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“Come into the garden, Maud,
        For the black bat, night, has flown.”
                          --  Tennyson


This poem came to me
when I thought it should not:
on Christmas eve.

I wanted to give a gift sweet
but following the laws of poetry
this verse stubbornly refused
to recognize my ideal Yuletide.
The poem told me,
“I will sing of bats--

 even if you don’t
 write me down,
 bats will be sung.”

So when I continued
to resist, the poem began
to holler all the way
from the soles of my feet
to the crown of my head.

And what did the poesy proclaim?--
          “Batty bats,
            and dung,
            gah da-da-da-dung!”

--and for the second stanza:
       when bitten by the ba-ba-ba bat
            I woke up.  And when I woke up
            I flew out.”

But how could I allow
such speech to be free
on this most holy day?
This day of new life
in the darkest dark?

On the other hand,
I couldn’t keep swallowing
that bat back down--
every scribe must obey
his sentence.

But after the poem
had finally flown,
the child in me
said, “Okay,
now what about Christmas...?”

I tried--but in vain--to placate
that hungry innocent
with this honest observation:
         don’t all my poems
         speak of Christmas?

© 2009 Michael R. Patton      go back

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