Boxing Day 2017

Patchy sunlight seeps through the grey December sky,

diffusing itself over the aftermath of Christmas

in the recycling bin–bottles and boxes, bits of ribbon-bows

and colored paper–and, on the table, panettone crumbs,

on what’s usually my favorite day of the Christmas season,

Boxing Day, St. Stephen’s feast, the day after the big one,

when the mood remains festive and the lights still twinkle,

but the anxious rush has calmed; this one, though, hasn’t started

right–a cold opossum rummaging through the garage predawn,

backed up bathroom pipes first thing in the morning,

so I sit here drinking coffee and worrying about that,

and about the little things–the brake light that’s out,

the cat’s dental appointment with the vet, the paper

that already should be written. Not a total crisis,

not the zombie apocalypse or the heat-death of the universe,

but it’s not always the avalanche that gets you; sometimes

it’s all the little slides.


Copyright 2017

T. Allen Culpepper


Plastic Egg

The icicle lights still hanging from the eaves

of my neighbor’s house the week before Easter

tell how we now move from feast to feast

without fast or feria, always in celebration,

never in mourning, repentance, or even reflection.

The fight is not easy against our adversaries,

Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, nor do they

in themselves embody evil; but exaltation

overdone fails us, leaves us empty.

We crack open the plastic egg

and find it empty.


Copyright 2017

T. Allen Culpepper

Looking for My Christmas Story

In the beginning was the Word,

and the Word was with God,

and presumably they were not

in the process of making a baby.

Yes, there’s a baby in the story,

and not an insignificant baby,

but that part comes much later,

and is almost beside the point,

or merely a means to an end;

Christ’s impressive words and acts

appear long after his infancy.

Granted, I get the choice of a child—

I mean, present most people with a baby,

and within seconds they’re gawking and cooing—

but in this case I wonder if it

also makes them miss the point,

the symbol, the underlying meaning;

not just the delivery of a baby,

not even merely and infant Messiah,

but the dawning of hope and light,

and ideally a better nature

within all of humankind.

Of course, I’ve nothing against babies,

having been one for a while myself;

it’s just that for some of us today

(I cite myself as one example,

the baby symbolism’s right up there

with sheep and camel metaphors

in terms of relevance to our everyday lives.

I do not discount the baby story

with its appeal to so many,

nor do I critique the gawkers and cooers,

and like so many other Christians,

whether practicing or not,

I’ve placed ceramic Nativity figures

on my living-room mantelpiece

and consider myself a believer,

but sometimes I feel a bit left out,

feel that the story overwhelms

the message it’s intended to convey,

the light and hope encompassing everyone;

or maybe it’s just the gloomy afternoon.


Copyright 2013

T. Allen Culpepper