Two Poems by Ken Gosse

Our Christmas Guest

There’s a tree in our house that’s been dressed with great care
(not the house, Heavens no! but the tree we brought there,
although not really we, because this year, you see,
I waited at home till a quarter past three
while my wife found the tree on her own, without me,
for the USPS was expected that day
though their tracking site said to expect a delay—
like the five days before, and since then, five days more—
since they’d need a ‘John Hancock’ on reaching our door,
then at twenty past three came my part of the chore:
to bring in the tree that I mentioned before.)

Now where was I? Ah yes! The tree, naked no more,
was propped up in a stand that we placed on the floor.
Well-designed for the task, it had six screws around
its circumference ensuring the tree that we found
would have all due support and not have to resort
to its own missing roots which were once the cohort
of its balance and feeding, which both were still needing
but now were supplied by good people who tried
to ensure its good health to the end of its days—
which were numbered, in deference to our holidays.

Until then, we’ll provide it the very best care
though we burden its boughs with small colored lights’ glare
and a great crowd of ornaments hung heavy there
as remembrance; nostalgia’s soft annual stare
stays attentively watchful to guard against one
who assumes this tradition is all for his fun,
for the dog stays away but the cat loves to play
with the old, beat-up danglers which show signs of fray
from our past Christmas cats whom we never could teach
not to mangle the ornaments placed within reach.

Very soon, many presents encircle its girth
piling up on the floor, wrapped with colorful mirth,
tied with ribbons and bows (though no longer required
“because transparent tape,” yet still highly desired),
with tags attached tightly or taped into place
for the cat, once again, with his delicate grace
assumes anything loose must be his for the taking
(as proof, he’s aloof while it’s visibly shaking
beneath a rogue paw as it plays the outlaw
which precedes the full pounce of his sharply-toothed maw).

And so, once again we prepare for a season
to celebrate life, love, and laughter, the reason
we gather together beneath these strange trees
which we cull from the woods, store, or box (without ease),
but our annual efforts’ results always please
once we’ve finished the task, bought and piled the gifts,
get together with family, when focus shifts
from a dinner-time feast on a table well-set
and we circle around in the warmth we have found
in a raucous enjoyment where joy will abound
as we share our delight in a welcome well-met.

The Moving Window

The UPS has changed its mind.
The window’s closed: I stare but see
no truck—they need more time to find
my house for their delivery.

No roadways here are filled with snow;
the clouds, though deep, are very bright.
The driver knows the way to go—
I hope he’s here before it’s night.

With many promises to keep
along the roads he’ll travel by,
I hope that he’ll postpone his sleep
as I stand vigil with a sigh.

He doesn’t always love this task;
he’ll fence with those who dare complain—
those savages! Do I dare ask
how long I must await in vain?

He’s here at last, so I rejoice!
His mobile app has found the way,
and though fatigued, with friendly voice
his truck drives off like Santa’s sleigh.

Ken Gosse prefers writing short, rhymed verse with traditional meter, usually filled with whimsy and humor. First published in First Literary Review–East in November 2016, his poems are also in Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Pure Slush, Academy of the Heart and Mind, Home Planet News Online, Spillwords, and others. Raised in the Chicago suburbs, now retired, he and his wife have lived in Mesa, AZ, over twenty years.

“A Visit from St. Nicholas” by Clement Clark Moore

Clement Clarke Moore (1779-1863)

Clement Clark Moore (1779-1863) was a poet and academic who is best remembered for the following poem which he claimed to have written for his children. Although he was acknowledged throughout his lifetime as the undisputed author of the poem, which was originally published anonymously in 1823, some modern scholars have suggested a different author actually wrote the poem. What is indisputable is that the poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” is one of the most well-known poems ever written by an American poet, and has been singularly responsible for many current conceptions of Santa Claus and Christmas gift-giving in secular American culture.

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds;
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow,
Gave a lustre of midday to objects below,
When what to my wondering eyes did appear,
But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny rein-deer,
With a little old driver so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment he must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:
“Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”
As leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the housetop the coursers they flew
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too—
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly
That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight—
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”