The Trip to the Tree at Christmas

You set out with him in a blizzard,
you in your Mighty Mac, him in his parka,
workboots, wool hat, and holding in the firm
grip of his thick black gloves an axe.

Though only ten minutes have passed
since you left the house, it seems like
hours the wind’s been driving the snow
into your face like so many tiny needles.

You can’t see a thing other than
a veil of white and the stinging flakes
and his bulky shape up ahead as
your father yells, “Keep up, boy”.

And you keep up because this is how
a man becomes a man in Nebraska –
dutifully following his father through
a white-out with both of you on a mission.

And you stumble and you try to
do your best to keep up, because
out here on the Great Plains,
good boys don’t disappoint their fathers.

At last you can see the tree ahead,
the one where you are headed,
the one you talked about before
you left the farmhouse.

You get there and your father pauses
only for a second as he assesses
the situation, forms a strategy
where the blow of the axe will fall.

He swings the axe down hard
into the tree – a powerful but precise
blow that cuts through the thick rope
that has held your brother there overnight.

His body slumps to the ground and you worry that
your father was wrong – that he might be dead.
You see that his lips are not blue, but are
still the bright cherry red of the lipstick.

After failing to rouse him awake and
making sure he’s still breathing,
your father says to you, “Looks like we’ll
have to drag him back to the house.”

He flips your brother on his back,
gathers the rope from around the tree
then loops it under each arm of your brother
“Pull hard and keep up,” he says, handing you one end of rope.

And you pull hard and you try to
do your best to keep up, because
out here on the Great Plains,
good boys don’t disappoint their fathers.


Another piece from the genre I’m calling “Bizarro Ted Kooser”

A Christmas Miracle

I remember it like it was last year.

It was the day before Christmas 2009 and we had a crapload of orders that needed to be loaded into the trucks. But wouldn’t you know it? The back door to the warehouse was jammed.

Mike, Bob, Tim, me – all the guys in the warehouse – we couldn’t bust the sucker open, no matter how hard we tried.

The drivers were no use. They were union.

So we called our V.P. of Operations, who had taken the week off, and told him about the problem. He yelled at us a little, but ended up coming in to personally inspect the situation.

After he applied some industrial lubricant to the door railings, we tried the door once again.

Guess what? It worked!

“Why couldn’t any of you stupid fucking monkeys do that on your own?” he asked, walking away.

Then he turned.

“Oh yeah, and Merry Christmas.”

- THE END -

One-Way Conversation on the Orange Line

Man walks around town with lit Christmas tree lights wrapped around him,
they call him “crazy.”

Man walks around town with lit Christmas tree lights wrapped around him,
and dressed like a cowboy
they call him “some poor-man’s Electric Horseman.”

But consider this….

Man walks around town with lit Christmas tree lights wrapped around him,
and it happens to be Christmas time,
they call him “festive.”

Man walks around town with lit Christmas tree lights wrapped around him
and dressed like a cowboy and it happens to be Christmas time
they call him “the Christmas Cowboy.”

We’ve might have found something here…

Man walks around town with lit Christmas tree lights wrapped around him
PRIOR to 1979 AND dressed like a Cowboy,
They call him “an eccentric cowboy.”

Man walks around town with lit Christmas tree lights wrapped around him
PRIOR to 1879 AND dressed like a Cowboy
They call him “a cowboy from the future.”

Alright. We’re getting somewhere.

OK, take that same man,
the one who’s always walking around with Christmas tree lights wrapped around him
and you send him back in time, say, up to Salem, Mass. in 1614
they’d call him “a witch” and burn him.

But you take that same man with the Christmas tree lights wrapped around him
and stick him back in some ancient civilization like the Incan or Aztec empires
and have him walk around the village with lit Christmas tree lights wrapped around him
and they’d probably call him “a God” and worship him.

Now, where does this put us back in present?

Man runs around town with Christmas tree lights wrapped around him
wearing a track suit and a headband
some will call him “that crazy running guy”
and the dumb folks will call him “too cheap to by reflectors”.

Man runs exactly 26.2 miles around town with Christmas tree lights wrapped around him
wearing a track suit and a headband
they’ll call him “an eccentric marathoner.”

But if he does it around Christmas time?
He’s “a festive marathoner.”

Man walks around town with Christmas tree lights wrapped around him
then stumbles into the town hall Christmas tree
they’ll call him “a drunk.”

man walks around town with lit Christmas tree lights wrapped around him
and a bottle of Boonesberry or cheap wine
and he hops a freight train heading West
some will say “good riddance, hobo”
others will say “so long, hobo,”
and others will say “where are the Christmas tree lights we used to keep in the garage?”

Man walks around town with lit Christmas tree lights wrapped around him
stealing sheep they call him “a crazy sheep thief.”

Man walks around town with lit Christmas tree lights wrapped around him
buggering sheep they call him “a crazy perv.”

Man walks around town with lit Christmas tree lights wrapped around him
sheering sheep they call him “that strange little sheep barber.”

But take that same man walks around town with lit Christmas tree lights wrapped around him dressed like a cowboy
and sheering sheep
and they call him “a ranchhand.”

Man walks around town with Christmas tree lights wrapped around him
pushing a shopping cart filled with hay and
the baby Jesus he just stole from the town hall manager scene
some they’ll call him “a trouble-making vagrant”
and some they’ll maybe call him “Baby Jesus thief”
but probably no one will call him “a child-napper”

There.
I think I’ve made my point.

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