A Covid Christmas

A collection of Advent, Christmas and New Years poems by Lawrence “Mack in Texas” Hall (Rated G)

The Turning of the World: Advent through Plough Monday
“God spede the plough”
-an English blessing for a good agricultural year, numerous sources

In springtime Nature kisses the world with light
And summer follows with work and merriment
In autumn she kisses the world good night
And winter follows with frost and lament

But first we celebrate the great world’s turning
With Advent and the holy Christmas time
With liturgies followed by the Yule log burning
Through feasting and cheer, and each well-sung rhyme

Six midwinter weeks ‘til the Three Kings appear
And then Plough Monday to begin the new year


Hospital Waiting Room in Advent
“How could I bear a crown of gold when the Lord bears a crown of thorns? And bears it for me!”
-Heilige Elisabeth von Thuringen

The pre-dawn parking-lot is crowded enough,
And almost pretty with the high orange-ish light
Reflecting nicely on the rainy pavement.
The cold wind blows a lonely paper cup along

Among the puddles and the lonely cars
With the more-than-one-family-members
Dozing or reading their MePhones – it seems
as if the world itself is a waiting room for now

In the lobby a queue forms, everyone standing
Six feet away from each other as ordered by
Plastic signs on the floors. A cheerful-enough
Volunteer aims a little plastic gun

At each human head as it passes,
And asks each owner of a head
DO YOU HAVE ANY SYMPTOMS DO YOU HAVE
A SORE THROAT HAVE YOU BEEN AROUND ANYONE

WITH THE CORONAVIRUS
HAVE YOU BEEN OUT OF STATE RECENTLY

Does Louisiana count?

Pass, friend.

A cold and fashionable Christmas tree obscures
An image of Saint Elizabeth of Thuringen
Next to the row of elevators marked ‘B’
Along a covid-silent corridor

A visitor with his mask and his pass
Can hear his footsteps echoing-echoing
As he passes through the silences,
And reads signs announcing activities

Scheduled long ago that were canceled
Long ago because of the lockdowns.
Only rarely will he see a masked and gowned figure
Seemingly scuttling into hiding

While carrying a tray of lab specimens
Or pushing a cart or whispering into
An official glowing screen. Doors that used to be
Open are secured with NO ENTRY

Or STAFF ONLY signs, and former passages
Are blocked with new plywood panels
Or panes of clear plastic in this unclear time.
The cardiovascular ICU waiting room

Is empty – ONE FAMILY MEMBER ONLY,
Reads a sign scotch-taped to a door, and
NO COFFEE BECAUSE OF THE CORONAVIRUS
YOU WILL FIND COFFEE IN THE CAFETERIA

Announces another. Some seats are marked off-limits
With yellow crime-scene-ish tape even though
There is no one in the room to be made off-limits.
The television is dark and silent,

The floors and plastic chairs are clean-upon-clean
From repeated daily wipings and scrubbings
And sprayings although almost no one
Ever goes into that room now. There are no people,

No magazines, no bottles of water,
Nothing in the litter baskets. It’s like
A scene from one of those Star Trek episodes
In which an away-team beams down

To a deserted space ship, a deserted city,
Or a deserted planet, only there is no
Thematic background music in the hospital.
This is the block of floors and space given over

To cardiac care and surgery;
The areas where CV patients are treated
Are hidden behind doors and walls and faces
Of appropriate secrecy and discretion.

Behind those doors and walls life and death
Are worked out through the work and thought and education
And brilliance and industry and love
Of so very many ministers of grace,

From physicians to the nice fellow with
The bucket and mop, and through the mysteries

Of God and His saints.

As for our visitor, he can do nothing but take a seat –
One without the yellow crime-scene-ish tape – and wait
In silent prayer for one he loves.

Saint Elizabeth, pray for us

Note – Quote from inspiringquotes.us/quotes/d8Nh_CGV3jQBd


Video Mass in Lockdown – Jesus and the 502 Bad Gateway

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The Rural Electric Co-Op’s Giant Christmas Tree

Christmas trees are a delight to a child
On the farm, situational poverty
In muck and filth, old coat against the cold
Finishing the milking long hours after dark

But to the east a Christmas tree, a hope
The electric co-op’s radio mast
Its guy wires strung with multi-colored lights
The North Pole must be something like that

Christmas trees are a delight to a child
And even more when the child becomes a man


Before the Magi Came
-1 Maccabees 4:36-60

Yes, long before the holy Magi came
Judah the Maccabee brought forth his gifts
First scourging the Temple clean of false gods
In prayerful preparation for the True

And then presented God with oil and bread
A consecrated Altar of undressed stones
Incense and lamps and songs and grateful hearts
And an octave of inextinguishable light

Thus, long before the holy Magi came
Even before the Star, Judah brought a flame


Everyone Writes a Drivelly Poem about the Winter Solstice
And entitles it “Winter Solstice,”
And yet Somehow the World Goes On

The sun seems to stand still, and too, the world
An Ouroboros of lockdowns and masks
And the increasing divisions of partisans
In yet another republic devouring itself

There is an insubstantial Christmas truce
Undeclared, a catching of breath and will
In hopes that two-faced Janus will close his doors
Against the failings of the coming year

The sun seems to stand still, and too, the world
We also wait, and search the skies for a Star


Christmas Eve Eve Eve

Winter arrives, they say, at 8:31
And how do they know? The light doesn’t change
The soft pale light filtering through the fog
Upon the grey-brown fields who have fallen asleep

While we speak of lockdowns and rollbacks and deaths
And plan for the least-attended Christmas Mass
The fields and forests hardly speak at all
Only in their prayerful whispers of the Eternal

Time is told to us by the sun, moon, and stars –
And all the seasons arrive in God’s good time


Why Can’t You Come Home for Christmas, Daddy?

Christmas eve – and the conversation is low
The chaplains have left the men with their blessings
And have in their turn been blessed by the men
Who gather now with powdered coffee, with words

Christmas eve – written in a little child’s hand:
“Why can’t you come home for Christmas, Daddy?”
And a crayoned Santa Claus who can fly
Above the razor wire, and far away

Christmas eve – midnight’s canvas-pillowed tears
Christmas at home someday – only ten years


Christmas Day in the Covid-Time

There are no children around the tree this year
To make Christmas complete with their happiness
No Barbie dolls, electric trains, or bikes –
We are distanced in everything but love

No relatives come and go, not even the one
Who will park his pickup truck on the lawn
No fruitcakes given and received, no hugs –
We are distanced in everything but love

But still there is the fire, the dog, and us –
We are distanced in everything but love


Time Out for a Penalty Flag

The old order changeth, yielding place to new,
And God fulfills himself in many ways
-Tennyson, “The Passing of Arthur”

Change does not lie in calendars or dates
But in the seasonal turnings of the year
And in the ordered ways of God with us
Compassing us truly in spite of ourselves

Years are but our usages and measurings
Tools lent us for a time for learning Creation
For balancing the better against the good
And the transcendent against the transient

Life is not lived in calendars or dates
But beyond all time, and only in Truth


Happy Roman New Year – Join me for a Cuppa!
“I went, and I am still going.”
-Yevgeny Yevtushenko, “Zima Junction”

The dogs and I are out on our morning patrol
Greeting the new day, new month, and new year
Greeting the sun as he sings through woods
His song of Creation, Creation-fresh

I have fed the animals, lit the fire
Made coffee to enjoy at my old desk
With Edmondson, Wells, and their pal Shakespeare
And John Senior with his awfully thinky words

Fresh coffee, fresh words for me and for you –
Join me, won’t you, for a merry cup of brew!

Notes – I have no connection with the authors or publishers:
Edmondson, Paul and Wells. All the Sonnets of Shakespeare. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2020

Senior, John. Pale Horse, Easy Rider. Lawrence, Kansas, Shakespeherian Rag Press, 1992

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