Thursday, January 7, 2021


image from


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  

Posted over at d'Verse Poet's Pub OLN


Laura Bloomsbury said...

An intense and dense look at this festivity - Crimsontide a great title and all the mix of imagery is encapsulated in these lines
"Confusion reigns as myths and scripture

mingle like newts and mushrooms"

Sanaa Rizvi said...

My goodness this is majestic! I especially love; "spindle-legged camels carrying kings
to a sky full of angels humming hosannas and bending the light."💝💝

Ingrid said...

I think you've summed up absolutely everything I dislike about Christmas. Thank God that's all over for another year!

Kim M. Russell said...

I like the alternative name for the season, Crimsontide, Glenn, which reminds me of the berries that decorate our hedgerows. What a contrast in the first stanza between the ‘logs of Yule, cohorts of candy canes, and devastated’ and ‘the raw pain found in the faces of Christ on those multi-cultural crucifixes’. The phrase ‘grimacing in silver, ivory, and gold’ is so well done. If we weren’t so used to it, we would find the whole thing confusing. Us older folk have seen it develop into a commercial monstrosity, so different from the simple celebrations of our childhoods. I love the oxymoronic Santa Claus cracking a cruel whip! No wonder my daughter burst into tears the first time she was taken to Santa’s grotto!

Jane Dougherty said...

This, Glenn, I think is one of the best of your poems that I've read. You spared nothing with this one, a sleigh ride of a poem over broken beer bottles and the result of mass over-eating. Loved it.

Charlie Zero the Poet said...

The imagery in your writing is beat poetry at its finest.

Excellent write my friend. Happy New Year!

JadeLi said...

Back when I was a kid and my kids were young it was a happy time of excitement, but as the years have passed its sordid reality is apparent. It is quite a mish-mash of imagery and symbolism isn't it. The whiteness (try to find a Christmas stamp without white of santa and gear, snowman, etc!) and the redness of sacrifice, shame, guilt, etc. I like the way you describe the death of santa's suit. I think are craving tradition but we are ready for new, healthier stories attached to them.

robkistner said...

Glenn, holy shit brother, you just pushed all the buttons. This is an epic, and full of such energy and righteous contempt. I must admit, after yesterday, I have been running from my depression and anger. Ironically, I found great release in this — a catharsis. I wrote a pure escape piece today. I have filled this day with music, and am diving back into it — but this was a scorchingly powerful way to momentarily come up for air. Thank you dude.

M. Jay Dixit said...

Horrifying, intense and lingering.

Kerfe said...

All our rituals have been turned into Hallmark Holidays and excuses for waging war. Greed oozing from every wound, open and closed. As usual, you hit the mark.

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