Eastern OrthodoxPoetry


A dying Christmas tree in the living room
In the front window so passersby can watch it die
Has a pile of disguised boxes beneath it
Each with another reminder of my mortality

Here is a box that reminds me I stink to high Heaven
Here a box so I can drink my troubles away
Here a box to keep dung from dungarees

There are boxes of distraction
Gift cards for my lack of openness
Fruitcakes for, well, fruitcakes, you know

Fruitcakes are timeless
Full of known surprises
A dense theology in trinity of
The essential cake
The kernel of new life
The fruit to give spirit
And we take a slice
Hoping for a cherry
But being given only
A desperate need for nog

I tear open each box, paper flying like the seconds
I remember when I used to try to save every scrap
As though wrapping paper was immortal
But now I just wrinkle and tear it
Since I know it is just like my own wrapping
But with more hope inside

Oh look – a tie. I must be a father
Nobody else needs to be tied down
It’s a pretty rope, though
It will look nice at my funeral

Take the pictures that will last forever
Of the toys that will be broken tomorrow
And the liquor that will be empty today
And the joy that will be gone in a moment
Leaving – remember that wrapping paper?
Be careful gathering it for the trash
It can hide treasures and cash
All of which are worth less than the paper

The universe isn’t empty enough for creation
Unless it has been full once before
The angels tearing off the wrapping
And flinging it across the universe
In schnipple constellations and paper planets
Chocolate coin comets and candy cane cellophane
All coming to rest to wait for the gathering
Separating the waste from the wasted
The made for trash from the made in Taiwan
And the Christmas dinner turned into
Solid stuffing and turkey jello
And there’s nothing left but dissatisfaction

And once we are discomforted enough
That we can do nothing but groan
And hug and rub our baby bumps
Too full to live in the past
And too pooped to think of the future
And having absorbed too much self
To be anywhere but here and now
The present suddenly appears
In a plain box, already opened
In a room strewn with straw
The one we were told was coming
But since when do they deliver on Christmas?

It’s a box full of life
Of spirits that make you sober
The essence of everything
It turns out fruitcake
Is Christmas

Kenneth O'Shaughnessy

Kenneth O'Shaughnessy

A Northerner by upbringing, Kenneth has lived in the South since his (first) college days. After returning to college, he began to do more than just dabble with writing, and has self-published a children's picture book, a middle-reader's book, and several collections of poetry. Baptized in the Roman Catholic church, raised in the fundamentalist Baptist church, and having spent time in the Reformed Baptist church, Kenneth settled down in the Eastern Orthodox church in 2006.

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