christmas play

RC deWinter


when the puppet show was over
there was a general stampede
toward the swinging exit doors
though angels were singing
and the halls were decked with holly
there was no christian charity
in that theater full of the damned

when the maddened mass
of bodies realized the doors
no longer swung but were instead
padlocked leaving them burning
like those triangle shirtwaist girls left
blackened bald and broken
in a world not far from this one

and blood flowed hot and bright

the theater critics
most of whom were innocent of all
but showing up to rate the show
for a penny a word
unlike those sealed doors

and as the heat increased the floors
were greased with the melting insincerity
of those whose tongues were paid to write
as cheating couples clutched each other
hastily swallowing every secret between them
the falling of the weak unloosed a
flood of bending on the part of those
still standing
stooping to retrieve the baubles dropped
while by the pitiless doors
the men pretending to be practical
tried various techniques to free them
but fights erupted
jealousies and spite
jeering at the native origins
of their rapidly unravelling bespoke suits

and in the midst of all the squabbling
those traitorous doors flew open
blowing in a cloud of mighty trumpets
played by doubledealing strumpets
and withered every foreign and domestic heart
still beating

the herald of judgment had arrived
when all the flags fell from the wall
everyone still breathing
blackened canaries in a coal mine
knew all was lost

and each in wretched trembling voice
sang in a different key
a different tempo
but in the end
the melody was the same

and across the world in his well appointed study
the puppetmaster took another sip of mashed potatoes
smiling grimly at the carnage beaming down
from the great walls
huge flat screens revealing all



RC deWinter’s poetry is anthologized in New York City Haiku (NY Times, 2017), Uno: A Poetry Anthology (Verian Thomas, 2002), Cowboys & Cocktails: Poetry from the True Grit Saloon (Brick Street Poetry, April 2019) in print in 2River View, Down in the Dirt, Genre Urban Arts, Meat For Tea: The Valley Review, Pink Panther Magazine, The New York Times and in numerous online literary journals.