The Last Sunset
by William Hosie
Shadows settle upon the balcony ivy,
Viridian flickers and honeydew glimmers
Refracting a last warmth against the Surrey air.
Dad reads the papers in his new chequered slippers.
The shadows inhale the last a tired sun
Has to offer after a long, strenuous year.
Twilight descends as we reignite the living
Room fire. Christmas turkey leftover microwaved
For early supper on the eve of the New Year,
And the warm smells of our wooden furniture mix
With meaty smokes and the embers of nostalgia.
I think of those lost, shadows, with every chew.
The shadows, edging their way onto amber hills,
Seem to grow for some – whilst others stoop abruptly.
And these cloaked spectres cloud the forest in darkness,
Effortlessly shrouding previously sun-kissed trees.
Christmas in August
by Jude Cowan Montague
Christmas is never coming unless we play the zampogna
in Luigi Ciccini’s. A whole sheep is the bellows, a hat on the drone
to mute and muffle. Slabs of steak and racks of sausages,
home recipe, and his mother’s ricotta. Matt (Scott) and I,
clutching the book of local tunes, enter. Good morning,
we’re going to play you a song, again. Sing how Jesus
was born once, not very far from you. How his mother
doted on him and sang special lullabies, the great piercing
huge mutton pipes accompanying Mary. Matt’s fizzharmonica
flisp and putters, pog and jutters for the smiliest, friendliest
warmhearted butcher. It can’t be two years since I came to your farm
and stood locked in your shed, flies flipping right up my nose,
sketching curious pigs and the queen sheep in a blue collar;
she outlives her flock as she leads them along the best paths.
Virgin Birth: The Science
by Jude Cowan Montague
A woman can’t produce a son
through virgin pregnancy,
so Mary must have been a man
to reproduce a boy
in that she must have had a Y
for one chromosome.
Maybe secret twins, Mary
was two fused into one.
Pythons, blacktip sharks, komodo
dragons, all of these
have given birth as virgins too,
there’s many such species.
And in the universities,
in the genetic lab,
healthy fertile mice
are being born without a dad.
This means even mammals
can have a virgin birth.
Perhaps it’s not implausible
for women here on earth
to have sons without having sex
without sperm, without Ys,
with chromosomes of only X –
a heavenly surprise!
A Christmas Review
by Flora Blissett
I was a sheep in my first Nativity,
And every one since –
Oh, don’t feel bad for me – it was great!
Who wanted to be an angel, anyway?
Like, sooooo sanctimonious.
Or Mary or Joseph – wearing a tea towel on your head!
I was a sheep.
I had snow white wool, and a hood with a battery charged bleat.
I had character, I had swaaaaag,
Not like the three kings – all one of the same really:
Incest, Frankenstein and blah blahh blaaah.
And mousey-brown Donkey – in fact,
He had no lines at all!
Whereas I had a bleat, and snow white wool;
I sung loud and stood proud on the centre of stage
(Then Miss Dawes dragged me off – said I’d messed up the play) –
But I made people laugh! I was a hit, and a card!
I was The Sheep, and yet,
I was far from a sheep, like Mary and Joseph, the three kings, and dull Donkey,
Who all said their lines as rehearsed and expected
(or not – because Donkey had none – stupid ass).
Everyone knows the nativity;
We want some festivity!
Let us sing, let us dance, let us bake gingerbread;
Deck the halls with boughs of holly,
Fa la la la laaa la la la laaaalalalalaaaa,
Oh don’t sssh me,
We’re secular now – don’t go on kidding,
Admit it, accept it and stop being so silly –
You’re in it for the food, the prezzies and the tinsel;
What’s your favourite choc: Toblerone, Malteser, Oreo or Minstrel?
It’s not blasphemy,
Calm down and let go,
Loosen your belt,
And buy someone you love something heartfelt;
Relax this Christmas all snug and cosy,
Eat pigs in blankets and crack open the Rosé;
Get boozey with Grandma and stop being PC,
(She doesn’t need much prompting, as it is, believe me);
Turn off that Queen’s Speech, and hit play for The Grinch;
Stir the log fire and switch on the kettle,
And watch out the window as the first snowflakes settle.
What I’m trying to say
(In my roundabout way)
Is that Christmas is merry; it’s jolly and gay!
These traditional lines have been said over and over,
So why not, this year, join me and my drover;
I know that their Shepherd is famous, but he’s had a good run;
Their Shepherd is holy, but My Shepherd is fun!
Why Hate Christmas?
by Lucy Newlyn
What’s the point of hating Christmas?
Aren’t there better things to do
than spit your venom out at Yuletide
now you’ve seen the whole year through?
Yes, the High Street makes a killing
out of suckers who believe
that they have to overdo it.
It’s enough to make you heave.
But for others, modest people,
what’s so wrong with Christmas cheer?
Snuggled warm inside our houses,
round it comes just once a year.
Santa Claus with cuddly reindeer,
tables full of food and booze —
what’s to hate? It’s all indulgence
but it’s tricky to refuse.
How we hate the folk who judge us,
we who like a bit of fun,
and to have our good folks with us
when the long hard year is done.
Grumpy Scrooge is out of fashion,
jollity is here to stay.
Deck the Hall with boughs of holly;
have good fun on Christmas day!