Christmas List: Christmas Poem by Roy Bentley

Image of poet Roy Bentley with parents and sisters in Eastern Kentucky

My mother bought everything. In the stores, heads
would swivel at her pleasure, a gift to the onlookers.
Christmas Eve, although an agnostic on her best day,
she abracadabraed a grandly private stash of believing
and trusting the better story of It’s a Wonderful Life.
An avalanche messaging George Lassos the Moon.

My father (her accomplice) assembled a red bicycle
or a machine-gun on a tripod, hearing in wind outside
Christmases in poverty and scarcity in eastern Kentucky.
For him, it was all about the approximate manner of things
somewhere between the baubles and beads of consumerism
and real joy. A factory job was a house with tile flooring.

For her, giving was a prayer to an angel named Clarence.
She checked off each item like the answer to that prayer.
Toys, in nineteen-fifties cellophane, new and unwrapped,
straight from the retail shelves to a car’s trunk to call out
to a lucky, sound-asleep child as if to an entire country—
Fort Apache. Gunsmoke. Rock-‘Em-Sock-‘Em-Robots.





Roy Bentley About Roy Bentley

Roy Bentley is the author of four books and several chapbooks. Poems have appeared in The Southern Review, Shenandoah, Blackbird, Indiana Review, Prairie Schooner, North American Review, and elsewhere, as well as the anthologies New Poetry from the Midwest and Every River on Earth. His collection of poems Nosferatu in Florida is currently in search of a publisher, having been a finalist for the New American Poetry Prize (twice), the Moon City Review Poetry Prize, the Gerald Cable Book Award, and the Anhinga Prize for Poetry. He has received a Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts (in poetry) and fellowships from the arts councils of Ohio and Florida. He lives in Pataskala, Ohio.

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