, , ,

Open Link Night #23

Welcome all, to our twenty-third Open Link Night  at dVerse Poets Pub; hedgewitch (Joy Ann Jones) here, holding the door open so you can get in with all those shopping bags, or just sink into a comfortable chair by the fire with a sigh of relief.

Whether your poetry wassail of choice equates to mulled cider, espresso, hot cocoa,  or something stronger, whether you’ve been pub crawling with us from day one, or whether you are just now stumbling in the door for the first time looking for some Christmas cheer, we’re glad to see you and ready to offer some holiday poetry punch to all tonight.

I’ve been joking with one of the esteemed proprietors of this joint, Brian Miller, about this particular week falling to my lot to host. It’s not  at all that I don’t enjoy reading, talking and schmoozing with the crowd, just that I am one of the least Christmas-y types on earth. I admit to having the Christmas spirit of Scrooge (at the beginning of the tale) and the holiday festivity of your average rock. So bear with me if my jolliness is more focused on the joy and friendship we share as a community than the holly and mistletoe that too often turns out to be plastic.

In that spirit of Christmas as less than ideal, which unfortunately for many is only too sadly true, I’ve looked for a few of what I’ll call alternative Christmas poems, and found some to share. The first is a light little two-liner from Anglo-French writer and collaborator of G K Chesterton, Hillaire Belloc:

Lines For A Christmas Card
May all my enemies go to hell,
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
by Hilaire Belloc

The great Victorian Realist poet and novelist, Thomas Hardy, sets his trademark somber elegiac seal on this Christmas Ghost Story that is all too appropriate today, as many veterans return from war leaving behind those who never will. (For the young amongst us, the ‘Anno Domini” here refers to the practice of tacking that Latin phrase, meaning ‘Year of Our Lord,’ onto dates, which is no longer much followed):

A Christmas Ghost Story
South of the Line, inland from far Durban,
A mouldering soldier lies–your countryman.
Awry and doubled up are his gray bones,
And on the breeze his puzzled phantom moans
Nightly to clear Canopus: “I would know
By whom and when the All-Earth-gladdening Law
Of Peace, brought in by that Man Crucified,
Was ruled to be inept, and set aside?

And what of logic or of truth appears
In tacking ‘Anno Domini’ to the years?
Near twenty-hundred livened thus have hied,
But tarries yet the Cause for which He died.”
by Thomas Hardy

Finally I’ll close with a modern American poet, James Wright, and his harrowing contemporary poem on the darker side of Christmas:

Having Lost My Sons, I Confront The Wreckage Of The
Moon: Christmas, 1960

After dark
Near the South Dakota border,
The moon is out hunting, everywhere,
Delivering fire,
And walking down hallways
Of a diamond.

Behind a tree,
It lights on the ruins
Of a white city
Frost, frost.

Where are they gone
Who lived there?

Bundled away under wings
And dark faces.

I am sick
Of it, and I go on
Living, alone, alone,
Past the charred silos, past the hidden graves
Of Chippewas and Norwegians.

This cold winter
Moon spills the inhuman fire
Of jewels
Into my hands.

Dead riches, dead hands, the moon
And I am lost in the beautiful white ruins
Of America.
by James Wright

I hope all of us meeting here tonight in the spirit of poetry and community, whether blessed with great joy or struggling in life’s hard times, will get something beyond a bigger credit card balance from this Christmas, and perhaps get closer to the core of the season’s message of peace and goodwill from this opportunity to give the gift of sharing your work and craft with those who appreciate and enjoy it most, other poets. Let’s all remember those less fortunate, and those we love tonight, and have ourselves, as the song says, a Merry little Christmas, in our own hearts.

If you’re new to the pub, welcome, and here’s the drill:

  • Post a poem on any topic to your blog,
  • Link in the poem you’d like to share (1 per blog, please) by clicking on the Mr.Linky button just below.
  • This opens a new screen where you’ll enter your information, and where you also choose links to read. Once you have pasted your poem’s blog url and entered your name, simply click submit.
  • Don’t forget to let your readers know where you’re linking up and encourage them to participate by including a link to dVerse in your blog post.
  • Visit as many other poems as you like, commenting  as you see fit.
  • Remember, we’re here for each other. Engage your fellow poets, talk, chat, comment, let them know their work is being read, and enjoy the input you also will receive. Feel free to tweet and share on the social media of your choice.
  • Finally, enjoy–and be sure to have yourself a merry and/or twisted little Christmas!