Last poem of the week for Miller Williams. A poem for the season.
I always love reading Christmas poems by different poets. Love seeing how they use and subvert the various Christmas tropes and symbols. You walk a very thin wire when writing anything related to Christmas because, as a writer, you don't want to be accused of sentimentality. There's nothing worse to me when somebody reads one of my Christmas poems and says something like, "Oh, isn't that nice." That's not a compliment.
So, below is how Miller Williams avoids the Christmas trap.
Saint Marty has to get back to work on his Christmas essay now.
A Christmas Poem
by: Miller Williams
In a little bar on the Gulf Coast
someone offers a Christmas toast.
The piano player, believe it or not,
plays "As Time Goes By." Almost.
The bartender brings over a lot
of nuts and crackers. I have a shot
of Jack to get me on my way.
After a while, it's What have you got?
A drunk counts out some coins to pay
for a bottle of wine. He stops to say,
How are you doing? The syllables stink.
I lift my glass to say, I'm OK.
Out of the corner what I think
is a man in a wig and a ratty mink
weaves his way across the floor
and buys the piano player a drink.
At a table for two close to the door
a man seems to mean to ignore
a woman chewing a wad of gum.
The bartender brings me a couple more.
The piano player plays us some
of what the season wants. We hum
along and call for more and then
a man at the bar takes his thumb
out of his mouth and says there are ten
minutes left, Good will to men.
Good men, a woman says, to me.
He puts his thumb in his mouth again.
I manage a toast to the Christmas tree
and one to the sweet absurdity
in the miracle of the verb to be.
Lucky you, lucky me.