Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas at the Hill Place

I wrote this poem three years ago. My parents, Chuck and Jo Bessey, were hosting their yearly Christmas party in Elliotsville Township, the place of Dad's birth, and Mum asked if I would write a poem for the event. I wasn't invited to the party... but I was more than happy to mark the occasion for them in my own special way. Each of the decrepit, aging and feeble characters in this poem are real live people; my aunts and uncles and aints and carbuncles... the Besseys and our extended family, all of whom I love dearly.

Even if I'm not ever invited to their stinking Christmas parties...

It’s Christmas at the Hill Place, and friends have gathered near,
To eat good food and have some fun, and drink some Christmas cheer!

Chuck and Jo spiffed up the place-- Decked halls and strung some lights,
And sang some Christmas carols, while doing it... (Yeah, right!)

Their guest list was impressive-- The township’s fabled few!
Aristocrats and noblemen-- a majestic, royal crew.

Drinks were drunk and food was et; off-color jokes were told.
(They’d never do that publicly, with reputations to uphold!)

At last, with filled-up bellies, they leaned back in their chairs.
They’d help Jo clean her kitchen, but no-one really dares.

Such an esteemed gathering, surely warrants gifts!
Jo sent Chuck to go get them, out through the snowy drifts.

Several truck doors then were slammed-- too many to make sense...
Then Chuck came grinning sheepishly. “Guess mine’s the one with dents!”

He placed a pretty package beside them on the floor.
“The first one to guess what this is, will surely get some more!”

Even noble folks like these do love to get nice gifts.
This fierce new competition was sure to cause some rifts.

Bob, in a bright new muscle shirt of red and green and gold,
Said, “Do we get a hint or two-- If I might be so bold?”

Jo smiled quite beguilingly, “Of hints, there’s none, I fear.
“But you can use your senses-- of touch, and sight, and ear.”

Jim-- who hates to come in last-- thought he’d go shake the thing.
But when his bad knee held him back, said “Wife, I bid thee-- Bring!”

But Marilyn was tuckered out. “Jim, you’ll just have to wait.
“Once my meal has digested, then I’ll accommodate.”

Clowes stood up, approached it, and felt it up and down.
“I’m good at guessing packages... I cart them all ‘round town!”

“This one here is pretty.” He sniffed along the border.
“Reminds me of the whiskey our pastor likes to order.”

“’Course, I, your humble servant, would never tell a tale...
My job is confidential, when I deliver mail!”

With rosy cheeks, Clowes sat back down, and Patty slapped his knee.
“Your loose-lipped indiscretions will be the death of me!”

Fred was next to take a guess. He turned it round and round.
“It must be something awful soft-- for I can’t hear a sound!”

Prue said, “Your total deafness, I truly can’t abide!
“It clearly makes a little sound! At least, on my good side!”

At that, Dick hollered, “What was that? And Chuck, he queried, “What?”
And Jay said, “Boys, I think she said, she’s got a little butt!”

Mary Ann, and Rose, and Jo just rolled their eyes around.
This crowd would surely not divine the gift based on its sound!

Sisters Beve and Flora thought they would try their luck.
Between them, they had four new knees! In their chairs they weren’t stuck!

Together they approached the box, they looked it up and down.
Of dignity-- they had too much to sniff it like Clowes Brown.

Flora laid her ear on it-- With tongue, Beve took a taste.
“Reminds me, Patty, of school lunch, we made for kids to waste.”

The siblings gave up quietly. Was it food, or clothes, or toys?
Their brains were just too tired from raising all those boys.

Mickey gave Dick one quick jab, then Dick poked Roy and Bob.
“I guess it’s for us men-folk to tend to this-here job!”

Now all the women rolled their eyes, Geneva, she did knit,
While Mary Ann smoked quietly-- Dick really gave her fits.

These lusty men, they stroked the box. They tipped it to and fro.
They turned it up, they turned it down, they lifted high and lo.

“Mickey, what’s it look like?” Dick asked his friend to try.
“How the hell do I know? Like you, I’ve got one eye!”

Mary Ann said dryly, “Don’t bother to ask me!
I’ve got ‘em both, but out one side is all that I can see!”

Chuck said, “Hey there, Leroy! Take a guess and get your wish!”
Well, Leroy gave a mighty snuff and said, “It smells like fish!”

“Fish are best when smoked, you know... and that is what I do!
But fish is all I smell these days, so the rest is up to you!”

A light bulb flashed in Skeeter’s head, where mostly screws were loose.
“By gorry, chums, I’ve got it! It’s frozen cuts of moose!”

“Well if it is,” said Peter, “then Jo’s the one that killed!
“We know by now that Chuckie-Poo, surely ain’t that skilled!”

“I’ll have you know,” drawled Bessey, “in case you dopes can’t figger,
“I’ve recently misplaced the thing that used to pull the trigger!”

By this time all the Bessey’s guests-- the brave, the fine elite,
Had taken turns to figure out the gift there at their feet.

Not one of them came even close, none had the slightest notion.
No help forthwith from sight or sound, or taste, or smell or motion.

At last these valiant townsfolk, these Besseys and their kin,
Threw up their hands, surrendered, and asked what was within.

All eyes then turned to look at Jo, to find the answer sought.
She looked back at them blankly, and said, “Good God, I forgot!!”

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