MAP 57

This week's theme: There's no place like home for the holidays.

Upcoming themes:

Issue #58 - The Holocaust , the sequel

Issue #59 - Ars Poetica : Poetry about poetry

Issue #60 - What are you doing New Year's Eve? - ringing in 1999

Thanks to everyone who has been sending me poetry submissions.

Apologies to those who expect to read about hallmark holidays in this week's selection.

1. Christine Gilbert of Austin

Holiday Blues

Emptiness in the gut in the fat stuffed gut that ate too much

because the soul said feed me feed me and couldn’t get filled still

aches in hungry void in spaces between conversations between brothers

and sisters who never learned to stop competing

mothers and fathers who never touch strange strange strange

frustrations after Thanksgiving rush and family food fat feasting

sitting around shooting the breeze empty hush so naturally Blues set

in low sax tones sad guitar piano all day long Friday funky jazz

deep in the bones brooding and long drawn-out sighs slumped

shoulders grouchy gestures frowns loaded stomachs empty hearts

full of gloom maybe unstrung and memories of cousins all singing and

playing in another room when we were young over the river and through

the woods to grandmother’s house we go kind of idealized jinglejangled

fun in the snow stuff that never comes to pass when endless gray sky

hangs useless restless wind rustles maybe electromagnetic fields

and lack of sunlight cause this Jack Kerouac Charlie Parker indigo

mood low and slow Saturday slumps and Sunday dumps maybe we’ll go

to church or to a movie or we could rent one or watch TV football

and popcorn or work on the car or eat leftover turkey again

between pumpernickel slices slopped in mayonaise with pickles, and

another slice of artery-clogging gooey pecan pie with icecream ha-ha

or set up a team & play ball or ride a bike or go for a hike or get

drunk do waaah

2. Kathryn Gann of Austin


I did not rise at two AM

To slide the bird into the oven.

I did not strain to remember

Times and measurements

Not used since last year.

I did not worry whether

There was sufficient cranberry sauce

For three more diners than expected.

I did not concern myself whether

The children would eat beans or squash,

Or only mashed or sweet potato.

I did not slave the day before

Preparing traditional dessert

And forget it in the freezer.

I was not deafened by the shouts

And moans of football viewers,

Nor was the dinner delayed

Until half-time.

I did not have to intervene

In the wars of siblings and cousins,

Nor sweet-talk a truce

Between their sullen parents.

I did not stand on whimpering feet

To clear a littered table,

Nor bend an aching back

To overload the dishwasher.

Oh, no! I went in peace to Denny's,

And ordered and ate a BLT

And fries and onion rings --

All forbidden.

I did do more exercise:

A two mile walk in penance.

It was worth it.

I smile upon the world.

Kathrin L.. Gann

3. From Claibie Walsh, down around Alabama:

"What If It Was You? "

They're banning movie posters in Boston now.

Seems the mere shadow of a female body

repels upright citizens.

While department stores play canned

Christmas carols

so people will BUY BUY BUY!

Amazing, they're censuring posters in America

but not presidents.

Big businesses talk about Christmas in America

but not Christ.

For Christmas in Honduras they have

dysentery, malaria, misplaced parents,

lost children, homes and missions destroyed

families ripped apart by hurricane winds, tides, rains

devouring anything in it's path

ravaging a land and it's people.

Children weep for dead parents,

Parents weep for dead children,

Mothers, fathers, grandmothers, aunts,

uncles, grandfathers, sisters, brothers,

cousins, friends all gone.

What is left is filth, debris, and human devastation.

They don't censure anyone down there.

They don't decorate for Christmas.

They don't whine about the government

And they don't give a damn about shadowy posters

of the female body.

There is no Christmas in Honduras this year.

The only thing canned are goods sent.

No shopping malls, no music, no trees,

no tinsel and shiny ornaments,

no brightly wrapped presents,

no cozy little home and family,

no Christmas pageants,

no choruses of happy voices raised in song

but the missions are being rebuilt

and you can bet down there

right now they remember Christ.

I fall on my knees this Christmas and ask,

"Father, how can I help your children?

Oh God, how can I get others

to lay aside posters, presents, censure,

and Christmas so that they can

help them too?"

and I remember Christ

helping us all

and look for the answer

within myself.

©1998 Claiborne Schley Walsh.