Monday, December 24, 2007

A Christmas Wish in Prose

I want to send my blog visitors holiday wishes!

I'm including a Christmas prose poem, which means that even those of you who may not be much for poetry should find it accessible. As John Frederick Nims and David Mason say in their Introduction to Poetry, a "prose poem [is] a piece that has most of the characteristics of the poem but it is presented on the page as if it were a short prose piece." One of the first to use the form was Charles Baudelaire who wrote Little Poems in Prose in the 1850s. Here is mine. (-: Even those of you who don't celebrate Christmas may find its message of peace pertinent.

Out of Malibu: America's Fulfillment of Prophecy

Prophecy: "Yet out of you shall come forth to Me
the one to be ruler in Israel,
Whose goings forth are from of old,
From everlasting."

Malibu celebrates the young son's birthday. Every November the city installs a family of balsa on this bluff in a lean-to, here where they would feel at home -- if they could feel. Sunshine. familiar palms. A sea like Sinai's. Unintended, they become graven images, feet statue-still. Once they were folk, now they're revered, waiting, waiting for a miracle to come. Their design never to be worshipped, they ask this night of nights for compassion. And, lo! A birthday gift in this new age. A white star in LA's skies, usually seen dim through Pacific's fog, now a silver sequin. Their feet quicken from carvings to flesh, their robes soften, the child's skin now luminescent wears still a circlet of strawflowers placed on his head by Our Lady of Malibu's first grade class. The choice to stay or go away now theirs, they leave behind those who thought they loved them but imposed burdens beyond endurance. They travel interstate byroads at night when they will not frighten other sojourners, they -- homeless, shoeless, unfamiliar robes, faces still immobile from decades practicing the art of crèche. Now, in mountain blizzard -- unlike weather they had ever known -- a new kind of pageant, idols unnoticed in the snow. A trek, an adventure, a calling! As Chaucer's pilgrims sought redemption, they trudge East. The babe burrows for warmth beneath its father's robes. Here an arch marks a river, mighty as any they had seen, this monster land, roads like veins, Mapquest's blue design. Unlike worshippers, they follow no light but their own, come upon an open swath, Washington's obelisk, rotunda like Rome's, somehow their kin, erected for the ages. Beneath their feet the Post, sodden, headline bawls War. Fine drizzle diffused by starlight they stand before another, newer wailing wall, a granite gash. This, this! their destination. Rain turns to doilies (as this small tribe turned from human tissue to wood and back again), decorates their cloaks, caps, hoods, slides down the polished façade before them. Wet-white punctuations attach themselves to incised names on this family’s own reflected images. The infant reaches out his hand to quench the flow.
Carolyn Howard-Johnson is the author of a chapbook of poetry, Tracings, published by Finishing Line Press, available on Amazon. It was named to the Compulsive Readers Top Ten Reads list and was honored for excellence by the Military Writers' Society of America.

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