The Magi came to Bethlehem
As guided by a rising star,
And there a newborn greeted them
Beyond the busy brisk bazaar.
So three wise men each bore a gift –
The other nine just looked-on, miffed.
The first brought gold – a solid lump –
An ingot, so the paintings show.
That must have made young Mary jump
As Caspar flashed his gift aglow.
But prizes prising gasps aghast
Should surely be withheld till last.
Then Melchior with frankincense
To sweetly burn at times of prayer –
The sort of thing we all dispense,
To hosts and strangers ev’rywhere.
Safe and useful, just the thing
To give to clients, in-laws, kings.
And finally there came the myrrh –
Embalming oil for the dead.
A tactless gift to give, for sure,
That only brings a parent dread.
Poor Balthazar had left them cold –
And wished he’d also thought of gold !
The first discarded tree on the pavement,
The first house not to turn on its lights,
The first fallen card not to be re-hung
And we still haven’t reached Twelfth Night.
Yet the Tudors partied all twelve-long,
But we’re back to work by the Second of Jan –
Once New Year’s hit, we’re done with it,
We’ve season’s-cheered as much as we can.
Why did the Magi have to take the scenic route ?
If only they’d got there in a week !
I don’t think our waistlines will make it to Epiphany,
And Winter has yet to hit its peak.
Pass another mince pie, then,
And oh, another tot ? Why not !
Now don’t hold back, I’ll tell you ‘when’,
Is this the only one we’ve got ?
We’ve plenty others, I could swear,
At least a dozen…Gone, you say ?
Ah well, I’m sure I had my share
When you came round the other day
But no, of late I haven’t written much,
Who wants that slog ?
I’m not concerned I’ve lost my touch –
They’ll flow again, just like this grog…
I say, this is a cosy time,
A cosy time, I always say,
Who cares about the bloody rhyme ?
I’ll write some verse another day.
Def’nitely, though, come next year,
Give or take a month or two,
But well before the Spring is here
I’ll knuckle down to something new:
Sonnets, ballads, villanelles
I’ll drink to that ! Hang on, I’m dry –
Here, fill me up, a double Bells,
And ooh, is that a mincemeat pie…?
An angel found some shepherds
In the lambing pastures, not too far,
All keeping one eye out for wolves,
And one eye on that bright new star.
And the angel said:
I bring you tidings great with joy !
In David’s royal city, a saviour is born !
For swaddled and mangered, an innocent boy
Has taken his breath on this bright, still morn.”
Some shepherds found an angel
In the lambing pastures, glowing gold,
And after all its urgings,
They sat and thought on what it told.
And the shepherds said:
But we must watch our precious ewes.
For all your holy light,
We cannot leave and risk to lose
A single suckling sheep tonight.
So go tell folk in Bethlehem –
Those townies love to be beguiled…
But we must keep our trusting lambs
As safe as any child.”
I don’t remember being told
About old Father Christmas –
He’s just someone I’ve always known.
Popping down the chimney
That we didn’t even have,
With a candy cane or xylophone.
It somehow seemed so rational,
To fly from Perth to Honolulu,
Via Cape Town and Cologne –
But strangest yet, I never even
Thought of how he was a stranger,
All the year alone.
So when my parents placed
An empty chair upto the turkey,
I assumed it was for him.
And when a neighbour came instead,
Or refugee, or homeless man –
I didn’t find it grim.
As long as he possessed a beard,
I believed in Father Christmas –
Even with a pseudonym.
He wore a diff’rent face, each year –
But so did Mother Goose,
And Peter Pan, and Tiny Tim.
For all the gifts he gave,
Did he ever get one in return,
From Moscow to the Amazon ?
Each year, I’d long to thank him,
But the meal would soon be over
And my moment never seized upon.
Yet in my mind, he’d wink, and say, “Don’t worry, I already know.”
And then he would be gone.
We never get to give a gift to him,
But ev’ry year,
Instead we pay it forward, pass it on.