—B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA
the city of bread was busy
preparing for the child
in a cave's dusty manger
not knowing the wise men
from faraway Persia
would soon be welcomed
as strangers with gifts,
it just seems like yesterday
when people like us
were watching for such signs
on red-veiled sunset skies
with lights over town
and all the angels,
dreams by children,
lines of verse by poets
and visiting trumpet players
came to us to announce
—Taylor Graham, Placerville
She fetches me a stick, then sports it
out of reach. I watch the shadow
of her leaps
as sun leaves purple splotches under pines.
She brings a tennis ball. I throw
it away, she prances it back. I refuse
to taste its history of serves and volleys;
tight-sprung strings; its flights.
She shares her panting, dog-words
I only partly understand.
But I know the peculiar amber focus
of her eyes.
Without a calendar, her tongue exults
in solstice. This new
winter morning, her gift is dances
on the tilt of earth.
—Michael Cluff, Corona
Instead of giving me new underwear
let me understand Obamacare.
gift me with a pepper shaker
made from your loving hands
not one of those Walmart rip-off brands.
in lieu of a Milanese fashion valise.
In the end, I only want
no one ever to be gaunt.
First the rush before Christmas, then the hush...