In my last post, I described using Wallace Stevens’ “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” as a stylistic model for creating an original poem. In my Alchemy of Creative Writing workshop series at the Arts Center of the Capital Region, I challenged the participants to write a poem in this format using the holidays as a theme. I joined in by beginning a poem of my own, which I expanded and refined once I was home. Here it is.
Twelve Ways of Looking at Christmas Consumption
Black Friday follows hard upon Thanksgiving
But I ignore it, lying in bed, pigging out
On apple-cranberry pie untouched the day before.
All that sugar and Crisco puts me in a stupor,
But I don’t care—my bathroom scale is broken anyway.
Saturday, revitalized, I venture forth
To do my patriotic duty for our bloated economy
And spend, spend, spend,
Patronizing struggling entrepreneurs
On River Street in Troy. Today’s Small Business Saturday,
A day invented by American Express.
I haven’t had an Amex card in years.
Never again, I vowed, after I maxed mine out,
But MasterCard works just as well
For building up my burgeoning debt once more.
Now what should I buy my family?
We’ve all got everything we need,
And shopping for my daughter and older grandchild
Is boring since they both want basic black
I find depressing and funereal.
The younger grandchild is a girly girl,
And fun to shop with. She knows her grandma’s
A pushover, easily manipulated into spending more
Than I know I should. But thankfully,
We both love Target, and the gold chip
On my blood-red credit card
Makes everything so easy.
As for me, the clothes I’ve got
Will last me till my dying day,
Assuming I don’t grow morbidly obese
And need a whole new wardrobe sized
In the dreaded double and triple X’s.
I take pride in my artsy taste
That never dates and lasts for decades,
Like the peachy pink Liz Claiborne
Knit ensemble I wore in the early 90’s
To interview for a job I didn’t get.
My hoarded clothes and shoes and handbags,
Clutter my little pink house.
Along with books, old magazines and paper,
They threaten my senior equilibrium,
Endanger my treasured independence
By posing tripping hazards,
And still I shop for more.
In these simplistic, allergenic times,
Fragrance is frowned upon, if not forbidden,
So that rules out those sumptuous boxed sets
Of perfumes, creams and lotions
That used to sit neglected on my dresser.
I don’t crave jewelry, much less kitchen gizmos,
So every year, I tell my husband I want techie stuff.
A turntable for my old jazz vinyls, a photo scanner
So I can organize my memories and capture them in scrapbooks.
But every year I chicken out and let them languish
Unopened in their boxes. The corrugated cardboard cartons
Make perfect scratching posts. My tabby cat Lunesta
Claws gashes, shredding the cardboard,
Putting the unopened presents to good use.
Today is Cyber Monday. I always thought
That just meant techie stuff, but now I’ve learned
It’s anything I order on the Internet.
More clothes, more books, more everything
My greedy heart desires. Maybe the garden fountain
I never got around to buying last summer.
In this amazing digital age, the sky’s the limit.
Far be it from me to be old-fashioned.
Besides, I haven’t yet maxed out my MasterCard.
Speaking of the Internet, I just ordered myself a Blue Sky planner, something a fellow writer turned me on to last year. It’s 8 ½” by 11” with pages for both months and weeks, so there’s plenty of room to write journal entries. My friend pastes assorted memorabilia into hers, turning it into a book of collages. Check it out by going to www.bluesky.com. There are multiple designs to choose from, and you can get them personalized—a great gift for people on your list who could use a little more organization in their lives. And who couldn’t?
I’ve still got lots of Christmas consuming to do, but I’m not stressing over it, and I’m feeling festive. How about you? Do the holidays stress you out or depress you? It’s not an easy time for many, but here’s hoping you’re as full of holiday cheer as I am. I’d love to hear from you.