What is Christmas?


Christmas, what is it
but a waste of electricity
a pagan festival removed
a flood of angels’ tears
the death of the butterfly
a time of impossible sorrow
the night side of happiness
a smile upon an expectant face
a forgotten memory
a mythology
of remarkable provocations
or an open-hearted flower …

What is it
but a painful reminder
of our ridiculous humanity



A slightly edited poem from 2014

this, December thing


As cobwebs grow while we sleep
so does this thing
this, December thing …

How it throttles, suffocates and destroys
how it becomes a pestilence within the silent beats of winter
this, December thing …

The emptiness of broken promises
echoes from the sorrows of children to the sorrows of
this, December thing …

How it settles within bones, upon skin and like a question of blood
how it envelops with its pretence of realism
this, December thing …

Each movement choreographed to make belief believable
while deep in the bowels of truth it festers
this, December thing …

How it seduces, enchants and dazzles
how its cosy fireside warmth births solicitous souls
this, December thing …

Like the chill of death’s cowl
it touches memories with sparks of things long gone, long lost
this, December thing …

How it breathes with such passion, beauty and an evanescence of time
how it reaches in to kiss with the sublime heaviness of falling feathers
this, December thing …


How I wish … but this … this December thing, cuts my soul to pieces …

Friend or Foe

The first Christmas I spent away from home
was when I joined the armed forces

Basic training finished
waiting for the moment to join my Battalion

Where will I be posted
somewhere exotic, perhaps
somewhere warm, perhaps
I ended up somewhere
someplace I did not want to be

Walking the streets
like a postman with a rifle
ready to deliver if needed
thankfully I wasn’t
but I was ready
but would I have
I’ll never know

I had some serious headaches back then
cowardly fright
cowardly tension
or just cowardly adrenaline

I hated every day of it
but also enjoyed some of the hours
the camaraderie
the honest friendship
the pure trust
knowing my back
was being watched
by Friend

and also by Foe

As I once found out
while watching in my tower
BOOM! two hundred yards
in front of me
they blow up a church
or part of it

No casualties but bricks
and my ears

This was my first taste
of life in the real world

my first Christmas away from home
I was 18
lost but for a St Christopher from Mom
I was with friends
the best friends anyone
can have are the ones
watching your back
while you watch theirs

bonds grow strong
and last

yet – flip it and remember
they have Christmas too
don’t forget
families too
back watchers too
bonds too

don’t hate me for flipping it

I know
what Christmas is like
as a soldier
so I am allowed to see
the other side

so for all you soldiers


I wish you a Merry Christmas

and perhaps
this year
peace will begin
to spread throughout

and no one will
have to miss their first