Sullivan said...

And here I was expecting a treatise on Alabama football . .

Coloring Outside the Lines said...

Thought provoking piece, Glenn!