—Robin Gale Odam, Sacramento
Tucked gently into gold tissue in the red box,
China doll in satin hat, ornately dressed,
awaiting Christmas Day.
I read about her today in Mama’s poem.
I bought her for Mama eight years ago but
she caught my daughter’s gaze so my
heart was torn and I gave her away and she
sat on the shelf among my daughter’s
treasures until time gave her back
I love her.
Her name is Caprice and I believe she has a
twin in Mama’s mirror.
A NORCO COLLEGE NOEL (NOVEMBER/DECEMBER)
—Michael Cluff, Highland, CA
All the finals are complete
grades put to bed
faculty, staff, administrators and students
all feel half dead.
Dr. Davis dreams
of sugar plums and accreditation
Dr. Dieckmeyer of SLOs
Curt Mitchell has nightmares about Barstow's inflation.
Assessment follows Sheryl Tschetter around
career shifts are on Dr. Farrar's mind
Dr. Crasnow worries over SB 1440
me the best cup of hot mulled wine.
Arend Flick ponders faculty development
Peter Boelman-Lopez curriculum matters
Drs. Pavlis, Zwart and Makin their on-lines sites
Monica Gutierrez dreads it when a petri dish shatters.
Chuck Sternburg wishes for a Stratocaster
Andy Robles and Keith Coleman a Fender bass
Karin Skiba a digital palette
and Dr. Freitas the secret of an atom's inner space.
Dina Humble hopes
for a world tour for the choir
Jefferson Tiangco prays for
more hook-ups into the internet's wires.
I watch the swans float by
listen for a Christmas angel's sigh
enjoy hot mulled wine in my Moreno Valley cup
on that note, I better shut up.
NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS
—Ann Wehrman, Sacramento
It had gotten to be pretty late,
but on acid, one doesn’t notice the time.
I’d taken that hit of windowpane
that I’d brought with me from school.
I had all night
to listen to the new Dead album
under the Christmas tree,
its tiny, twinkling multicolored lights prisming overhead
and the pungent living smell of sap and needles
filling my nostrils and the darkened living room.
I sat, sketched, dreamed
the world and beyond,
then Mom walked into the room,
smiling like a witch,
strong, olive-skinned face closed off
by thick, silver-threaded hair,
I couldn’t sleep; are you OK?
Did she notice I was tripping out of my mind?
Back then, we both had our secrets.
alone in my rented room,
CD from a breakfast cereal box
playing “Ave Maria” in syncopation,
I fold my black satin camisole,
pack my music and flute for
feeling your regret, I ask,
give me, this Christmas,
your continued presence in my life
if only from afar—
as I give you mine.
A CHRISTMAS GIFT
An ink-stained cloth rests on the tabletop,
itself a functional and foldout style,
with matching metal chair, and for my feet
the cardboard box in which my TV came.
My room, quite adequate, seems cozier
since the addition of a new love seat,
a present from the brash young man upstairs,
who, when we met, said, “Come up for a drink.”
He must have thought it weird that I said no,
the days of dry old maids being long past.
Still, when his plumbing leaked into my bath,
and looking in, he saw an empty house,
his generosity beat my reserve.
I fretted over what his gift might cost—
“Woman raped in her home,” the TV blares—
yet, when it came, all pink and forest green,
I took the chance and thanked him very much,
and evenings now, I sink into its warmth.
Although too short to sleep on all night long,
the love seat makes night easier to bear,
before I spread my pallet on the floor.
CHRISTMAS GLOVES 1946
—Patricia Hickerson, Davis
icy Manhattan night on Lexington
then she’s inside at the glove bin
seeking a new pair
none seem right
standing there with Don
it’s his Xmas gift
a pair of black suede gloves
she’s been looking for them
she keeps trying them on
these almost fit these don’t at all
try one pair, then another
so many gloves
black suede gloves
long short loose tight
Don stands waiting
she can’t decide
maybe she’ll just get a new boyfriend
maybe she’ll walk out of Bloomie’s
into that dwindling night before Xmas
Don, nowhere guy in bed
no matter how hard she tries
gloves don’t fit
he’s going away for a few days
wants to see his mom in Florida for Xmas
maybe these will fit
he’ll send a wire
no money from mom to finance them
“have to postpone our wedding plans”
she’ll have to keep looking
A CONNECTICUT YANKEE AND THE HOLY THORN
Crataegus monogyna ‘Biflora’
—Taylor Graham, Placerville
Joseph of Arimathea, they say, made his way
from the Holy Land to England; sat down on Weary-
All Hill and stuck his thorn-staff in the ground.
It rooted on the spot, and flowered, offshoot of a dead
branch. Here it blossoms not once, but twice a year,
May and Christmastide. Biflora, double-blooming
hawthorn, species alien to Britain, where the native
thorn blooms but once a year. At Glastonbury Abbey,
its offspring overlooks the grave of Arthur—but
wait—didn’t he sail, instead, to Avalon’s Evermore—
Ynys Avallach, the Celtic Apple-Land. Apple,
hawthorn’s sister. How legend blossoms, one lovely
conceit after another. Why shouldn’t a Connecticut
Yankee become the English Appleseed, planting
Joseph’s staff; restoring hawthorn hedges
which Man’s Agro-Economy cuts down? Imagine!
Glastonbury Thorn bright-blossoming
its legend all over Britain in the bleak mid-winter.
SOUTH COUNTY CHRISTMAS
Christmas Eve. She vacuumed every corner,
every spider web. No matter
if Sierra Domes (our mountain Daddy-longlegs)
count as family any other time of year.
They’ll find new crannies, weave
new webs. The tree—two spindling cedars
thinned from thicket, tied together
at the trunk, festooned with blue glass balls.
Do spiders dream of heaven laced with
constellations in their webs?
Can a tiny spider not sleep for joy on Christmas
Eve? Eight-leg tiptoe down banister
to gaze at the tree. Ascend a candy-cane,
explore brachts and crofts of a transfigured
world, this living ~ room.
No evidence but silk spun in the dark.
Christmas morning lights a strung-
together cedar tree suddenly webbed with
hair-nets spider-woven candle-shine.
ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS
is to have more to share.
More of the things
that grow even larger
inside of you when they
are given away to others.
—Carl Bernard Schwartz, Sacramento