BLUE CHRISTMASThis has been a dark year, when the arm
of the angel of death has grown sore
from swinging his heavy scythe, eleven
sharp strokes in my circle of friends.
And now itís December, when the rest
of the world glitters like sugar,
when stores drip tinsel and ribbons,
and the air in the mall is thick
with carols. For those who mourn,
the sky is the color of soot, and white
lights hung on pines do nothing to dispel
the gloom. The year burns down to ashes,
calendar pages go up in flakes of char,
the reverse of birds. Going to the store
for milk and eggs before it snows
is a minefield; you are bound to bump
into someone you havenít seen in years
who asks about your familyó Then thereís
the checkout girl with the reindeer hat
who brightly tells you to have a happy
holiday, and you canít reply. Sympathy
cards are stuffed in the mailboxís craw.
If you can get dressed before night falls
down like a jail door clanging, itís been
a good day. In the houses of mourning,
the holidays weigh like a heavy sack.
In the corner, the empty chair.