Two more Poems, 19 December 2013 Copyright 2013 Doug Stuber

Christmas Time

Sweet, solid foil-wrapped balls spilled out onto Mom’s
rag carpet, the kind you twine together into ovals
that soften creaky stairs in the farmhouse on the hill,
or worked for months, large enough to surround the
tree picked from your own land, over six feet tall,
because the ceiling is nine feet high, meaning this house
is not as old as the cobblestones up by the lake. It’s oak
burning in the fireplace; Dad’s good with a chainsaw ax,
wedge and sledge. This time you’re one of five children
meaning someone has lifted every box to determine the gifts,
the eldest sister is helping make home-made donuts, the
tradition that you all remember most, and one Mom continues
even decades later when only two or three, with their kids,
arrive at the homestead. Bedrooms, having shrunk, all made
up to precision, remaining toys neatly shelved, pulled down by
three-year-old, discovering about the audible qualities of wood
and gravity at the same time. Conversation is what Christmas
means: powdered sugar faces behind Danish, egg-nog. You go
back in time, play board games, remember the best times, laugh,
knowing all is good today, this day, collected, cocooned, calm, cozy.

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Tenth Aniversary

Hasn’t their been enough cruelty to fill? Now that gray hairs
poke from scaly scalp can this ten-year smoke flowing over
domestic battlefield clear a long enough thin path so we can
express, at a minimum, some gratitude? Oh I know the heart
ran away in cinematic hyper-speed the moment my unrestrained
mouth told the truth. How could anyone ruin his own reputation
and the family’s with the apparent delight of a boy flushing a
lit cherry bomb down his school toilet? Again approaching a
whipping post, this one, like torn cartilage, will burn over many
years, but not heal, not burnt to the ground allowing a happy walk
away, nor mended, as cartilage has no blood circulation: thus
forever. What penance can suffice when your own penchant
for attracting negative attention heaps more on those around you
than yourself? Glass door rings a bell, lets in truck noise and
winter. You dream a future of happiness built on nothing more
than the smile of your son, some wild sports bet he had no chance
of winning, but won, running and sliding through the room. Three
friends and a spiritual advisor break your habit, then Kwang Suk
offers detached calm. This is it. You unshackle yourself, find
a free life bearable on a new ripple-free track for aging bones.

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