This is a poem I wrote on 23rd December 1990 when I was sixteen. Every year I think about sharing it, and usually I chicken out. Well, not this year! I’ll think of it as my tribute to all teenagers – the teenager I was, the teenagers I work with, the teenagers I am currently writing about, and my own children – who have wonderful and valid things to say. I’m not as religious as I was back then, but I still hold with the message, especially as a parent. I admit it’s not your usual jolly, festive post, but Christmas is also a time of dark and quiet, the perfect conditions for contemplation. Whatever this time of year means to you, I hope it is straightforward and trouble-free.
In the city of Christmas Future
The King of Christmas counts his cash
And marks his profit on a graph.
“It’s been a good year,” he chuckles,
Running his fingers through his petty cash;
And sitting on his neon throne
He gazes over his glittering Empire
With the monstrous central standing Icon
That kids of every creed have come to worship;
Supplier of Robo-Santas and killer Elf dolls,
The parents’ threat for good behaviour,
And their excuse to indulge on greed,
“What’s good enough for Mrs Jones’s kids…”
The cash registers sing in the shops
As all follow the glowing neon statue of King Christmas to his Empire.
In a back street shop of a run-down town,
A boy and his mother stand alone,
Ignored in King Christmas’ Empire,
Shunned by his minions.
The boy spies a battered construction,
A cardboard stable and tatty plaster figures,
A lady with a baby, a kind man standing close,
Shepherds with sheep, kings in riches, ladies with wings,
And he recalls a line of a song his mother sings;
With Angelic host proclaim, Christ is born in Bethlehem,
And asks, “Was King Christmas born in Bethlehem?”
The mother brushes away a silent tear
And shushes her son and hurries him home.
That night, her family sing words from a book of unknown songs,
Hark the Herald Angels sing, Glory to the new born King.
But the boy shakes his head,
For King Christmas is not newborn.
In his grotto of Tinsel,
King Christmas laughs,
Waves his pointy tail with delight
And pushes back his Santa-Hood crown to show his gleaming horns.
He laughs in the face of a weeping God,
Whose humble son means nothing
To the kids who pray for life-sized Rudolphs
With jet-propelled wheels,
Who spend their Sundays in the Temple of King Christmas’ Toy Shop.
“And so, God,” he cries aloud,
“I win, I win. Hear them sing…”
Hark the Festive Seraphs sing,
Money to the Richest King.