Late-December Holiday Special
by John F. Buckley & Martin Ott

  1. The documentary flies beneath Santa's naughty meter, a secret camera in Rudolph's
  2. nose capturing his reindeer tickle fights and sleigh-bell excursion with travel agent
  3. Silvia de la Milagro. She calls him a saint beneath the red-red glow and we see
  4. many things shake like a bowlful of jelly. Mrs. Claus later plucks errant straw
  1. from flying haunches, retrieves the footage, and uploads it to YouTube, before
  2. returning to the orca pen for feeding Booster and Boomer and Rumor and Rocket,
  3. Quasar and Quantum and Crandall and Crockett, with the phosphorescent albino
  4. Porfirio, Santa's sleigh-team for his underwater trips to Atlantis, Lemuria and Mu.
  1. Elves make the toys, but gnomes do the outdoor work: hew the lumber, mine
  2. and smelt the ore, catch and carve the narwhal meat for North Pole larders.
  3. Santa busts their unionizing attempts, makes off-color jokes about ginger snaps,
  4. keeps them locked outside so muddy gnome boots don't sully workshop tiles.
  1. The succulent festal board is conjured in a mammoth Easy-Bake Oven by a kitchen
  2. of yeti, lovers of icebox Yahtzee and jello shots, shit-faced sauciers and sommeliers,
  3. bereft of knives since the tragedy with the missing children in the basement potato
  4. bin, guardians of the secret sauce in the hoof-shaped flask in Santa's other sack,
  1. which he keeps hidden since his drinking drove his wife to her sister's house down
  2. in Boca Raton, since the marital counseling with Sneevle the studded snow goblin,
  3. two hundred Turkish delights an hour even with the saint's discount, since the DUI
  4. in Dubai during the off-season, a uniformed sand-white genie writing a smoky ticket.
  1. Was he slavedriver or slave, demi-God of charity or hedonism, lover or fighter?
  2. He wakes one morning wedged between Prancer and Dancer, hands as raw
  3. as the missing sunsets on top of the world, but he has yet to hit rock bottom,
  4. the elixir of mistletoe wine drawing his gaze to the cosmos, to the flickering
  1. stars over Bethlehem, over Mecca, over Lumbini, over Qufu, many dusty cradles.
  2. He ponders the mystery of his workshop's quadruple-A rating, Standard & Poor's
  3. only such blessing, a steady shining light in his financial portfolio. He weighs
  4. the pros and cons of cashing it all in after centuries of altruism and penance,
  1. the ransom of riches available on the black market for airborne reindeer, time
  2. slowing sleigh and lithe-limbed elves who know how to wield candy canes.
  3. The camera pans across the Northern Lights twinkling in blood-shot eyes,
  4. and the audience awaits the next chapter, the unforgiving nature of giving.
Packingtown Review – Vol.5, Fall 2013

John F. Buckley and Martin Ott began their ongoing games of poetic volleyball in the spring of 2009. Since then, their collaborations have been accepted into more than seventy journals and anthologies, including Drawn to Marvel, Evergreen Review, Rabbit Ears, and ZYZZYVA, and gathered into two full-length collections on Brooklyn Arts Press, Poets' Guide to America (2012) and the forthcoming Yankee Broadcast Network (2014). They are now writing poems for a third manuscript, American Wonder, about superheroes and supervillains.

  1. Next:
    Artist's Statement: Jennie Berner