Powdered Doughnuts

The white cardboard barges sat nearly empty.
The only doughnuts left, powdered…
I was obviously late for work.

The snowflake sugar doesn’t wear well on brown.
I bite into one and stick my neck out like a turkey,
but still the dust coating of a cream filled

lands on my protruded uniformed gut and I react.
Brushing it off only works most of it in
like ladies cheekbones in the powder room.

I saw all the powdered doughnuts and cursed.
I grabbed one after another and began dabbing,
trying to blend in the pale spot on my belly.

Soon my midriff transformed into a snow drift.
I patted down my cheeks and my underarms.
I dusted my already salt and pepper hair.

I tapped the pastries like long ashes
of a cigarette over the toe tips of my boots
then stooped down to polish them.

I felt like corporal Klinger from M*A*S*H,
but instead of dressing in drag,
I made an attempt at Snow Queen.

I hoped to be sent home in a straight jacket,
a casualty of the Christmas rush,
a glazed over fried cake.

My manager handed me a cup of coffee…

Could Silence Be Redeemed?

I slept too, slouched,
head propped in hand.
I take blatant naps in the chair.
Only God pulls words from the air.

I am escapist, scared,
ears covered in music.
Eyelids pulled down over the heart,
a search for an inner head start.

Can silence be redeemed?
Will hard work and sleep speak
loud enough to wake their future?
Shall I pass on the hereditary torture?

I heard it from my dad in sign languish.
He quietly walked after waking.
Off to put out fires he didn’t start,
while he smoldered from the heart.

I sleep too, slouched like my dad,
my head propped in my hand.
Only God pulls words from the air,
while I take blatant naps in the chair.

Christmas Morning at 20/20 Grand Avenue

The house sat at the dead end of a street jammed with ten kids. The Old Woman could barely lace up the shoe. Yet Mom worked hard to make this time of year special. My wife has a tinge of sadness when I tell her we would get clothes for Christmas and one toy. I keep forgetting to tell her the other stuff.

Like the mistletoe hung over archway right under the plaster “Last Supper”.

Like the strung popcorn and cranberries that twirled around the tinsel strewn tree.

Like new fireman pajamas.

Like the hand knit stockings with a jingle bell dangling in the middle…twelve of them strung across the sun porch windows…each one with a knitted name.

Like the smell of mince meat pie.

Like the early years heading off to midnight mass.

Like hot cocoa made from real whole milk and sugar and cocoa after sledding at our next door neighbors, Western Michigan University’s valley one dorms.

Like when the snow which formed long cotton balls of ice and slush were fused on the bottom of our snow pants.

Like the Ames Brothers and Bing caroling us in the background.

Like the sleigh bells that hung on our back door year round…They sometimes made me think of the magic of Christmas on a hot August night.

Like heading downtown to see the Nativity and being scared of the eight foot shepherd that stared right at me.

Like when we would eat the un-yellow snow.

Like when Bob McDonald, Dennis Shields and I would comb the neighborhood and steal Christmas lights off of the bushes and throw them in the street to explode like firecrackers…Until we got caught trying to steal some off of a front door frame.

Then there was the waiting. The twelve step waiting. “My name is Jerry and I love Christmas morning.”

“Hi Jerry.”

Ten kids on twelve steps equal anticipation, impatience, giggling, flatuation, more giggles and squeezing for position on the lowest step. We tried to be quiet and yet just enough noise was generated to rouse the sleeping Santa at the bottom of the steps to the right. Said Santa just went to sleep a few of hours before.

A gurgled “not yet!” would waif itself around the corner…then more sleep breathing.


ZZZZzzzz snarf schoogle smack smack

We could see the colored light seeping around the corner from the living room. Our imaginations would be bouncing off each other like the little white dot that jumped a top of the sing along with Mitch songs on T.V. We knew there would be underwear and socks and pajamas…but what of our “list” would be under the tree. Which present of the urban sprawl under the tree would be ours? No matter the lowest girth of the fern it could not contain the gifts.

And so we sat and she snored.

And so we fidgeted and she took cleansing sighs.

And so we creaked the steps with our buttocks and she swallowed the sugarplum fairy like a hair ball.

I imagine a committee meeting on the landing was held to appoint a scapegoat. Someone had to directly ask the exhausted Merry Marilee if we could descend. Most likely it was Carol. The baby. The spoiled. The cute. The Cindy Lou Who of our who’s who. Surely Mom would be sympathetic to her soft cry for freedom. The stairs imprisoned us all like Babes in Toyland. The rail slats like iron bars on which we would drag our tin cups of impatience cuffed us. Our bodies staggered on risers like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir…yet our voices(begging)didn’t evoke yuletide inspiration per se…more like pleading for parole or pardon.

Then we would hear a rustling and our fidgeting stopped and earwax melted to listen. Out from the North Pole rose an elf in a nightie. Red was her bed head hair as she passed. Her cats eye glasses guiding her one open eye to the coffee pot. I could hear her flick open her cigarette lighter and flick her thumb twice. The fridge opened and shut. Cupboards knocked a few times. Then she walked past again to her room to get her robe. I swear I saw her smirk a little and a sleepy twinkle in her eyes. We reverted to silent body language…eyes popping out…hands almost clapping…nudging…touching…scooting.

She once more came out of her den and fetched her coffee and sat in the living room. She had a box-seat for the show.

“Alright, you can come see…”

We did see. Not her face glowing, but lights, and sagging stockings, and sleds, and stuffed animals, and candy canes hanging on the branches.

We did see. Not the whole picture of her thinking and choosing and remembering sizes.

We did see. Not her exhaustion and sore muscles.

We did see…and now that we have seen from our box seats, we all called her or stopped by her north pole to appreciate the memories. That gift is greater than any on our “list.” Memories of the ambiance of what she created for us. Each memory is a step on which to sit and wonder, like a child, how she did it.
This year the memories sit under each of our ten trees. All my siblings and I will miss talking to her and stopping by for pie in the evening. I wonder if there is mistletoe in heaven. I hope so. I hope she will be waiting there for us with some hanging over her head as she smirks then purses her lips.

Merry Christmas Mom.

Lick The Frosting

Real powdered sugar snow
sprinkled on the side of this doughnut hole.
Laid down on a shoulder already cold.

Ghosts slap the white spaces
floating and spin ‘em around.
This wind with its slip showing,

twirls and curls crystalline flakes
together like frosting and I
long to lick its sweetness off the knife.

To taste the unseen gusts of chill
in the winter batter bowl
carries this child back

to spirit filled Christmases
of opened mouths and angels lying
in the yard outside the front door.

A Christmas Card From Above. A Mom Memory

She Scotch-taped them upon arrival.
The threshold couldn’t hold them all.
Between the living room and kitchen
the Christmas cards hung open like parted lips.

Postal employees carried double heavy loads then.
Stamps were less than a dime
and tongues licked each one.
They arrived all through December.

The cards lined up and I thought
my mother was a curator of sorts.
She put them up for display
and passersby would thumb them open.

Beyond the Currier and Ives images,
beyond the glittered Santa beards,
beyond the bright star over the Savior
were cursive words at the bottom inside.

Greetings from around town and around the country,
hand written in indelible ink from indelible friends.
Aunts and uncles too, grandma’s and grandpa’s
shaken scrawl etched in the lower corner.

She sent them out too,
Her cursive swirled inside like flurries.
Her words beautiful, quiet,
and ending always in ‘Love comma.’

This Christmas eve I pray for snow.
I pray that the God of ‘Nothing is Impossible’
would sent me snowflakes in the wind
like my mother’s handwriting.

Rude Elf, the Brown Nosing Rain Dear

On Dashing,
On Damsel,
On Prankster,
and Vixen,
On Vomit,
On Stupid,
On Donetello,
and Blitzkrieg…
But do you recall
the most infamous
Rain Dear of all?

Well, do ya …. punk?

Come Any Other Way.

Oh God,
come any other way,
but not as a child.

Come in a space ship
so we can call you alien
and a figment.

Wash up on shore
as a castaway, an unknown,
scraggly and salt soaked.

Walk into town as a vagabond
so we can call the authorities
to distance us.

Stand by the side of the road
with a cardboard sign
so we can hand you a twenty and drive on.

But please don’t come as a baby.
Don’t come and coo and cry
and take our breath away.

Don’t come as we did,
dependant and humble
and wrapped up tight.

Just don’t, don’t be so vulnerable
as a wonder from a womb
bathed in the liquid of humanity.

Don’t come as a child, please.
For then we would need to
hold you in our arms.

Don’t come as an infant
so innocent and small
for we might get emotional.

Don’t come as we once were
to become as we
should be.

Don’t come in this mysterious way
for then we might come
and adore you.