When The Holidays Aren’t So (Jolly)

Photo by Kieran White on Unsplash


christmas cuts through

the televised football games

and beer-clinking holidayers


a separated father sits quietly

in a restaurant with his kids

he sketches a drawing on the back of the bill receipt

draws the half circle booth

and writes the names of his three

and where they were sitting

and names the drawing “lunch.”

he folds it up

and places it in his wallet,

fat with other drawings

from other times

at other restaurants

under these same separated circumstances.

maybe this is a way of remembering something whole.



a girl’s silent battles

have accumulated

at the sight of an ornament.

she holds onto her tears

like a glove trying to hold

that softer kind of snow

the kind that stacks into flatness

if pushed that way

feels her throat snag on reality

and wonders why christmas sounds like static

it sprinkles magic

on those a little too old for fantasies

scatters cheer

to those too aware to pretend


a boy breaks his hand

trying to remember the delicacy of

a poisonous enamoration

tries to locate her energy

among shadows

at night

he drives a car too fast

chokes on a spoonful of sugar

to die in something sweet

escaping a memory

that moves further

and further into the past

but hardens into concrete


cremations are taking place.


a girl comes back from college

to a bedroom

that still creaks in the same spaces

she names the pillow she uses

to drown out her parent’s screams

and gets uninterrupted

sleep for the first time


there are tangos

to the blood

heartbeat of

Michael Buble

And a

little extra red wine

in stained glasses

somewhere, it is warmer.

but here,

they know

everybody doesn’t have a holly jolly christmas

Some people


at the sound of a jingle

Or foam

At the sight of snow

when it brings

everything icy

even nice presents

don’t always get wrapped too well

even that box under the tree

has corners

that’ll slice your excitement

for some,

this christmas will be a hospital visit

the collision of people not meant to be together

or the separation of others

or maybe both

that this christmas won’t bring gifts

it will cradle her dog

and wonders if she has ever felt

heartbreak like this

He’ll be alone with a house

full of people who don’t know her

She will stay up at night

and wrap lights

around thorns

the same way her ex did

that christmas

is the most lively time of the year

but it forces lifeless bodies

to reminisce on better days