Mall Santa

The crowd looms
& I’m a mild spectacle
Ho, Ho for dough
I smile, wave, & shout,
“Merry Christmas!” yes I believe & I
Tell some of the nose miners
As I’m led, that Christmas is really
About Baby Jesus, some of them know this, yet
I am forbidden to do this, by the hucksters from
New Jersey that run the photo business here,
The parents are generally having a good time
The Mall is reasonable, making
The concession folks let the parents take pictures
On their phone camera, without buying & all
Can sit on Santa’s knee, buyers or not,
The poor are challenged by the $40 dollar snapshots
Insatiable consumerism? Charlie Brown might think so,
Then, there are the little ones that
Really believe, the college students
Running the set are intelligent & need
The money, I’m old and still,
I think intelligent, & I
Need the money, though I can’t every time
Remember all the names of the damn reindeer
I rattle off the ones I do know at that moment & it always works
No one tests Santa, had I walked by this scene
& some other white bearded fat man was doing this, like in a Brueghel painting,
About Icarus, I’d take no notice, & the line of children daily winds around,
Some of children want toys that total more than
Two months pay for a middle class family & some, like a small smiling boy, from
A humble household by the look of his smiling parents,
Asks only for new slippers, and his thread bare brother asks for a new coat,
& hearing this my heart wells up and the parents smile & I know
They’ll get them & I say,
Why yes!  Santa knows you are good boys!”
& I say the same to most of them & even
To the affluent, knowing if the thousands of
Dollars of tabulated excess does not all work out
Disappointment will actually help them,
& near Christmas after a lunch break I stride in the Mall with
A confident “HO, HO, HO,” & a little guy streaks away from his mother
& runs a hundred feet to me as fast as his 15 inch legs will take him &
I sweep him up in my arms & he holds tightly to my neck
& won’t let go & the next day
This scene is repeated by another tyke exactly the same way &
Now, approaching 70, I may not do this next year as
I sometimes long in this exact same manner, to
Run to the arms of God & hug His neck.

Sun flower heads

I put two large

Sun flower heads

On the railing of

My deck overlooking

The river a month ago

& a titmouse

Is taking a meal now,

When I had commercial

Bird seed there, every bird

Seemed to come around,

Now there are only four,

I should say Titmice,

Because, well it is fun to write Titmice

As I look over my  coffee

& this small action, a

Blue heron flies up river

& his grey blue slow beating wings

pass the early light & flashed a

Bright blue through the tree forks

As sunlight hit the wispy feathers,

Just right toward my neighbors well-kept yard, &

Two snowy egrets pass downriver &

Three humming birds fight

At their feeder, on my deck while NPR

Tells me there may be troops

Once again to Iraq,

As some Muslims are beheading

Journalists and children &

Crucifying Christians in open squares

High above at this moment

The last two pieces of oak have gone

Into the stove

& it’s too dark & icy to get more,

Inside the stove a chunk to the right

Smolders & pops

To the left about thirty seconds

Ago the other said the same

 

It is getting cold—a jet

High above at this moment

Is taking someone

Toward a sad occasion

We all suffer

 

Iris in a water carafe

Is stupidly trying to bloom

In December

 

On the hot stove I dropped Frankincense

This after noon

& a Holy odor

Pervades this cabin

No priests on this mountain

Wind chimes however

Announce epiphany

Unrecorded

 

Lovers embrace in

Immaculate numbers

All over the planet

Genetic material furthered

To be exactly what they

Are, themselves, guiltless after Christ,

Either by love or some other reason

 

Life brings on abundant life &

His own purpose

& like the tides, surges connection

Recedes, then surges again.

Venus Void of course

Stepping out into

The crisp night air under leafless

Oaks, there is a clean

Smell that can only be

Had in certain places,

Venus shimmers off mountain

Horizon, I thought maybe

You were looking at her too

 

Glimmering off your Bodega Bay

The pliable ivory of your face

& red hair

& connected pervasively,

Venus occluded with moon

Four days ago.

 

While you know

I don’t buy Astrology

& for you that’s part

Of your faith & that’s all right

For you then

I wonder about now

 

Three days before this evening

I’m told of twelve people

Are meeting

Three of which believe

That they are from Venus

& have video tape of

Venusian space ship

Landing on earth

 

Life is preciously beautiful

& we are part & parcel of

Gaseous formation of the adjacent

Planet & I would never want

To break up their meeting, & laughing

Though I am

 

Knowing that voiding time

All of this is a togethered thing &

While Botticelli’s art

Which we accept unlike

The Venusian space ship

& how he

Put her so delicately

On the half-shell

With your red hair

 

It is more like

A dream this art as life

Than a reverie

But there in imagination

We loved each other

& shared our last name w/out marriage

no relation & states away

A decade apart our

Birthdays, yet the same?

 

We astonished each other

You were swooped off

To California, but

In this cabin, this damn

Cold Oregon December,

Your red hair spilled across

My chest, your smell like

Lilac must, your

Touch soft, is soft &

Warm air becomes heavy

Acrid smoke fills the air,

A cabin, or a cave,

Or a peat heated shanty above

A wind swept cliff & the sheep bells

Clang in the mist?

 

I saw a reflection in your eyes

Dim light, our bodies move,

& then we were still, & your

Touch again, it should not be

A dream, yet it was

& that’s all we had

 

My heart surged

Not from desire

But from wonder &

Though we never made love you

Were many times on

My arm & we many times kissed

Deep spit swapping passion

& one night we slept together

This imagination makes what it will

Yet you were always a person

Not to be worshiped

But to be known & we knew each

Other in some kind of morphic

Field that came together & said

Remember?

 

I don’t buy reincarnation either, but

The neo-paganism you seemed to love, hey

The playful part I get,

Masks &drums & the anthropomorphic

Notion of animals, like coyote, but

The old gods have always been

Flipping  dead

Pagan playfulness, still has a black ribbon

Running through it to the diabolic,

As did the inquisition,

Or any religious spirit

In every camp—waiting

For the wrong move away

Presence interior & from

Above simultaneously

 

The dimness fades

& the light grows

Too, too bright

I close my eyes

Black ice on asphalt & fire

On the moon

We were both void of direction

Toward God

 

& then I see again your face

Surprised

Then calm, your face changes, again &

Ten out of ten of us die

& you were eventually gone

Earned Wisdom

I hadn’t been home long enough to take a shower

& there came a pounding on the door & I knew only too well

Who it was and he was the last person in the world I wanted to see.

I answered the door.

“Ah Heartache my old friend,” I said,

“Come in you, son-of-a-bitch, come on in make yourself at home.

You know your way around, there’s beer in the refrigerator.

“I gotta  grab a shower.”

He didn’t say a word but headed for the Hotpoint refrigerator

Next to the Frigidaire gas stove.

I got in the shower and washed off the grime from the roofing job,

I’d hated for the last month.  One more week and that would be done.

Then hopefully the rains would start; I’d be off with unemployment checks

Until an editing job promised me, turned up in January

& I could get some of my own writing done,

Without worrying about the wolves at the door

Although this guy and his friends were worse than wolves

I got out of the shower and there he was with his feet propped on my coffee table

Watching the six o’clock news. He had  gone through one sixteen ouncer

& was well into his second —I’d been expecting him

But was wishing he’d gone back to California where he belonged

“Looking kind of down in the mouth,” I said.

“Been with that bitch Envy again haven’t you?

What? And her sister Passion as well.

You sick bastard

That’s what I’ve always admired about you.”

I finished drying my hair and zipped open another tall boy.

I just sat there eyeing the tube with as much attention &

Chagrin at the commercials as he gave Tom Brokaw.

I wanted him out of the apartment but felt some strange

Premonition he needed to be there,

Then there came another knocking at the door.

I answered & there stood

Misery in Friday night togs looking like an escapee

from a disco pogrom  years ago.

“Yeah, I might of known it would be you,” I told him as I opened the door.

“Come in it seems I’ve got some company you’re gonna love.  The beers are where they stay cold.”

And it wasn’t three minutes before there I was with both of them on my couch,

Drinking my beer and arguing about the Baseball strike.

Misery was immediately on the side of the owners  & caps,

Allowing as how he’d never made even one percent of average players salary

While old Heartache lashed into the right to collectively bargain

& protection under anti-trust laws & how Misery’s one percent

Was because he’d never worked longer than three months his life

& couldn’t do anything other than complain well.

I bought out three cans of oily sardines and a bag of chips

before they got around to yelling for food.

I’d scarcely gotten the hosting job done when a banging started at the back door.

“Who the hell could this be now?”

I made my way back through the rubble of beer cans

on the back porch  with its idle fishing poles

& the washing machine that never worked

& there he was—his left shoulder facing me

& looking up into the sky bright almost neon

Twilight of October’s bright changing colors solemnly turning gray

“Loneliness, you bastard,” I grumbled.

“At least you brought beer,”  I told him,

I made my way back into the apartment

Loneliness shuffling in behind me.

“Look who’s here boys,” I yelled

As I went for another one my beers before they were all gone.

I knew Loneliness brought the beer the least money can buy.

Every three months with the change the seasons it seemed

He abandoned whatever twelve-step he was in

& ended back on my back porch with the cheap beer

I made my way back into the living room & they all were making

More noise without saying anything, than Howard Cosell ever did,

Arguing about Self-Pity and whether he was going make it back into town.

“That’s all I need,” I said out loud, “is to have that creep show up tonight.”

I then made a mental note not let him in if he did.

When I discovered that there was nowhere to sit, I took the floor

In front of the tube and they’d switched on a two month old golf tournament

Where a baseball game should have been, &

I knew it was going to be a bad night.