The Christmas Poem


by Erik Kennedy

A tasteful Christmas tree is like a boring uncle,
a boring uncle who locks up the sherry until after lunch,
and appears in pictures wearing a grey Christmas crown,
and every year, hands folded, makes the case
that in the Church of England neither women nor men
should be bishops, only cold, perspiring, eternal stones should,
until the last few Christians die or are absorbed
as fading outlines by the holy velvet seats of pews.
In other words, no. No to the boring uncle,
and no to tastefulness, and yes to horrid trees
with homemade bugles on them and cross-eyed teddy bears
and glitter-covered stockings full of oranges
(even though an orange hasn’t been a treat
since 1881) and a consignment of angular elves
fresh from Yiwu, ‘China’s Christmas village’.
The lights should be those that emerge from out of a blazing cloud
of parsec-high, star-birthing gases that put the viewer
straight in mind of a coat of citrine leopard spots
on a sea of drifting fuchsia fog ripped by a black tide.
It’s a louche, religionless light, and that’s why it excites
the ordinary person who doesn’t give a shit
about the vanishingly subtle things like dogma
that dogmatists think are very unsubtle. For what it’s worth,
I’ll tell you another thing that makes a Christmas tree great:
like a dog on a beach ball, balance the thing finely
so it’s straight to within half a degree so it can go
on a revolving stand, and let the monstrous symbol rotate!

About the Author:

Erik Kennedy’s poems have recently appeared in, or are forthcoming in, LadowichLandfall, The Morning Star, and Sport. Essays on poetry and poetics have been published in The Los Angeles Review of Books and The Rumpus. He is the poetry editor for Queen Mob’s Teahouse. He lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.