All of the Stars

And in darkness I stand, looking up in the sky,

Thousands of twinkling, diamond-set eyes

They’re watching me idly, like they always do

Cut-outs cut out of a velveteen blue

But today is different, in a way they don’t know

The stars never change, but each day I grow

And once I was bitter, so caught up in rage,

That I blamed the whole world in a giant tirade

I thought I was too big for its pain and its lies

A soap opera watched by those twinkling eyes!

But then something happened inside me, one day

(though those twinkling eyes still looked the same)

And I learnt that nothing in the world is so plain

As all good or all bad, all love or all pain

You have to lose some to win some, fall down to rise,

You have to tilt your head back to look up at the sky!

And that’s how I learnt the most important lesson of all:

To put things behind you, you have to stand tall

If I didn’t touch it, then it wouldn’t bite

So let go of anger, and seek the path to the light

It’s amazing how one step can push you so far

When you’re dancing in the moonlight, under all of the stars

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Dr Jolly P. Jingle

The North Pole’s a dreamland all children know

A place of pure magic, hidden in snow

Where hundreds of elves toil day after day

To make toys to be opened on Christmas Day

But all elves aren’t tinkers — no, sadly not,

Even though of those there are quite a lot

There are teachers and preachers and bankers and chefs

Admins and grocers and farmers and vets

But perhaps the busiest elf who works with Kris Kringle

Is the North Pole physician: Dr Jolly P. Jingle

 

Yes, Dr Jolly Jingle is Santa’s right-hand

No matter the problem, he’s got a plan

Nail stuck in foot? He’ll get it right out

And you won’t feel pain — you won’t even shout

Perhaps you’ve got a fever, or the “Post-Eggnog Blues”,

Don’t be ashamed of your story; it helps him find clues

To reach a diagnosis (and a treatment, or cure)

To help you feel better than you are (or you were)

 

But Jolly P. Jingle has one tiny fault

An incriminating one, when you’re dealing with elves

For though he may dwell amid snow, joy, and holly

Our friend Dr Jingle isn’t, well…isn’t jolly

He’s a regular grump, the right scowling sort

The whole Pole might play,  but he won’t conform

He’ll sit in the corner, and he’ll scowl, scowl, and scowl!

The most mortifying expression, a contortion most foul

But what was the source of the good doc’s distress?

Was he in Cocoa-Withdrawals, or feeling the holiday Stress?

This troubling conundrum caught the ear of Old Claus

Who called his Thinking Elves; they all gave pause

To their work to uncover the best remedy

For Jolly P. Jingle’s hapless misery

 

It was Christmas Eve morning when Jolly arose

To find his whole office covered in bows!

Each one was tied by a various elf

Who’d left a handwritten message, addressed to himself

Words of encouragement, compassion, and peace

Words to relax him, and set him at ease

Words made for merriment, comedy, and fun

Why, there was a note from everyone!

And while he was reading all of these cards

Something peculiar took place in his heart

It didn’t grow one size, nor did it grow two,

But by three sizes expanded (and he felt it, too)

And then something stranger happened then, oh, yes,

(which, my dear reader, I’m sure you can guess)

The good doctor stood in his office, amid bows and holly,

And made a loud sound which was downright jolly

He laughed and he giggled and he cackled and howled

The noise was so contagious he’d soon attracted a crowd

And all of the elves starting laughing as well

A merry Christmas noise, better than jingle bells

 

So now Dr Jingle is at peace with the world

He’ll cure all your maladies — just say the word

There’s no diagnostic dilemma this doc can’t crack

And he’ll do so with a smile, or a giggle, or laugh

His merriment makes all who meet him rejoice

For the Christmas miracle in which they’ve now joined

Demoness

In dark nightmares

She comes alive

A demoness

I once defied

She haunts me still

Tempts me with sin

But she is a fool

I won’t let her win

She might light fires

With matches of lies

Catching all sinners

By surprise

But she won’t catch me

For I don’t care

Take a look in my heart

You won’t find her there

To the Angel Gabriel

To the Angel Gabriel, who came in a dream ,

And cautioned that hope is something between

Mistrust and despair, a cousin of sorts,

For well-meaning actions can become the worst

Don’t dare to dream, and don’t hope too far

Lest we all later turn out to be worse than we are

All this he told me, in a dream’s foggy midst,

Leaving only when he sighted the dawn’s first kiss

To the Angel Gabriel, whose words gave me pause

Rather than seek meaning, I looked for their cause

Why this disclosure? Why me, why now?

When should I use them? With whom, and how?

Hope is so beautiful — why would I take care

With something so different from mistrust, despair

What was I missing? Somehow, had I erred?

I scoured through my life, but I was not prepared

For the crises I saw which only now came to light

For the wrongs I was doing, thinking them rights

And that sent me into a frenzy, trying to fix

All of the mistakes I somehow had missed

To the Angel Gabriel, I thank for your words

Though at first, I’ll admit, I thought them absurd

You helped me escape a Hell in disguise

And taught me to craft my own Paradise

And I am most grateful for that which you’ve done

You saved me from war before the battle’d begun

You showed me the truth by granting release

Your light guided me to find my own peace

Heroes

They said we could be heroes, if only we tried

But I can’t be a hero — I’ve already died

I’ve walked through a desolation too horrid to bear

Where I sunk to the bottom, consumed by despair

But the thing with the bottom, is there’s no where to go

But up when you’ve fallen to the lowest of lows

And up’s where I climbed (with a helper or two)

And up’s where I now live, steadfast and true

But I can’t be a hero, I’m not that kind of girl

Who rushes into battle to save the whole world

I’m a vile sort creature, one grown men fear

For I can’t be trusted, when others are near

I might snarl or bite, for I love my tricks

I might taunt and tease you, then kill you for kicks

Or I might be kind, be polite, be docile, be tame

But none dare discover — they think I’m all games

They think that I’m shallow, that I’ll never heal

And maybe they’re right — who’s to say what’s real?

They said we could be heroes, but forgot about me

Hero might sound nice, but it’s not my destiny

Burn

A.N. Dedicated to the victims of the California wildfires.

A thousand tonnes of ash descend

Upon us in a curse hell-sent

What wrong we did, none can be sure

The weeks, months past are but a blur

All we can see is ash and smoke

It coats our lungs, and makes us choke

The air is thick; each breath is dear,

Smoldered in grief, anguish, and fear

An empty hand is all we have

They say muster hope, but I’m not sure we can

The flames have devoured every last dream

The parks where we played, the schools and the streets,

The trees which we climbed, and the fields where we roamed,

And that small pile of ashes I called my home

Everything is gone, and nothing remains

Yet we struggle to move forward, at the end of each day

The sky is aflame with burnt-out dreams

The patchwork of lifetimes, undone at the seams

Puffball Lewis, or How to Trick-or-Treat

A.N. Falls off towards the end, sorry.

’twas a crisp autumn eve when the demons arrived

Defiling the air as they rushed to their prize

Releasing their stench while the good folks around

Cowered and trembled as they fell to the ground

But, to their cemetery spot, the demons all sped

Where they feasted on corpses of flesh freshly-dead

What a horrible sight it was to behold!

The corpses unearthed, both young and old

But who would stop them? Would a hero arise?

Would he come a-flying through the dark, foggy skies?

Or would he jump in, leaping straight off a roof,

Vanquishing the demons in a moment of truth?

Of all the scenarios, the hero least likely

Was the one who emerged, righteous and mighty

He was a small ball of fluff, a tiny, cute thing,

Screaming his outrage while flapping his wings

Bright beady eyes condemned those who dared

Interfere with his peace, catch his people unawares

Though his wee chirps were tiny, his messages were strong,

And, one by one, the other people joined along

The foul demons froze, dropped their deplorable deeds,

And, overwhelmed by this courage, began their retreat

The people moved to followed, bearing rakes and knives,

Ready to draw blood, to bring justice alive

But the Puffball only chirped, though now to bring calm,

For there are other ways than violence to right these types of wrongs

And the people dropped their weapons, for they saw the demons’ fear,

Beings whose hunger drove them to feast but once per year

That’s when the Puffball Lewis brought his best idea to light

He gave a bowl of candies to these demons of the night

And helped them to discover a brand-new type of treat

The first trick-or-treaters, from this generous Halloween feat

A Stitch in Time

It was quarter past two, the crescent moon dim,

When I was called by the nurses to look after him

Both my legs were aching as I stood by his bed

Tears filled his eyes as he looked up, and said

Words I couldn’t hear, lost in the time

He had run out of, despite his efforts, and mine

We knew it was coming, naught left to do

Though he’d business unfinished, his time here was through

But I went through the motions, the masks and the meds,

Took all his vitals, and raised the head of the bed

Ordered the bloodwork, the x-rays, and scans

So automatic, I forgot he was a man

I called him a number, as I yelled through the phone,

Dialed specialists and his wife, who was still back at home

Asked for permission, for guidance, for help

Tried every type of BiPap mask on the shelf

But it wasn’t enough, and he grew worse,

I was trying to help, but seemed to have done the reverse

By the time help arrived, he no longer was breathing

And his wife stood beside, quietly weeping,

I guess that’s one way for a person to die

Is this blood on my hands? Whose fault is this? Mine?

Was there something else to do? Even now I don’t know

I found no comfort when they told me, “It was his time to go.”

It still somehow feels wrong, like I’ve committed a crime

It’s funny how things can change in one small stitch in time

Wayward Devil

Another wayward Devil strikes

Hits his targets in the night

Preys on them while they are sleeping

Especially when they are freshly grieving

He finds his pleasure in others’ pain

He sees his joy where they see rain

He delights to hear them scream

He lurks in shadows, not what he seems

He wears his disguise unusually well

So that, who he is, you cannot tell

Just beware of all whom you meet

Lest you find yourself struck at the Devil’s feet

Autumn Leaves

An orchard-ful of ancient trees

Set on fire by their leaves

Flames on stems, the crimson golds

Burn brilliantly, despite the cold

And flaming leaves crunch on the ground

Leaving fires burning around

An evening chill is drawing near

Autumn-time at last is here