Will Preaches [to Saint Nick]

[Part III of "Santa in the Underworld"]

“How Rumor’s spell enchants adult and youth!
On what they hear, they’d gladly place a bet
Since what’s said first ‘must surely be the truth’.
To act on whisp’rings, folks expend their sweat
But labor not to play the searching sleuth
[Who’ll keep no fishy facts inside his net
Instead of being like a mockingbird
Which sings whatever song it’s lately heard].

The gentlest saint who ever lives and dies
Can’t know what disrespect he might be paid.
The World might see, with its distorted eyes,
Mistakes where prudent choices had been made
[…And dream up faults or magnify the size
Of real but minor flaws] throughout its raid
On a person’s fortress built of kindly acts.
[A better jury might prefer the facts].

Perhaps that’s why a wise and ancient sage
Advised his pupils to expect no praise.
Results of deeds are difficult to gauge,
And fog of time will thicken more the haze
That clouds the acts in which we all engage
While stumbling through this snaky social maze.
To be less hurt when hearing no applause,
Expect no cheering for your noble cause.”

The moment William took a breathing pause
His sermon, not yet ended, was assailed
By Santa, who despised the final clause:
“You think expecting cheering’s where I failed?
I’m weary of your proverbs and your saws.
My name was furiously flayed and flailed.
I don’t lament approval that I lacked
But rather being sliced, impaled, and hacked.

Despite your words, you’re seeking approbation.
Perhaps you hoped you’d get me to concede
The wisdom of your moral recitation
And boost you with the self-esteem you need
And try so hard to earn with each oration.”
I didn’t know where their debate might lead
But thought I’d better keep it clam and short
By asking Santa ‘bout his fav’rite sport.

An Angry Saint

["Santa in the Underworld" pt. II (selections)]–please read pt. III (to be posted immediately after)

I’d loved him well as any other child
And hated seeing Santa mope and grieve.
Throughout our talk he’d never laughed or smiled.
It was apparent that he’d not relieve
His pain by raging like a beast that’s wild.
To mend his mood, I asked of Christmas Eve
And hoped the change of topic would delight
A man who’d lived to do his work that night.

With eggs we find we rarely can be sure
About which sort of beast might later hatch,
And strangers’ cats when stroked might gently purr
But are as apt to give one’s face a scratch.
Intentions and what might in time occur
Aren’t always made into a merry match.
The phrase I’d deemed a light and harmless query,
Ignited anger that I found quite scary.

He shouted, “So, you really want to know?
You’ll hear: of ev’ry groundless accusation;
Of trials that I had to undergo;
and endless months of loathsome litigation
I faced each time I moved my little toe.
In short, you’ll hear a tale of defamation.
So, take a seat and make yourselves at home
While learning of a fall like that of Rome
*

*[Alternate line: While hearing woes enough to fill a tome]

[I get so angry that I nearly faint
When thinking of the ghastly, gloomy light
And misleading coat of morbid leaden paint
Which people used to twist and then indict
The things I'd done for years without complaint
Or being threatened with a legal fight.]
Attend me well, for now I will begin
A catalog of my alleged sin.

We’ll start with fusses made about my deer.
One group demanded that the deer be freed
From ‘cruelly flying for one night a year.’
The group declared I’d treat the cervine breed
As harshly as a heartless overseer
[…Who liked to whip a back to make it bleed].
And, when I showed the loving care I gave,
‘Twas said, ‘A happy slave is still a slave’.

Another group that gave my rear a spank
Was less concerned about them being free.
Although I’m German (not the least a Yank),
‘Support Detroit and auto industry’
Was screamed by ev’ry Cletus-Bob and Hank
Who ever spoke of having liberty.
['It'd help the people selling cars and oil
If cars, not deer, did Santa's Christmas toil'.]

Some other pesky folks proclaimed me vile
And said my list of Naughty and of Nice
Appeared to be a voyeuristic file
For cats who prey upon the baby mice
[In other words, the creepy pedophile
Whose virtue is a mask to cover vice].
They also claimed I robbed their privacy
And was committing data piracy.

…and nearly ev’ry place I’d try to go,
Protesting packs would keep me from the door
While crying, ‘He’s a sexist ‘so and so’!’
They thought I’d called some little ladies ‘whore’
Because I often chanted triple ‘ho!’
[Which was a jolly laugh and nothing more].
It seems a man who’s merry in these times
Is apt to be suspected of some crimes.

Note: This ‘catalog of alleged misdeeds’ will eventually grow. For now, this section is an unfinished bridge between the “Part I” and “Will Preaches [to Saint Nick]“.

SANTA SPEAKS

[SANTA IN THE UNDERWORLD (pt II) By Paul "Whitberg" Burgess]

“There, dead of sorrow fed by sad defeat,
Is Santa Claus—beloved of girls and boys.
His elves and he no longer could compete
With companies who specialize in toys
[Whose makers overseas can barely eat
On wages earned for bringing children joys].
The War of Toys was one which Santa lost
By failing to reduce his products’ cost.”

The empty sleigh on which he sadly sat
Reflected eyes of kids who’ve lost a pet.
He didn’t look too merry, jolly, fat,
or [please insert another epithet].
From slippered feet to faded Santa hat,
He’d weigh not fifty kilos soaking wet.
The times had weighed so heavily on him
That he’d become extr[a]ordinar’ly slim.

“I was as close,” said Santa, “to my elves
As any sword is to its sturdy hilt.
They put a part of me and of themselves
In ev’ry crafted toy they ever built.
But now our toys aren’t found upon the shelves,
And elvish sweat’s no longer being spilt.
…[and folk who left the elves without their jobs
are often heard to call them 'mooching slobs'].

“But Santa,” said my ghostly guide,
“What matters is what people can afford
…Not whether toys were made with elvish pride.”
“Your head’s as empty as a swollen gourd
With little more than putrid air inside,”

A red but not-so-jolly Santa roared.
Then after finishing some breathless panting,
The saint began a round of angry ranting:

“Consumers shopping at retailers’ stores
Today will often pay as high a price
Though people viewed as creatures on all fours
Are paid a penny for the sold device.
While Captain Corp’rate’s swollen profit soars,
The local labor force is squashed like mice.
Still, lots of pious people often say
That Captain Corp’rate’s bound to save the day.”

I thought, “At home, the Poli-Pundit Clan
Might claim that Santa was a socialist,
But I’d suggest he’s just a broken man
(Or ghost) who has become extremely pissed
Because the bus’ness that his fam’ly ran
Evaporated like a spray of mist.”
Although his rage was getting out of hand,
Its causes weren’t so hard to understand.

 

SANTA

Santa Claus in the Underworld [pt I]

“There, dead of sorrow fed by sad defeat,
Is Santa Claus—beloved of girls and boys.
His elves and he no longer could compete
With companies who specialize in toys
[Whose makers overseas can barely eat
On wages earned for bringing children joys].
The War of Toys was one which Santa lost
By failing to reduce his products’ cost.”

Colley Cibber

[from "In the Underworld" by Paul "Whitberg" Burgess]

We passed a man who seemed deprived of hope.
With trembling fingers through his powdered wig,
He wove its strands into a hanging rope.
My guide then said, “That poetasting prig
Was smoked by witty Alexander Pope
And roasted soundly as a suckling pig.
Though it’s been cent’ries since his body died,
His spirit’s always trying suicide.

You see, that’s Colley Cibber, mostly known
For being featured in The Dunciad.
In life, his wealth and stature overgrown
Were driving greater talents nearly mad.
In death, he occupies the shameful throne
Of Poets Known For Being Awfully Bad.
When Colley grows too weary of his crown,
He hangs until we come to cut him down.”

HENRY VIII

[from "In the Underworld" by Paul "Whitberg" Burgess]

“There’s Henry, [king once Henry Number Seven
Departed, like a bird that’s migratory
To dwell in Hell, oblivion, or Heaven
…or maybe controversial Purgatory.
…Let’s hope his lucky number helped to leaven
His soul and make it rise to peaceful glory.
…Though what’s required of one who leads or reigns
Is apt to 'merit' everlasting pains.]

He was as cherished by the pious Pope
As grain is by a city-dwelling pigeon
‘Til his divorce received a papal ‘Nope’
[Which made him father Anglican religion.
With changed belief, some people couldn’t cope,
But, of remorse, he never felt a smidgeon.
One had to seem to ridicule and scorn
The system held supreme when he was born.

In time, few people seemed to think it odd
To be eternally at war and strife
With those denying it was willed by God
To change a nation’s form of afterlife
Because a king desired a diff’rent broad
To serve his craving for a fertile wife.
Divorce thee,” holy God was heard to say,
And England’s king was willing to obey.]

Three Cath’rine’s plus two Anne’s and Lady Jane
Is not a modern television show
Or lyrics to a musical refrain
But wives on Henry’s list. [Although not low,
The number might’ve soared if Henry’s reign
Weren’t ended by ‘the fate all undergo’
which is a fancy way of saying ‘death’—
A state that’s known to take away one’s breath].

To torture, Henry’s shade is now subjected:
The Lord of Hades’ says, “The earthly plea
To be divorced must always be rejected.
The ring you gave to each on bended knee
Ensures your wives and you remain connected
Throughout the rest of cold eternity.”
I thought to ask if Henry’s wives approved,
But Will insisted it was time we moved.

JUST BECAUSE…

From a Parent to a Child [Another "Honest Greeting Card" by Paul "Whitberg" Burgess]

“Believe my son, and it will be achieved,”
I said because I wasn’t yet aware
That Sloth incarnate’s what I had conceived
And later reared with love and tender care.
To state the matter in a plainer way:
I didn’t think you’d be a lazy slouch
Who’d pass the whole of ev’ry precious day
Devouring snacks and wearing out my couch.
The time you spend on acting like a fool
Won’t bring you any closer to your dreams.
You’ll never leave the unemployment pool
Until you stop exhausting sofas’ seams.
I’d love to say, “I knew you’d make me proud,”
But lying is a sin that’s not allowed.