Look, it's hardly worth their while
to appear in the dim background
for this single day, but, being male,
they make the most of it. By now
everyone's fed up with something,
the lights on the mantel sting their eyes,
the tree litters the new wooden floor,
the cards remind them of the absent
or the tinsel annoys the dogs and cats.
I would have them arrive earlier, stay longer,
but their wisdom is unfashionable
so we keep them cosy in a cardboard box
for all days of the year except this one.
But, before you move on, search carefully;
this day, last but by no means least
of the festival, is a not-too-late reminder
of the abundance available in Midian,
Ephah, Sheba, unexpected, like the youth
who once improvised on his wretched
harmonica and now glorifies the house.
The alternative is bleak, false promise
of the new season's glossy brochures,
stone and glass, incense of sawn wood,
counter-tops, islands of porcelain
and granite, contemporary, classic.
Go back home. Choose another route.
Nursing Home Christmas Blues
I know. I saw the film too.
When she told me I laughed out loud
for a while. Later, in the crowd,
I met a man, alone and sick, who
thought he knew me. The park
is neat but I recall the mill
in ruins, the orchids and cranesbill
among the chaos, lovely, dark
domain of fancy. I swore I'd stay
forever. Tomorrow is Black
Friday but I don't bivouac
for bargains now. The Motorway
is flooded, lanes closed and snow
is forecast, all over, chill air
from the Arctic. This year glassware,
boots and some complicated gizmo
are all the rage. I lie and wait.
Things happen. My latest book sits
unfinished. I plan my favourite
dinner. The mutton is first rate
but expensive. Always blackface.
Sherry later. They'll never know.
Then he went away to Glasgow
Brighton or New Zealand, some place
foreign. If it snows I'll stay home.
Do you make fun of everything?
Happy the man who can sing
in the street, in the bar, alone.
When war arrives alone is best.
We knew everything. We were wrong.
We believed some stupid folksong,
optimistic fools. I've confessed.
It's almost Christmas, crib and star.
I remember tinplate train sets,
china dolls. Now it's silhouettes.
Happy? We are. We are. We are.
Michael Farry’s latest poetry collection, Troubles (2020), is published by Revival Press, Limerick. Previous collections were Asking for Directions (Doghouse Books, 2012) and The Age of Glass (Revival, 2017). He has just published, with Canadian poet Carolyne Van Der Meer, a chapbook, Broken Pieces, on their respective hospital experience.